Above and Beyond DNA

A slave woman’s life in ancient Egypt offered less than an ideal setting for motherhood. Pharaoh’s order to Hebrew midwives to kill all male children at birth accentuated an already hostile environment. Unintimidated, and Jochebed, mother of Moses, displayed brilliant courage, bucking all odds to spare the life of a son who would change world history.

“Moses was fitted to take pre-eminence among the great of the earth, to shine in the courts of its most glorious kingdom, and to sway the scepter of its power. His intellectual greatness distinguished him above the great men of all ages. As historian, poet, philosopher, general of armies, and legislator, he stands without peer.”

“Yet, with the work before him, he had the moral strength to refuse the flattering prospects of wealth, and greatness, and fame, ‘choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.’” E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 146.

Every human carries 8,388,608 gamete possibilities which means that the child of a parent couple has more than 70 trillion variant genetic combination possibilities. See Lane P. Lester and Raymond G. Bohlin, The Natural Limits to Biological Change (Dallas: Probe Books, 1989) 54. While a random assortment of DNA dictates the physical ID of a human, character development is vested in an individual’s personal power of choice. Apart from the wide diversity of physical appearances, there are only two character categories: the good and the evildoers.

Moses’ greatness was built on goodness. His goodness was based on an unselfish character and his character resulted from a lifetime of choices reflecting the righteousness of God, the Creator of DNA. Without goodness, there is no such thing as greatness.

Like Moses, the life of Desmond Doss demonstrated goodness in action. Both men lived courageous, purpose-driven lives as true and directed as “the needle to the pole.” The choices made and the decisions taken by both, looked to God for guidance. Desmond Thomas Doss (1919 – 2006), assigned by the U.S. Army to serve in the 77th Infantry Division’s Medical Detachment during World War II’s blood bath, put his life on the line, serving humanity. Like Moses, Desmond chose God’s goodness.

This gentleman of the American South, a lean stick of a man weighing in at hardly 150 pounds soaking wet, served God, his country, and his personal faith with courageous distinction. In a small college town just East of Chattanooga, Tennessee, stands a bronze statute honoring this remarkable Christian hero of conscientious conviction.

Cpl. Desmond T. Doss, unarmed World War II medic,

was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Truman
for life-saving heroism, above and beyond the call of duty.

Doss didn’t believe that man evolved accidentally over deep time. His life was rooted in the Bible narrative that humans were created in God’s own image and given the power of free choice. He faithfully celebrated that conviction by not only setting aside one day in seven to show respect for the creation miracle but also by kneeling bedside each evening to thank his Creator for another day of life. He resisted military pressure to carry a rifle designed to kill another human—unlikely credentials for a future recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

During World War II’s raging fury, when sixty million human lives were snuffed out, many Christian men and women stood tall in the tradition of the apostle Paul, risking their own lives courageously, to save others!

Doss, a humble Christian from the American south, epitomized Christian heroism. He did his duty serving his country and the United States Army as an unarmed medic during World War II. Doss took his faith with him, kneeling to pray bunk- side in Army barracks before retiring, ignoring the taunts. Once, while on his knees, a soldier’s boot sailed by, cast his way by a scoffer.

All bullying derision disappeared once the 77th Division faced combat in the bloody Battle of Okinawa and encountered “a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire” on Hacksaw Ridge. The only medic available to a 155-man company, the twice-wounded Doss, displayed “courage above and beyond the call of duty” by repeatedly exposing himself to the withering barrage sweeping the Maeda Escarpment, single-handedly rescuing 75 wounded soldiers.

The honor “citation” says it all.

“He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet [120 m] high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back.

“Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands.

“On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards [180 m] forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards [7.3 m] of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.

“On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet [7.6 m] from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards [91 m] to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire.

“On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. “Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards [270 m] over rough terrain to the aid station.

“Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.” Heroes like Doss, mostly unsung and largely unrecognized, walk the streets daily. Their lives preach inspiring sermons. Their message resonates.

More than ritually articulating the truth about God, true believers invite the power that created the universe by “the word of the Lord,” to enter their hearts, recreated their characters and guide their lives, embracing the same power source that created life on Earth and hung the moon.

The world sees Jesus in the shining-light lives of committed Christians! Professing allegiance to the creation miracle doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than stepping into a garage makes you a car. Church pews house the faithful who walk-the-walk, alongside the mean spirited, hangers-on, who flaunt exteriors, professing a “form of godliness.”

The most persuasive sermons are not preached from a pulpit, a TV screen, or composed in a book, but are lived each day on the street, in the office and in the home. Behavior, not intellectual pontificating, validates true religious faith! Peace begins with a smile, and a clear conscience, marking a rewarding trail to abundant living.

When intelligent integrity embraces God’s formula for inner peace, lives showcase the power of good trumping evil. Those walking with God overwhelm surrounding seas of human corruption just as certainly as a fragrant, white lily brightens the surface of a dismal, weed-choked pond.

Men and women of faith, who have walked the Earth from the beginning of time, comprise a royal line of believers, champions of all things good. Something more than charismatic attraction inspired the faith of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Peter, John, Paul, the blessed Polycarp, Augustine, Wycliffe and Luther. They put their lives on the line in commitment to the Creator of the universe.

Paul warned of the behavior of evildoers in the end times.

“But mark this: there will be terrible troubles in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power.” II TIMOTHY 3:1-5

In contrast, Paul highlighted the character traits reflecting goodness.

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” GALATIANS 5:22, 23 “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” COLOSSIANS 3:12,13

As quoted in Mathew 25, Christ made it clear that in the eyes of God, there are but two categories of people: the good, and the evildoers; the saved, and the lost. Unlike evildoers whose lives leave liters of trash heaps and global swaths of disasters, the likes of Moses and Desmond Doss leave a shining link to a royal line of righteous human beings stretching all the way from these “last days” to the beginning of time.

Warren LeRoi Johns