As I have opined recently, the accelerating spiral into moral insanity will be all the more painful for believers because it will involve the departure from our ranks of many we once considered sound.
Cue Lord Carey’s sad announcement that he has changed his mind about euthanasia.
I must confess that I was not a huge admirer of Carey during his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury. He arrived in the post with the reputation of an evangelical but it seemed to me that he did his level-best to hide the fact throughout his time in office.
But compromise must always be an essential part of the job description where the job in question is trying to hold together two or three completely different churches within a single institution which is essentially what the See of Canterbury has been about in modern times.
But at least once he had laid down the burdens of office Lord Carey had seemed to resume his evangelical stance on the great issues of the day.
Carey now asserts that it would not be “anti-Christian” to change the law on assisted suicide. He is backing the legislation tabled by Lord Falconer that would permit assisted dying after an assessment by two doctors (sound familiar?)
Carey says, “The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.”
I find that statement to be bizarre.
In what way has the reality of suffering changed in recent times so that “old” philosophical certainties can no longer apply? Have not human beings always suffered?
Why would philosophical certainties ever change in relation to suffering?
Surely if anything we live in times when God-given advances in modern medicine have served to greatly alleviate the afflictions of the terminally ill.
By God's grace I have never been there,and I certainly would not wish to minimize the experience of anybody who has, but it nevertheless remains an undeniable fact that, in advanced countries at least, patients have less uncontrolled pain today than at any time in the past.
The central irony here is that euthanasia is actually being promoted in precisely those countries whose health services employ the most sophisticated patient pain-relief regimes. In other words, the demand is loudest where the problem is least acute.
This ought to signal to anybody who is paying attention that the drive to euthanise is not fundamentally about the relief of human suffering at all.
It is instead about post-Christian society’s emptying of meaning from human existence. It is an inevitable consequence of a rejection of the biblical worldview centered on Man in the Imago Dei.
Christians (including Lord Carey) ought to know that we are not free to arbitrarily dispense death to others - or to ourselves - because when we deal with human life we are treading upon holy ground.
In the hunting pack once a predator has lost his teeth and the strength of his legs, so that he can no longer join the hunt or fight for his place in the pack, then his days are numbered.
And if we were animals then this would be the case with us. But we are not.
That elderly man wasting away in his hospital bed is not a soulless creature whose useful days have come to an end. He is a part of the pinnacle of creation, he is a being made in the image of God who will exist forever.
His days have been allotted to him by the Creator who first breathed life into his nostrils, and neither the man himself nor any of the rest of us are to determine the number of those days.
But without a scriptural insight no sense of the sacredness of human existence can be maintained for long.
Our attitude then becomes simple: once we are no longer well enough to enjoy our vacuous pleasures anymore then what is the point of living any longer?
If senseless pleasure-seeking is all that life was ever about, then - once our bodies refuse to serve as vehicles for this hedonism any longer - why not simply end it all? If pleasure is no longer an option for us then why not plump for oblivion as the next best thing?
And if oblivion was really what awaited us beyond these shores then it would be a sensible enough strategy.
But that really ought only to be the viewpoint of myopic secularists who have convinced themselves that suffering necessarily ends at death.
Surely no Christian who genuinely believes the Bible’s teachings on eternity can adopt such approach.
So has Lord Carey ceased to believe in eternity also?