Assisted Dying

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The place to debate matters of faith and religion in a more rigorous manner. Differing perspectives from both Christians and non-Christians are actively welcomed, but contributors should come prepared to justify their opinions and beliefs, while showing due respect to the views of others.

Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 17th, 2015, 6:26 pm

Yes, Judas is often compared with St Peter as both were Apostles who "betrayed" Jesus in their own way. They are compared and contrasted in their responses, in that Peter repented with tears and was restored (c.a. Christ's three questions of "do you love Me") whilst Judas did not take this route, but instead committed suicide. In this act, he prevented the act of repentance. The association of Judas' outcome with suicide - as opposed to being 'struck down' by God or some other manner of death - is a clear indication that it is not a desirable end. And indeed, this is how the Church has always seen suicide: as a tragic end to one's life, that can only be done with a certain degree of mental turmoil.

In terms of a paucity of examples, I am surprised that Greg would use the "absence of evidence = evidence of absence" argument, as the same one is used for supporting abortion and all manner of things that I am certain Greg opposes. The truth has to be drawn from the Scriptures, rather than read into it; the latter, incorrect method, is facilitated using the "absence of evidence" argument. The Church's understanding of abortion, suicide and even same-sex marriage are all drawn from Scriptures by contrasting them with what is explicitly said about life, death, the nature of humans and the nature of marriage. Same-sex marriage is wrong because it is quite clearly not what the Bible explicitly says marriage is; likewise, what the Bible explicitly says about how we treat the time we have been given by God rules out ending it prematurely by our own hands. What the Bible explicitly says about suffering and its role in our salvation likewise precludes suicide.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 17th, 2015, 8:50 pm

I didn't use the 'absence of evidence' argument; I simply pointed out the rarity of suicides in the Bible and that the case of Judas was quite singular, inference alone being inadequate. That said, despite my disagreement with certain of your exegetical conclusions, or deductions,* specifically that concerning Judas' death and those expressed in the second part of the penultimate sentence and the final sentence, I have little inclination to set forth my reasons nor enter into a protracted discussion regarding the rest of your post.

[* Whatever ecclesiastical weight they may carry for you.]
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 18th, 2015, 4:32 pm

When you said:

Taking one's own life, on the other hand, especially to curtail suffering, is not - at least in my view - forbidden (I'm referring to Scripture..)


...it sounds very much like the 'absence of evidence' argument to me. Vix's latest posts show that this is how she understood your post too:

A few posts back, Greg was saying that there is nothing in the Bible to contradict killing oneself....


You didn't correct her if that wasn't your intended meaning, which is why we might have some confusion now.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 18th, 2015, 5:39 pm

Frankly, I wasn't really alert to how she interpreted my words - or, better said, how she rendered her understanding of them in her own paraphrase, which may or may not have implied an absence from evidence argument. The plain fact is that such a ploy wasn't my intention, although I would just add that, as I suggested earlier in passing, inference from the one example on the one hand as well as certain theological perspectives on, and conclusions drawn about, forms of suffering and death in Scripture in some quarters of Christendom on the other do not, in my view, constitute a convincing, still less binding doctrine regarding the taking of one's own life.

I'll leave it there.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 19th, 2015, 10:48 am

That's fine if you don't want to employ the absence of evidence argument; in which case we are only left with "later ecclesiastic accretions" to gain a Christian understanding of suicide (as well as abortion and gay-marriage*). Your arguments that opposition to abortion and gay-marriage can be inferred from the Bible as well as them having wider ramifications in society can easily be applied to the issue of assisted-suicide because:

a) The Biblical teachings on life, where it comes from, the nature of suffering and the eternal nature of the soul oppose the concept of ending one's life to escape anything.

b) This particular issue is clearly not something that is only a personal, private decision of one individual regarding their own life because it is assisted-suicide. We are back to the problem of doctors, potentially, being forced by law to aid someone in their own suicide.













*The Bible speaks of homosexuality within the framework of sexual immorality, but even I admit is says nothing - explicitly - about solemnizing a relationship between two people of the same gender as such a thing was totally unheard of. Any opposition to same-sex unions has to be inferred.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby SwordOfTheSpirit » September 19th, 2015, 11:47 am

GregB wrote:I know of no other "instances in the Bible where someone committed suicide and how that (person) is viewed and thus his actions", so "example and parable" would seem to be lacking.

I've been trying to keep an open mind on this, mainly because of the humanitarian issue(s) involved.

What may be worth examining are instances where someone did want to kill themselves? A couple of examples off the top of my head are Elijah (1 Kings 19) and Jonah (Jonah 4). An acknowledgement of God to take life is present in both cases. I'm also reminded of Hebrews 9 v 27 (NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, which again acknowledges the sovereignty of God in determining when life ends.

Incidentally, another example of someone killing themselves has just come to mind...that of Saul in 1 Samuel 31.

Theophilus wrote:*The Bible speaks of homosexuality within the framework of sexual immorality, but even I admit is says nothing - explicitly - about solemnizing a relationship between two people of the same gender as such a thing was totally unheard of. Any opposition to same-sex unions has to be inferred.

What do you think of Genesis 2 v 24 being applied here?

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

which defines any kind of union as being male + female otherwise the one flesh state cannot be achieved. For me, it doesn't become any weaker because it is implicit as I see it as like proving that 2+2 is not 5 by showing that 2+2=4 (implicit), whereas showing that 2+3=5 is explicit.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 19th, 2015, 12:16 pm

That's fine if you don't want to employ the absence of evidence argument; in which case we are only left with "later ecclesiastic accretions" to gain a Christian understanding of suicide (as well as abortion and gay-marriage*)

That would depend on whether you accept "later ecclesiastic accretions" with regard to this issue as definitive (and that also depends, in turn, on the authority you grant to those who formulated such 'accretions'.) I would insist that abortion, the sacrificing of a proto-life, albeit with qualifications (I believe there are valid arguments for abortion, such as a threat to the life of the female carrier - not least for non-Christians) and the very clear Scriptural mandates on human affective relations (clearly excluding same-sex relations) are in a different category from suicide where views which oppose it are simply based on, at times diaphanous, inference and implicit ecclesiastical persuasion.
a) The Biblical teachings on life, where it comes from, the nature of suffering and the eternal nature of the soul oppose the concept of ending one's life to escape anything.

Well, that is, of course how you perceive the matter, but it is not really so clear from Scripture in my view without the kind of rather freewheeling (I think that term is permissible) resort to, perhaps, unwarranted assumptions. I'd prefer not to invoke here the whole literary post-modernist arrogance of deconstructionalism, especially given some of the French intellectual degenerates who formulated it, but there remains something in its advocation of a subjective understanding and interpretation of texts, from which I do not believe the various historical churches are exempt, for all their clamour for primacy and exegetical authority (although, again, excluding clearly defined Christian doctrines where Scripture is clear.)

Edit: On SOTS' post, I don't see Genesis 2:24 as implicit, rather explicit, and has nothing to do tangentially, associatively or otherwise with taking one's own life, for all the presumed 'implicit' texts in Scripture - which, again, I insist are purely arbitrarily exegetical in the absence of definitive mandates according to one's ecclesiastical or theological persuasion.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 19th, 2015, 3:04 pm

b) This particular issue is clearly not something that is only a personal, private decision of one individual regarding their own life because it is assisted-suicide. We are back to the problem of doctors, potentially, being forced by law to aid someone in their own suicide.


I think the continued (third time now?) avoidance of the issue of assisted suicide being an issue that clearly has influences beyond the private decision of one person to end their own life is telling enough.



And on the Biblical argument - again, additional examples from SotS of people wanting to take their own lives is ignored, even though Greg acknowledged a different part of his post.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 20th, 2015, 7:34 am

I think the continued (third time now?) avoidance of the issue of assisted suicide being an issue that clearly has influences beyond the private decision of one person to end their own life is telling enough.

What avoidance? If you are referring to the influence(s) of Scripture, I have already addressed that question, albeit in terms of disagreement. Any other influences (eg. secular ethics) are purely arbitrary.
And on the Biblical argument - again, additional examples from SotS of people wanting to take their own lives is ignored, even though Greg acknowledged a different part of his post.

The fact that Elijah and Jonah asked God to take their lives in a moment of despair does not, to my mind, conclusively demonstrate that the Bible opposes suicide per se. Once again, it is an inference or assumption. I would go so far as to suggest that asking God to 'do the dirty work' still makes it suicide by any other name; that God did not do so is, perhaps, because he had further important work for both men. (Yes, more inferences and assumptions - we're all ploughing the same field here.)

In 2 Samuel 1, it is the Amalekite who kills Saul, seemingly contradicting the account in 1 Samuel. David has the Amalekite executed for killing 'God's anointed', so Saul still had that distinction right to the end. If the first account is correct (ie. that Saul fell on his sword, killing himself), there seems to be no recorded condemnation of the act, not even for 'God's anointed'.

As for Hebrews 9:27, I disagree with SOTS' conclusion. The text simply seems to be saying that as humans we are all - good and bad, saved and unsaved - destined to die at some time or other without saying, or even implying, that God determines that moment.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Sprocket » September 20th, 2015, 8:09 am

The few instances of suicide, or the desire for it, in the Bible are not relevant to this debate. We are talking about people who are dying anyway. This is a problem which has only really arisen in the last century, when advances in medicine enabled people with terminal illnesses to live longer. Wanting to avoid the last few months of increasing helplessness and dependency is not necessarily borne of despair, but may be simply a rational and calm acceptance of the inevitable.
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