I want to talk a little bit more about assisted suicide as we approach the date of Brittany Maynard’s self appointed time of death.
As I stated, whether you are a Christian or not your life is not your own. It’s God’s. What that means is that when we use the terminology of “right to die” or “right to life” what we are doing i starting right out of the gate with the view of independence in our sights without acknowledging our dependence on God–“**I** have a right…”
Some Christians say that you can’t impose your Christianity on unbelievers. But to start off saying that God is the author of our lives we automatically think that this Christian view (of life and death) applies to unbelievers. Christians of all people should recognize that this belief makes claims on not only our community but on unbelievers as well. It’s only a logical conclusion that if God is God he is God to unbelievers as well. They stand in relation to the God of the Universe. He is Creator. They are his creation. So the question becomes such that if this view is not reflected in law and policy, then the independence one will be which, though I may not be forced to commit suicide or assist in someone else’s immoral behaviour, I am still affected by this and so is society as a whole because we are affected by the atmosphere that law and public policy creates in similar ways that families are affected as much by the suicide of a love one. That is, Christian theology has begun to recognize that as image bearers of God we are not only social creatures as God is–who exists as triune but this is reflected in our very being in relation to others. In other words, that our lives are not our own is reflected when one commits suicide they “take a part” of others with them. And so this happens to the wider community in how that burden bears down upon as (think about what you think or feel when someone commits suicide).
If such is the case that my life is not my own and is God’s, (and this is where our messianic tendencies come in) then the lives of others are not mine either. Which is to say that I have no control over THEIR destinies. I am not the Lord of their life OR their death and they cannot make me such (by asking for my help). Which is to say that I should not participate in assisted suicide or euthanasia.
Our messianic tendencies come into play when we attend to one of two extremes:
A. When we continue to fight death even as it is at our door and it is useless to do so.
B. Assisting death such as to hasten it. That is, that it is our AIM to hasten it.
Our only response, should be to “care for the dying” of which neither A nor B is. Actually A and B a form of abandonment.
Why should care be our greatest concern? Because care recognizes our finiteness as humans in the face of excruciating pain and suffering (not only for the one dying but for the community as a whole. Going to one or another of those two extremes is to always give something that is other or less than care.
Interestingly, as I was thinking about the writing of this post today I thought about both the health and wealth gospel crowd and the advocates of assisted as being two sides of the same coin–the avoidance/relief from pain. The assisted suicide crowd wouldn’t ever admit that but I ask myself how one side (the AS folk) are any different in this respect from the health and wealth group.
Rgardless, does this mean that we should refuse treatment? Well, if I want to avoid “A” above I would say, “No.” I will talk about that soon enough. In my next post though, I want to discuss another reason why I think the argument from autonomy is skewed.