Margot’s Attitude

On a KLM flight to Amsterdam two weeks ago, I had a conversation with a member of the crew that chilled me to the bone. It illustrates what happens when the church fails to teach the hard truths of our faith. KLM is the Dutch airline. The flight crew was gracious, but one middle-aged woman called Margot was exceptionally friendly. As she cleared away the breakfast dishes, Margot asked what we were planning to do in Amsterdam. I told her I was speaking at the Billy Graham Conference on Evangelism. I also mentioned that I work in the prisons. In response, Margot told me she was a practicing Catholic and that she sang in a choir that performed in prisons. Since I was talking to a Christian, I thought I'd find out what Margot thought about euthanasia, which, of course, is legal in Holland. I assumed she would find it abhorrent, but to my astonishment, she gave an impassioned defense of it. She said she had seen her grandmother waste away in agony. The family wanted to help her die, but before they could arrange it, she died naturally. I explained to Margot that suffering could be managed without taking life. She replied that she had seen everything tried with her grandmother. I asked if other Dutch Christians shared her views. Yes, she replied--everybody thinks euthanasia is wonderfully humane because it enables us to help eliminate suffering. I challenged her with every argument I could think of. I told her that God puts our souls in our bodies when life begins and that humans cannot make the decision to take it. Margot, always smiling warmly, stood her ground. She insisted that euthanasia is a kind thing--that it's consistent with the views of good people. Well, I didn't change her; needless to say she did not change me. This woman was sincere about her faith and she really believed she was doing the right, kind, loving, and gentle thing -- yes, in her eyes, a Christian thing. She brought to mind C. S. Lewis's description of how the greatest evil is done not in sordid dens of crime, or even in concentration camps. "In those we see its final result," Lewis notes. "But it is conceived and ordered . . . in clean . . . warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars . . . who do not need to raise their voices." I confess, I got off that plane shaken. I realized that so often in a culture war, we're not up against evil people who enjoy killing. Instead, we're up against good, decent people who genuinely think it's humane and right to kill. Good Christians, like Margot. Margot's attitude signals a profound failure of the church. Everywhere we look, our culture is promoting euthanasia, abortion, and infanticide as loving, humane solutions. We even hear abortion of poor children talked about the same way. The challenge of the church is to confront this dangerous philosophy head on. Voluntary euthanasia leads directly to involuntary euthanasia, as is happening in Margot's Holland. You and I must teach the good people around us that euthanasia doesn't raise the curtain on a more "humane" society. Instead, it's the final curtain call on a culture of death.


Chuck Colson



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