Modern medicine remarkably prolongs life. However, this can sometimes mean prolonged suffering. Nowadays, a mentally competent adult, diagnosed with a terminal illness and a life expectancy of less than six months, can ask a physician to provide a lethal prescription in several U.S. states.
Supporters of assisted suicide see the matter in terms of autonomy and death with dignity.
Critics who oppose the idea cite a fundamental violation of the Hippocratic Oath and note that countries already legislating the procedure experience a steady rise in the frequency of the practice. The very availability of physician–assisted suicide can mean that both patient and family members feel pressure towards this option.
In contrast, The Salvation Army has been historically at the forefront of suicide prevention counselling.
Scripture communicates that human life is sacred. This means:
- We must not violate human life, including our own.
- It is God who gives life and God who decides when it ends.
- We are always to care and cure if possible, never to harm or induce death.
In Christ, the promise of eternal life enables people to transcend very real trials and tribulations. This “lively confidence” empowers us to both fight death and then make peace with our human frailty when our time to enter heaven is imminent.
The options set by Moses can also be ours: “I have set before you life and death … now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut. 30:19).
by Colonel Richard Munn