End of Life Decisions: The Christian Worldview

Subject: Religion
Pages: 6
Words: 1700
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: College

Abstract

The case study illustrates a situation where George, a successful attorney in his mid-fifties, is diagnosed with ALS, an incurable degenerative disease that results in complete paralysis, nerve damage, and death. Based on the Christian worldview, he would interpret his suffering based on the notion of fullness of the world. He does not become less valuable or worthy as a person since his soul remains intact. Moreover, the hope of resurrection would give him aspiration for eternity after his life on Earth ends. While George’s condition will worsen in the following years, euthanasia would not be a choice based on his Christian beliefs. However, not opting for long-term life support in case his body fully deteriorates does not contradict religious dogmas.

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End of Life Decisions. The Christian Worldview

Dealing with incurable medical issues often leads to a lack of motivation and complete despair for individuals that find themselves in a difficult situation that drastically changes their lives. The case study illustrates a problem where George, an active member of his community and a family man, is diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable disease. The condition leads to complete muscle atrophy, which means George will eventually pass away. He is terrified of the ideas of being dependent on other people, not being able to live a meaningful life, and being a prisoner in his own body. While George cannot see the intrinsic value of his future life, the Christian worldview illustrates another point of view that gives meaning and a sense of worthiness to each human being despite any difficulty or problem. Such religious beliefs as the fullness of the world and hope for resurrection suggest the idea that George’s medical condition does not make his life less worthy or something to give up on.

Fullness of The World

The Christian religion is based on the belief that God is the creator of life. Therefore, every person living on Earth is God’s creation, and since God does not make mistakes, every life is meaningful. Furthermore, God is everywhere, and every living person is an embodiment of the creator. George may think his existence will lose all its meaning after his body shut down, but Christian doctrines illustrate the importance and sacredness of George’s life. In Psalm 24:1, it is demonstrated that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2014). This suggests that every aspect of one’s life comes from God’s power and is an actual embodiment of His grace. While George’s sufferings will detrimentally change him as a physical being, his soul will remain intact and embody God himself. Such a perspective will give the man hope and motivation to keep going and add an immense meaning to his core self as it is a statement of God’s grace.

Hope of Resurrection

The hope of death being a continuation of life is a core belief in Christianity. This gives people a chance to have something to look forward to in the most challenging situations in their lives. Since George’s diagnosis does not suggest him living a long life on Earth, he may interpret his sufferings as a gateway to a pain-free and happy life after his physical death. Besides hope being a valuable tool for individuals that deal with incurable conditions that do not allow them to have a favorable outlook on their future, it always adds positivity into one’s life. Hope for a bright future in heaven when a future on Earth is an impossible option can become a cure for sadness and despair. George’s mental state has suffered since he knows the most likely outcome for him due to his disease. However, believing in a land where life goes on with no pain and sadness may drastically change his outlook, making George view his current situation as a temporary difficulty before a new beginning.

Value of Life

In Christianity, human life is, undoubtedly, the most precious asset and a direct gift from God. Since human life is sacred, its sanctity has to be valued and protected. This being said, God is the creator who decides when something begins and when it meets its end. George has ALS, which is a diagnosis that does not correlate with a positive prognosis. He has a natural fear of being incapable of many things and experiencing pain. However, the disease does not make his life less valuable in terms of Christian beliefs. Instead, God teaches that any form of life is a gift. There is no exception that considers the quality of life since it is a gift that has to be protected untill God himself decides one is ready for the next step. George’s soul will not be worthless when he loses his ability to move, speak, or even breathe. His body may give up, but his value as a human being remains persistent no matter what.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia is a subject that is debatable no matter the religious beliefs of the person contemplating it as an option. According to researchers, assisted suicide and euthanasia are permitted in certain places, yet it still remains controversial (Miller et al., 2018). It is essential to make a distinction between euthanasia and assisted suicide since the first term suggests a direct implication of third parties while the second one is usually done in a medical setting, yet the patient is the active participant. Furthermore, euthanasia can be active or passive depending on certain policies that are followed during the procedure (Rachels, 2020). Active euthanasia refers to the act of causing death by injecting with a lethal injection or using other methods. In contrast, passive euthanasia refers to the intentional avoidance or artificial life support which leads to death.

In Christianity, active euthanasia is not a solution but rather a decision that is not to be made by mortals. Disregarding the ultimate gift of life is a responsibility that humans cannot take because God decides when life begins and when it ends according to the Christian worldview. George, in this case, has to take the situation for what it is and give God the power to decide when the path of life on Earth ends. Moreover, George suffers from a disease that will gradually take over. Christians often interpret the process of passing away as a spiritual journey that brings the human being closer to the creator. Passive euthanasia, however, involves avoidance of life support, which subsequently leads to death. Longevity is not the goal that Christians are trying to fulfill at all costs, so not making an effort to prolong life as much as possible is an acceptable solution.

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Solution

Based on the previous topic of active euthanasia, it is not the answer to Gorge’s problems. In Christianity, every life has a meaning and value that is implied by God regardless of the state of the human body. Furthermore, the gift of life is a continuation of the creator himself. This is why looking for a deeper meaning that would add happiness in the darkest moment of George’s life is vital. It is essential to point out the importance of George’s family and future caregivers. Since he will eventually lose his independence and rely on others for everything he used to do, he must know that people support him. If his family and close ones reassure him that he is loved and his condition is not a burden, this will improve George’s mental state and disposition to remain hopeful and have a positive outlook despite all the problems.

While Christianity does not view active euthanasia or assisted suicide as an option, the longevity of life is not an essential goal. This being said, George will eventually lose the ability to breathe, so to continue living, he will require life support. In this case, based on Christian beliefs, George’s body does not have to be assisted until it ultimately gives up. As soon as the condition worsens and no options but artificial ventilation keeps him from dying, denying medical support is possible. Such measures suggest that the sanctity of life does not always refer to longevity, and acknowledging the limitation of medicine is not an active protest against God’s gift.

Personal Overview

While it is hard to put myself in the position of a person suffering from a degenerative disease, a couple of thoughts come to mind regarding this topic. On the one hand, it is hard to make the decision to opt for euthanasia. On the other hand, pain and complete dependence on loved ones is not a prospect that many would find accessible. However, I believe each life has a meaning that may not be on the surface but persists in the broader picture of the world. I would try to live the rest of my life inspiring other individuals who suffer from the same disease. This would make me feel like my life has value and add a layer of positive influence on others. Making the best of what I have appears to be a choice that would not drive my mental state towards darkness and despair. Furthermore, I would not try to prolong my existence for the sake of longevity. As soon as my body would give up completely, I would accept the choice of not opting for life support.

Conclusion

Being diagnosed with an incurable disease is a life-changing moment in each person’s life. The Christian worldview gives a sense of hope and positivity due to such notions as the fullness of the world and hope of resurrection. Besides the value that each person has since life is a gift from God, the picture of eternal life after death is also illustrated in the bible. Moreover, Christian values highlight the importance of each individual. Active euthanasia is not a solution according to religious doctrines. However, not opting for long-term life support is considered an acceptable choice if there is no hope for the medical situation to get better. Overall, having a Christian worldview makes people have a more positive outlook on challenging life and death situations because there is always the reassurance of worthiness and continuation of life after the physical body gives up.

References

The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2014). Hendrickson Publishers.

Miller, D. G., Dresser, R., & Kim, S. Y. (2018). Advance euthanasia directives: A controversial case and its ethical implications. Journal of Medical Ethics, 45(2), 84–89. Web.

Rachels, J. A. (2020). Active and passive euthanasia. The Social Medicine Reader, 1, 273–279.

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