Divinely-Authored Life or Doctor-Assisted Death: A Perspective

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10 (NIV)

Today, the federal government introduced the highly controversial yet much-awaited legislation regarding medically-assisted death with a qualifier that bounds the law “for adults who are suffering intolerably and for whom death is reasonably foreseeable.”  Furthermore, the bill restricts eligibility to those who are mentally competent, 18 or older, have a serious and incurable disease, illness or disability and be in advanced state of irreversible decline in capability.

While many have taken a strong stance on both sides of this debate, my post for today is not directed towards supporting or opposing a particular position.  Why? Because I hope that we can have a more intelligent yet spiritual contemplation on the major issues that this debacle sits on.  (I will take the stand that this is a spiritual issue since this involves life and death!) The introduction of this bill is significant in a way that it tells us our federal government sees validity with this and sees this as a valid human choice.  What do you think?

Obviously asking ourselves the hard questions doesn’t just allow us time to reflect on the matter but gives us the space we need to be respectful of what others are going through, especially when it concerns a loved one.  I am not foreign to this seeing my own father suffer through a horrific pancreatic cancer that saw rapid decline in his health.  There were many more moments I thought that it would perhaps be better for my father to move on so that he would be spared from the daily struggle of pain and invasive medication – feeling intense compassion for him and the whole family who is also in anguish.  In those times, ending the pain seems to be a viable option, especially as we saw him deteriorate each day.

As I step into those thoughts however, I can’t help but ask myself the question of where life came from.  Who gave it to us?  Is life something we possess and are born with, which we can then manage, maintain and dispose of when we need to like we do with our other material possessions?  Or is life so much more than that?  Shouldn’t we look at it as a gift? As a precious inheritance – not a burden but a blessing – even when faced with insurmountable pain?

It is clear that the federal government law offers a perspective about life – and perhaps death.  Since it is a perspective then, we need to account for all perspectives – not just what the law is silently promoting while continuing to be respectful to the suffering families everywhere are going through who are dealing with the horrors of a loved one’s declining health.  Most importantly, we need to include a biblical perspective.  I can’t help it!  I believe in a God who is our Creator – who breathed life into us.  Does that mean that we can just give up on our own volition what was only entrusted to us in the first place?  Yes, the law provides measures so there are proper safeguards in place, but let me be honest and ask, “Who is truly qualified to make all those determinations?”

It is important to acknowledge that there are a plethora of emotional and practical dimensions that come with this debate.  But as I said, there’s also a deep spiritual substance that we can’t simply ignore so I feel that this may not be the first and last time I will be writing about this important life and death discussion.  Yes, it is a discussion, and I hope we make it so and conduct such conversations with compassion, respect and reverence for life and to the One who gave it.

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