Thursday, August 09, 2007

Death is a Right...And a Duty

Albert Mohler has an excellent post this morning about one huge problem involved in believing that death is a personal right. That problem is that the right to die inevitably devolves into a duty to die, especially for those deemed disabled or a social burden. He concludes:

Calls for assisted suicide arise at the intersection of human despair and political opportunity. The absence of a Christian worldview leaves personal autonomy as the foundation of ethical choice. Death becomes, of all things, a matter of individual rights.

The only real alternative to this logic is the framework of the biblical worldview -- a worldview that understands every single human life to be sacred, every individual to possess full human dignity, all life to be a stewardship, and death to be a matter for God, not we ourselves, to decide.

Make no mistake. When death is claimed as a right, it will soon become a duty. You don't have to be in a wheelchair to see where that leads.

I would like to tack on this related thought, even though it is a bit tangential. One way to fight this kind of public policy is to head it off at the pass before it ever gets to the point of debating about a "right" to die. We can do this by taking the responsibility for health care out of the hands of the government and restoring it to families. One of the major levers that pro-euthanasia activists use to pry public opinion and legislative votes to their side is the "social cost" of taking care of elderly or disabled people. But if the government is not footing the bill for the care of these people, then they have no more traction. Restoring health care to the family would be a difficult step in America, due to the fragmented nature of the family and the lack of personal responsibility (i.e. it is always easier to vote to get the government to do something for me than it is to try to do it myself), not to mention the deeply entrenched special interests of the health care industry. But Christians can and should take the lead in such changes, if for no other reason than that we have direct biblical teaching that leads us toward this way of life (1 Thess 4:11-12; 1 Tim 5:4, 8, 16).

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