A lot of the talk about “end of life” decisions generally, and Terri Schiavo specifically, has centered on the question of brain activity. We argued over whether she was in a persistent vegetative state, whether she was truly responsive, and so forth. A commenter on another blog said
I know that if I’m not “in there”, if my brain scan shows what Terri’s did on A&E, I don’t want my body to be kept alive, even if it is “only” a feeding tube. Where is my soul if my brain is no longer “me”? Would you be denying me my entrance to glory, without having a presence here on earth either?
*The philosophy here seems to be that the _real_ you is a mental or spiritual entity, and this body is just a shell. I don’t know whether this is Gnosticism or just what, but I know it isn’t Biblical.*
The Bible teaches that our bodies are very much a part of us. We are made of a body as well as a spirit. (Some folks count a soul as a separate piece, others consider it identical with the spirit, but that’s not too important in this.)
*The truth is that we are _more_ than a physical body. But we are indisputably _also_ a physical body.*
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The thing God formed out of the ground – that was _a man_. Not an empty shell, but a man. God added “the breath of life” and that man became a living soul.
Psalm 139:14-15 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
The Psalmist asserts that _he_ was “made in secret” – not an empty shell or a mere body, but him. Man.
Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
John points out it was the _souls_ of those slain that he saw. They were incomplete, until…
Revelation 20:4-5 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
The issue of consciousness is not pertinent to a Biblical understanding of life. Terri Schiavo was alive. The _real_ Terri, not just a body. I won’t pretend to know anything about the location of one’s “consciouness” or soul in these circumstances, but I do know that your body is you. You are _more_ than the body – and this is why Jesus said not fear those who can _only_ destroy the body – but you are a physical, bodily creature. This is why we will be resurrected! *When we deny the importance of the life of a physical body, we undermine the glory of the resurrection.*
The issue is not consciousness. We cannot appeal to the lack of consciousness to justify killing the comatose, the disabled, infants, or unborn children. We must evaluate life from a Biblical perspective.
Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Human life is not precious because of consciousness. It is not precious because of independence or the ability to make choices. It is not precious because of love and laughter. *Human life is precious because it is the image of God.*