A couple of times every year there is another call for euthanasia legislation somewhere in Australia. It receives quite a bit of press attention, the radio stations all pick it up, and then it goes away again until the next time someone puts a bill forward in some parliament somewhere.
I think Christians need to put a bit more thought into this topic, to both inform their own understanding and to be able to discuss this topic effectively and sensitively with people.
And the point to start with are the principles we build our argument on. And these are: that every human life is intrinsically and equally valuable because all people are created in the image of God; and that God, as the creator of life, is the only one with the right to decide when someone’s life will end.
As such, taking your own life (or having someone do it for you at your request) runs against a Christian understanding of what it is to be human.
Every single person, whether they are ‘normal’ or suffer a birth defect, or genetic condition, or injury, or disease, or a mental health issue, is equally valuable. Because their value does not come from what they can do, or even from their own sense of self-worth. Their value comes from the One who created them in His image. From God.
A person who can run and jump isn’t more valuable than a person who is confined to a wheel chair. A person who has a terminal disease with only a few months to live isn’t less valuable than a person who is healthy and expects to live another few decades. A poor person isn’t less valuable than a rich person. And a person suffering pain isn’t less valuable than a person who isn’t.
To make the claim that euthanasia is about ‘dying with dignity’ is to tell the lie that that people who are suffering or experiencing are without dignity. Or that human dignity is purely a matter of my own self-assessment (or someone else’s assessment of me) and not something intrinsic to being human.
Seeking to relieve suffering is a good thing for Christians to endorse, but not by taking on the role of God and deciding to take their life.
Suffering and illness are very emotive issues, but Christians cannot get carried away by our emotions at the expense of ignoring God’s role as the author of life, and the value of all people that comes from them being created in the image of God.