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RE:QUEST

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Issues: Christian Attitudes to Euthanasia

Arguments for and against

Euthanasia - the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease - is an issue that Christians have different views on. Christians form their beliefs depending on the church denomination that they belong to and/or their personal interpretation of the Bible's teaching on the sanctity of life.

Arguments Against Euthanasia

Some Christians - for example, Roman Catholics - are strongly against euthanasia. They believe that the taking of life is wrong, regardless of the circumstances. These Christians believe:

  • Life is a sacred gift from God.  You can find out why they believe this by clicking here.
  • Each person has value regardless of their quality of life.
  • God has a purpose for everyone.
  • The Bible teaches that the taking of life is wrong. The Ten Commandments teach, 'You shall not murder.' Exodus 20:13.
  • The Bible teaches that suffering can have a purpose and that we can learn from it. For example, Job suffers tremendous loss and pain but always accepts it unquestioningly. 'Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?' Job 2:10.
  • Hospices provide palliative, end-of-life care for patients, so euthanasia is unnecessary.

Arguments For Euthanasia

However, other Christians - for example some who belong to the Church of England - hold different views. They believe that:

  • God gave everybody free will, therefore, if someone is suffering, they should be allowed to make a decision to end their own life.
  • When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered ‘Love God… and love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39). Every other law, Jesus explained, hung on these two key principles. Some Christians choose to let this argument determine their beliefs and actions. In any given situation, the most important question is ‘What is the kindest and most loving thing to do?’ Some see euthanasia as the kindest, most loving option, as it relieves the suffering of an individual who is struggling with the pain and mental anguish of a terminal illness.
  • Euthanasia allows a person to die gently, without pain, maintaining their dignity. It is the quality of life that is important, not the quantity.
  • Euthanasia can also help the family or the person suffering, offering relief from witnessing their relative experiencing so much pain.
  • Medical costs can be cut.

Christians will sometimes apply the principles of situation ethics, with each case being evaluated depending on the individual's circumstances.