Euthanasia

Back in November, our dog, a beloved family member for the last fourteen years, was put to sleep (as recommended by our veterinarian). We didn’t have to do this, but having him suffer was awful for him, the kids, and all of us. As heart-wrenching as that day was, it felt like the right thing to do.

For dogs, euthanasia seems to be pretty well accepted. None of our family and friends looked as us strangely when they heard the news or turned a cold shoulder or condemned us. For people, however, euthanasia is anything but accepted. As far as I know, it is illegal in most Western countries and forbidden by Christianity.

A bill on assisted suicide for the terminally ill has recently been proposed to the Scottish parliament. Pope Benedict, as you might expect, is not pleased:

“Support for euthanasia strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life.”

His quote, when you look at it by itself, almost sounds in favor of euthanasia (dying with dignity is one of the pro arguments), but believe me, it’s not. I can’t recall Jesus talking about this topic in any of the Gospels. If I missed something, please let me know by posting a comment.

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One Response to “Euthanasia”

  1. Marc Tumeinski says:

    Jim, thanks for posting this on such a serious moral issue. Like with many moral issues, it may not be addressed directly in the Gospels, or even in the rest of the Bible. (This seems to me a reason why many Christians look at Scripture in the context of the long tradition of Christian practice as well as Church teaching–but that’s a longer and often more divisive topic!)

    I would want to think more about this but there may be Gospel passages which at least give some background to thinking about euthanasia. For example:

    Mt 10:30-31 we are told how much God cares for each person

    Mt 10:28 each human being is made with a body and soul, so death is not just a physical reality or about what is happening to our bodies

    Mt 19:18 One of the greatest commandments Jesus says is to not kill

    Mt 16:24 Christ tells his followers that they must take up their own cross. In retrospect, this is to be done in imitation of him. Not a literal cross, but it does imply how we look at suffering. I think so often so-called euthanasia is called for as a way to end someone’s suffering. Suffering is real, it is hard, and it is bad–but in the Christian context, physical suffering is not the worst evil, it does not have to be faced alone, and one is not to kill to end someone else’s suffering (nor one’s own, but that gets into the moral issue of suicide).

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