In our November 2022 cover story, Ewan C. Goligher reflected on the rise of medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada, where the number of patients dying by euthanasia has grown tenfold in the past five years. Some see MAID as a compassionate response to suffering. But Goligher, a Christian, argued instead that euthanasia is an insult to human dignity.
Several of our readers wrote in to agree: Death with dignity should not mean death as a therapy. But it should also not mean avoiding death for as long as technically possible. “I think you have to weigh the desire for an end to one’s suffering with the current unending efforts of the medical profession to prolong life at all costs so that many end up dying in intensive care, away from family and friends,” wrote Sue Reuker of Providence, Rhode Island. “The desire for assisted dying seems to be related to the near inability to die a normal death.”
Augie Allen of St. Petersburg, Florida, agreed with Goligher’s condemnation of MAID, but he thought the article would have benefitted from a deeper discussion of “the stigma of death and the ministry of hospice”:
We are incredibly fearful of death, to the point of not saying the words death or dead inside of what some might deem polite conversation. I spent a short time as a hospice chaplain and subsequently helped to guide my father who suffered from metastatic breast cancer to a very good hospice program.
We also have a health system that is built on creating new drugs and treatment protocols to make a profit and fails to address the pain and suffering caused by the treatments. Our fear of death is the reason why so many suffer through invasive cancer treatments and immeasurable suffering, instead of creating space for care that provides comfort in the last days. I believe it’s possible that our lack of sound teaching on this has created the void into which people believe that death is something they control.
As commenters on social media recognized, a patient might also choose euthanasia to be selfless, afraid of burdening their burned-out loved ones. Even as Christians advocate for “the very best medical and palliative care” for the dying, Goligher hopes the church can be a place where dying isn’t a ready solution to financial, logistical, or emotional challenges—where “the weak, the aged, the disabled, and the dying are regarded as priceless members of the community,” not expensive or difficult inconveniences, and where caregivers are sustained and supported.
—Kate Lucky is CT’s senior audience engagement editor
Any corporate worship should engage the heart of each congregant in the full spectrum of scriptural expressions to God.
Jesus said to go forth and spread the gospel and to disciple the nations. He never said to go out into the world to perform their chores for them! How many times have we seen short-term mission trips where the entire focus is on completing some tasks or chores but the gospel is never mentioned? Or where the only team members who have any interaction with the locals are the team leader and translator?
Boynton Beach, FL
The writer’s definition of missions is too narrow. It suggests that the Great Commission is the only text about God’s work in the world. Surely good works of any kind are missional. The Bible addresses the mission of God, not “missions”—the antiquated view of “foreign missions” many identify with colonialism.
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