One of the many lessons that God is teaching global citizens in general and Christ followers of a Biblical worldview in particular, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, is the life and death concept of ethical triage.
Triage is the medical evaluation process of sorting out victims of a wartime battle or disaster, in a field or MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit, prioritizing who gets treated and when in emergencies. Doctors are faced with a question of probability, in terms of who they are to treat first- ‘operate on the soldier with an 80% chance of pulling through, or the other soldier, with a 50% chance of pulling through?’
The above question can be restated in any number of ways today, as we look at the effects of COVID-19. Do we prioritize individual lives at the expense of possible casualties from a compromised economic future? Do we isolate or quarantine everyone at the expense of our personal finances and national economy?
President Donald Trump has expressed concern that the coronavirus, “cure could be worse than the disease.” No less a theologian than Mr. Spock of Star Trek lore, once posited the view that, “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few.” That’s the struggle of triage and an issue we’ll be wrestling with in the weeks, if not months to come.
One of America’s historic and shared values is that of personal freedom or liberty – the autonomy of the individual to purse the Declarative principles of “… liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The problem of that ideal has been our collective willingness to ignore the first noun in that phrase, ‘life.” Whose life do we refer to or prioritize when we parrot out that uniquely American phrase?
We now know what the pro-abortion movement and its supporting advocates from the political party of death want, even in a coronavirus world of mandated lockdowns, quarantines, and a critical shortage of medical supplies. They are pushing to keep the business of abortion running – at all costs, for all costs.
Even as the federal government called on healthcare providers to cancel all elective and nonessential procedures, many abortion centers self-declared their services as “essential” and carried on business as usual. The governors of Texas and Ohio nonetheless, courageously and explicitly told abortionists to stop, at least for now.
Abortion activists have politicized the pandemic to predict that the increased demand for healthcare providers right now, could “create a shortage of clinicians” who can perform abortions and related “services.”
The irony of course that many fail to see in this, is that the sexual revolutionaries are putting the right of liberty to correct the personal and moral mistakes of millions, by infringing on the right to life of millions – the preborn, by virtue of calling it amazingly, an “essential” medical procedure.
Virtually every rational and reasonable person alive understands that abortion in more than nine out of every ten cases is a voluntary, elective, procedure where the only health issue becomes two-fold: one, the danger to the unborn child about to be executed in an abortion, who pro-aborts never refer to by name and two, the health of the woman who may be a risk to certain abortion practices, including the relatively new and convenient “morning-after pill”, which essentially produces a premature miscarriage in a pregnant woman.
Abortion of course, is at the ‘epicenter’ of the culture of death so prevalent in our society. Unsurprisingly in the wake of the euthanasia movement, Hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic are now engaged in a heated and private debate over a calculation few thought imaginable in their lifetimes — how to weigh the “save at all costs” approach to resuscitating a dying patient (usually the elderly) against the danger of exposing doctors and nurses to coronavirus and the shortage of supplies (i.e. respirators and ventilators).
As was the case according to reports from Spain – a nation that was overwhelmed by the virus, the risks of falling short of protective and treatment equipment for many patients, proved too great on occasion to justify the conventional response when a patient “coded,” and their heart or breathing stopped.
Could that happen in the United States? Never! Not so fast. One notable hospital in Chicago has been discussing a do-not-resuscitate policy for infected patients, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family members — a wrenching decision to prioritize the lives of the many over the one.
That’s ‘messed up’ triage. Several large hospital systems are looking at guidelines that would allow doctors to override the wishes of the coronavirus patient or family members on a case-by-case basis due to the risk to doctors and nurses, or a shortage of protective equipment.
What comes first then- life or liberty? Whose life and whose liberty and who decides?
One of the things that God is doing in this virus crisis, is forcing all of us to struggle with massive and new, sanctify of life and worldview issues. All of us who have a voice, a vote and a conscience must now practice biblical discernment, seek sanctified wisdom and a desire to so ‘renew our minds’ that we could practice godly triage – that we would know the revealed will of God by the word of God and pray for the wisdom of our elected and health officials by God’s common grace to practice godly triage.
In the meantime, Christians take comfort in the fact that nothing – including COVID-19 happens by chance (Pro. 16:33). Everything comes to us by our Father’s wise and loving hand.
We are not to live focused primarily on impersonal probabilities and statistics. By all means, we follow the guidance of our local and federal health authorities, but first and foremost, we look to our faithful and loving God who holds us in the palm of his hand.
Therefore, a big benefit from the pandemic is that it can serve as another one of God’s necessary wakeup calls to a slumbering nation to repent of sin and turn to Christ. In fact, a pestilence has often been a sign of God’s judgment on a people, as evidenced in 2 Samuel 24, where God punished His covenant nation because of David’s sin and the Lord’s disciplining punishment came to them in the form of a pestilence that took 70,000 lives.
As the 19th century Anglican theologian J.C. Ryle wrote in his booklet on sickeness: I know the suffering and pain which sickness involves. I admit the misery and wretchedness which it often brings. But I cannot regard it as completely evil. I see in it a wise plan and purpose of God. I see in it a useful provision to reduce the ravages of sin and the devil among men’s souls. If man had never sinned I should have been at a loss to discern the benefit of sickness. But since sin is in the world, I can see that sickness is good. It is a blessing quite as much as a curse. It is a rough schoolmaster, I grant. But it is a real friend to man’s soul.