As I mentioned in June, this summer in the Adult Bible Fellowship we studied the topic of Death and Dying. The notes for the summer turned out to be about 34 pages and are available here as a PDF. I'd be interested in your feedback.
In the Adult Bible Fellowship at our church, we are studying a series on death and dying which I've entitled "At the End of Life." A morbid subject, to be sure, but one that I think has some good application for us. In yesterday's lesson, we covered five reasons as to why people can become desensitized to death. Here they are:
1. Culture. Our culture in effect anesthetizes us to death. That is, culture deadens us, numbs our senses, sedates our awareness of reality, or puts us to sleep about the matter of death. It treats death in an unreal kind of way, with violent movies and so forth, but still distances us in a sense from the reality of it. This is not surprising. Why should people want to think about death? It is certainly not a very pleasant subject. Life is interesting or busy, so we don't have time to think about what comes afterward.
2. Satan. Why should the Devil want us to think about death? He would rather surprise us at the end after we live an entire life opposed to God. If you don't think about death, you don't think about what comes after death, and you don't think about the implications of it for your life â€œhere and now."
3. Senses. Another fact that drives this insensitivity toward death is that what we can see about death with our senses basically amounts to this: my loved one => death => his/her body goes to the grave and he/she goes to a â€˜better' place. What our eyes see and what our ears hear gives us all we have to go on-that is, from a naturalistic perspective. And in a way, not knowing more than this makes things easier than they really are. The reality we know apart from the Bible is basically â€œI miss that person." But with the Bible, we would know that an unbeliever is suffering for his sins, a far worse situation. God has made it possible for us to know more than our senses can tell us. He has revealed certain things (1 Corinthians 2:9-16) that are beyond the ability of mere empiricism to obtain them. And so, there is more beyond the grave. We know this from the Bible. People apart from the Bible surmise that this is the case, but always go astray on the particulars. With the Scriptures, we have accurate specifics about what happens to the soul and what happens after the grave.
4. Theology.Another factor that can dull our senses toward death is what I will call the theological factor, either good or bad. We can focus on the Biblically correct hope of the rapture in such a way that we lose the sharpness of the reality of death. Or, we can have bad theology, such as reincarnation or â€œall roads lead to God" and so try to mute the effects of death. The reality is that death is still an enemy (1 Cor. 15:26).
5. Medicine.Another de-sensitizing factor is the medical factor. We can get the idea that modern medicine works miracles in bringing the dead back to life or sustaining the body while it heals enough to function on its own. There are wonderful technologies available and we should encourage their use when appropriate to extend human life. Human life has value because it is made in the image of God. But trusting in the physicians (2 Chron. 16:12) so much that we forget about dying can put us in a real pickle. We can be stuck in a no-man's land â€œin-between" state of hanging between life and death on a ventilator and feeding tube while our brain is basically dead. Or we can get so involved in the oncologist's treatment that we don't realize until the last minute that death is settling over us and we only have a couple of days before this life is over. Sometimes treatment extends life. Other times, treatment does not extend life but only extends misery, or treatment may increase misery and shorten life.
We should be careful not to let these factors dull our sensitivity toward death. Except for the rapture, we will all face death.