Thursday, October 30, 2014

Should We Die with Dignity?

There is much talk in this modern age of medicine about what to do with terminally ill patients.  If you know you are going to die and it's not going to be a pleasant death, is it ok to take your own life so you can "die with dignity"?  I wanted to talk about this concept of having dignity, is it something we should even strive for?  What is the deal with dignity?

When you and I came into the world, we did so without a shred of dignity.  If you have ever been part or even an observer to the birthing process, you know there are lots of things, but dignity isn't among them.  There is a great deal of nakedness, noise, mess and sometimes some confusion depending on how quickly things go.  My kids were are c-section, so it was as dignified as it gets, but all of my kids came into the world the same way.  Messy, naked and crying.  There is no dignity to the way we enter this world.  We have to be cleaned up, clothed and cared for, and the beauty is that as an infant, we don't care.

Most of us for a majority of our lives strive to have some dignity in our lives.  We strive to stay relatively clean and free from naked chaos.  When it comes to our time to die, we want to keep that same dignity, but more than anything we want some control and some say in our final fate.  No one is excited about the idea of a terminal disease that will end our lives when and how it chooses.  Enter this idea of having the ability to end our own life.  I understand the attractiveness of this idea, I watched cancer completely destroy and then take the life of both my parents.  They both had extreme pain and suffering and had many moments that would have been less than dignified.  I can understand that idea of wanting to end life when it's going to end soon anyway and there is little between here and there but discomfort and pain.  While I understand it, I don't think it's the right thing to do. I don't think it's the best solution or that is honors God.  Let me explain.

The Bible tells us that God has numbered and ordained our days, from birth to death.  He has a plan and a reason for the days on this earth.  Even when we don't understand and haven't planned them, God is still in control.  Part of what God plans includes suffering, as much as we don't like it.  We learn and grow and gain wisdom in suffering.  We become more like Christ in suffering.  Our suffering can cause the world to become a better place, and God can and does use pain to heal and help others.  We gain and pass on things that have immeasurable value through pain and suffering.  God can teach us something that we can teach others in our suffering.

We need to remember that our idea of dignity isn't the issue.  We don't need dignity, we were born without it.  We need wisdom and holiness from God, and even in our suffering we can still rejoice.  In our suffering we have value.  At the end of our lives, our lives have purpose and meaning.  We shouldn't cut that short because it might be messy and ugly.  There can be beauty and truth in the mess.  God's purpose is more beautiful than we know, so let's see it through to the end.

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