Friday, 4 September 2009

Christian Action in Caring for At-Risk People

It is not enough to oppose the progression of pro-euthanasia arguments, nor simply to oppose voluntary euthanasia societies and similar bodies. If the Church is not say 'no' to euthanasia, it must be ready to say 'yes' to life-affirming alternatives. The Christian Gospel is a Gospel of HOPE and in particular of hope in the context of death and hopelesness. In the situation of terminal care the challenge is to bring effective relief within the context of Christian hope. It has been characteristic of the Church though the ages that it has been in the forefront of work for the suffering, the dying, and the hopeless. The hospice movement owes its existence largely to Christian initiatives which, while they have been followed by secular involvement, remain a positive motivation.

The roots lie in the need for Christians to do, rather than merely protest. A belief in the eternal worth and dignity of human beings is the mark of the Christian since the Lord Himself gave the worth of His own life and death to each one and afforded us the dignity of His eternal love.

Where the elderly, the disabled, the dying and the dementing are held in respect as fellow human beigns, they cease to be seen in negative terms. They also cease to be seen as an alien 'other' kind of person for whom the best thing is to give up on life, but are valued as individuals and to the Christian as individuals for whom Christ died. To quote from Dr. John Wyatt, a prominent paediatric specialist:

In summary, Biblical Christianity does not devalue individuals becuase of their disability. In fact, from a Christian perspective, all of us are disabled in some sense.... and the differences between us are therefore only iun degree. The essence of humanity is not in our functional ability, which may be impaired rto a greater or lesser extent, but in our creation as beings made in God's image. Functional impairment in itself does not impair our dignity or worth as human beings. The central purpose of human life is seen not in the selfish pursuit of pleasure through use of our bodily functions, but in mutual loving relationships with others and with God Himself. In Christian terms it is these personal relationships of love and self-giving which give life its 'quality'. (Survival of the wakest: CMF Publication).


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