We human beings invariably go down the wrong path after first convincing ourselves that we are actually on the right track. In that tradition, Andrew Denton has recently made the not so gentle suggestion that the killing of the old and infirm be allowed, and that the Church be silent on the issue. All of this takes place under the umbrella of an organisation with the beguiling name of Go Gentle Australia. I know that the rule of the elites is that whoever is first to cry “Nazi” loses, but the Nazi euthanasia programme was carried out by the misnamed Charitable Transport Company.
Advocates of euthanasia would have us believe that they are driven by compassion and freedom – two most appealing motives. They can be rubbery terms. Evil can be disguised as good. In March 2005 Terri Schiavo was legally starved to death in a Florida hospital, all in the name of relieving the suffering of a brain-damaged woman. What motivated those involved in the decision, including her husband, Michael? Convenience? Obtaining the insurance money? Empathy? If our hearts are deceitful and desperately corrupt (Jer.17:9), it is quite possible that outward compassion may reflect The issue of freedom or autonomy also looms large in the campaign for euthanasia. Mr Denton, for example, clearly had no wish for Christians to have any say in the public square on the matter. Nobody – not even God Himself – is going to tell us what we can and cannot do. In William Ernest Henley’s rather embarrassing poem, Invictus, there are the well-known lines: “I am the master of my fate,/ I am the captain of my soul.” It fails at most levels – in its unrealistic Stoicism, its hard-nosed paganism, and even its confronting verse. How sobering to hear God’s words to the rich fool: “You fool! Tonight is your soul required of you” (Luke 12:20). Euthanasia hardly proves our autonomy; it reveals our lack of it.
Professor Theo Boer was originally a supporter of assisted suicide in the Netherlands, but in 2014 he was busy warning the British House of Lords that safeguards were becoming increasingly meaningless: “Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely ever to go back in again.” Unless the Lord intervenes, sin works like that.