In February 2015, in the Carter vs. Canada decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of physician assisted suicide. The Court has given the federal government until June 2016 to bring forward legislation on assisted suicide. Doctors have already assisted in suicides in some provinces, but starting this summer assisted suicide will take place nationwide. For Christians, this is very sad.
Christians believe in a God who placed the first man and his wife in the Garden of Eden to live. He told them to be fruitful and multiply, and said they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because He didn’t want them to die. Satan, the enemy, convinced them to eat of the tree, and death entered the world.
The rest of the Bible tells the story of God rescuing humanity from death. The rescue plan climaxed when His Son was crucified to bear the death that His people deserve, and then instead of staying dead the Son of God was raised to life. God promises everlasting life and forgiveness of sins to all those who who believe in Him. The God of the Bible gives life, and Satan brings death. In Jesus’ words, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Human value does not come from any perceived strength or weakness within our beings, but from God Himself. He gave us dignity when He stamped His image upon us. He assigns dignity to all people, regardless of colour, race, religion, ability, sex, ethnicity, or age. An assault upon a human being is an assault upon the image of God.
Scripture encourages us to yearn that suffering ends, but Scripture never sees death as that end. Instead, suffering will finally end when Christ returns and establishes His Kingdom on earth. Until then, God tells us to hope while we suffer. Saint Paul wrote, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Truly, the Bible is the history of God’s people learning to trust Him while they suffer.
Christians believe that time is a gift from God, and we are to steward it for His glory and the good of our neighbours. Suffering or not, Christians are to see their lives as useful. A simple smile, quiet prayers, and the display of genuine hope are only a few examples of how Christians can serve others while suffering. As long as God gives us breath, our mission is to love our neighbours and trust our God. We cannot opt out.
While some may see death as a quick way out of the suffering, momentary happiness and instantaneous relief from pain are not the greatest good. Christians understand that the greatest good is to enjoy God by faith, even when life is difficult.
God’s heart is a heart that loves all life, and human life especially. From that heart springs the sixth commandment: “You shall not kill.” Even before that, God punished the first murderer, Cain, who killed his brother Abel. The Revelation of John says of murderers, “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.” God loves life, and because of that He hates murder.
Not once in Scripture is suicide condoned. It is sin. King Saul, suffering military defeat, killed himself. King Zimri of Israel hanged himself after his failed reign. Likewise, Judas Iscariot who betrayed our Lord hanged himself in shame. The Apostle Paul talked the Philippian jailer out of killing himself and pointed him to the hope of Jesus Christ. Murder is wrong, and suicide is murder of self.
St. Augustine of Hippo articulated the Christian view well when he said, “Certainly anyone who kills himself is a murderer,” and, “We take the command ‘You shall not kill’ as applying to human beings, that is, other persons and oneself. For to kill oneself is to kill a human being.”
Canadians have been deceived. Our Supreme Court and many of our lawmakers have been lured by a Siren song of freedom that only brings death. When the law no longer recognizes human life as intrinsically valuable, we are in deep trouble.
One thing is sure: faithful Christians will stand out more and more in this culture of death. We will continue believing in strange things like a crucified Christ who rose again, and we will end up doing strange things too, like choosing to live amidst enduring and intolerable suffering.
In the early Roman Empire, Christians were burned alive in the streets and fed to lions in the coliseum. Christians stood out because we were willing to die for Christ. In modern times, Christians may soon stand out because we are willing to live for Christ.