Euthanasia — Hardly a Happy Issue
Rev. John Schuetze
The term “euthanasia” literally means “easy” or “happy death.” This definition is deceiving, for euthanasia is hardly an issue we Christians can be happy about. It refers to shortening the life of a terminally ill or hopelessly sick individual. According to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop, “Euthanasia today means that you do anything you can, actively or passively, to hasten the demise of someone who is considered to be either a nuisance or no longer productive” (Action Line, Christian Council Newsletter, Vol, IX, No. 5, July 12, 1985).
Euthanasia is nothing new. Adolph Hitler practiced it prior to World War II. Besides the annihilation of the Jews, Hitler’s master race plan called for the practice of active euthanasia. One person states he exterminated 275,000 “undesirable” people in this way. The first to be killed were the aged, the infirm, the senile, the mentally retarded, and defective children. As World War II approached, the doomed included World War I amputees and even children with badly modeled ears.
Today there are many groups that support euthanasia and are working to make it legal. One is the Hemlock Society which has as its stated purpose “advocating active euthanasia legislation and assisted suicide.” Its founder, Derek Humphry, has even published a book entitled Let Me Die Before I Wake. It is a manual on euthanasia and suicide which gives specific lethal doses of drugs.
God’s Word speaks clearly on the matter of euthanasia. It teaches human life is special. Unlike the animals, God created man in His image and gave him an immortal soul. God gives man his life as a time of grace — a time to learn about Christ and His atoning work, believe in Him as Redeemer and be saved.
When God gave His Son to die for the world He showed all are valuable to Him. Peter reminds us, “It was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
God doesn’t give us the right to cut short a person’s life no matter how hopeless the situation may seem. When necessary medical treatment is denied a sick patient, when steps are taken to shorten the life of a terminally-ill person, God’s law is broken. Man may call such actions humane. God calls them sin. HE alone gives life. HE reserves the right to end it. In Deuteronomy 32:39 He says, “See now that I myself am he. There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life.”
Euthanasia will never be a happy issue for us Christians. Yet let’s not just sit back and do nothing. As Paul told the Philippians we can “shine like the stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). For this word of life not only protects human life, it also promises eternal life.
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