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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, June 25, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1).

The first time I became aware of the term "quality of life" was in the office of a veterinarian. I had taken our little dog Pierre for treatment. He was fifteen years old, blind and very weak. The vet told me to put him to sleep. "He has no quality of life," she said. I decided against it and brought him home. He lived another five months, finally dying in my wife's arms as she lifted him from his bed one morning. Christ said that not even a sparrow "is forgotten before God" (Luke 12:6). We felt that Pierre deserved to live out his life without our intervention, even though he was weak and blind.

Our dog received better treatment than Terri Schiavo. She died of thirst, by court order, during what many churches call "Holy Week," the time when Christ was arrested and crucified. Terri's case marked an important step down the slippery slope toward a culture of death.

Columnist John Leo, writing in U.S. News and World Report, gave a fine essay on Terri Schiavo titled, "An Autopsy Won't End It." If Terri's death has troubled you, click here to read Mr. Leo's comments.

John Leo's column is based on a much longer article by author Joan Didion. Her essay is highly absorbing and enlightening. It presents information about Terri's life and death that has been distorted and, as Mr. Leo put it, "was slurred and muffled by the media and by shrewd, though completely misleading, right to die arguments."

Joan Didion's article contains part of an earlier court transcript in which her husband Michael Schiavo promised to keep her alive, and other information which has not been widely reported, such as the strange religious practices, including what can be described as demon possession, experienced by Michael's pro-death attorney ("I heard a deep, loud moan…I felt the midsection of my body open and noticed a strange quality of the light in the room. I sensed her soul in agony. As she screamed I heard her say, in confusion, 'Why am I still here…why am I here?'"). Didion says, "The exact significance of the Alien moment, the part when [he] felt the midsection of his body open, goes unexplained" in his book. Click here to read Joan Didion's essay. It may disturb you, but Didion sheds great light on Terri's case.

Joan Didion and John Leo are not evangelical Christians, and they say some things that I personally don't endorse. Didion is well known as a liberal and Mr. Leo is a moderate Republican, who is often too soft to suit me. But they both ask the same as yet unanswered question - do people with profound disabilities no longer have a right to live?

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