WARNING: This post is probably a spoiler for the movie "Seven Pounds." (I say probably since I haven't seen the movie and there's a small chance that I'm so wrong that it doesn't rightly spoil it at all. Ha!)
A few weeks ago, Katie's friend came to visit, having recently had a night at the movies. She had seen "Seven Pounds" and loved it. Katie, on the other hand, had not seen the movie but had heard a synopsis of it, one which boiled it down to a brief ethical analysis of sorts. She was wary of its message as a result, and they had an interesting and thought-provoking discussion. Katie's friend was insistent: Katie hadn't seen the movie, and wasn't able to so simply state that it was wrong.
The premise of the movie as Katie and I understood it, and as her friend protested was highly over-simplified, was that the hero of the movie made arrangements with various people (including his girlfriend) who were in need of organ transplants, so that they would receive his, and then he committed suicide to make his organs available for transplant. The movie was played out in such a way as to make his action seem fully justifiable and heroic, and the movie was considered a tear-jerker.
The problem that Katie found with the movie was that it glorified suicide, making it seem that it would be the heroic thing in extenuating circumstances. My thought is that it is just like the movie industry to present such a scenario and present it in an emotion-laden format so that it is more readily remembered and accepted by those who pay to view it. The intent seems to be that the viewer might consider life to be properly given into the hands of humanity, rather than God-given, that its worth is something that might rightly be weighed by us, rather than by our Creator, lending justification and credence to "mercy killings," euthanasia, suicide, and abortion.
Humanity is not qualified to make those judgments, those decisions, and determine the value of individual human lives. We cannot determine what gives a life value to God, or why and how long He allows a person to live; we cannot determine whose life is most or least valuable. Judging by how long God has given people to live out their natural lives, value of life cannot be based on viability, strength, beauty, intelligence, usefulness, age, race, gender...none of these things have corresponded to any consistent natural lifespan here on earth. The more that we consider such decisions to belong in our hands the lower the resulting value is likely to become; the less valuable the lives around us are considered to be, the less valuable our own lives become as well. Still, I would guess that our society is headed in the direction of more widely accepting such human decisions as increasingly acceptable, even humane, and it will be in part thanks to media presentations such as "Seven Pounds."
Katie took her analysis a step further and tried to articulate a difference she felt existed between this type of suicide and a scenario where a person intentionally takes a bullet that was meant for another. We struggled with this and our friend Kit helped us through it. This is only a partial analysis of the difference; there are other factors that come into play, but it explains it somewhat: When a person gives his organs, he has no control over whether the recipients will actually get them, whether the organs will save their lives, or whether the organs will be rejected by the recipient's immune system. Organ transplant is widespread, but it is still an unsure science. There are many factors that can skew the outcome of a transplant. The "hero" of "Seven Pounds" is surely killing himself for an unsure benefit. When a person takes a bullet for another, on the other hand, he is not sure that he is going to die in the process, but he makes a quick decision on the impression that he is saving the other person from potential death from that bullet.
We need to ponder what the messages are that barrage us, that we allow our minds and emotions to receive. We need to test them against the Scriptures; we need to value God's sovereignty in all areas of life, especially the giving and taking of it. He is the one to determine our days: Psalm 139:16 says, "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." We need to avoid getting caught in the traps that Satan has so cunningly set for humanity. It is easy to let our emotions get caught up in the story line of a manipulative movie, advertisement, television show, book. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." That thief is Satan, and we must not cooperate with him in his murderous schemes.
Psalm 119:78 May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; but I shall meditate on Your precepts.