Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Killing Fields

British Doctors have changed their minds on euthanasia. Last year the British Medical Association (BMA) narrowly voted a "neutral" position on "helping patients to die." Voting again this week (in Belfast) that decision was overturned as 65% voted against assisted dying. The issue was raised by a proposed Bill in the House of Lords. Interestingly, they noted that improvements in palliative care meant that even the most stricken of patients could be helped effectively through their final days. Some expressed the very real concern that a "right to die" could become "a duty to die" to either relieve relatives of the burden of care. The financial issues were also raised: maintaining the status of "inheritances" otherwise spent on care, or, after that has disappeared, saving the tax-payer money would become a matter of tension, some argued.

Opposition to euthanasia is based on the commandment, "You shall not murder" and is articulated this way:

  • the belief that the intensional taking of a life which poses no threat to the individual or community is a form of murder
  • that it conflicts with the prime directive of the medical profession
  • that financial gain is inevitably bound up and would lead to the systematic removal of the elderly by family members
  • that this provides the state with excessive powers of control

Fundamentally, Christians oppose euthanasia because it simply does not fit with core Christian theological convictions. God is Creator, not us (Gen. 1:1). Human life is in his hands (Job 1:21). Illness and death are a tragic part of life in a sin-sick world (Gen. 3:19), and we must fight them hard as Jesus fought them hard (Mt. 4:24). The time will come when every person's earthly life is over. At that point, our only hope lies in the resurrection promised to those who belong to Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:50-56).

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