How would those who have sought death for Terri Schiavo figure in the story of the Good Samaritan?
In this parable, remember, criminals robbed and stripped a traveler headed from Jerusalem down to Jericho. They beat him and left him half dead by the side of the road. Had the traveler remained there, he surely would have died. He might even have died of thirst in that desert land.
A priest came along. But rather than save the helpless man, he passed by on the other side of the road. So, too, did another traveler.
Then a Samaritan discovered the incapacitated stranger. He cleaned his wounds and brought him to an inn. He instructed the innkeeper to care for the injured man and vowed to cover the cost.
Could the injured stranger talk? Was he mentally disabled? Was he in a persistent vegetative state? Was there any hope he might recover his former good health?
We do not know, because Jesus did not tell us.
The Gospel only says the Samaritan was the traveler's good neighbor and that Jesus told the Samaritan's story to teach a so-called "expert in the law" just what it means to be a good neighbor.
Apparently, the wounded traveler's precise clinical condition and prognosis were not important factors in determining what simple human decency demanded of the traveler's neighbors.
Now who are Terri Schiavo's good neighbors?
It was no stranger who found Terri injured and helpless one day 15 years ago. It was her own husband -- a man who vowed before God to care for her in sickness and in health.
Unlike the Good Samaritan, Terri's husband did not need to use his own money to pay for her care. He won more than $700,000 in a legal settlement for that very purpose.
Over time, this husband would take up with another woman. He would belatedly claim to remember his injured wife once told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. So he asked a judge if he could starve and dehydrate her to death.
The judge ordered the innkeeper to withhold all food and water from the wounded woman.
Her parents then pleaded with the husband and the judge to allow them to care for their daughter. The judge and the husband refused. Terri must die, they said.
First, the state legislature and the governor, then Congress and the president, coming up the road, could not avoid seeing what was happening. They resisted the temptation to cross the road and move on. But neither did they pick Terri up and put her in a place where they could preserve her life.
They did not pass a law prohibiting the killing of any innocent person at any time by dehydration and starvation. Apparently, a majority of lawmakers wanted to preserve the option of killing some innocent persons some of the time by dehydration and starvation.
What the legislatures did, in effect, was give new and different judges the authority to decide whether to starve Terri. These judges, too, decided she must die.
Horrified that a disabled woman was being deliberately starved and dehydrated to death in their own country, many good neighbors went to the inn where Terri was now imprisoned and reportedly attempted to peacefully bring her a drink of water. Police arrested them.
Thus in America, in 2005, law and morality were turned upside down. Those who sought to take an innocent life were defended by judges. Good Samaritans were jailed.
This event will be remembered as a giant signpost along the highway leading America down into the Valley of Death. We are being driven down that highway by judges who are a law unto themselves.
If liberal judges now remove the Ten Commandments from every public building in the land, if they jackhammer the Decalogue from the walls of the Supreme Court itself, they would only symbolically re-enact the real act of vandalism they have already committed: "Thou shall not kill" has been denied the full force of law in this republic.
You can kill human embryos for medical research. You can kill an unborn child up to the moment of birth. You can kill a helpless, disabled woman.
Who's next? Who knows? Our Founding Fathers believed the right to life is an inalienable gift from God. Now, liberal judges play God, taking the right to life from innocent people as they deem fit.
They will continue to do so until our legislators and chief executives -- who take oaths to defend our rights -- work up the courage to use their own lawful authority to stop them.