Tag Archives: death and dying

Not a mercy but a sin: Christian tradition vs. euthanasia

Though the following e-newsletter from my days at Christianity Today International opens with an out-of-date reference to the late Terry Schiavo, the topic is as pressing as ever. What should we as Christians think about euthanasia, or “mercy killing”?

Some time after this piece was posted on CTI’s website, it was reprinted as the lead essay in Euthanasia: Opposing Viewpoints, ed. Carrie L. Snyder (Thomson Gale/Greenhaven Press, 2006). The piece was retitled “Christianity Condemns Voluntary Euthanasia,” and it was followed by an essay from the opposite viewpoint: “Christianity Should Condone Voluntary Euthanasia.” The author? Liberal Episcopalian John Shelby Spong.

(Some links in the following are likely out-of-date.)

Not a Mercy but a Sin
The modern push for euthanasia is a push against a two-millenniums-old Christian tradition.
Chris Armstrong

The case of Terri Schiavo, a severely brain-damaged Florida woman who has been on life support for over a decade, has reopened debate by secular and church authorities alike on questions surrounding euthanasia or “mercy killing.”

The matter is admittedly not simple. But the Christian church has, at least until recent decades, spoken on it with a fairly unified voice.

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Summary of chapter 9: Eternity, temporality, and the art of dying well

The medievalist C. S. Lewis could not shake the idea of purgatory—the place of final sanctification before the judgment. He believed it, though not (he said) in its full Roman Catholic panoply. This came partly from a seriousness about sin: surely none of us thinks we can stand before a holy God after death without some sort of cleansing! But the deeper grounding of the doctrine for Lewis as for the medievals is this: Our life is a breath; a blade of grass; a brief, transitory phase between birth and death; a twinkle in time compared to eternal life with God in heaven, or eternal damnation without God and with Satan in hell. You want to live it as well as you can, and when it comes time to die, you want to be as prepared as possible to meet your eternal destiny. Continue reading