Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, introduced legislation this past week to legalize assisted suicide (now called “physician assisted death”). Assisted suicide is also legal in places in the United States and Europe. This is just the latest manifestation of the consequences of abandoning the biblical view of human life as intrinsically valuable due to the fact that man is created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27; 9:6; James 3:9), as well as the explicit rejection of the ten commandments as a standard of morality. Assisted suicide may be seen as the next logical step following the legalization of abortion more than forty years ago.
Secular morality is riddled with irreconcilable contradictions and arbitrary value judgments. But certainly the theory of evolution teaches that man is just another animal. Ultimately, man is nothing more than a highly organized collection of matter in a meaningless universe. As such, human life only has the worth that man himself assigns to it. The criteria for assigning worth to life might be the perceived good of each individual, the good of the majority, or the good of the ruling class. In the context of contemporary Western liberal thought, the ruling class and the majority are one and the same, and therefore life should be treated in the way that the majority believes is best for itself. Many believe that a life of suffering is not worth living, and therefore it would be best for themselves personally if they could decide to end their lives when they lose hope or no longer find life pleasant. They also believe that caring for the elderly, the handicapped, the terminally ill, and others with serious and chronic medical conditions is an economic burden and a useless drain on the resources of the healthy.
I am not convinced that caring for the elderly, the sick, and the handicapped is in fact an economic burden. There are very many people who are employed to care for the sick and the elderly; viewed from this perspective, taking care of those in need is actually a positive economic activity which creates jobs. Further, caring for the elderly, the sick, and the handicapped is, from a biblical point of view, a blessing and a privilege, and therefore well worth the cost (cf. Matt 25:35-40). The people who are cared for enrich the world through their interactions with caregivers, as well as by other means. By contrast, the secular establishment talks about how much money is generated by activities such as sports, gambling, rock concerts, and other forms of entertainment. These activities are actually the real drain on the economy, since they generate no useful goods but are hugely expensive. Not only are these expenses completely unnecessary, they are counterproductive, since they promote lawlessness and immorality while taking time and money away from productive enterprises. The truth is, secular people simply like entertainment and do not like having to care for suffering people, since they lack love, and this is the real reason why they portray entertainment as a positive economic activity and caring for the elderly as an economic cost. Similarly, secularists view religion as a waste of time and money, when in fact it is a lack of (true) religion that is leading the world to destruction.
From a secular point of view, one could make a very good argument for infanticide. One could argue that babies born with serious birth defects would be better off having their lives terminated, since they would never enjoy life as adults, and would simply be a burden to their parents and other caretakers (there is no love for people in the secular mentality). Non-Christians would not accept the objection that man is created in the image of God, thereby making all human life precious, and that God has strictly forbidden the taking of human life (other than in self-defense or as judicial punishment for murder). It therefore seems very likely that infanticide will soon be practiced in the United States.
It also seems likely that laws which mandate involuntary euthanasia will soon follow laws which permit voluntary euthanasia. There was, in fact, talk of a “death committee” established under Obamacare to decide when seriously ill patients should no longer receive medical care. One of the consequences of government-run health care programs in a secular country is that an antichristian standard of medical morality is imposed upon the entire populace. If the government decides that it is not worth the financial cost to care for certain seriously ill patients, it would seem reasonable from a secular point to euthanize patients, rather than “pulling the plug” and watching them die slowly and miserably. But from a biblical point of view, man has no right to take human life; someone who does so is a murderer and must be killed by the authorities in retributive justice (Gen 9:5-6).
It is not only those who are physically sick whom the majority may judge to be unfit to live—a whole class of people may be deemed undesirable and therefore targeted for extermination. In Nazi Germany, this was the Jews; in leftist America, it would be evangelical Christians.
In many ancient pagan societies, the preferred form of entertainment was blood sport. There is no reason to think that the gladiatorial shows of the Roman Empire could not be revived in the United States. From a secular point of view, life has no ultimate value, so if two fighters give their consent they should be able to fight to the death. We are already seeing increasingly violent sport-fighting around the world, often with serious injuries to the participants. The wicked want to give expression to their wicked desires to harm others, and to watch others be harmed, and they have no love for those involved.
The movement to legalize drugs is another manifestation of the secular view of the cheapness of life. On the secular view, it is okay to destroy one’s mind, one’s health, and even one’s life if one obtains pleasure in the process. The rise in the murder rate and the suicide rate in the United States is also due to a view of human life as cheap.
One of the basic assumptions behind the push for assisted suicide is that there is no afterlife and no judgment for sin—once a man dies, he ceases to exist forever. But the Bible teaches that death will only end a person’s suffering if that person goes to heaven. For those who go to hell, their suffering will only be greatly intensified (Rev 14:9-13). The assumption that man is wholly physical and that death ends life forever is also behind the movement to cremate or even compost dead bodies. If we believe that our bodies are connected to our souls and will be raised someday, then we should want them to be treated with reverence. For more on this issue see this post and this one. It should be noted that the idea that man is simply a complex machine is absurd, since no machine can achieve consciousness or make voluntary decisions by a self-determined will. Man’s consciousness and will can only be explained by means of an immaterial soul.
It is not just the atheistic Western worldview in which life is seen as cheap. In the Shinto/Buddhist Japanese worldview, suicide is often seen as honorable, and large numbers of young Japanese men volunteered for suicide missions during World War II. In the Islamic worldview, suicide bombers may be seen as martyrs for their god. It is only in the biblical Christian worldview that life is seen as intrinsically precious and valuable. In the midst of ever-changing morality in society around us, let us remember the Bible’s teaching about human life: (1) Man is created in the image of God, which makes him different from the animals (Gen 1:26-27); (2) God forbids murder (Exod 20:13); (3) Life’s sufferings have positive value for followers of Christ (1 Pet 3:14); and (4) All men’s bodies will be raised and judged when Christ brings history to its final consummation (John 5:28-29).