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God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old

Christianity teaches that every single human life is valuable, even during a pandemic.

By Russell Moore

My grandmother always kept several freezers and multiple pantries loaded down with food, and hid emergency cash in a cubbyhole behind the medicine. As a child, I rolled my eyes at these habits, but she would say, “If you had lived through the Great Depression, you would understand.” I now realize that when I, or my children, are elderly we will be saying similar things to our own grandchildren: “If you lived through the Great Pandemic, you would understand.” I hope the lessons we take from our country’s experience with Covid-19 aren’t about food or avoiding the spread of germs, but about how we treat the most vulnerable among us. A pandemic is no time to turn our eyes away from the sanctity of human life. We already are hearing talk about weighing the value of human life against the health of the nation’s economy and the strength of the stock market. It’s true that a depression would cause untold suffering for people around the world, hitting the poor the hardest. Still, each human life is more significant than a trillion-dollar gross national product. Stocks and bonds are important, yes, but human beings are created in the image of God. We must also reject suggestions that it makes sense to prioritize the care of those who are young and healthy over those who are elderly or have disabilities. Such considerations turn human lives into checkmarks on a page rather than the sacred mystery they are. When we entertain these ideas, something of our very humanity is lost. Social distancing and shelter-in-place initiatives are hugely disruptive; that is true. People who need to be working, and who cannot work from home, are suffering. That’s why we need both the government at work to enable us to help one another through this time, and why we need a vibrant civil society to empower people to care for one another.

When it’s suggested that lives should be saved or sacrificed based on the perceived “quality” of those lives, something of our very humanity is lost.

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