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Is euthanasia incompatible with Christian belief and practice?

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Introduction

Is euthanasia incompatible with Christian belief and practice? Euthanasia is the intentional killing by act or omission of one whose life is deemed not worth living. It consists of two Greek words, which are 'eu' and 'thanatos' which mean a good and gentle death. It doesn't just refer to dying as simply and as pleasantly as possible but in some cases it can be called assisted suicide. There are different types of euthanasia and many moral, ethical and religious problems associated with it. Euthanasia is used mainly in institutions where death is chosen deliberately because the person is unwilling to carry on living. There are a number of arguments as to the incompatibility of what Christians believe about euthanasia, but because euthanasia is deemed to be killing, many Christians therefore are against all types of euthanasia because they feel it is wrong. There are four types of euthanasia: passive, active, voluntary and involuntary. Passive euthanasia means that treatment is withdrawn from the patient purposefully so that they will die. Active euthanasia means that a doctor will actively take part in the killing of a patient. Voluntary euthanasia means that the patient who is probably suffering from a terminal illness, actually requests death. Involuntary euthanasia means that the patient is killed by a doctor without consent because they could be in a coma and obviously unable to give consent. Dying with dignity is important for all and it lies at the heart of traditional approaches to the care of the terminally ill, but euthanasia involves the will to self-destruct, which characterises suicide. ...read more.

Middle

One of them, 'God made man in his own image suggesting that something can be seen of God within human life. When Christians say that they believe in the sanctity of life they believe that there is something special and holy about it. They also believe that human life is different from other kinds of life because people share something of the nature of God and because people have souls, that is the bit that will be judged by God in heaven. The creation story in genesis also suggests this because God made man in a different way to other species of life suggesting that they are special. Everyone, has a value and so Christians should respect every life. Every Christian denomination has their own opinion on the subject of euthanasia but the Roman Catholic opinion stands out more strongly than the rest. They believe that euthanasia is totally wrong and any act that deliberately brings death is seen as murder whether or not it was done for kindness. They believe that it is sometimes acceptable to give drugs to relieve pain, which may end up shortening the life of a person. The Roman Catholic Church also believe that some treatments such as feeding a terminally ill patient must be continued but treatments which are not likely to succeed shouldn't be carried out. They also strongly emphasise the fact that sick people do need and deserve special care while they are ill and so shouldn't be discarded of just because some may die. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is hard to say whether euthanasia is incompatible with Christian belief and practice because there are lots of different ethical and religious opinions on the subject and many Christians have lots of different ideas about it resulting in a division between them. If a request for euthanasia is going to be distinguishable from a desire to commit suicide then a certain degree of reasonableness must be applied so that objective validity is given to the assessment of their situation. 'To distinguish between murder and mercy killing would be to cross the line which prohibits any intentional killing, a line which we think is essential to preserve'. Compassion for the suffering is a cornerstone within Christ's teaching of love and compassion. A question asked often is whether humans actually know what a truly compassionate action is. Another idea is that if someone is in a coma and it is obvious that they won't get better even with more treatment then Christians believe that it is justified to discontinue with the treatment but for this to happen the patient should at least have been in a condition of having shown no response of mental, verbal or physical responses for the past year. 1 Atkinson D, and Field D (editors) New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology 2 Atkinson D, and Field D (editors) New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology - ibid Emily Tamhne 1 ...read more.

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