Christianity teaches that life is a gift from God. It is a gift given and taken away under His authority.
I think seeing this truth is important because it protects against two seemingly opposite errors at both ends of life.
On the one hand, seeing life as a gift protects against the idea that a life that is not wanted is disposable. This error has led to abortion and infanticide at the beginning of life and assisted suicide, “mercy” killing, and neglect at the end of life. If life is a gift, we accept its entrance into the world at any time and in any form. If life is a gift, we treasure it while it is here and do not throw it away early.
On the other hand, seeing life as a gift protects against a clinging, clawing, grasping for it; it protects against the idea that life is worth preserving at any cost.
With life as a gift, techniques like IVF and surrogacy that separate the marital act from the beginning of life are seen as wrong. If children are a gift to be received, then children are not a right to be manufactured.
At the end of life, if life is a gift, we can recognize that while life is a high good, it is not the highest good. This prevents us from errors like that of the villain in The Wolverine who grasps and claws at staying alive such that he changes from a kind grandfather to an evil… thing. (Surely there are other, better examples?)
(Edit: OH MY GOODNESS. Voldemort. Voldemort was the example of an ugly, grasping, clawing at life that I couldn’t think of the first time.)
I’m currently watching the 6th season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in which the Federation is at war with the Dominion. There have been multiple arguments where a character argues for doing a certain reprehensible act because it will save x number of people. If we see that life is a gift, and that it is knowing Christ that is the highest good, then we can reject that faulty logic. It is acceptable for people to die – there is a higher good. (This article, with the phrase, “Better two deaths than one murder,” espouses a similar idea.)
… what do you think?