How little is a life worth? Donald Trump, U.S. President, is trying to force schools to open in the fall. This is in spite of the increasing number of people being infected with the Coronavirus. And while one can maybe argue that the number of positive cases is due to testing, it’s impossible to say testing is responsible for the corresponding increases in hospitalizations and ICU beds with COVID-19 afflicted people. And I dare say, with the increasing number of people that will be dying in the next week or so because of all those other increases.
So – it begs that really important question I asked at the very beginning. How little is a life worth? Of course, that includes the kids going to school. But let’s not forget about the teachers. The staff positions. And since we tend to forget about them, the custodial staff is in there too, with maybe the most dangerous job of all – cleaning up.
How little is a life worth?
An Old Testament view
We think we’ve come a long way since Old Testament times. Smarter. More intelligent. More “civilized”. But are we? Before we get into more details about reopening schools while the COVID-19 Pandemic is getting worse, let’s take a look into the past. The Old Testament past.
I want to point out, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different locations have different issues. Some areas don’t have as bad of a problem with hospitalizations and deaths as others. Some have more money and therefore can take protective measures that poorer areas can’t. Other considerations come is as well.
However, given that mitigating factors do tend to be local and disproportionately affect poor areas, we need to remember that. I say this especially to Christians, since we’re told by Jesus to care for the widows, the orphans, the poor, and others – meaning we should care about and for those who are disadvantaged. And yes, that includes minorities and non-citizens. In other words, our neighbors. Christians should be aware that literally everyone is our neighbor. How little is a life worth? Every life?
So – with that in mind, let’s look at something from the Old Testament that everyone should agree was uncivilized.
Lev 20:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. 3 I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4 If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, 5 I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech.
For those who don’t know or don’t remember Molech, here’s some info you need to know. It’s the only way to understand why the punishment above is so strong.
Molech (moh´lek), the epithet of a deity to whom children were offered as sacrifices (Lev. 18:20; 20:3–5). The word molek, likely derived from Hebrew melek, “king” (cf. Isa. 30:33), was formed by substituting the vowels from the word boshet (“shame”). Exactly which god the Israelites dubbed Molech is unclear, however, since the title “king” (melek) could be used in many divine names. The names of the gods Adrammelech and Anammelech (2 Kings 17:31), to whom the Sepharvites offered their children by fire, contain the element melek, and either or both might be likely candidates for divinities the Israelites called Molech. Milcom, an Ammonite god, is actually called Molech in 1 Kings 11:7, but this could be a textual error (cf. 1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13).
Children were dedicated (“passed over”) and burned to Molech at the Tophet in the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem.
This practice in connection with Molech is specifically mentioned in only four biblical passages (Lev. 18:21; 20:2–5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35), but this type of offering without specific mention of Molech is referred to elsewhere as well (Deut. 12:31; 18:10; 2 Kings 16:3; 17:17, 31; 21:6; Jer. 7:31; 19:5; Ezek. 16:21; 20:26, 31; 23:37; 2 Chron. 28:8; 33:6). Some scholars have suggested that the terms “passing over” children to Molech and “burning in fire” indicate a dedication of the children to the god’s service rather than actual sacrifice. Jer. 19:5, however, calls such dedications “burnt offerings”; Ezek. 23:37–39 calls the act “slaughter” and says the children were given to the deity as food. Hence, many scholars conclude that offerings to Molech must be considered actual sacrifices (cf. Ps. 106:37–38). Wright, D. P. (2011). Molech. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition, p. 646). New York: HarperCollins.
Sacrificing children to pagan gods. How little is a life worth?
Sacrificing children to pagan gods. We’re way beyond that today. So civilized. We’d never do that. Right?
Sorry, but wrong! We still do it. The “god” isn’t called Molech. But the practice is still there.
And I submit that, for some if not many, part of that practice is using kids as scientific guinea pigs or political chips to get the economy going again. Enter the god of science. And the god of politics. And then there’s the god of power, because the real goal of the first two gods is to get people re-elected, under the assumption that everything’s going to be OK and the economy really will get better again. Or more likely, the impact will be delayed long enough for them to get re-elected. So the god of greed is in there as well.
The passage in Leviticus tells us the Hebrew people were sacrificing their children to Molech. Literally being burned alive. Is offering up children today to the risks of getting COVID-19 really any different? No, they won’t be burned with fire, but their little bodies may be severely tested with COVID if they can’t fight it off. And they may die. So when Christians go for opening schools for whatever reason, even the god of expedience to make our lives easier, are we doing anything different today?
How little is a life worth?
But there’s more.
Oh yeah – let’s remember the parents of those kids as well. And their brothers and sisters who aren’t of school age. And anyone else living in the house. While we’re remembering the ones we tend to forget, let’s also mention the low-income families, who tend to be minorities, where there are more extended family members than we generally see in white middle and upper class households. How little is a life worth?
Unless everyone stays at home, we also need to include others that each and every one of the people above comes in contact with, Neighbors. People at grocery stores. Pharmacies. Relatives outside the household. And others that I haven’t listed. How little is a life worth?
One other group that must be mentioned is the hospital workers. Doctors. Nurses. Custodial people, again. Actually any staff member. I know people who have staff positions at hospitals, and they come in contact with the doctors and nurses, so they’re also at risk. How little is a life worth?
So you can see, this list goes on and on.
While our president tries to claim that 99% of the cases are “totally harmless”, that’s just not true. One look at the death rate and just the ICU rates put the lie to that claim. And unless you think going to the hospital is totally harmless, then the percentage is even higher. How little is a life worth?
Our president also tries to claim that the kids aren’t affected as much as adults. Don’t know if you’ve seen some of what happens to children, but if you watch any news other than Fox News and One America Network, you can see it. It’s not, I repeat not, totally harmless. No parent would ever say that if some of those things happen to their kids. How little is a life worth?
Furthermore, even if the claim about kids was true, which it isn’t, you can see from the list above – there are so many adults put at risk every time a child gets sick. How little is a life worth?
Why am I addressing this primarily to Christians?
Yes, my question is targeted at Christians. Why? Because of something Paul wrote.
1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
No – we’re not talking about sexual immorality here. We’re talking about putting all kinds of people at risk of extreme illness and even death. That’s something that every Christian should be concerned about. If our President really is a Christian, that means he should be as well. And yet – well, you can read and see the news.
Just remember – Actions speak louder than words. And this whole thing is about the action of literally blackmailing schools into opening in the fall, in spite of what is obviously a significant threat to all the people listed about. Yes – blackmail, since he’s threatening to withhold federal money from schools that don’t open. Last I heard, that’s blackmail.
1Co 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
Christians aren’t to boast about anything, other than God Himself. Boasting about something that’s making people sick and killing some of them is hardly boasting about God. It’s boasting about the economy – a man-made economy, placed in a position of importance above God’s people.
Is that Christian? Remember, actions speak louder than words. And remember the question – how little is a life worth?
1Co 5:9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
Did you catch this part?
But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
Christians – how does that affect your feelings about our president? How many of you are spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to, yes, eat with the president? Do you believe God approves? Approves of Trump’s actions? And approves if you eat with Him? Approve if you support him?
1Co 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
That last verse is why I address my question to Christians. As a Christian, it’s not my business to judge anyone else. And even the word “judge”, it’s not my position to send someone to Hell kind of judgment either. That’s also up to God.
However, Christians are to address the issue of accountability. To try to help brothers and sisters stay on the narrow path that Jesus taught us of in the Bible. So that’s why I write things like this. To spur myself and other Christians to think and pray about what we do. How does God view us? And how closely do we represent Jesus, through our words and especially our actions, to non-Christians?
If you aren’t Christian – I still think it’s important to ask yourself these questions. I also believe it’s important for you to know how we should act – as opposed to how so many of us do act. How else can we ever hope to encourage you to join us in Heaven?
Reopening schools – a question for Christians
So – let’s look at some of what’s in the Bible about all those issues I raised above.
7:7-11 pp — Lk 11:9-13
Mt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Mt 7:9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Are you surprised to see this passage? Like what does this have to do with opening schools in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak?
Well, there’s an assumption buried in that passage that I believe needs to be considered.
Mt 9:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Do you see it? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children… Question: Making children go to school with such a high risk to them, let alone all the others they come in contact with, is that a good gift? Personally, I don’t think so. Do you?
Conclusion – how little is a life worth?
Let’s take that assumption. If we know how to give good gifts to our children, then how much more will God give us good gifts? Of course, it’s not material gifts. It’s gifts like love and caring for them.
However, what if we don’t give good gifts to our children? Gifts like love and caring for them? Instead of caring for them, what if we send them off to a school where they have such a good chance of getting extremely ill, maybe having effects for years if not permanently, and possibly even dying? What kind of gift do we expect then from God? Should we expect love from God, when we don’t show love to our children? Should we expect God to care for us, when we don’t care for our children?
Or should we expect the New Covenant version of Lev 20:5 I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech?
That might very well be what I think is one of the scariest verses in the Bible.
Mat 7:23 “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
How little is a life worth?
I pray that every life is treated for what God thinks we are worth.
|Wright, D. P. (2011). Molech. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition, p. 646). New York: HarperCollins.