In addressing life issues, I’ve found many people avoid thinking or talking about aging, dying and end-of-life issues. Not only will all of us die one day, but many of us will care for parents, family, and friends going through the aging and dying process. Whether you are an adult child facing the uncertainty of caring for an aging parent, or you’re an aging parent learning how to have conversations about the end of your life with loved ones, Anglicans for Life recognizes how challenging these topics are.
While we all understand what aging and dying refer to, “End of life” issues typically involve the terminally ill, elderly, or disabled and the methods employed to hasten death, including euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide occurs when a person aids, encourages, or counsels for suicide. It requires one person directly and intentionally involved with ending the life of another person, Physician Assisted Suicide involves a doctor prescribing a lethal dose of medication to end a life. Euthanasia is an action done intentionally to cause the death of a patient, usually done via lethal injection. Both are also referred to as “aid in dying.”
While most people think assisted suicide or euthanasia is the last resort for those in great pain, a survey in Oregon showed that pain was not even one of the top three reasons for choosing assisted suicide. The most common reasons were loss of autonomy, followed by a decreased ability to participate in enjoyable activities and loss of dignity.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal in several countries and a few weeks ago, Hawaii became the seventh state to legalize it. New York is holding hearings in preparation for a vote real soon.
Like abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are often considered “political issues” that should not be discussed in the Church. But, if the Church does not talk about them and seek to help parishioners deal with them…who will? Denying that there are people in our pews and communities, struggling with these issues, doesn’t make their problems go away, it just makes them think God doesn’t care about them, which is the opposite of what Scripture teaches.
This week’s action idea is to use Anglicans for Life’s end-of-life curriculum, Embrace the Journey, to educate your congregation on end-of-life issues so that they are able to see God’s true and good design for our lives that extends from our conception to our natural death.
Embrace the Journey is an 8-week DVD adult education series designed to help you and your church understand and apply God’s Word to aging, dying and end of life issues. It includes DVD’s, workbooks, and discussion material. As well as being informative, it is a great stepping stone to learn more real-world action ideas for life ministry.
You can review on AFL’s website store, order via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-749-0455.
Just as God is the creator of life, Psalm 139 reminds us that all the days ordained for me and you were written in God’s book before one of them came to be. Only God knows when our lives are done. Instead of directing people to death, we should be encouraging them to find God’s purpose for their lives and even for their suffering. Jesus never said that this life would be without suffering; in fact, He said the opposite. He said that we would most definitely have trouble and encounter suffering in this world, but… He didn’t leave us without hope. We have nothing to fear because death has already been conquered by Jesus, the perfect embodiment of grace and renewed life, even when wrapped up in death. The Church must begin preaching that message of hope into culturally relevant issues, so that we may be freed us to live the entirety of our lives with purpose, knowing that God’s love and grace has covered us.