When looking at the stringent requirement list for organ transplants, something dawned on me. Doctors act as judges, measuring the choices and “quality of life” of an individual before allowing them to go on a waiting list for an organ transplant. Here are a few examples of disqualifying factors for organ transplants:
- Downs syndrome
- Smoking, drinking, other lifestyle choices
- History of illegal drug abuse
- Mood disorders
- Brain damage
- Physical incompatibility
- Patient’s inability to survive surgery
Of those factors, I see only two that are valid reasons for denying an organ transplant and only if one is qualified to make that judgment. After all, who are we to judge someone based on their past lifestyle choices or mental factors? According to the bible, even doctors are not qualified to judge others:
1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)
In the bible, it says that Jesus heals. Jesus saves. So why then are doctors not qualified? They too are healers. They too save lives. A Christian opinion might read as follows: Jesus healed the sick, but he saves our eternal life. Doctors save only our earthly life. The truth is, the reason doctors are not qualified to judge others is simply this: only our heavenly father is qualified to make such choices. According to James chapter 4, verse 11, those who speak against or judges another [believer] speaks against the law and judges it. Let’s take a look at what else the gospel has to say:
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?
James 4:12 (NIV)
There is only one judge, and that is God himself. So who are we to judge others? If we are not God, but rather created in his image, then who are we to judge anyone, for any reason? We are taught that people can change, that we can transform our lives for the better.
Getting back to the topic, many doctors do not hold the same measure that others do. Some will opt to save a life, regardless of past lifestyle choices or the timeframe in which these choices were made. Others will hold the measuring stick up to their patient, and if the individual is not “at least this tall,” they do not get to ride the life-saving ride of an organ transplant waiting list. Which brings us to the book of John, where a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought in to be stoned to death, according to the law of Moses:
7When they [the teachers of law and the Pharisees] kept questioning him [Jesus], he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:7-11 (NIV)
Therefore, can anyone truly say that they are without sin? Go on, I’ll wait. Still waiting. If you answered, “no,” chances are, you’re learning the truth. That human nature is sinful. Even doctors, the people we count on to heal us, have most likely committed sins in their lifetime. Yet, by judging others based on their lifestyle choices, they are potentially denying someone the chance to meet their grandparents, or a family might be being denied their mother or father, maybe a brother will have to lose his sister to heart disease or even a wife will lose their husband.
Doctors, by attempting to look at the situation so objectively–fail to realize the pain that they are causing–the pain a family will go through in losing someone who is much more to them than just a patient–because they will not be eligible for an organ transplant. Or maybe they aren’t causing as much pain as we’d like to think. I am not qualified to make that judgment. However, while we are taught as Christians to celebrate death as the passing of our brother or sister in Christ into His kingdom, it is still difficult at best to accept the loss of someone and in many cases it is absolutely crushing to lose a best friend or family member.
And–while we may think that doctors are qualified to make these decisions for us, we are certainly not excused from praying to our heavenly father for advice; as tempted as we are to allow our doctors to do the healing that we know only Christ can perform, we must always remember what the gospel says: “Do not judge.”