Is Suicide Ever Morally Permissible?
When writing about suicide I try to approach the subject sensitively. Many, including myself, have been affected by suicide, and it is a very emotional and personal issue. It can be easy for a blog post to come across as cold and mechanical, and that is something I do not want to do with this topic, but it is just a blog post and I cannot possibly cover everything that the title asks.
The small Canadian community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency recently, after 11 people attempted suicide in one night. The community has seen a rash of suicides and attempted suicides in the past year or so. Federal MPs held an emergency debate to address the mental health crisis. The Ontario provincial government will dedicate up to $2 million toward long-term solutions to prevent suicide attempts in the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation.
While the government is looking for solutions to help this community deal with their crisis, the federal government has proposed a law allowing voluntary euthanasia for sufferers of serious medical conditions.
Does anyone else see the problem here? There is some sort of perversity afoot. What this is saying is that suicide is wrong, and should be stopped… except when it eases pain suffering. But aren’t the people in Attawapiskat suffering? The whole thing just boggles my mind.
With the upcoming MP free vote, and all the chatter about suicide, euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide…it is a good time to talk about it. I recommend writing an easy mail to your MP through ARPA’s website, to urge them to say no to euthanasia.
Is suicide ever morally permissible?
I know most of you will be thinking about the crisis in Attawapiskat and Euthenasia, so before you say, “no,” let me ask a few questions:
- Is it morally permissible for a Seargent to throw himself on a live grenade to save his soldiers?
- Is it morally permissible for a dad to run into a burning house to try to save his family and die?
- Is it morally permissible for a mother to jump in front of a speeding car and push a child out the way, herself being killed in the process?
- What about the Christian who has a gun to his head – deny Jesus or die. By refusing to deny Jesus, the believer chooses something that he knows will result in his death, in effect suicide…
I would hope that we would all agree that these are morally permissible actions that lead to one’s own death.
So it is permissible to die for another person. The Bible speaks about this, when Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The first 4 questions that are asked, fall under the 2 greatest commandments. #4 is about loving God more than yourself. #1-3 is about loving others.
So when does suicide go from permissible to sinful?
Is it permissible for those people in Attawapaskit to take their own lives, and end the depression, third world poverty, and suffering they face?
Is it permissible for one to take ones own life, at the end of a long terminal illness?
What is the difference?
Why is it ok to end terminal illness and not extreme poverty, or depression? Really there is no difference. I would argue that suicide becomes sinful, when it is a result of self focus, self love, self pity, etc. When we take our eyes off of the giver of life, and look at life itself as the point of existence. When we take our focus off of Jesus and look to ourselves, our own suffering then it becomes a sin. As John Piper states, “In the midst of a feeling of utter meaningless and hopelessness and numbness of depression the soul says: “It can’t get any worse than this. So even if I don’t know what I will gain through death, I do know what I will escape.” And so suicide is an attempt to escape the intolerable. It is an act of self-love.”
I know that sounds harsh.
I am not trying to diminish depression, pain and suffering, terminal illness, or mental illness. We ought to do everything in our power to help these people ease their pain and suffering. Throughout the Bible we are told to care for each other, rejoice with each other, weep with those who weep, carry each other burdens, care for the sick, the orphan, the widow, and on and on. We are not told to kill the elderly or the sick, but to care for them.
There is a morally permissible self death, we have seen that. But it is not Euthanasia. It is not mental illness. As we move further away from the gospel as a society, we will inevitably see more and more radical craziness in the headlines. As we take our eyes off of the giver of life, and we look to ourselves as our own supreme being as autonomous individuals, I wonder how far He will let this society fall. Come soon Lord Jesus.
Follow this link to write an easy email to your MP urging them to say no to Euthanasia. ARPA Urge your MP to say NO