It has well been noted that the Victorian Age was one in which the subject of sex was taboo; no one spoke of it openly. The subject of death, however, was frequently if not easily discussed. On the other hand, the situation has been reversed in our day. The subject of sex is now freely broached with little of the embarrassment of earlier times, but the subject of death is avoided like the plague. Oh, it is true that people die on TV and in the movies all too often and much too violently; but people do not discuss its significance. It's all make-believe, you know. It is rare today to find a child who has been to a funeral; when death does occur, children are often left at home, shielded from the reality of death.
In recent years, in fact, I have noticed that there have been a rash of movies in which the reality of death is denied. People easily come back from the dead as zombies, ghosts, or even real people who were just quick thawed after being quick frozen. It's just make-believe, you may say, but the fact is that it's part of the denial that death is real.
People are searching for something to do away with death. They have turned away from Christianity as irrelevant to life, but still they are searching for the very thing about which Christianity is the most relevant. Paul wrote, "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied" (I Cor. 15:19). Jesus Himself went through death in order to give us a reason no longer to fear it. "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Moreover, Christianity faces the reality of death with the reality of Christ's resurrection. There is no fact of ancient history as well documented as the resurrection of Christ. It is little wonder: the good news that death need not be the end of life is worth preserving many times over and the ancients knew that as well as we moderns. People may scoff at the resurrection as ancient myth, but those in the ancient world were no fools. They were as acquainted with death as we, maybe more so. They well knew that dead people do not come back to life. But here was a tomb, guarded by soldiers, which was empty (John 20:1-8). And here were hundreds of people who had seen a man who died a torturous death alive once again (I Cor. 15:5-8). Further, they were willing to put their lives on the line because they could no longer be scared by threats of death (Acts 4:19-20). They now knew that death was not the end of life.
People in the Victorian age may not have talked much about sex, but it did not go away because of that. Our very presence is ample proof of that. Likewise, we today may not talk much about death, but it will not go away simply because of that. But thank God that there is good news. Jesus has overcome death and promised that we can too if we will put our trust in Him. He is the One who can destroy the reality of death.
Copyright © 1993, Bruce Terry. All rights reserved. This article may be freely reprinted in bulletins and newsletters so long as no charge is made to the reader and this copyright notice is included.