THIS week I had the honour of conducting the funeral of lady aged 95. But though a funeral, it was more the celebration of a life, than mourning a death.
Among many recollections and observations about our wonderful 95 year-old, was that, like venerable Bible heroes, she had ‘died old and full of years.’
What a commendation that is, to die old and full of years. It implies a life well-lived, a life lived in submission to the will of God.
With the discussion of assisted dying, or euthanasia, in the news, this prompted the thought: Could a person who had voluntarily taken their own life, such as in the legislation passed in Victoria (and defeated in NSW) be said to have “died old and full of years”?
The answer to that, irrespective of their age, is, I think, no. One cannot “die old and full of years” if you take your own life.
The reason is that a person who chooses to end their own life, by whatever means, cannot be said to be “full of years”. Tragically, in taking their own life, they have not submitted to the will of God and have not lived out their full term.
A lack of submission to the will of God lies behind much of the pressure for euthanasia.
At one level this is understandable if we do not believe in God, or do not believe he has our best interests at heart.
But if we believe that God is good, as the Bible tells us he is, then to take our own life is to, sadly, reject his will for us. It’s saying that we know better than God.
Of course, it is beyond dispute that the time prior to death for some people can be all but unbearable. And yet, in the great majority of cases, this suffering can be relieved by palliative care.
But what will happen to palliative care if a much cheaper “assisted dying” regime is available? It’s almost inevitable that funding for palliative care and availability of these services will nosedive.
And what will be the subtle, yet strong pressures on those who have little hope of recovery to end their lives and save a lot of hassle, not to mention money?
Euthanasia? Assisted dying? Call it what you will, but it is not only a path away from God, but from our humanity.