Putting Them Out of Their Misery?

Once I participated in a debate on California’s Initiative 161 concerning physician-assisted suicide. My opponents charged that I was forcing my religious views on others. They didn’t realize they were making some religious assumptions of their own.

When a person claims that suicide will end a person’s suffering, they are making a religious claim about the nature of life after death. This cannot be avoided. They are counting on the fact that there is no conscious existence beyond the grave, or that whatever greets us will be pleasant, an improvement on the misery of life on this earth.

If they are wrong, though, and there is a hell awaiting those who deserve it, then for some euthanasia will not end misery, but compound it. The person suffering here on earth is not transported to a place of peace and rest, but rather to an infinitely greater suffering in hell. It is theoretically possible, then, that “mercy killing” could actually be an act of cruelty.

It seems impossible to avoid the intrusion of religious views on either side of this issue. This is not a matter of one party forcing his religious view on another. It’s a matter of two religious views competing with each other. More is at stake here than some people realize.

Greg Koukl

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