Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything. - St Gregory of Nyssa

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Right to Death?

From :

On Saturday November 1, 2014, Brittany Maynard committed suicide.  She had been diagnosed last spring with a rare form of brain cancer and given six months to live.  She decided she did not want to live that time suffering from her disease with its increasingly severe seizures, and so she moved to Oregon with her husband and took the overdose of barbiturates prescribed by her doctor for the purpose of suicide.  She was twenty-nine years old.

As might be expected her very public death (she shared on Facebook her decision to kill herself that day with the words, “Today is the day I chose to pass away in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer which has taken so much from me… but would have taken so much more”) has ignited afresh what has been called by some the “right-to-die” debate in the United States.  That debate will continue to rage, with some hailing Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act” as a milestone of compassion, while others denounce such measures as the creeping secularization of the nation.  Certainly the disabled and the elderly have much to lose if what Hamlet called God’s “canon against self-slaughter” is revoked by the legislature, and some of them have already weighed in on the debate.  Here I would like to look at the issue from the strictly theological perspective.  The question is not just “will legalizing euthanasia lead to bad things?” but the more fundamental issue of human sovereignty versus the divine.  Bluntly put, do we have the right to arrogate to ourselves matters of life and death, deciding who may live and who may die?  Are we the Lords of life and death, or does such lordship belong solely to God?

Additionally, it is a sin to take a life (your own or someone else's) because you have taken away the person's time to repent. An awful thought.

1 comment:

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you for linking to this - the whole subject of the fear of suffering and death has been on my mind a lot lately and I appreciate all the good Orthodox teaching on it I can get.