Christian Perspective on Physician-Assisted Suicide
Throughout our lifetimes, we are faced with questions that sometimes seem impossible to answer. Everyone is guided by something (or someone) when It comes to making choices both big and small. When it comes to issues of a moral nature, “three-quarters of all Americans claim their religious beliefs are the primary Influence on how they find guidance In their lives. ” (O’Mathuna and Amundsen, 1998) What is the Christian perspective on physician-assisted suicide (PAS)? While the topic certainly inspires debate, conclusions can be reached using examples from the Bible, cripture verses regarding life and death, and denominational statements.
There are seven recorded accounts of people in the Bible choosing to end their own lives. (Because the Bible does not speak specifically of PAS, insights will be drawn using examples of suicide. According to the Bible, killing Is killing; no matter who commits the act for what reason. ) Abimilech, Samson, Ahithophel, King Zimri, King Saul, Saul’s armor bearer, and Judas Iscariot.
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While there is no specific command in the Bible condemning the choice to end one’s own life, the depictions of the aforementioned characters are not those of a positive nature.
Abimelech seizes power in his lifetime by conspiracy and murder of 70 of his own half-brothers. He is not chosen or appointed by God. After being mortally wounded by having a woman drop a stone on his head, he asks that his armor bearer run him through with his sword so that no one can say he was killed by a woman. The passage states that his death repaid the wickedness he had done to his father by murdering his brothers (Judges 9:50-57, New International Version). Samson is gifted by God with amazing strength. However, he ignores God’s commandments and lives a life tainted with trickery and sexual
Immorality. He dies after being held prisoner by his enemies when he tears down a temple to which he has been tied. It collapses killing Samson and everyone else inside Oudges 17:29-30, NIV). Saul becomes the first king of Israel after being warned by God that Israel’s desire for a human king Is a rejection of the kingship of God. Saul; eventually becomes alienated from God, his family, and his people. His jealousy leads him to attempt murder on more than one occasion. Saul becomes wounded during battle and has no one to turn to for help and refuses to seek Cod.
He asks his armor earer to help him die, and after he refuses (and then immediately takes his own life), Saul chooses to fall on his own sword (1 Samuel 31:1-6, NIV). Oftentimes in the New Testament, self-destructive behavior (suicide) Is associated with demon possession. Though the suicide of Judas Iscariot in the New Testament is recorded without comment, Judas was called a traitor, a devil, a thief, and a son of perdition. Judas betrayed Jesus. claiming he never knew him. The weight of his guilt lead him to hang himself. “A similar analysis of all the other suicide accounts reveals a consistent pattern.
Nowhere is suicide praised or commended. In fact, the lack of explicit comment on the suicides could Just as easily be viewed as a negative evaluation. ” (O’Mathuna and Amundsen, 1998) There is one last mention of suicide in the New Testament, yet its conclusion is full of hope and life. Two characters, Paul night, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God in the midst of their suffering. A violent earthquake shook the foundation of the prison, opened all the cell doors, and loosened all of the chains of the prisoners.
The Jailer was awakened and for fear of being killed once prisoners escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted and insisted that he not harm himself because no one had escaped. Paul and Silas then spoke with the Jailer about God’s love and salvation. The Jailer was filled with Joy because he had come to believe in God (Acts 16:24-34, NIV). Christians believe that the Bible is the spoken word of God through his people. They believe that the Journey of Jesus Christ from birth to death on a cross demonstrates how they are called to live even in the midst of pain and suffering.