Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Putting a price on the priceless. . .
Everything has a price, people say. But the problem is when we attempt to put a price on the priceless. It is not simply that we are undercutting another or bargaining for a good deal. It is much worse. It is when we put a price on things that are priceless. That is the essence of the pro-life cause. It affects not only abortion but reproductive technology and birth control and nursing homes and caps on spending on the aged. We put a price on life.
Now I am no fool. Though some insist that it is socialized medicine that defines life by the almighty dollar, I know that our insurance industry does the same. We negotiate coverage and deductibles and limits. I got a tetanus booster because my doctor informed me that if I wait, it will no longer be covered by insurance. You get the picture. Magnify that image by an aging nation and a declining birth rate. Costs go up and cost reduction is the goal of the day. My own congregation switched to a high deductible policy for our full-time staff and it shifts the burden from employer to employee. We all know it. We put a price on everything. Why not put a price on life?
It happens all the time and not just in abortion clinics or pharmacies or wherever birth control is purchased. People are putting a price on a child and deciding it costs too much to have one. Maybe they are proactive and prevent the pregnancy or maybe they use a medical procedure or pill to abort a pregnancy. Life is priceless -- except when people look at whether they can afford to have a child (whatever that means afford). We can afford what we want and we cannot afford what we don't want.
I visit nursing homes. I see what age and infirmity looks like. I hear the sounds of despair in the cries of the residents. It is impossible to miss what is there and what is missing -- like signs of a family or visitors. I hear people all the time ask why it would be so bad to put these folks out of their misery and I listen to folks asking their family and friends not to let them suffer so. I also hear the complaints about the high cost of skilled nursing facilities. But I also see that the staff of most of these facilities is low wage folks who come and go. This is not their end goal but a starting job on their way to better employment. We put a price on the priceless all the time.
That is the inherent weakness of all economic systems. That is why all economic systems so often conflict with the values of God and the morality of His Law. And that is why it is so hard to live in but not of the world. Some churches and pastors have chosen to live only in one. A few hide away from all everything that would conflict with their faith but most find a way to accommodate it and even exploit it. Have you never heard of religious entrepreneurs? Some of the biggest and most successful churches have worked the system so that they are of the world as much as in it. The rest of us try and find a balance, a way through, a path to maintain some integrity. It is hard work. It is messy. And it never feels like you have gotten it right.
God put no price on us but valued us with something that is beyond value. He gave His one and only Son for a world of sinners worth nothing. He renders priceless what is cheap. Only God can do this. And that is what God did. This is what the Church proclaims to a world with a dollar sign on everything.