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Christians and Euthanasia

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Christians and Euthanasia The term euthanasia has been applied to a variety of situations, ranging from the cancer patient who legitimately refuses further therapy, to the gassing of the mentally retarded and the senile in Nazi Germany. In order to clarify what is being discussed, words like voluntary and involuntary, active and passive are added. But many grey areas remain. If, for instance, a doctor decides not to treat pneumonia in a patient already dying of cancer, is he (or she) practising euthanasia? Debate on euthanasia in Australia has focussed on the question of voluntary euthanasia. Should it be legal for one person (such as a doctor) to assist another person to die, at their request? That will also be the focus of this article. What does the bible say? The bible does not discuss euthanasia, or provide any clear examples. King Saul's plea to his armour bearer to kill him rather than letting him die at the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:4) might be construed as a case. The servant's refusal to carry out his request probably related more to who Saul was than to a well thought-out position on euthanasia. Our attitude to euthanasia, then, must be drawn from the teaching of the bible as a whole. ...read more.


No law can protect people from subtle pressures. The dying often place a heavy burden on their family, physically, emotionally and financially. Medical and nursing staff can find dealing with the dying frustrating and harrowing, especially if they lack training in palliative care. A hint that euthanasia would provide an acceptable end to everyone's suffering need not be voiced to be understood. The difference in cost between providing palliative care services (good or bad) and euthanasia must make euthanasia seem an enticing option to governments concerned about health expenditure and committed to economic rationalism. No-one is arguing this way at the moment, but if euthanasia became an option, palliative care would surely languish. Many people suffer for years from illnesses which are not fatal. If we argue that the terminally ill have a right to die on compassionate grounds, why should we not treat these people with similar compassion? If they went to court and demanded the same right, could they be legally deterred? If so, on what basis? All other human rights apply universally. Of course some people would argue that everyone should have that right. Most would hesitate at the idea of allowing, say, a physically healthy but depressed twenty-five year old to die with a doctor's assistance, even if all treatment had failed. ...read more.


The good of the individual is inextricably bound up with the good of the community. Death is followed by judgment and an after-life. On the other hand is a secular humanist view which measures and grades the value of life on such things as consciousness of self, the ability to develop and the experience of pleasure. The good of the individual takes precedence over the good of the community. Death brings either non-existence or peace. It is not possible for both these views to form the basis of our laws. In one sense the debate over whether or not voluntary euthanasia should be legal is already irrelevant. For several years now, juries in Australia and other western countries have refused to convict people charged with assisting another person to die. In the face of public opinion, the law is helpless. (Abortion and prostitution are both illegal but freely available.) In Australia, Christians are a minority living in a democracy. We cannot insist on our view being accepted just because it has been accepted in the past. Our only option is to work to change the hearts and minds of those around us. In the short term that means pointing out the dangers and fallacies in what is being said. In the long term, it means spreading the gospel and praying that God's kingdom will come. ...read more.

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