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.

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