Historical Relic or Priceless Treasure?

Wind ensemble, academic regalia, inspiring speeches, uproarious cheers from families (who probably paid the bills), and a joyous celebration of thousands…including dancing bagpipes! This was the scene at our daughter Abigail’s recent graduation ceremony from Loyola University Chicago, where she received her Master of Science degree in nursing.

What captured my heart—beyond the pride I took in Abigail’s completion of this arduous task—was the university’s faithful adherence to the Hippocratic Oath, which clearly and boldly calls for respect, even under threat, toward human life in the womb.

The Oath of Hippocrates

  • I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
  • I will give my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;
  • I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; the health of my patient will be my first consideration;
  • I will maintain by all means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession; my colleagues will be my brothers;
  • I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient;
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.
Declaration of Geneva, 1948 version

This oath has been debated and reevaluated (and sometimes even disregarded) by the medical profession throughout the past many decades. Some of that process is understandable (changing “brothers” to “sisters and brothers,” for example), yet there are portions of the oath that transcend time and still stand to reason in our postmodern day.

The highlighted line above—”I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity”—captures the life-giving essence of the Gospel. If all of us—not only those in the medical profession—allow ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Christ in every aspect of our daily living, then we can influence the world’s perspective of the value of all human life, from conception to natural death.

This is the world that we need to build for future generations. It will not be possible to accomplish in our own strength, but Jesus came to bring to the world abundant life (John 10:10), and He will not be thwarted! Let us stand with Jesus and be united in our respect for all human life!

 

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