Euthanasia, right or wrong?

Christians are generally opposed to euthanasia, because they regard life as belonging to God, and therefore His to give and take.

So an individual does not have the right to decide to end his or her life. But the question is not as simple as that for the following reasons.

1) Preserving life is not always the highest absolute: the Old Testament allows for killing in war and for capital punishment, and commands Christians to do good even if means certain death.

2) The term “euthanasia” covers a variety of situations, which are not all morally the same.

3) There are two distinct questions: is Euthanasia morally justifiable, and should it be legalised.

God’s ownership of life is most relevant in relation to voluntary euthanasia, that is, assisted suicide. Proponents of assisted suicide argue that if we have the right to end our lives, then it should be legal to get help where we are unable safely to do it ourselves. Christians reject that we have that right. What about where pain is involved? Isn’t it compassionate to end suffering? This is of course the hardest aspect of the debate, because the Christian view will mean some people have to endure terrible suffering. Nevertheless, a Christian who is undergoing suffering is called to endure it rather than pre-empt God’s right to their life.

Non-voluntary euthanasia refers to killing someone who is incapacitated and unable to decide they want to die. Such incapacity includes severe retardation, dementia, and permanent coma. The moral argument in favour of non-voluntary euthanasia is that such life has less intrinsic value than functional human life, and may not have enough value to justify the cost or inconvenience of keeping them alive. However, killing someone deliberately is murder, and cannot be justified from a Christian standpoint.

However, letting someone die naturally by withdrawing life support may well be justified. Medical resources are limited, and beyond a certain point intervention for one person means that needed medical care is not available to others. Relatives of someone who is brain dead need to be able to grieve. However, Christians reject the idea that dementia or retardation lessens the intrinsic value of human life.

Christians not only rule out euthanasia as a moral option for Christians, but oppose its legalisation. This is clearest in the case of non-voluntary euthanasia of the physically and intellectually handicapped. To allow such euthanasia opens up a slippery slope where the value of human life is based on function not being. How much function is needed before human life has value? How retarded or demented does a person have to be before they are a candidate? What about the insane, habitual criminals, trouble-makers?

Voluntary euthanasia doesn’t have the same problem of outsiders deciding who is fit to live. This issue has a different slippery slope. Once voluntary euthanasia is accepted, people will come under pressure to decide to die. This need not be coercion: many old people feel like a burden and think others would be better off without them, without anyone saying anything to them. Of course, some who are experiencing severe pain do genuinely want to die. But the cases where palliative care cannot relieve pain are increasingly rare.

What the two slippery slopes have in common is that it is cheaper and easier for a society to kill people who are retarded or in severe pain than to provide the proper care for them. Legalising euthanasia promotes a culture where killing people is a viable option.

In summary, since life belongs to God, euthanasia is not a moral option for a Christian, though I would be slow to pas judgment on someone who avoided severe pain by taking their life.  





Euthanasia, right or wrong?

( ......take 2 )


( courtesy...www.faithfacts.org )


The Christian perspective on the subject of "assisted suicide" is simple. We believe in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death. There are over 60 passages of scripture in the Bible that relate to the sanctity of life, beginning with "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Ultimately, we believe that God is the giver and taker of life and that His will in such matters takes precedence over man's will.

The argument that "everyone has a right to do with their own body as they see fit" does not hold up. For example, prostitution has consistently been held to be illegal as are other crimes because they are not committed in a vacuum. There is no such thing as a "victimless crime." There are important societal spill-over effects. Certainly euthanasia is not about a private act. It really gives one person the ability to facilitate the death of another person. Thus it is a public matter. It can lead to abuse, erosion of care for the most vulnerable people. The "right to die" movement would change laws so that doctors, relatives and others can directly and intentionally end another person's life. 

Modern pain killing medicines offer most dying patients relief. Avoidance of pain as a reason for mercy killing is an ineffective medical argument.

As Christians, we believe God has a reason for everything under heaven, yes, even suffering. Many persons who are on their deathbed have been brought to Christ. Even more often, someone on their deathbed has brought someone else closer to Christ. And we cannot know if the Lord will cause a miracle to occur. We believe that life is a precious thing.

Natural death does not require that extraordinary means be used to artificially prolong someone's life. Thus, in situations where a patient's vital processes have ceased their spontaneous functions, and where no hope of recovery remains for the patient, "life support" machines are not a requirement. Refusal of "heroic means" to sustain life is quite different than initiating procedures that cause death, for example by lethal injection.

As our society progresses toward a culture of death, the so-called "right-to-die" will become an obligation-to-die, for example, for anyone who believes that they are a burden to someone else—either financially or otherwise. And by what rationale would the trend be confined even to that? The ramifications are terrifying, but totally logical. For example, what's to keep an upset teenager from believing that suicide is a natural option?

Christ says choose life. Life is valuable from its beginning to a natural end.

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