The following is a reflection penned by Pastor David Lipsy on the euthanasia debate hosted by ARPA Oxford in the fall of 2013. You can read about that debate here.
A surprisingly large number of people crowded into the gymnasium to hear a well-promoted debate between two prominent representatives of their respective positions on the euthanasia issue. The introductions were made, the guidelines explained, and so the debate began. Reminiscent of a fencing match, the audience witnessed a number of well-worded “thrusts” followed by verbal “parries.” As the evening unfolded, however, it became increasingly apparent to some that foundational considerations were either avoided or dismissed. The purpose of this article is to redress this omission.
First, let us begin with presuppositions. The living and true God sets forth a sufficient revelation of Himself and His will for mankind in the inspired Scriptures. This is not a belief. It is truth – the only truth that adequately accounts for and properly interprets everything that exists and transpires. In what ways does God’s Word equip us to evaluate euthanasia?
Our living God created man in His own image and likeness, explicitly stating this to be the reason He prohibits murder.
We find no precepts, principles, or examples in God’s Word that encourage, allow, or excuse the taking of one’s life, whether by one’s own hand or by another, except for those authority figures He explicitly sanctioned to do so.
Though traceable to the Fall and ongoing sinfulness of man, pain and suffering are often used by God to accomplish great good in those affected by them.
Our Lord makes plain that our holiness is of far greater value than either our happiness or comfort.
The aforementioned truths were not afforded so much as a passing reference during the debate. In a world without God, in a society without laws transcending human autonomy, the arguments against euthanasia cannot be sustained. When a society disregards God’s Word, the arbiter of morality and ethics becomes the majority or the influential or the powerful. If people are the latest stop on an evolutionary train and only incrementally “more advanced” than “lower life forms,” then why not treat a suffering person like we do a suffering horse or dog?
Even when individuals and societies rebel against God and His Word, suppressing their innate knowledge of Him, this does not affect the reality or activity of God nor can they invalidate the truth of His revealed will. The mantra of “freedom of choice” and a “quality of life ethic” has unleashed a genocide of horrific proportions among the unborn. Our response? That to which God has always called His people – embrace truth, proclaim truth, and live truth with humility and confidence. The truth still makes men free. So the gospel still needs to be preached to the poor, the broken-hearted still need healing, captives need deliverance and the blind, sight, etc. It is still the acceptable year of the Lord. The outcome we may safely leave with Him.