The struggle to avoid suffering has been a part of the human condition since the beginning of time. Figuring out how to help those who are suffering has been a central struggle for just as long. One of the ways humans have attempted to figure out how to help others is through Christian theological teaching and practice. However, despite theological teaching, the effort to help others is not always clearly defined or easy. In situations where humans experience the most intense suffering, some have turned to euthanasia as an answer.
However, euthanasia is an immoral act based on Christian theological teaching ecause it seeks to offer compassion to a patient by avoiding suffering whereas the Christian idea is to offer compassion in suffering. euthanasia, it is important to understand the full definition and history of the controversial practice. Euthanasia is defined as “the act or practice of killing someone who is sick or injured to prevent any more suffering” (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary).
Euthanasia has been in existence for many years dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times and has since then been an extensively disputed practice. There are different types of Euthanasia such as active euthanasia, passive uthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Active euthanasia is illegal in the United States and occurs when a direct action performed on a person causes death such as lethal injections. Passive euthanasia is legal in the United States and is done by altering support measures keeping the patient alive such as turning off respirators.
Another form of euthanasia is physician- assisted suicide and is defined as when a physician or a doctor prescribes an ill patient medication that will assist them in dying Before looking carefully at the morality of (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 2008. ) Physician-assisted uicide is now legal in five states in the United States; Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and California (New Health Guide, 2016). Oregon was the first state to legalize physician- assisted suicide in 1997, when they passed the Death With Dignity Act.
According to the Oregon Death with Dignity Act: 2015 Data Summary, “since the law was passed in 1997, a total of 1,545 people have had prescriptions written under the DWDA, and 991 patients have died from ingesting the medications. ” The statistics are showing a gradual incline in the number of people who are being prescribed medications and he number of deaths in Oregon. One could conclude that this incline in physician- assisted suicide is a direct result of a patient’s desire to end their suffering.
This conclusion is supported by the research of Dr. Robert Pearlman who wanted to figure out why patients were choosing euthanasia as a way to deal with their suffering. So he conducted a study on 35 patients that were considering physician-assisted suicide. The results revealed that 69% of the patients said it was because they were feeling uncomfortable and ill, 66% said it was due to loss of function, and 40% said it was due to pain or side effects rom pain medication (Pearlman, 2004).
The results from this study show that the main reason why people are turning to euthanasia is because they are suffering and in discomfort. Those in favor of euthanasia would agree if under these circumstances a person should be able to pass with dignity on their own terms. Given the growing interest in euthanasia, it is clear that individuals are not only looking for a way to manage their suffering, but are also viewing end of life as an individual choice.
Doctors who support euthanasia bring up the point that the patients are in charge of the decisions they make, about the are they receive, so why should it be any different when they say they would like to die? According to Lonny Shavelson, MD, an advocate of euthanasia states “dying should not be separate from everything else we do in medicine. ” (Shavelson, 2016). Shavelson points out that end of life choices are a part of the entire medical process. One of the main arguments made by those who are pro euthanasia is that people who are in extreme pain and suffering have the right to die when they are ready and wish to.
Recently, the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old who was diagnosed with brain cancer and was told by doctors he had 6 months to live, became a headline for the euthanasia debate. Brittany knew her quality of life was declining rapidly and decided to move to Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal, so that when she wanted to die she would have the option and resources to do so. In an interview with CNN, Maynard stated “I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity.
My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me? ” (Maynard, 2014). Maynard did indeed make the choice for herself and passed away on her own terms. Maynard’s story is representative of the reason why euthanasia goes directly against Christian teaching because it demonstrates a patient’s desire to deal with suffering by avoiding it rather than accepting that suffering.
The decision to avoid suffering through euthanasia goes directly against basic Christian theology which revolves strongly around the belief, known as monotheism, that there is a single, all-powerful God who created and values life. The Christian belief is that God created all things and created people in His own image so they can carry out His qualities and characteristics. There are laws that God makes for the people, not to restrict them, but because God of the love he has for them. He wants people to live safely and prosper.
They believe in resurrection and that when they die they will be given a new body and soul and will live forever with God (Huizenga, n. d). Basic Christian teaching includes the need for suffering as part of the human experience, the need to view suffering through the teaching of the Bible, the need to value he sanctity of human life, and the need to respect God’s creation and timing, all four of which make it clear that euthanasia is an immoral practice. Christian moral teaching believes that suffering is a key part of the human experience.
Euthanasia goes against the Christian idea that humans are not perfect and in order for one to become closer to God, suffering must be present in the world. Humans need to experience suffering in order for their compassion and faith to develop just as Jesus did on the cross. Euthanasia also goes against the Christian idea of eschatological hope. A quote from Peter reads, But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness” (Peter 3:13).
This means that although suffering does exist, it is not going to last forever and that in the end God redeems everything. In the practice of euthanasia compassion is offered to humans by killing them and freeing them from their suffering, but throughout the Bible one continues to see how suffering and compassion go hand in hand. It is a Christian belief that God comes to life in his son, Jesus Christ (Huizenga, 2016). The gospels of the New Testament teach that God’s love for people ho are suffering is immeasurable.
One gospel in particular is the gospel of Mark. In this gospel, he writes about different situations dealing with people who are very sick or struggling and Jesus heals them of their suffering as in the case where He cures a bleeding woman, “For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed. ” Immediately the bleeding stopped and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition” (Mark 5:28,29). The gospel of Mark shows how much compassion God has for people and for those who are diseased and ill.
The need for suffering in the human experience is not the only way that euthanasia can be viewed as immoral. Viewing euthanasia through the lense of the Bible is also important. Suffering is at times inevitable and is presented in many books throughout the Bible as it was a major part of Judaism and Christianity history. One of the most famous scriptures on suffering is when Jesus says, “My God, my God why have you abandoned me? ” (Psalm 22). Jesus says this while he is on the cross dying for the sins of others. If Jesus never endured suffering for humanity there, then there would be no hope.
The Bible is a place where Christians often turn to for hope and faith in trying times to remember that God is there to help and heal from one from their miseries. Nicholas Sparks, a prominent Christian author, writes “without suffering there would be no compassion. ” This quote applies directly to the Bible and what it says about suffering, specifically in the book of Job. Job is one of the most referenced books in the Bible on suffering. Job was a good man who ends up facing many challenges with his health, family, and money.
Job did not know why all of these horrible things were happening to him, but he trusted in God. Job’s faith and love grew stronger for God during his times of deepest despair. The book of Job reminds one that when everything is taken from them and they are at their darkest place that God is always there. God is always sensitive to human suffering and is always present during our suffering for He has suffered more than anyone. Turning to euthanasia would be going against what the book of Job taught us about suffering. If Job would have given up, he would not have experienced the power of God.
Though the Bible is an important reason on why euthanasia goes against Christian teachings, the Christian view n sanctity of life is just as important. Euthanasia also goes against the Christian belief of the sanctity of life and the belief each human was created by God and as a reflection of God. Sanctity of life is the idea that since everyone is created in the image of God that each life is precious and needs to be taken care of. Genesis 9:5-6 reads, “And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die.
If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also e taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image”. Euthanasia would be disobeying what Genesis 9:5-6 said because killing another human is the act of killing God’s image since we are all made that way. Not only does it go against the sanctity of life, but also one of the ten commandants of “Thou shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Christian’s would argue that euthanasia is still the practice of killing a human no matter the circumstances and according to the Bible would be considered murder. Christian teaching believes in the need to respect God’s creation and timing.
According to Miller (2013), if one takes death into the hands of their own they are denying God and what He stands for. Christians would agree that life and death are a part of God’s creation. As the Bible reads, God created everything in seven days and claimed all was good (Genesis 2). Altering the process of death as euthanasia does would be going against what He created. Just as it is said in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. ” Turning to Euthanasia would be going against God’s timing for He has a plan for everyone and everything He created.
The book of Deuteronomy discusses the choice of life or death. God was giving Israel the choice to choose between following him or turning their back on him and is compared to life and death. (Deut 30:11-20). The meaning of this passage is that at times life will gives everyone choices and Christians should always remember to live in God’s way. Miller (2013), summarized that when patients choose the act of euthanasia they would be turning their back on God’s plan and choosing death instead of life in relation to this passage in Deuteronomy.
Suffering is a part of the human experience and based on Christian ideas is an important in the existence of hope and compassion. Euthanasia is a wrongful act because it denies the Christian idea to offer compassion in suffering by avoiding suffering. Euthanasia has become an escape for people to turn to when they feel like there is nothing else to turn to. Those in favor believe that human rights should give one the freedom to decide between life and death and keeping someone alive who s unable to function or sick beyond repair is cruel.
Through different teachings and ideas, Christianity unfolds the importance of human suffering. The Bible has become a staple for Christian beliefs and is viewed as a source of God’s words. It is a place for one to turn when they themselves are experiencing suffering to remember what God endured for humanity. Although the Bible does not directly talk about euthanasia or the act of killing someone to end suffering, such acts go against the Christian idea to offer compassion in suffering.