Is a continuing lockdown morally right?

If it wasn’t so sad and pathetic it would be funny…these self-righteous men who won’t defend the lives of innocent unborn children talking about how “No one is expendable” and they won’t accept “a premise that human life is disposable.”

You mean disposable like this, Governor Cuomo?

In the age of COVID-19, being “pro-life” has taken on a new meaning as the pandemic has exposed ethical quandaries few of us have had to deal with before. How “pro” are we regarding protecting lives if it means severe restrictions on freedoms and livelihoods? What attitude are we morally obligated to have and how does that translate into public policy?

As I’ve pondered this I’ve been struck by how comparatively little I care about the lives of people I don’t know. That’s a stark admission but is it a damning one? How many of us have offered to take in a homeless stranger? Is anyone giving away every cent they don’t absolutely need to the poor and needy? Or to medical research?

I didn’t say I don’t care at all. I want the best for everyone and do give to and pray for folks I’ll never meet. And of course I would never intentionally hurt or kill another human being. But to what degree, if any, are we obligated to sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others?

Let’s see what our obligator has said about it.

Love your neighbor as yourself. – Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31

When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who was beaten by robbers and left for dead was unknown to the Samaritan, and Jews and Samaritans had an adversarial relationship. Nevertheless, the traveling stranger took care of him. Conversely, the priest and the Levite, who were ethnically related to the beaten man, actively avoided him.

The moral of the story, as I read it, is twofold. First, when we see someone in need we should meet that need if we are able. Second, that someone’s ethnicity, citizenship, religion, sexual orientation, etc. is irrelevant to our obligation to treat them as we want to be treated.

What the parable doesn’t teach is that we are obligated to put ourselves in need to possibly extend the lives of some who are mere statistics to us. That may be laudable but it’s not obligatory and neither is it necessarily wise or practical.

Right now many are seeing their hard-earned livelihoods destroyed as we are forced to continue suspending commerce to minimize the spread of the virus. And I just want to ask, is that morally right? If we don’t limit speeds on the highways to 35 mph though we know that will save lives, and don’t ban alcohol despite the fact that drunk drivers are responsible for the majority of highway collision deaths, or tobacco products regardless of their obvious link to cancer, why are these extreme lockdown measures touted as morally required?

No, human life is not disposable, and we are obligated not to unjustly take another’s life. But we are not obligated to so order our lives that the risk of death to anyone is absolutely minimized. I think we all recognize this, but saying it out loud can make us sound callous to some.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor. – Romans 13:10

That’s how the Apostle Paul interpreted God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. I’m praying that our government leaders increase their concern for the wrong being done to many of our neighbors in their directives meant to protect the lives of a relative few. And to also hold as of primary relevance that God ultimately decides who lives and who dies.