Thursday, April 21, 2011

Assisted Suicide is Coming to a State Near You

"Assisted Suicide," "Euthanasia," "Death with Dignity" --they are all code words for breaking the sixth commandment. Out of the media spotlight right now, here is my prediction. Within six months there will be a new firestorm, a virtual media blitzkrieg on the "need", "the right", "the humane thing to do" over the issue of suicide. Health care legislation will drive it. Popular television dramas will push it in very one-sided ways. Morning television shows will do popular interviews of caregivers and a new "Dr. Kevorkian" will emerge.

Those who argue against it will be marginalized and ridiculed as un-compassionate and "religiously motivated." All of it will be a further dramatization of the drift of our culture away from gospel and biblical principles and the failure of God's people to make a credible impact of the corporate psyche of the nation. Pray and work to prove me wrong. Please, I want to be wrong. The source for the following paragraph's is Kairos Journal.

Self-Murder—Francis Turretin (1623 – 1687)

Francis Turretin taught theology at the academy in Geneva from 1653 to his death in 1687. He is most famous for his Institutes of Elenctic1Theology, published in three parts from 1679 to 1685, which is characterized by remarkable precision and thoroughness. In this extract from his exposition of the Sixth Commandment, he demonstrates that suicide is forbidden by the commandment just as much as murder. His arguments apply equally to euthanasia and assisted suicide. His focus on duty to others provides a particularly revealing take on the question of suicide that many, today, view in largely individualistic terms.

XXII. . . . since each one is bound to love his neighbor as himself and to defend his life as his own, for the very reason that he is forbidden to do violence to the life of a neighbor, he is far more strongly prohibited from doing injury to his own life.

XXIII. That suicide (autocheirian) is a most heinous sin appears from the following reasons. A suicide (autocheir) sins against God by trampling on his authority, who alone is Lord of life; on his goodness, who has so kindly preserved him thus long among the living; on his providence, whose order he endeavors to disturb. He sins against himself by violating the natural inclination prompting each one to love himself, and cherish and preserve his own flesh (Eph. 5:29). He sins against the state by destroying one of her citizens; against his family by violently tearing away its member and (perhaps the chief) plunging all his relatives into disgrace, grief and mourning; against the church and religion by branding the Christian system with ignominy, causing grief to all, scandal to the good and occasion of scoffing to enemies. It is opposed to the law of nature, which binds each one to self-preservation; and to confidence and piety in God, which ought to receive all evils, either resting upon or threatening us, as from God; to wisdom because this crime is reached not so much by reflection as by fury and wild impulse.2


1. From the Greek elencho, meaning to refute error. Related to elegcho used in Titus 1:9, translated as refute in the NIV.

2. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, trans. George Musgrave Geiger, ed. James T. Dennison Jr. (Philipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1994), 116-117.

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