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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Brittany Maynard and assisted suicide

So today, a lovely young lady committed suicide by pills, in an attempt to escape the mind-numbing effects of the murderous brain cancer she was afflicted with.  I read the story, among other places, on  And, like an idiot, I looked in on the comments.  One of the comments that I probably shouldn't have listened to was this:

I think it's a bit perverse to even talk about what 'God' would want a person to do in this situation-- considering that 'He' is the one who is supposed to have inflicted this on her in the first place. Brittany wanted to live. 'God' stole that from her. She was terminal-- she was only going to get worse. The seizures would worsen, she'd begin to lose control of her body and things like her voice and what-not. 'God' wanted her to die. All Brittany did was to choose to go out on her terms, surrounded by her loved ones and at peace.

To which I said, "God didn't steal anything from her.  Disease is a result of a fallen world.  On the other hand, a lot of Christians need to think about what she was facing before casting the first stone.  I can't say for sure what I would do."

To which came the response:
Fallen world? Wow, God sure knows how to hold a grudge. How long has it been now? Six thousand years or something? Maybe His Son should have a talk with Him on the merits of forgiveness. :/

And I replied,  "I would try to explain it to you, but you don't seem the type to be really interested.  If I am wrong, I would tell you about how Jesus came to be the forgiveness, but the world that choses to ignore Him will be judged."

And the reply:

I do appreciate the thought but I tried it once. Didn't stick.

Far enough, but a hour or so later, I found that had removed my comments- and only mine.   So naturally I did the adult thing and flagged every other post on the thread.  And Mark Mellinger can still be a Christian and work for them.  But I digress.  Because lunacy goes both ways, and here's one of the comments that WANE approved:

If humans were meant to die in this manner, the Lord would have put kill switches where our navels are. Praise Jesus!

So what would the Bible say about suicide?  Before I start down this road, bear in mind- if you are not saved through the blood of Christ, whatever you are "escaping from" will seem a summer breeze compared to what you will be facing next.  And that's the same whether you commit suicide or live to be 150.  But for those who believe, where does the story go from here?

As you might imagine, there are few "assisted suicide by pharmaceuticals" examples in the Bible.  But there are a few constants to keep in mind:

-The Bible is a celebration of life.  The taking of human life is not desirable.

- If you are saved, your sins are forgiven, past, present and future.  Even suicide.

- In many cases, "experts" would say that committing suicide would put that salvation in doubt.  But others who have looked into the story have found that God has a different black and white than we do:

A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a Christian man who had committed suicide. The experience gave me a new perspective on the issue of Christians and suicide. The man who had killed himself was the son of one our church staff members. In the short time he had been a believer, he touched many lives for Jesus Christ. His funeral was one of the most moving memorials I had ever attended. With more than 500 mourners gathered, for nearly two hours, person after person testified of how this man had been used by God. He had pointed countless lives to faith in Christ and shown them the way to the Father's love. I left the service convinced that what had driven him to commit suicide had been his inability to shake his addiction to drugs and the failure he felt as a husband, father, and son. Although it was a sad and tragic ending, nevertheless, his life testified undeniably of Christ's redemptive power in an amazing way. I do not believe this man went to hell. His funeral made me realize that no one can truly understand the depth of someone else's suffering, or the reasons that could drive a soul to such desperation. Only God knows what is in a person's heart . Only he knows the extent of pain which might bring a person to the point of suicide. In conclusion, it bears repeating—suicide is a terrible tragedy, but it does not negate the Lord's act of redemption. Our salvation rests securely in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. So then, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13, NIV)

-Mary Fairchild on AboutReligion

And like I told the commenter (and WANE felt was so evil), I'm not sure what I would do.  She was facing something that would eventually remove- painfully- her ability to be her.

"...Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more..." (from her FB page)

And in doing a little research, I found comments about variations on "thou shalt not kill", and the examples of those who committed suicide in the scriptures (7 of them with Samson being the only positive).  But none of them mentioned the one that made me think about it the most- something Paul said in Philippians:

  Php 1:19  For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 
Php 1:20  according to my earnest expectation and hope that I shall be ashamed in nothing, but as always now Christ shall be magnified in my body with all boldness, whether it is by life or by death. 
Php 1:21  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 
Php 1:22  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor. Yet I do not know what I shall choose. 
Php 1:23  For I am pressed together by the two: having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. 
Php 1:24  But to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 

Now Paul wasn't talking about suicide, but which way he wanted his long captivity in Rome to end.  But what he said does give a Christian a measuring stick to use should they happen into this circumstance.  Is there more fruit I can yet bear, some lesson I can teach to someone, someone who needs me more than I need escape?

I don't want some damned disease to remove me from myself, any more than she did.  I sincerely hope that if that moment comes for me, that someone will remind me of Philippians 1... and help me judge clearly.


  1. CW-

    This is one I struggle with.

    I was raised with the notion that those who commit suicide are damned...not sure that that is in the Book anywhere, less sure after this post...

    But I watched my younger sister, who was also my closest friend, waste away from cancer over two years. She never thought about taking her life, and her illness gave me a wake up call about what is important in life and what is worth (or not worth, rather) letting get to you-don't sweat the small stuff, indeed.

    But between my mother spending her last five years in a home needing help with the simplest of bodily functions (without getting graphic, I think you know what I mean), and watching my sister fade slowly and painfully, I do not want that for me.

    Would I take my own life?

    Hard to say. As much as I loathe the thought of being helpless, I think it is human nature to cling to life.

    My father died eight months to the day before my mother. He'd fallen, and while there was a decent prognosis for rehab, he wanted to die rather than have someone else assist with those aforementioned bodily functions.. He basically stopped eating-my brothers described him as having a spoonful or two of soup for a meal (he was in the same facility as my mother, but was gone within two weeks-my trip to visit him turned into a trip to the funeral).

    Did he kill himself? I guess that's between him and God, and with the life he led and the way he lived his faith, I am thinking he doesn't need Johnnie Cochrane to plead his case.

    I know I am going a little off track, but this is such a tough topic to weigh in on when you're not in the situation.

    Like you, I hope I am thinking clearly if it comes to that.

    I just hope I get hit by a bus so I never have to face that choice.

    The one thing people miss, and I think you're saying, too, is that God does not give people cancer.

    People get cancer. People die. It sucks.

    God is Love.

    I was never angry with God when my sister was suffering, but when people would say "God wanted it that way" as if that was a comfort, the thought would piss me off.

    The then-pastor and my then-church lost his father six months after my sister passed, and the "God is Love" is a quote from one of his sermons that made me feel vindicated.

    I am flippant on my music blog and border on ridiculous on the other, but I usually only comment on other blogs when someone posts something that makes me think or when I feel I can say something that has not been said..

    I am not sure I've said anything you did not cover, but this one made me think, my friend.


    1. " I just hope I get hit by a bus..." Yep, I'd just as soon let it be quick and clean. Too bad we aren't born with a check off list, huh?

      It makes me think as well. Right now, I'm just not in the position to know. One voice inside of me says, "I do not want to die the straw death. But as Arlee says down there somewhere, we don't know what gift, what lesson, what decision the next day holds. I cannot say I have felt any pain like a few of my blog friends have... I just don't know how much character it takes, and whether I have it,

  2. A lot of people are in agreement with what Ms. Maynard did and the media has lauded her decision to do this. I recall a tweet by some celebrity whom I don't recall after Robin Williams killed himself. The tweeter stated that he showed cowardice in doing what he did because how it would have affected those he left behind. I would add to that selfishness.

    No one wants to suffer or go through any kind of hell on Earth, but maybe there is a reason for this to happen and suicide might be depriving us of a gift or blessing. Even if we don't understand why we would have to endure something terrible maybe there's an outcome of great good that we aren't realizing.

    Suicide is wrong because we are choosing to put an end to a human life that God has put into this world. Who are we to make the decision to end what God began? Just as murder, abortion, euthanasia, or any other form of wanton killing of human life is wrong so is suicide.

    God's ways are greater than ours and we should accept what comes our way. Suicide shows a lack of faith. Who is to say that God won't heal us or we might become a vital part of the fabric of humanity that can lead others to salvation.

    You are correct about the fallen world. God didn't do it, but man did and continues to do so. Cancer or any of the many ills of this world are just links in the chain of consequences of sin and disobedience. Selfishly trying to stop our own pain by killing ourselves does nothing good.

    Like many other viewpoints regarding today's society, mine expressed here will generally be unpopular, but I firmly believe it is correct. Like you, I can't absolutely say what I would do in a tough situation that seemed almost impossible to bear, but I hope I'd stay with my beliefs.

    We all suffer at times, but whether that suffering be the result of illness, injury, depression, or just because sometimes life is crappy, we should never think that it's justifiable to kill ourselves. Dead today, miraculous cure for cancer tomorrow or whatever be the case. We don't know for sure. That's kind of what faith is all about.

    Tossing It Out

    1. 1- Cowardice and selfishness: In some cases, yes I agree. But some people, due to mental issues or addictions, just don't have that ability to see past themselves. I think in those cases, maybe most cases, cowardice is harsh... and I think selfishness might apply more to those who threaten it over and over but somehow (nod and wink) manage to keep surviving.

      2- I agree with all the points regarding the wrongness of suicide. I find it funny upon reflection that Samson was even considered a suicide when what he did was more akin to falling on a grenade. That leaves a lot of characters who just couldn't bear up under their own foolish mistakes. But none of those faced what she did, and the loss of oneself- whether a tumor, alzheimers, whatever- It may have been wrong, but as I said before, I certainly cannot throw the first stone.

    2. Lee-

      I'll venture to guess you have lived long enough to see someone suffer through a disease like cancer, so I'll respect your thoughts, but I am not sure I agree.

      One caveat-while my mother was alive, had I contracted some horrible disease, I would clung to life at all costs to keep her from losing another child.

      No parent should, any anyone with parents is acting selfishly.

      But faced with almost certain death and a painful slide...I just don't know that I can be so quick to condemn the action.

      I do know my sister resisted the use of drugs for fear of addiction, a concern I thought was misplaced.

      At a minimum I would embrace the morphine pump and keep plenty of Pink Floyd albums handy.

      I hope none of us have to find out what we would do.

    3. I'm curious if either of you (CW or Arlee) Million Dollar Baby and if so, what you thought of the Eastwood character's action at the end of the film.

      I have three friends that were they to ask the same of me, I would be hard pressed to refuse.

      I hope I never have to make that choice, either.

    4. Did not see Million Dollar Baby and probably won't because of what I'd heard about the ending. Doesn't sound like a film that I'd care for and there are far too many other films I'd rather see first. Maybe I'll watch it at about the same time I get around to watching Brokeback Mountain.

      Tossing It Out

    5. I hope I never have to face a long slow agonizing death or even a relatively short one like my father endured (a couple months). I firmly belief in the Biblical adage of "God giveth and God taketh away" and I'm not God so I don't believe I have the authority to make that decision.

      Now prolonging life of little quality by artificial means I am not for. After all this is playing a God role to merely delay the inevitable for no good purpose and at great financial cost.

      Tossing It Out

    6. "Maybe I'll watch it at about the same time I get around to watching Brokeback Mountain." OUCH!

      Have not seen it, looked up the plot on ol' reliable wiki. I cannot blame anyone for asking the question, but I don't know if I could do it. I know I wouldn't ask it unless I had no strength left to do it myself. IF (big if) I could even do it myself.

  3. I'm not real sure how I feel about this. I remember the trial of Dr. Jack Kavorkian who sought to do this very thing for people. He was treated like a nut case back then yet here we are today accepting his methods. IDK

    1. Honestly, I am not sure, either. One thing Laurie pointed out to me is that there are two separate issues- one is the person committing suicide, and its ramifications. The other is allowing the medical profession to be involved in this situation, and the far-reaching ethical issues that will bring up.

      One of the other comments on WANE mentioned a lady in a legal-assisted state who was told by her insurance that they WOULD NOT pay for efforts to keep her alive but WOULD pay for assisted suicide. And this is where the big problem comes in. They allow it to give people a choice, but outside entities- doctors, insurance companies, boards of decision- they don't act from the patients' POV. And whenever you remove ethics from something, it always becomes about the money.

  4. Either way the outcome is so sad. My opinion, I am glad its legal in a few states. I know of people who have suffered so greatly through chemo and radiation and it only prolonged their life by a few weeks. To go with dignity when your life is at a stage 4 and so terminal. I think I would do the same thing.

    1. Yes, it doesn't end happily either way. Like Larry above, my Dad stopped eating in the end, and why should he have? To gain the strength to live in unbearable pain for a few more days? But the difference here is refusing treatment versus actively killing oneself. The first, I have no problem with whatsoever- and even less when the stupid BP medicine I'm on does less and less good. The other is the rub.

  5. Chris:
    You are correct on SO many points, I won't take up all the space to direct my comments to them...that's an entire post in and of itself.
    I will say there are those on the WANE site who just TROLL...and that speaks to the whole "fallen world" aspect to your post today.
    I had one loon pull out the racism and bigot card...when I never said anything regarding either.
    (and people like THAT vote and drive cars, and even THIS is scary)
    You don't have to be a perfect Christian to even figure out the common sense and truth there or in this post...just a GOOD person.
    (what was that about "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"? Some seem to miss that train at the station)

    An excellent post.

    Stay safe up there, brother.

    1. All I can say is, that this is the second time I have had comments pulled off of a WANE thread, and in BOTH cases there were far more repugnant posts left up. That tells you all you need to know about this present world, and why I am curious why Mellinger can stomach keeping that job.

  6. Interesting, I think if a person wants to die because they are dying anyway a slow and painful death they should be able to die the way they want to

    1. In the end, it was up to her to decide, to weigh the rights and wrongs. We can all weigh in with our opinions, but it is really between the person and God at the end of the day.