A friend commented on my posting titled, Personhood – Which Comes First Death of the Body or Departure of Soul?. In this posting I said that, so far, our society agrees that a person must be dead for vital organs to be taken. My friend pointed out that if a person is unresponsive and sure to die very soon, that there are people who do not have a problem with taking vital organs, even among Christians. Some will agree that this may result in the person dying sooner but will think that this in not really a problem because the person is going to die anyway. The questions presents. If a person is unresponsive are they really there? Most people’s experience, or lack thereof, may permit them to accept that an unresponsive person is not really there.
Why would we concern ourselves with which comes first, the death of the body or the departure of the soul?
This question becomes important when we desire vital organs for transplantation. Vital organs must come from bodies that are alive. See blog posting Vital Organ Donation – The Most Important Question. So far, our society generally agrees that a person must be dead for vital organs to be removed. For vital organ donation to be right there needs to be a way for a person to be dead, while their body is still alive. For this to be the case many would agree that the soul needs to depart before the body dies. Thus the question, which comes first, death of the body of departure of the soul?
One aspect of Invitro Fertilization that raises some questions is the process of selecting which eggs and subsequently selecting which growing embryos are given the opportunity to be placed in the mothers uterus so that they might continue to grow.
A biblical precept is that God, in His wisdom chooses to use the weak to confound those who appear strong. God brings strength out of weakness. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, it says,
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29, NKJV)
By a living will I am referring to instructions written out by a person to give direction to others about health care decisions in the event the person becomes unable to speak for themselves.
Writing in a way that will clearly be interpreted by others, as you intend your instructions to be interpreted, can be a problem. Consider the following exert from a living will.
If I become incapable of expressing my wishes and my physicians declare me to have a condition from which I will not recover, then I wish to have all life prolonging procedures withheld, including, but not limited to, artificial nutrition and hydration, and life support including intubation and ventilation.