Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Right To Die: Who Can Choose?

Yesterday I read an article about a man in England who is vying for the right to be euthanized. He has a "locked in" condition meaning that the only part of his body that he can move is his head. Once a vibrant rugby player, Mr. Nicklinson, is tired of living this way. 
I started thinking about what it would take out of a person to watch someone care for his every need. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Most of us are so adept at being extremely independent. The thought of someone else doing for us what we once did for ourselves is terrifying. Mr. Nicklinson and many others live this way every day. Locked in that pain. And if they are without Christ's sustaining grace, I can't imagine how they deal with it.
As I thought about the ethics of euthanasia, I came upon the edit of a story which is in my soon-to-be published book In Every Place. I actually performed a euthanisation on one of my daughter's pet guinea pig. It was an extremely hard thing to do, but she was suffering extensively and it seemed the right thing to do. 
What's the difference in what I did for Leah the guinea pig - in ending her life - feeling it was the merciful thing to do and what physically debilitated people in constant pain may want? Is it because an animal has no soul? And a human being does (at least, I believe that we do according to the Bible)? 
Where does God come into the picture? Does it matter that He is gave Life its very name? That nothing takes Him by surprise and He knows the days He has planned for us? So many questions and no doubt, so many varying answers. 

(Taken from In Every Place, Chapter Seven)
Euthanasia: Never Easy 
During our two years in Jamaica, Michelle became interested in guinea pigs, so we bought one for both her and Stefanie. Michael (Michelle’s) and Leah (Stefanie’s) were the first of many guinea pigs we would raise in the years to come. It was with the guinea pig she named Michael that Michelle began the unusual ability to create a particular voice for a pet. If you know us, you know that we “talk for our pets” and each pet has a unique “voice”. Yes, we are a little strange. When we had had the two guinea pigs for a few months, Stefanie and Michelle were playing with them in the yard. Ready to put them back in their cage, they tried to catch them, but Leah decided to play hide and seek with the girls. One of the girls accidentally stepped on her hind leg and broke it. We tried putting a splint on it, wrapping it, and cleaning it, but because she was a rodent, she just chewed off the splint or the wraps. The area around the break became severely infected and it soon became obvious that Leah’s body was septic. 

If you have a weak stomach, do not continue reading this paragraph as I describe Leah’s condition. Jeff and I both knew we had to do something after we saw maggots crawling out of the poor guinea pig’s ear. All she could do was lay on her side writhing in pain. The sore oozed and smelled putrid. We had put Michael, the male guinea pig, in a separate cage when we first saw the maggots around Leah’s broken leg. Knowing something needed to be done, I asked Jeff to take the girls with him on an errand one day. I had decided to euthanize the poor creature. Starting the process by putting a small amount of Benadryl in a dropper, I tenderly fed it to Leah. Over the next hour, I gave her three doses, watching her relax more and more. Coming out with a fourth, and what I hoped, would be the last dose needed, I  observed that her breathing was very shallow and her eyes were glazing over. I stayed there with her, crying, and talking to her. Within a few minutes, Jeff and the girls drove up and found me sitting there with the dead guinea pig. I had discreetly tucked the dropper full of Benadryl in my pocket. It was quite a while before I told the girls that I had actually accelerated Leah’s death. I was then their hero. But it’s not something I would want to repeat.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.(John 1:1-5)

Here's the only statement that I really want to make today about this subject.
If we are Christians, we know (or should know) that God is sovereign, in control of everything - including our lives. He calls us to trust Him with our lives...He never put a ceiling on that command. He never said unless we become too weak to care for ourselves or suffer beyond what we think we can take. Trusting God was never promised to be easy. But He is worthy of our trust. In every situation.
On the other hand, if a person is not a believer of Jehovah God, a follower of His son Jesus Christ, how can we expect him to trust a God he doesn't know with his life or his sufferings? We can't.                   (Read I Corinthians 2)
So, I will not judge those who choose to die because of their physical plights. How can they understand? Instead, I will pray for them to find God and the salvation freely given through His Son Jesus Christ, that they will accept Him into their lives. Without Him, this world affords very little mercy, grace and comfort. 

Read HERE about a man from England who is fighting a court battle for the right to die, wanting to protect the person who will eventually help him to end his life.

What would you do?