Euthanasia, despite what Billy T. James once thought, is not about “youth-in-Asia”. It is about life and death. God designed human lives to flourish as we operate as priests of creation. Like any other priestly work, our job as humans involves offering all creation back to God in an act of service and worship. What a privilege. But the world has fallen and all who are in it are affected. That makes our priestly duty all the harder. How to steward the earth’s dwindling resources when the human population is exploding (Cape Town might run out of water by the time this piece is published!)? What to do about crime and punishment in an era of rising prison numbers? And what are we to do with the terminally ill when the miracle of modern medicine can’t ‘heal’ them? These are some of the pressing issues of our time.
Pressing issues call for immediate and decisive action. Thankfully, God’s Word is as clear and compelling today as it has ever been. With an ageing population and an ever-growing standard of living, we can keep people alive for much longer, cure more diseases than ever, and alleviate suffering for more people than ever before. But when we can’t—when people are terminal, when diseases ravish a body, and when our mental faculties fail us—then what? We don’t like pain. We don’t like dependence. We don’t like debilitation. We don’t like grievous and irremediable medical conditions. We consider these to be beneath us, unacceptable, and undignified. And in an age of technocracy we find this unacceptable. We want the right and the power to end life to save it from suffering, from dependence, and from ‘undignified’ ends. We want to be able to legally commit suicide (often with the help of a physician). In short, we want euthanasia.
What is a Christian to think and do? Well I can’t tell you that because I’m not the Pope (despite any personal aspirations I may have). But what I can say is that God has not left the choice to us alone. In his Word he continues to speak and there we find that suffering, while never a good in itself, can be a means to good ends (perseverance, character, community). We read that life is precious: a gift of God which he only has the power to take back. We read that people are more important than economics, that this word is not the end, that we can have life and have it to the full amidst the decay of the world, and that there is to come a great resurrection to life and wholeness for those who love the Lord. In short, God does not want euthanasia.
The ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ is currently at the select committee stage and every citizen of NZ has the right and opportunity to make their considered opinion heard on this matter. Have you made your submission yet? You have until Feb 20 to do so (https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/52SCJU_SCF_BILL_74307/end-of-life-choice-bill). Might I encourage you to exercise your rights as a citizen and your responsibilities as a priest of creation and consider this issue and make your voice heard.
By Dr Myk Habets