Me Before You


After taking a class called Faith, Film, and Philosophy in graduate school, I can no longer watch movies for pure entertainment and enjoyment. This class has taught me to look for the philosophies taught in movies and to filter it through a Christian worldview. Movies are more just than the acting and cinematography, the message matters too.

From the preview of the movie Me Before You it looked like a romantic film. One day while on Facebook I saw that the Gospel Coalition had posted an article on it. After reading it, I thought to myself, “that’s what the movie is really about?” I thought maybe I won’t watch the movie anymore, but I decided to because of my growing interest in bioethics and because of free tickets. Spoiler alert* The movie is about a quadriplegic who decided to end this life by means of self-assisted suicide (SAS). The movie has a dangerous and degrading message for those who are disabled.

Movie Synopsis: The movie takes place in a small town in England. The two main characters are Louisa Clarke and Will Traynor. Will Traynor had everything going for him (by the world’s standards). He was a healthy, wealthy, good looking, a thrill seeker and successful banker, but after an accident he was left quadriplegic and confined in a wheelchair. Louisa Clarke was brought up in a lower class family. She is in desperate need of a job to help support her family. She is hired by Will’s mother to take care of Will. Louisa is cheerful, chatty and quite quirky with a sense of style that is very noticeable. She doesn’t care what people thing about her. She is content being a small town girl.

The two of them come from different worlds but are brought together because of Will’s situation. Louisa does everything in her power to make a tough situation better and even tells Will’s mother she won’t let her down. She undergoes rejection after rejection from Will until she has a breakthrough. She is finally able to get Will to smile, laugh, and leave the house for outings and travel. They even fall in love. As the movie progresses Louisa hopes that Will would change his mind. Will is too selfish to let anyone love him deeply and truly. Sadly, love was not enough to give Will the will to live. All Will could think about is what it “feels” like to be a man and his “old self,” he didn’t like his “new self.” Will chooses to end his life even with the love and relationships that surrounded him. Will just was utterly unhappy with the way his life turned out to be.

The story is tragic and if you’re like me you won’t leave the movie with dry eyes. The movie gives you a sense of hopelessness although it wants to portray Will’s decision as bold or even heroic.

The film has a deeper message than a love lost. This film normalizes self-assisted suicide and sends a dangerous message about and to the disabled community. The movie tells us being disabled is not a life worth living and “dying with dignity” is the best way out of this life. The film wants to give Will the “right to die.”

What is SAS? Self-assisted suicide:

Physician assisted suicide is a second form of assistance in dying, and in this situation the physician more actively serves as a casual agent in the patient’s death. The physicians’ role in physician-assisted suicide is normally to provide a medical means by which a patient can take his or her own life. This is generally done through a prescription for a lethal does of medication. The physician provides the medication and instructs the patient on how much medication to ingest. If the patient follows the instructions and takes the medication, death occurs within a few minutes. In this case death is caused directly by the medication and not by the underlying disease. So far, all of the ballot initiatives that have arisen in various states have attempted to legalize physician-assisted suicide only.[1]

SAS is now legal in 5 states: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and the fifth state is my home state California. It is also legal in some places in Europe such as Switzerland, which is the place that Will had his performed.

I want to talk about the dangerous ideas that are found in the film by quoting Will:

Dangerous Idea #1

“I pretty much just exist.”

Will thinks that his existence doesn’t matter and living disabled is a terrible way to live. This is an awful message to send about people who are disabled. It makes them seem as if they are less than a person or even dehumanizes them.

Dangerous Idea #2

“The world will be a better place without me.”

Will thinks he is a burden to the people who care for him. This movie presents the idea that disabled people lives are not worth living because they will be dependent on others for the rest of their lives. Will thinks the greatest good is to end his life because he will no longer be a burden to his family and the people who care for him. He thinks that is better for them to just move on with their lives. He thinks his life only matters if he could just have his old life again. Even though Louisa tells him how important he had become to her and how profoundly he has impacted her life for the better. She tells him she learned more about life in the six months she has known him and that she has become a whole new person because of him.

In a Christian worldview, Will’s life is important, he has intrinsic value, something with intrinsic value is valuable in and of itself. The Christian worldview does not look at people using a cost and benefit analysis. People are valuable no matter what because they are made in the image of God. It is not dependent on if we are able bodied or disabled.

Dangerous Idea #3

“I don’t want you to miss out on all the things that someone else can give you.”

Will assumes that because he is disabled that he cannot be the right man for Lou. During a beautiful night under the stars at the beach Will tells Lou about his plans, but she already knew. She tells him that she can make him happy. But Will tells her that he is going to go through with it because he promised his parents six months. One thing he can’t give her is physical pleasure, but I don’t think that is what Louisa is looking for, you can tell she loves him and is content with just being with him. He thinks she will miss out on something or someone better. Do people miss out on life because they decide to love a disabled person? Are disabled people not worthy of love and affection? Isn’t there more to life than physical pleasure?

Dangerous Idea #4

“I don’t want to go in yet, I just want to be a man whose been with a girl in a red dress a few minutes more.”

Will doesn’t feel like a man because of his disability. There is a difference between feeling like a man and being a man. While Will no longer is able to do some things that men do, it does not mean he is no longer a man. He has confused his essence with function (who are you vs. what you do).  A man doesn’t cease to be a man because he can no longer do things. We are humans and we have human functions. The converse would like to say, we have functions and therefore we are human. Think about these examples:

  1. When we have generalized anesthesia our human functions, we lose function.
  2. Irreversible coma, we lose function.
  3. In deep sleep, we lose function.

Are we no longer human during these times when we lose function? Something is grounding us as a human even when we lose function, and we as Christians call that the soul or the image of God.

This movies sends out a very dangerous and degrading message about the disabled community and about what kind of life is worth living. The movie wants to tell the audience to #LiveBoldy and  “you have this one life, it’s your duty to live it as fully as possible.” How do we live it as fully as possible if we’re telling disabled people that their lives aren’t worth living and they are better off dead? Living boldly is choosing life when life gets difficult, it is the willingness to fight the good fight and not to give up. There are many people who are disabled who live fulfilled lives even with their dependence on others. The movie is telling us If you’re unhappy with your life, you can just end it, in fact, you have the right to. How is it that suicide is tragic, but self-assisted suicide is heroic? How is this brave in one situation and not the other. How is it in suicide we have prevention or awareness and in self-assisted suicide there is promotion. Self-assisted suicide is still suicide. Death with dignity is still death.

The movie presents the idea that living a disabled and dependent life is not worth living. In reality, there are many people who do live dependent lives and are amazing human beings that do impact the world for better. One person, I can think about is Joni Earekson Tada (learn more about her). Also, check out this video on Francesco Clark who is living with a spinal cord injury and even says his life has gotten better after his injury:

I am sad about how the movie ended. Our culture tells us our identity and being are based on things that we do, our success, or our accomplishments. Will had a false hope in life, he invested his life in his wealth, looks, career, social status, and pleasure. When he no longer had those things he hated life and wanted to die. C.S. Lewis says, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”

The Christian worldview values human life because humans are made in the image of God, life is sacred. God is the giver of life and he has the final say about a person’s life (Job 30:23, Ecc. 3:1-2, 8:8). The only person in the entire movie that anything close to a Christian worldview was Louisa’s mother, you may even notice she was wearing a cross in the film, she says, “Some choices you don’t get to make. It’s no better than murder.” She was the voice of reason while everyone else went along with Will.

Our culture needs to know that good things can come out of bad situations. Our culture needs to know that there is a God who understands suffering because he has been through suffering. If you trust in Him, he promises that one day he will end all suffering:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Rev. 21:4

Live boldly for the Glory of God.

Further Reading:

[1] Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices pg. 213-214



I know it has been while! But I was encouraged by a friend to blog again.

Back in January I went down to Southern California and visited my old church. I always enjoy worshipping with my brothers and sisters there and hearing sermons from Pastor Matt. The topic he preached on was “Persuasion and Authority” using the story of the Rich Ruler from Luke 18:18-30. The sermon illustrates what we should do when sharing our faith.

You can listen to the sermon here:

What we should do when sharing our faith:

  1. Ask questions-question their beliefs so they can re-think what they believe.
  2. Build on common ground.
  3. Question the biggest disconnect.
  4. Challenge and resolve with the person of Jesus.

We can follow Jesus’ example in this story:

The Rich Ruler

18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers[a] or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”


Ruler asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The ruler is an example of the ultimate good person, religious, rich, successful and people want to be like him.

1. Jesus asks the question:
“Why do call me good?”

-Jesus wants him to rethink goodness.
-Do you need to be good to have eternal life?
-What is goodness?

2. Jesus builds common ground:

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’”
-Both grew up Jewish
-Both believe in the Ten Commandments
-Both believe in God of Old Testament

3. Jesus questions the disconnect:
Ruler thinks he is good.

Three essential realities:

  1. Jesus tells the Ruler, “No one is good except God alone.”
  2. We know God’s goodness from his law.
  3. We have to be good according to His standard.

The Ruler wants to make a standard of good on his own terms.

4. Jesus is going to challenge the disconnect with who He is.

Jesus only questioned the horizontal commandments (toward others). He didn’t mention the vertical commands (your heart towards God). Jesus is going to give a summary of those vertical commands in verse 22:

“One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 

Jesus is offering eternal life to the Rich Ruler, Jesus tells him, “follow me” because Jesus is what makes him good.  Jesus knew the heart of the Ruler and pointed it out to him and challenged him, but the Rich Ruler walked away sad because he loves his money. He did not want Jesus and his goodness. The Rich Ruler’s heart has been revealed.

When we are sharing our faith with others we can look to Jesus as an example of how he handles people and their questions. It is so important to ask questions and to listen to people. We have to understand what it will cost the person if they were to follow Jesus. A person’s cost often will be revealed. We can see clearly that for the Rich Ruler it was his material wealth. He thought his riches were better than Jesus, His goodness and offer of eternal life.

I hope we can be better persuaders for the Gospel, may we bold, gentle, respectful, loving and winsome.




Trip to the Philippines


Mabuhay! I got back to the US on Monday and still trying to get over my jet lag! I just wanted to share with you this update from our team.

Update: First International Trip to the Philippines- A Smashing Success

We’re pleased to announce that our first international conference, held in Manila, the Philippines, was a victorious ministry for the Lord in mid-July! Ratio Christi thanks our own “Fantastic Four” International Team for this trip: John Stewart, Ramon Margallo, Abigail Hohenstreet and Jane Pantig. To see how the concept for this Philippines conference first took shape last October and the brilliant God-led qualifications of these four folks, here’s our original article announcing the endeavor,“Certainty of Christianity in a Generation of Uncertainty.”

John Stewart, Ratio Christi’s International Director, shares: “Within three weeks of issuing announcements, we had more than 300 registered.” That was before even going!

Stewart gives us some insight into the schedule and great results of the conference:

“The conference was a huge success. Hundreds showed up for the first 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event. We had two plenary sessions, a lunch break, and breakout sessions in the afternoon. My favorite part of the conference was our final session when the four of us took questions from the audience to close out the event.

Our weeknight academy was three hours per evening. Each team member taught a course for two hours and 30 minutes. This was also well-attended. The hunger for biblical truth was evident in the questions asked by the attendees – many of them budding apologists.

During the week we had the chance to address a combined chapel for Baptist Bible College Asia, with some 400 students in attendance. Ramon and I also met with key Christian leaders from the greater Manila area, and the excitement about Ratio Christi was genuine.

Before we left, there were preliminary plans for us to return and hold another apologetics conference at a larger venue, and there were at least five university campuses where an interest was expressed in establishing a Ratio Christi club! And Ramon, now acting as the coordinator for Ratio Christi Philippine Islands, has also identified key Christian leaders who may be willing to serve as point men in the Philippines for developing these chapters.

Our first Ratio Christi International apologetics mission was a tremendous success due to the dedication of our team and the sacrifice they made to go to the other side of the world to teach and inspire Christians and to reach out to unbelievers. The need for a campus apologetics ministry in the Philippines and other countries is as great as it is in the U.S.”

Stewart reflects on the need for Christ both stateside and internationally:

There is opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of believers and unbelievers alike before they are steeped in the skepticism, secularism and nihilism that are rampant in America. Pray for apologist laborers who will step up and help us address the needs on campuses throughout the Philippines and around the world.

Abigail Hohenstreet added some funny experiences from the trip and more conference accomplishments:

“God so blessed our time in Metro Manila and outlying areas. I have to mention the food. Without being fed some of the most amazing, fresh seafood I’ve ever had, I don’t know how we would have found the strength to keep ministering as much as we did. We were all speaking at various engagements throughout the days and evenings. Our meal breaks and the fellowship with people really kept our strength up.

The Filipino people are incredibly laid back. During our trip, Jane and I accidentally set the dinner table on fire in the middle of a restaurant (courtesy of an unfortunately placed candle and a nearby napkin)! One of the ministers, Pastor Jun, helped me rush to pour water on the flame. Literally no one else in the restaurant even batted an eye!  The people are so nice that they won’t even make fun of you.

On Thursday, while Ramon and John went to a breakfast meeting with a large group of indigenous leaders, Jane and I went to Alabang where we were able to speak to university students and faculty during their joint chapel services. On Friday, we joined with Christ Commission Fellowship, Greenhills Fellowship, and Megacity Ministries leaders as well as other evangelical pastors for a discussion about prophecy in light of current events. That night, Dr. Stewart gave a detailed address regarding Israel’s history, development, and present circumstances. We were challenged to think critically about how Christians are to respond to and interact with the difficulties of international affairs of our day.

About 500 people came to our first conference on Saturday, representing various churches, colleges, and provinces. Because it was open forum, some people attended who hadn’t before heard such information, and 20 people accepted Christ! On Sunday, our team attended the 20th anniversary for our hosting church, and a message on the four spiritual laws was preached because of all of the visitors. Another 45 people made professions of faith during the two morning services!”

The trip was extended to include more ministry. Hohenstreet continues:

“Last weekend, we led another conference in Quezon City, sponsored by a group called Jworx – a group of about 40 young professionals in various fields. We trained them in areas like biblical morality and ethical  impacts on jurisprudence; cultural engagement and understanding apologetics in public policy; scientific evidences for the existence of God; biblical peacemaking; historical and archaeological evidences for the reliability of the Bible; and much more! Many of our conference attendees said they left feeling equipped to serve God and others in their various influential vocations.

While John and I returned to the states, Ramon, his wife Nenette (“Nini”), and Jane stayed behind to do another week’s ministry to communities throughout the Philippines. Please also pray for our international team as we plan for the upcoming trip to Kenya that is to take place in August!”

In a previous Ratio Christi post on the team’s second day in Manila, Hohenstreet concluded:

There’s a theme that we hear from [international] believers that the American Church could learn from: ‘Everyone is a minister; every job is mine.’ They have a deep understanding of their responsibility – that becoming a follower of Jesus entails a commitment to study and show oneself prepared to help others in their truth quest; plus a willingness to give of time, talent, and treasure to serve in any capacity that’s necessary. It’s inspiring to see mission-minded servant hearts and strong leadership.

Original post at:

God is on the Move


Ratio Christi Philippines Update

photo (7)

Mabuhay from the Philippines! Last Saturday was our first ever Ratio Christi International conference in Pasig City. We had about 500 people show up! People are getting saved! Our team found out yesterday that during the conference 20 people came to Christ! We are rejoicing! People are hungry for truth, want to know the evidences that support the faith and want to reach the world for Christ. It is amazing to see God move here in the Philippines. 

During the conference we had a praise and worship time, two plenary sessions, 3 break out sessions and a Q&A session. Today, we start our four day academy and attendees can even get credit towards their Bible College degrees. We had many students from Baptist Bible College of Asia in attendance. Also, after completing the academy attendees will be able to get a certificate from Ratio Christi and start Ratio Christi Chapters in the Philippines. Please continue to pray for our work here. We have lots more to do. We have been invited to speak at a couple of chapels this week and next week we have two more conferences. What an amazing opportunity. Glory be to our God.

Grace and Peace,



Intelligent Design with Stephen Meyer


I am a big fan of Stephen C. Meyer and his work he is doing in Intelligent Design. So I thought I would highlight him.


Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge trained philosopher of science is examining and explaining the amazing depth of digital technology found in each and every living cell such as nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, and genomic operating systems.

Meyer is developing a more fundamental argument for intelligent design that is based not on a single feature like the bacterial , but rather on a pervasive feature of all living systems. Alongside matter and energy, Dr. Meyer shows that there is a third fundamental entity in the universe needed for life: information (Taken from

Here is his biography

Dr. Stephen Meyer is the author of Darwin’s Doubt and Signature of the Cell.

Check-out some of his lectures:

Darwin’s Doubt

Signature of the Cell



Intelligent Design and Hip Hop

Intelligent Design in Hip-Hop Star Lecrae’s Music


For those ENV readers who care to know, my work playlist is pretty diverse. It includes quite a bit of rock from the early to mid 90s (when I hit adolescence), like Smashing Pumpkins, The Offspring, Nirvana (and then Foo Fighters), G N’ R, Presidents of the United States of America, Beck, and Pearl Jam. My playlist also includes some rap and hip-hop from the likes of Snoop, Dre, Coolio, and others, reflecting my roots growing up in the urban environment, attending large, inner-city public schools. In fact, Snoop Dogg went to my high school, which is right around the corner from VIP Records.

Last month, I added some new playlist material from the hip-hop/rap end of the music spectrum. That was after I discovered a relatively new artist named Lecrae. Time magazine recently published a profile of this rising Christian hip-hop artist:

An evangelical Christian rapper has taken over the iTunes hip-hop/rap chart. Three of the top 10 spots, including slots No. 1 and No. 2, have belonged to Lecrae ever since his new album, Gravity, dropped on September 4.

Many people — Christian believers and others — might roll their eyes at the idea of a “Christian hip-hop/rap” artist. But Lecrae is something different. Whether or not you agree with his message, listen to the music and you’ll quickly find that, as far as talent goes, Lecrae isn’t fronting (that’s “bluffing,” for those who don’t know rap-speak) when he says he’s both “not some church boy trying to do rap music” and “not some rapper trying to cash in, trying to call myself a Christian.”


But let’s be honest. As brilliant as some rap artists are, rap music as a whole doesn’t exactly have a reputation for intellectual depth. But again, Lecrae is something different. In fact, after purchasing one of his older albums, I discovered that one of his songs discusses intelligent design by name, and even mentions irreducible complexity. Here are the relevant lyrics from his song, “It’s Your World“:

He uses intelligent design
Like eloquence confined
Life elements assigned by
Elohim my God
He left his fingerprints
You thinking that our origins are coincidence
Our symmetry alone makes
Evolution look ridiculous
And since our complexity is more than irreducible
The fact our design had a designer is irrefutable
I use science too to make a statement like this
The existence of an atheist proves God exists

Yes, Lecrae’s overall message is unmistakably religious. But as he correctly points out, when he makes an argument for design it’s not a religious argument — as he says, “I use science too to make a statement like this.”


Don’t mistake my meaning. Yes, yes, I know it’s only a pop song. I offer the observation only because it’s nice to see how ID is penetrating the culture at all levels, from celebrity atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel to a hip-hop star like Lecrae.

Image: Reach Records.

Casey Luskin October 4, 2012 5:45 AM |


Original post: