Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Christ's Sacrifice and Euthanasia

The following is a topic I was assigned to write about for a class discussion board. Because it is a topic close to my heart due to personal experience I decided to share it here too. The assignment was to "Review the Feldman reading this week about euthanasia and assisted suicide as well as the online article on Christ's physical death.  Many argue that assisted suicide or euthanasia is justified because it relieves a person from suffering.  What are your thoughts about euthanasia, given what Christ did for us?" and the article referenced was the physical death of Jesus Christ.

This is such a difficult topic to address, and which does one address first? How do I personally feel about euthanasia and how does that relate to what Christ did for us on the cross?

We will never be able to know the suffering and pain Christ felt during His final twenty-four hours. In my most extreme imaginations I can’t even grasp a hint of the torture He endured…for me, and for you as well. There are no punishment practices today that can compare to the brutal acts against Jesus Christ so we have no real point of reference when thinking of the severity of His experience.

What we do know is this from Isaiah 53:
3     He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4     Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5     But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Christ received the worst possible punishment, set aside for “murders and serial killers” (Hammond, p. 12). Not only was He punished, He was humiliated in front of the multitudes. He took upon Himself all the sins of the world and allowed our human actions to separate Him from the Father, and He went to hell in our place. No greater sacrifice has been, or ever could be, made.

But part of what He did when He received all the sin of mankind is He received our punishment, sickness and disease, as well. He took “our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” Throughout the bible God tells us that illness is a curse, an evil tool of Satan. Jesus’ wounds gave us the authority to claim healing and be free from pain and disease, suffering and misery.

When looking at this scripture, I am torn. I know we should not have to suffer, but we should also be able to claim healing. We all know healing does not always come, for reasons we can never know on earth. But we do know He paid the price and therefore we should not suffer.
In light of this fact I feel that euthanasia is an acceptable practice within certain parameters. If a person is terminal, and there is no quality of life, and they are suffering either physical or emotional pain I believe euthanasia is a way to claim God’s freedom from misery that Christ took for us on the cross.

I personally have been present for both the death of my father and my mother-in-law. Although I made the call to have my fathers machines turned off I still would have written the scenario differently. I can tell you in both instances the precise moment I would have chosen for them to be set free of this world. And in both cases that moment came prior to the final breath, the cease of their heartbeat and the liberation from this life.

(Sidenote: this post gave my husband and I moments of deep conversation and the writing moved me to tears.)

Feldman, R. S. (2008). Development across the life span. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Hammond, L. (2007). When Healing Doesn't Come Easily. Minneapolis, MN: Lynne Hammond Ministries.
[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Is 53:3–5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Options...there always are some.

Sometimes choices are difficult to make. Sometimes situations are so unpleasant it may feel like there is no obvious solution and certainly not multiple solutions. There are often situations where any course of action will create additional unpleasantness. I do not recall in my lifetime ever being presented with a circumstance which had any less that two possible resolutions.

Recently I was having a conversation with an adult about a situation where she vehemently assured me there was “no other option!” Her insistence left me a bit befuddled and wondering why someone would refuse to acknowledge any alternative. Although most of the options were unpleasant for someone, the choice she made was wrought with challenges as well.

Although I have not always made the best choices in life I have always recognized that they were available. As a grade-schooler I could have chosen to do my homework neatly and accurately the first time before I went out to play so I wouldn’t have to redo it after dinner and right before bed. In junior high I could have picked a nice boy to have a crush on, instead I chose the rough and tumble boys from the bad part of the neighborhood (they were way more exciting, and my parents did not approve). In high school I could have gone to all my classes and been on time, instead I spent a good bit of time ditching classes, running from the Narc and having a blast doing so. In college I could have begun my papers at the beginning of the semester when I received the syllabus, but opted for waiting until the last minute and staying up all night to produce eight or ten pages of beautifully bullshitted prose (oh yeah, I made up a lot of that stuff and LOVED every one of those passing grades I received). I could have opted not to marry my first husband…yep, that one was a bad choice. I may not have acknowledged it at the time, but I’m pretty sure there was an option to driving home after drinking…many times. I could have abstained form sex until I was married, left abusive relationships, not had my children…in each of the situations there were always other options.

Now that I am a parent I am presented with completely different situations requiring difficult choices between multiple options. I want to raise strong, smart, capable and independent children…this means I can’t always bail them out, give in to their wants, believe them above no one else. I have to teach them about giving and responsibility. I would love to hand a large sum of cash to my son whose class is in competition with the others to raise money for the Haiti victims, but if I do this what will he learn about personal sacrifice? When he loses points for talking in class I could choose to allow him to blame someone else for drawing him into conversation; which I would love to do because I want my baby to be perfect and sweet and never in trouble. When my precious girl throws a fit because she wants only peanut butter and fluff sandwiches for dinner I would love to say “She won’t eat anything else, there is no other option.” But then what would I be teaching her about life and consequences of her actions? Do I want them to believe that I will always be there to bail them out and rely on no matter what, take up for them even when they are in the wrong, hand them what ever their hearts desire, and take care of all the difficult options they have before them? No, I do not want them to go through life this way. I want them to realize there are always choices to make and sometimes they are not fun...because I may not always be there, and they may not always be right, and sometimes what a person wants is certainly not in their best interest.