Faith: Assisted suicide: an admission of failure?

I was thinking about suicide.

Not me, just the topic. Bill C-7 was recently passed by the Senate and given Royal Assent.

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It amended the previous law, Bill C-14 (2016), the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act, to allow those who are not terminally ill to receive MAID.

The most recent bill came about because two disabled (but not terminally ill) people in Quebec sued the government in order to receive MAID.

They won their cases and the court ordered the government to amend Bill C-14 to allow assisted suicide for those who are suffering from disabling conditions.

The bill also allows for those with mental illness, such as depression, to receive MAID, although there is a two-year moratorium to allow for the government to develop policy guidelines.

The Bible records seven cases of suicide.

Of those seven, one was a case of a requested (but denied) assisted suicide and, in another case, the requester was granted his wish to be killed.

In addition, there are a number of passages where the individual was clearly in despair and wanted to die (Elijah, Jonah and David).

Of the seven cases in scripture, only Samson’s suicide can be considered a “noble” act. He had been captured by the Philistines after Delilah cut his hair, the source of his immense strength.

They blinded Samson and had him chained inside their temple so they could all enjoy his humiliation. Samson called upon the Lord for one last gift of supernatural strength and pulled the support columns of the temple down, crushing hundreds of his tormenters.

The other suicides generally follow humiliating defeats or poor moral choices.

Ahithopel was an advisor to Absalom, King David’s brother. Absalom was plotting to oust David from the throne of Israel.

Ahithopel gave him good advice, but Absalom ignored it and took the advice of another plotter.

Absalom’s rebellion failed and Ahithopel knew he would likely be executed for treason, so he fled to his home and hanged himself.

Zimri was one of the royal officials in the court of King Elah of Israel. He plotted against Elah and murdered him and every male member of his family.

The majority of the Israelite army supported Omri, named him King of Israel, then besieged the city of Tirzah, where Zimri was holed up.

Zimri saw that the game was up and died by suicide by setting fire to the palace (self-immolation). He only reigned seven days.

The most famous suicide in the New Testament was that of Judas, Jesus’ betrayer. After receiving the 30 pieces of silver, the price of his betrayal, he was filled with remorse. He tried to return the money, saying, “I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

After the chief priests refused to accept the returned money, he fled and hanged himself.

The first king of Israel, Saul, fought a losing battle against the Philistines. He was wounded by Philistine arrows and told his armour-bearer to run him through to prevent the enemy from capturing him alive.

The armour-bearer refused, so Saul fell on his own sword.

Then the armour-bearer followed his master’s lead and fell on his own sword.

The only case of assisted suicide recorded in scripture is that of Abimelech. Abimelech was the child of a slave girl of Gideon.

Gideon had 70 sons with his many wives and Abimelech killed all but one when he came to power. He was an extremely violent ruler and often slaughtered the entire populations of the towns he captured.

After capturing one town, Thebez, the remaining citizens took refuge in a fortified tower in the middle of the city. A woman dropped a millstone on his head, cracking his skull. Abimelech said to his armour-bearer, “Kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’

His servant ran him through with his sword.

Assisted suicide confronts those who are involved in it with very difficult moral choices.

When a doctor or a nurse practitioner administers a lethal dose of poison (it can’t really be called medicine because the intention is not to heal, but to cause death), they are violating the fifth commandment — “Thou shall not kill.” The medical profession’s primary operating rule — First do no harm — is ignored.

It really is an admission of failure, that despite all the many excellent treatments and palliative therapies available, the medical profession is saying, “We join our patients in giving up and have no idea how to make their remaining days bearable.” That is sad.

God’s word (in Proverbs) is very clear: Whoever finds me, finds life and receives favour from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.

KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to Please include a short bio and a photo.

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