Death by assisted suicide remains a much-debated issue in the United States. Indeed, as we are well into the 2024 state legislative sessions, bills either to legalize or to expand assisted suicide (by removing residency requirements or allowing nurse practitioners or physician assistants to write assisted suicide prescriptions, for example) are active in 19 jurisdictions. As Christians and citizens, we would do well to shore up our understanding of the issues surrounding this move toward increased legalization and expansion of assisted suicide. 

This is not only for our own benefit but also so that we can compassionately engage with family, friends, and neighbors who might be wondering why such legislation is being introduced and how they might respond.

To that end, we have selected below a few articles that will help you think about and speak on this vital topic. Please read and share these articles with those in your networks of influence.

Brown and Orr, “Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Overview”

Brown and Orr provide both theological and secular explorations of suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. They point out that while some view suicide as merely an act of personal autonomy, acceptance of suicide fosters unhealthy attitudes towards oneself, the community, and God. After clarifying various terms (e.g., physician-assisted suicide, voluntary euthanasia, etc.), they explore the societal changes that have facilitated an increasing acceptance and subsequently increased legislation in favor of such practices. The basic theological question they ask is whether the ultimate length of one’s life is based on God or suffering.

Joel Pacyna, “Future Resurrection and the Right to Die: Using Strong Theology in Response to Shifting Societal Values”

Pacyna demonstrates that historic Christian theology equips believers to make informed decisions regarding assisted suicide. He explores Paul’s theology of bodily resurrection and finds that assisted suicide, which is often termed assisted dying, interrupts the “natural trajectory of biological life” and neglects the reality of the violence of death.

Bryan Just, “Embracing the Art of Dying in the Church Today”

Drawing from Rob Moll’s book The Art of Dying: Living Fully Into the Life to Come, this article asserts that we should shift our understanding of a good death as one that is quick and painless to one that is slow, careful, and thoughtful. In other words, we should embrace the art of dying. In our Christian communities, this can start by acknowledging death in our prayers, encouraging whole community visitation of the dying, allowing space for grief, and remembering the dead more regularly.

Matthew Eppinette, "Real Aid in Dying Means Caring for the Dying, Not Helping Them to Die"

This article provides four reasons why legalizing assisted suicide is unwise: 1) It increases suicide rates, 2) It drains money from providing genuine care in dying, 3) It puts those with a disability at risk, and 4) It is incompatible with the doctor’s role of healing.

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