Terri Schiavo �should matter to us,�
By Pastor William E. Rice
Her name is Sharon. You don�t know her, but God does. She matters to God, she matters to me, and how she is treated should matter to you. She will never engage in stimulating conversation or ponder political debates. She will never read a book or write a paragraph. She will never marry or raise children or even earn her own keep. But she matters.
Sharon is my handicapped sister, she is mentally impaired, severely so, and has been from birth. My brother and I watched our parents care for her and somehow we learned an intuitive almost unspoken lesson. Her life is valuable, as valuable as that of her two brothers, both active in ministry. Whatever difference exists between her IQ and mine, imagine the gap between mine and God�s! Yet he loved me and valued me so much that He would send the jewel of heaven to buy me back. He made me and redeemed me and that is the heart of our conviction about human life�everyone matters to God. Which brings us to Terri Schiavo.
The facts of the case are well known and few have done as admirable a job of reporting them as has the Florida Baptist Witness. It is a matter of record that the judge in the case, Judge Greer, is an inactive member of Calvary Baptist Church, where I have pastored for 5 months. Though I have been Calvary�s pastor for only a short time I have loved this church for nearly 30 years, since I spent my teenage years growing in this community of faith. Some have wondered about the commitment of our church to the Sanctity of Human Life. There is no need to wonder. Our convictions have been clear and consistent. In this cultural battleground our church arrived early, has fought hard and stayed faithful. For over 30 years Calvary has sounded a clear trumpet about the sanctity of human life. Our beloved former pastor Dr. Bill Anderson was an early champion in the cause and his frequent prophetic appeals to oppose abortion and stand for life will never be forgotten by those of us fortunate enough to have grown under his pastoral care. Our church was instrumental in the founding of the Bay Area Crisis Pregnancy Center that for over 20 years has served to help women in difficult circumstances choose life.
Like many of you we have tried to articulate and uphold an ethic of life consistent with a Christian worldview. We have tried to speak the truth in love to a culture bent of selfishness and hedonistic pursuits. Like our Florida Baptist family, and our larger Southern Baptist family, we have taken our stand for life. That stand articulated in many ways, one of which is our enthusiastic support of this publication, has become one of the reasons that Judge Greer has disassociated himself from Calvary and has publicly criticized us in the St. Petersburg Times.
Like evangelicals across the world we are horrified at the thought that a handicapped woman could be in effect starved to death before a watching world. Like many pastors I am not an expert in the law. I cannot debate the variances of custody rights, or even debate the medical analysis of a Persistent Vegetative State versus a Minimally Conscious State. But I know right from wrong. I know what God thinks about human life. I know there is only one way to describe the prospect of starving a woman to death because she cannot feed herself. It is wrong.
Clearly this is a tortuous case. But it is precisely such moments when morality and truth must serve as our guide. Terri Schaivo is not on life support. She is not dying. Good evidence exists to suggest that she is responsive. All she receives is food and water, the same as you and me. Are we to conclude that she is less than human because she cannot feed herself? Can a month old child feed himself? Is an elderly patient stricken with some debilitating disease and not unable to feed themself suddenly less human? Do we now use an IQ test to determine if someone possesses the right to live? Isn�t that God�s choice? Only God can give life, and only He should take it away.
Tread carefully if you think this is simply about a dying woman being allowed to die peacefully. Remember when were told that Roe versus Wade was simply about helping women who had been raped or whose lives were imminently threatened? Today few abortions fall into that category, but millions of human lives have been sacrificed upon the altars of selfishness. And the slide down the slippery slope continues.
This case seems complex but it is as simple as four words: Thou shalt not kill. If you need a compass for this complex case, you�ll find it there. If I were the nurse in that hospice center and the directive were given to me to discontinue feeding a living human being and watch as they starved to death, I couldn�t do it. I�d rather get fired, resign, or do something else. This isn�t about letting someone die; this is about causing someone�s death. There is a huge difference.
Her name is Terri. She can open her eyes. She watches a balloon as it crosses the room. She listens to music. She responds to her mother�s loving attention. She has something very precious, she has life, something only God can give. Her name is Terri and she matters to God. She should matter to us.