As a fundamental Baptist, I know salvation happens in a blink of an eye and that it isn’t a process. It requires neither the repentance of sin, nor a type of work for earning, while faith is all that one must have to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Once you believe, there is nothing in the world you can do to damn yourself to hell, as all of us are sinners, no matter how much we try not to be.
What I understand is that from a bioethics point of view, the focus of euthanasia, or assisted suicide, is directed towards hastening and facilitating death, which might result from depression, or simply the unwillingness to continue living. Being removed from life support, on the other hand, is the realization that you are no longer benefiting from aggressive medical interventions, and they are only serving to prolong the pain and suffering. Though both approaches require that you have a life-threatening illness, for the latter method, comfort is the ultimate goal.
Despite the fact that disconnecting the ventilator and letting nature take its course is perfectly legal, I believe that according to the Bible, it is still suicide. The law of the LORD includes no grey areas. Life and death can only be in His hands, or else murder becomes a reality. Every action consists of three steps; intent, choice, and initiative. I define suicide as the termination of existence by means of a conscious decision.
Living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, I was never given an option in the cards that were dealt. Having a “way out”, so to speak, is a huge weight, lifted from my shoulders, amid these trying times where my weakness is becoming too much, and how my parents are getting up there in age. I refuse to live in an institution, so it’s good to have a little freedom!
I’ve noticed with my transition to palliative care that everyone likes to talk about dying with dignity. In fact, there is no dignity when it comes to death. All your friends and family show up to look down on your lifeless corpse because they never visited when you were alive, you get some kind of generic sermon that inspires no one, you go to the grave, rot away, and get digested by maggots until your bones are visible.
Dignity? I’m not looking for something impossible to find. The lack thereof is something that I’m used to. Is there any dignity in having your face covered in mucus and saliva because oops, the call bell had been forgotten? Is there dignity in taking a shit while hanging by the ceiling because of convenience?
I’ve had this disease for thirty-four years. Even as a child, I quickly realized that DMD was relentless, and how it gave no vacations or rewards. I was forced to grow up too soon because I had to fight too soon. I’m getting tired of this battle I never asked for, but my sigh of relief comes from recognizing the difference between giving up and letting go. I want to let go, even though I really hate the idea, especially being so young. I’m in the body of an eighty year old man, but my spirit wants to be somewhere else.
It is a tough decision that I haven’t made quite yet because who in their right mind wants to die? I want to get better, but at this point, I just want rest. Perhaps when things start getting worse, having the pain of suffocation eased via artificial means would be an ideal solution. In the meanwhile, I’m content that I have a choice in the foreseeable future…
…content that although being taken off life support is suicide, and suicide is a sin, God’s promise of eternal security will always be my assurance. You’re not supposed to follow His commandments out of compulsion, but love. I hope that I’ll leave this world due to natural causes, but consider religious compromise to be the one reward that I can claim as my own.
The real question is: do I have the heart to expect someone to kill me, with the acknowledgment that regret might be on the horizon?