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Euthanasia . . . The Controversy

 

Pros and cons

Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC, Author

Euthanasia . . . There’s no denying the controversy surrounding the practice of euthanasia. In this article, I will look at the different types of and a brief background of euthanasia. Then I will use the Scriptures to prove why I believe Euthanasia is wrong, and should be outlawed worldwide.

Types of Euthanasia

Literature (Euthanasia, n.d.; Forms of Euthanasia, 2014) reflects six types of euthanasia. These forms of euthanasia include:

  • Active euthanasia—this is where a physician directly participates in ending the life of a patient. An example would be when the physician gives the patient an overdose of medicine to kill the patient.
  • Passive euthanasia (also known as orthothanasia)—“Passive euthanasia is when death is brought about by an omission – i.e. when someone lets the person die. This can be by withdrawing or withholding treatment.” (Forms of Euthanasia, Active and passive euthanasia section, ¶ 4) An example would be discontinuing life support.
  • Voluntary euthanasia—this is where the patient requests his or life be ended
  • Involuntary euthanasia—this is where the patient wishes to live but is euthanized anyway.
  • Nonvoluntary euthanasia—this is where the patient is unconscious or incompetent to make a decision about whether he or she wants to die, and another individual makes the decision.
  • Physician-assisted suicide—this is where a dying patient asks for help in killing him or herself. The doctor is not directly present during the patient’s death but prescribes lethal drugs to the individual.

History of Euthanasia Debate

The controversy over whether euthanasia is right or wrong has existed back beyond written records (A General History of Euthanasia, 2011). 

Euthanasia comes from the Greek words, Eu (good) and Thanatosis (death) and it means “Good Death, “Gentle and Easy Death.” . . . The first recorded use of the word euthanasia was by Suetonius, a Roman historian, in his De Vita Caesarum–Divus Augustus (The Lives of the Caesars–The Deified Augustus) to describe the death of Augustus Caesar. (A General History of Euthanasia, ¶s 1-2)

The Hippocratic Oath, authored by Hippocrates, was the first formal document to forbid the practice of euthanasia. With the rise of Christianity in the 12th to 15th Centuries, opposition to euthanasia gained support. In the 17th to 19th Centuries in the American colonies Common Law also opposed euthanasia. The first American law to specifically outlaw euthanasia, or assisted suicide, was passed in New York during 1828. Many other states followed the example of New York. Other milestones in the debate for and against euthanasia include:

  • 1870’s—With the increased usage of morphine and other pain-relieving drugs, Samuel Williams first publically  promoted the use of these medications to commit euthanasia.
  • 1885—American Medical Association opposed euthanasia.
  • Early 1900’s—The Euthanasia debate became issues of interest in the press and at political gatherings.
  • 1950—The World Medical Association condemned euthanasia.

To report the complete history of the euthanasia debate is beyond the scope and general purpose of this article. Thus, I will conclude this section by only listing parts of the United States where euthanasia is now legal, which includes District of Columia and the following states, according to Richardson (2018): California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Regardless of the legality of euthanasia, the more important question I believe is whether euthanasia is morally right or wrong. After all, the Scripture (Matthew 6:33) is clear that we are to follow God’s mandates first.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV): But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Euthanasia . . . What Does the Bible say?

Euthanasia as Murder and Idolatry

Exodus 20:13 (NKJV): “You shall not murder.”—Most will recognize this as the Sixth of the Ten Commandments. “The Sixth Commandment reminds us that God is the giver of life and He alone has the authority to take it or to grant permission to take it.” (The Ten Commandments, 2017, ¶ 9) Author Betty Miller reported,

All forms of euthanasia, also known as mercy killing and assisted suicide, are considered the same as acts of murder in the Bible. Saving someone from pain is not a reason to kill them, nor is it lawful to kill oneself to save oneself from pain.  (Miller, 2013, Importance of What the Bible Says about Euthanasia section, ¶ 3)

In today’s secular society, often focused on death, many individuals think of euthanasia as a practical way of eliminating a number of world problems. Let me share a couple of examples. One example is where in 2014 the Belgian parliament made “it legal for any child, at any age, to ask to be killed – if they are ‘close to death’, experiencing ‘unbearable suffering’ and can show they truly ‘discern’ the consequences of what they are asking.” (Vallely, 2014, ¶ 8)  As a second example, Shaw (2017) reports some individuals are using euthanasia to end addictions. Shaw shared one example reported by Caldwell (2016) where a physician from the Netherlands euthanized a man with alcoholism who saw his life as hopeless. These reports disturb me. Why? Because these practices are completely contrary to the Word of God. In I Corinthians 15:26 death is referred to as an enemy.

1 Corinthians 15:26  (NKJV): The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”

“Life is a sacred gift from God (Genesis 2:7). When given the choice between life and death, God told Israel to ‘choose life’ (Deuteronomy 30:19). Euthanasia spurns the gift and embraces the curse.” (Got Questions, n.d., ¶ 3)

Genesis 2:7 (NKJV):And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV): I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;” 

Miller (2013) also stated that she believes euthanasia also is a form of idolatry.

What is an idol?  “Perhaps the best definition of an idol is something we ourselves make into a god. It does not have to be a statue or a tree. It can be anything that stands between us and God or something we substitute for God.” (Youngblood, Bruce, & Harrison, 1995, ¶ 5, as cited by Orgeron, 2017, p. xx)

I agree with Miller’s interpretation, as those who perform, or even, condone euthanasia are placing their desires above God’s will for one’s life, which may include suffering for a higher purpose. Christian tradition adheres to the belief, “God has made a way for us to overcome sickness, suffering and pain by His death on the cross.” (Miller, 2013, Importance of What the Bible Says about Euthanasia section, ¶ 3)

His Grace is Sufficient

 “The refusal of euthanasia is considered as the pain that Jesus Christ felt on the cross.” (Raparelli, 2014, p. 6) Compared to what Christ endured on the Cross for our sins and to provide a way for us to enter Heaven, any suffering we experience for whatever reason is nothing. I will admit in my experience suffering through the recovery of a crushed ankle, depression, and anxiety, I confess there were times when I thought I wanted to die but in the end, I found leaning on the solid rock of Jesus Christ as the answer. His Grace was sufficient to walk me through the pain and discomfort. As I foresaw no end to my pain, whether physical or emotional, I remember the Holy Spirit reminding me of 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV): “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Not only is any suffering we experience on earth nothing compared to Christ’s suffering on the Cross, but the rewards that lie ahead for enduring the suffering are well worth the pain.  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18, NKJV)

Closing Remarks

In summary, though the Scriptures never refer to the word “euthanasia” specifically, euthanasia is murder. Thus, I have no doubt God considers euthanasia a sin. I believe euthanasia should be illegal world-wide. Why, one might ask. A perfect example to answer that question would be the case of the toddler Alfie Evans in Britain who died earlier this year after doctors pulled the plug not allowing Alfie’s parents to transport their son to another country for treatment. Now we’ll never know whether Alfie could have been helped and his parents spared the pain of what I would call a pre-mature death.

Let’s be honest. God never promised us a pain-free life. Suffering oneself or watching someone else suffer is never easy. However, choosing to end that suffering, regardless of whether for financial reasons or something else, is a selfish person’s way out. 

Psalm 34:19 (NKJV): Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Undecided? This is for you!

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References

Caldwell, S. (2016, November 30). Dutch doctor performs euthanasia of struggling alcoholic. Catholic Herald. Retrieved June 18, 2018 from http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/11/30/dutch-doctor-performs-euthanasia-on-struggling-alcoholic/

Euthanasia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2018 from http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/developmental-psychology/death-dying-and-bereavement/euthanasia/

Forms of euthanasia. (2014). Retrieved June 17, 2018 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/forms.shtml

Got Questions (n.d.). What does the Bible say about euthanasia/assisted suicide? Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.gotquestions.org/euthanasia.html

A general history of euthanasia. (2011). Retrieved June 17, 2018 from http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/abouteuthanasia/history-euthanasia1 

Miller, B. (2013). What the Bible says about euthanasia. Retrieved June 17, 2018 from https://bibleresources.org/euthanasia/

Orgeron, P. (2017). Food as an idol: Finding freedom from disordered eating. Nashville, TN: ABC’s Ministries. Available for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/Food-Idol-Finding-Freedom-Disordered/dp/0997956534

Raparelli, L. (2014, March 10). Euthanasia: right to die or mercy killing? Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.filodiritto.com/articoli/pdf/2014/03/euthanasia-right-to-die-or-mercy-killing?_id8=3

Richardson, B. (2018, April 6). Hawaii becomes eighth jurisdiction where assisted suicide is legal. Washington Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018 from https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/6/hawaii-becomes-eighth-jurisdiction-where-assisted-/

Shaw, M. (2017, March 3). Euthanasia for addiction. Biblical Counseling Coalition. Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/2017/03/03/euthanasia-for-addiction/

The Ten Commandments: The purpose and meaning of the Ten Commandments. (2017). Retrieved June 17, 2018 from http://www.the-ten-commandments.org/ten_commandments-purpose_meaning.html

Vallely, P. (2014: Feb. 16). Child euthanasia: Too hard to live, too young to die. Independent. Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/child-euthanasia-too-hard-to-live-too-young-to-die-9131089.html

 

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