Thursday, March 19, 2009

Physician Assisted Suicide

In the movie "Whose Life is it anyway?" Richard Dreyfuss plays an artist who is in a terrible car crash. The car crash leaves him paralyzed. Because of his paralysis, he is no longer able to sculpt the way he once did. He decides that if he can't be the artist he once was, then he no longer wants to live. At the end of the movie it is determined by the courts that he can choose to no longer be on the machines or have the treatment that keeps him alive.
This is a good question when it comes to Physician Assisted Suicide: whose life is it? Because we live in a society that stresses independence, most people think that they are the ones who should choose all things for themselves; even when it is time to do. Those who are terribly ill might want to end their life to end their misery. But is our life really our own to decide?
In the Bible, Psalm 139:13-16 we are told: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place; when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God is the one who desired for us to live, and designed for us to be born. Our life really does belong to God, not to us. What we do with our life is our gift back to God.
I think we have our perspective all wrong; we think that life is supposed to be all wonderful, and smooth, and perfect. We think that we are owed happiness and health. So when someone is not healthy for a long time, when they realize they will not get better, they begin to want to end their life. They think that having a doctor do it for them is different than committing suicide themselves; that if someone else sends them to the graveyard, then it is okay.
I disagree. I think that anytime we have our life ended, by our own doing or by the hand of someone else, we are playing God. We are deciding when the end of our life will be. We are deciding that God can no longer use our life for His purpose.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't agree with keeping someone alive by machines. If turning off a machine means that their life will end, then that is different than suicide. Because of our technology, we sometimes keep people alive longer than God meant for them to be alive. I know that I had to make this decision a few years back concerning my father. But I knew that my dad didn't want to be kept alive by a machine. If he couldn't breathe on his own, then it was no longer life.
I know that many will disagree with me on this. But I don't think scripture supports us having physicians end the life of people because they no longer feel like they have a purpose. I'm interested to hear what others have to say.