A Happy Death?
What was once considered to be only a thing of nightmares and of science fiction stories depicting a dystopian society where people are executed for reasons of over population, food shortage and inconvenience is now a very real possibility for the not too distant future. Euthanasia is literally defined as a happy death; taking the life of a terminally ill or elderly person before natural death occurs (Geisler 2010). The idea that any human being could be euthanized for a reason outside of their own free will is without a doubt a morally abhorrent notion. However, the question of protecting the sanctity of life over the quality of life for individuals seeking to die what has come to be known as 'death with dignity', is an issue that, in all honesty may be just as morally reprehensive as having life stolen without consent. The sanctity of life should be protected, as well the quality of life should be made paramount. Active euthanasia is without a doubt morally repugnant. In addition, only natural passive euthanasia can be considered ethical. To understand thoroughly, a more detailed look from a Christian "New Testament" worldview and how to distinguish the differences between both active and passive forms of euthanasia is required.
Active euthanasia is the work of terminating a human life for what is believed to be a good principle, whereas passive euthanasia is simply allowing death to take place without the use of technological or medical interference to stop it (Geisler 2010). In relation to this, if an elderly person becomes a burden on family and/or society their life can be forfeit at the hand of another (active) or the sustainability of life can be withheld either naturally, as in denying the person food and water, and starving them to death or by unnatural means, such as eliminating medical equipment like a respirator (passive). Unfortunately, the dispute over the ethical issue of euthanasia is really quite deceptive. While advocates propose that euthanasia offers an end to human misery it in fact inflicts the agony of death (Geisler 2010). Even if euthanasia were to avoid more anguish in a person's life, the end does not justify any means, only good means. Murdering innocent people is not good, but evil (Geisler2010). From a Christian 'New Testament' perspective, life can only be given by God and thus mankind has no right to take what does not belong to it. The simple misleading notion of active euthanasia is in infringing upon God's sovereign right over human life. The proponents of euthanasia venture to act as God rather than simply to be human(Geisler2010).
There is a belief that if 51% of the population were to agree on an ethical principal that principal would be true (Schaeffer 1983). This line of thinking is completely irrational for a number of reasons. First, just because someone believes something to be true does not make it true. For example, in 1938 Orson Welles caused widespread panic during the radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds. Many at that time believed that there was really an invasion by alien life from Mars but the truth, in actuality, was that there was no invasion at all (History.com). Morality, like truth, is not relative nor subjective. If it were, this week might not yield the same determining factors as last week or the week to come. If morality and truth were subjective, then due to the extent that the Christian consensus is predominately now the minority view and the secularist humanistic view has taken the lead, the 51% majority rule would have to recognize that a person such as Adolf Hitler was wholly at liberty to do as he saw fit if he was backed by widely held corroboration. (Schaeffer 1983)
Both active and passive euthanasia involves the devaluing of human life, it does not offer death with dignity as is often the precedent set by those who are in favor of such a practice. When respect for the dying is withheld, it is sure to have an equally adverse affect on the living. (Geisler 2010). By classifying human beings as 'non-persons' or individuals who have fewer rights than others due to their inability to overcome illness either physically, mentally, or emotionally as is often the case with an elderly man or woman, the value of their life is cheapened (Schaeffer/Koop 1979). The Christian must take a stand against euthanasia, as the reality of God is the foundation for the sanctity of life and the dignity of human life (Geisler 2010).
Aside from the sanctity of life, there is also the quality of life to be considered. It is a moral duty that the quality of one's life be preserved. Often inconvenience and hardship, usually economical in nature, is reason enough to bring about the support of offering a so-called death with dignity, through both intimidation and guilt. However in these instances, rather than write a person off by devaluing their life in some manner, strides to increase the worth of their being in their latter days should be of paramount importance. While both active and passive euthanasia are morally wrong, in the case of a person who is terminally ill, the right to die by means of natural passive euthanasia can be morally justified. Still, in these instances, when unnatural circumstances such as life support is eliminated, nothing should be done to interfere with the natural course of a person's inevitable death like the denying of food and water, but instead the individual should be made to be as completely comfortable as possible so as to preserve the quality of their final moments of life (Schaeffer/Koop 1979).
As the humanistic secularist worldview continues to diminish the Christian moral consensus, mankind is being reduced to nothing more than machinery in an impersonal, materialistic universe where man as man is dead and life is pointless and devoid of meaning. The devaluing of human life in such areas as abortion, infanticide and euthanasia present a final reality that will ultimately see the end of the human race. To counter this unmistakable tragedy, there must be a change in the way the world perceives things. Christians, now more than ever, need to band together and rise up in the face of annihilation and diligently convey to those who are being misled the severity of this madness before it is too late.
Geisler, N. L. (2010). Christian ethics: Contemporary issues & options. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Schaeffer, F. A. (1983). How should we then live?: The rise and decline of western thought and culture. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
Whatever Happened to the Human Race [Motion picture on DVD]. (1979, 2010). Carmel, CA: Gospel Film Distribution.
Welles scares nation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day- in-history/welles-scares-nation