Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More from Ethics

“If we nevertheless must say that self-murder is reprehensible, we can do so not before the forum of morality or of humanity, but only before the forum of God. The self-murderer is guilty before God alone, the creator and lord of the person’s life. Because there is a living God, therefore self-murder is reprehensible: the sin of unbelief. Lack of faith, however, is not a moral fault; it can accompany motives and deeds that are both noble and mean. Unbelief does not reckon, in good things or bad, with the living God. That is its sin. Unbelief is the ground from which human beings reach out for their own justification and its ultimate possibility, serf-murder, because they do not believe in a divine justification. Unbelief hides from people in a disastrous way the fact that even self-murder does not deliver them out of the hand of God, who has prepared their destiny. Unbelief does not recognize, beyond the gift of bodily life, the Creator and Lord who alone has the right to dispose over creation. Here we come up against the fact that natural life has its right not in itself but in God. Freedom towards death, which is given in human natural life, is misused when it is not used in faith in God.

“The right to the end of life is reserved for God, because only God knows the goal toward which a life is being directed. God alone wishes to be the one who justifies or rejects a life. Before God, self-justification, and therefore self-murder, is the epitome of sin. There is no compelling reason for rejecting suicide as reprehensible other than that there is a God above us. Self-murder denies this fact.”

“…God gives people the freedom to risk their lives for something greater, but God does not will this freedom to be used arbitrarily against their own lives. As surely as one should offer one’s life as a sacrifice for others, so surely one should not turn one’s hand against oneself. A person should place earthly life utterly into the hand of God from which it came, even though it be a life of torment, and not try to be liberated from it by self-help. When dying, one only falls again into Gods hands, which had seemed too severe in life.”—Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pages 198-199, 200

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