Suicide, or assisted suicide as a means to spare oneself severe pain before an imminent and mostly certain death, strikes many Christians as morally wrong.
Killing for the sake of alleviating pain is never authorised in the Bible. Since God is the author of life, there is a sense that euthanasia directly aborts God's gift of life before His allocated time for our death—that is assisted/self-administered suicide is an action one takes, on God's behalf, in choosing the time of an individual's death. Many of us do not feel humans have the authority to end life, notwithstanding capital punishment.
A compassionate response?
The usual counter example raised by proponents of euthanasia would fall along the lines of someone burning to death in a car. The trapped occupant asks you to shoot them, to put a quick end to an otherwise protracted and painful death.
Envisioning this situation would communicate and evoke a strong impulse by compassionate people to end the person's suffering, if there was no other way out. Were this to transpire, I predict I would oblige the person who is on fire, by shooting them, after praying of course.
I could envision in this situation emotionally condoning assisted suicide, but rationally holding to an orthodox view that assisted suicide is wrong. Maybe this is what people call cognitive dissonance—an internal contradiction by opposing personal values.
Or it might be that the strong emotional predilection to end this person's suffering, is actually the correct view, and since the Bible does remain rather silent (I think) on this specific issue, we should consider that some exceptions might apply here.
Freedom of choice
What if shooting the person sends them to hell? This is a sad topic. Every moment a person lives is a chance for them to come into relationship with God. This objection alone could be a strong case against legalising assisted/self-administered euthanasia.
Now assisted suicide is one thing, but maybe self-administered/initiated euthanasia would leave the responsibility in the hands of the individual themselves. It seems individuals alone should have the right and authority to deal with their own lives as they choose. (Though when it comes to mentally ill people, we do not enable such discretion if we can).
God does not infringe on our free will, and as we each own our own body, we see fit to do with it as we please. We can submit our bodies to God as His possession, or not.
The government permits individual freedom in many realms of conduct that Christians might find sinful. It might be said that government prohibiting access to suicide drugs for terminal patients is overstepping onto issues we are free to decide on for ourselves.
An on-going conversation
As of now I'm not sure where I stand, my conservative leanings convict me that euthanasia is immoral, but in certain situations there might be exceptions. And even though this will happen to a Christian, I believe God's generous grace will cover those who give in under extreme duress.
I'd probably support keeping it illegal to directly assist others in ending their lives, but with some leniency on a situation by situation basis. If resources were be made available for sane people who are terminal and in extreme pain, to administer their own end, then that individual would be responsible alone—I may take a libertarian perspective where the autonomy of the individual is respected, even if it means they sin.
But again, what if even one person was saved because they had extra time to find God, where they might have ended their lives prematurely with a pill and failed to find Him?
Amos is an evangelical conservative who cares about where the world is going and seeks to understand why it is happening, especially in light of prophecy and the spiritual powers behind the scenes.
Amos currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Amos pursues salvation for the lost, and considers himself a defender of traditional Christian values, liberal democracy and the historically unprecedented freedom and liberty established and defended by our forebears—which unfortunately, is gradually being eroded.
Amos Sale's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amos-sale.html