Brittany Maynard and the right-to-die debate


“No palliative care, terminal sedation, or promise of effective palliative care can give Maynard the thing she treasures now … the hope of gaining control over her disease before it takes her life.”

from Washington Post article, How Brittany Maynard may change the right-to die-debate.

 It’s become a political issue – will become a legal issue –
But how about a more personal take on the issue.  And I don’t mean personal for Brittany – I mean personal for you – the person reading this.

 

There’s lot’s of opinions in the article – especially on the legal side of things.  Someone even brought gay marriage and and marijuana into the debate –

“Now we have a young woman getting people in her generation interested in the issue,” Caplan wrote in article published on Medscape. “Critics are worried about her partly because she’s speaking to that new audience, and they know that the younger generation of America has shifted attitudes about gay marriage and the use of marijuana, and maybe they are going to have that same impact in pushing physician-assisted suicide forward.

I can’t help but wonder – why go there?

Of course – there’s also the political side –

But “assisted suicide” summons up deep religious and ethical concerns among some critics, including many Catholics and those associated with the Right to Life movement. While organizations have avoided criticizing Maynard, many have come out against the media and advocacy groups for what they consider exploitation of her story to gain a political edge. National Right to Life called Compassion & Choices “ghoulish” in its representation of Maynard’s tragedy.

But how about a more personal take on the issue.  And I don’t mean personal for Brittany – I mean personal for you – the person reading this.

Take a look at the picture in the top corner of this page.  There are three grave markers in the picture.  One has “RIP” on it.  One is a Cross.  One has nothing on it.  Which one would you like to have for yourself?  Note – I’m not telling you which one you should have – I’m asking you to seriously think about it – which one do you want?  The “RIP” – the Cross – or the nothing?  I think this is an important question – because the Post article says Maynard said she just wanted to leave a worthy legacy.  Whatever that legacy is – it’s only going to be left if we all think about what she said and did.

If you truly don’t care about what happens when you die – maybe the nothing grave marker is the one for you.  That’s the one that (pardon the pun) puts a stake in the ground and says “I really don’t care.  There’s nothing after this life – nothing really lasting about it – it doesn’t matter”.  It’s not a view that I agree with – and I pray that you don’t either – but it’s one you are entitled to.

If you want the “RIP” grave – maybe you agree with this –

Even the women on “The View” debated her right to die. Big names like Rosie O’Donnell said to have “control over your own death, when you’ve had no control for so long over your illness, I think is the human thing to do.”

OK – so you’re hoping that you do as the marker says – RIP – Rest in Peace.  That implies, I think, a belief in something after this life.  I would take it even further and say it means you also believe there are two possible outcomes – one of peace, for which you hope – and the other of something not peaceful, which you hope to avoid.  I’d put more quotes in at this point – but there aren’t any.  The article doesn’t go there.  But if Brittany’s legacy is to have real – important – meaning – isn’t it essential that we go there?  RIP has a meaning.

Having control over one’s death – as stated on The View – is only about this life.  If that’s all that matters – the “nothing” grave marker would work just fine.  As I said – if that’s what you believe – without saying anything about whether you’re right or wrong – you are entitled to believe that.  Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him.  We shouldn’t either.  However – Jesus did love even those who turned away from Him.  All Christians should do the same – love those who turn away from Him – even those who turn away while we are trying to tell you about Jesus.  So I won’t tell you that you can’t opt for either the “RIP” or the “nothing” grave markers.  But I will pray that you’ll choose the other one.

As the Apostle Paul wrote –

2Co 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.

Because that’s what our faith is about – not the things that we can see – but the things we can’t see.  More on that later.

Back to the “RIP” grave marker.  There are more questions that must be asked of you at this point.  Since you’re hoping to rest in “peace” rather than “not-peace”, where is this place of rest after life?  Is it the Heaven of God?  Or is it someplace else?  If it’s someplace else – where is it?  Who sets the rules on who gets into that “Heaven” and who does not get in?  Is it a place that everyone gets into – no matter what?  If that’s the case – why would it be any different that the world we now live in?  Is that what you want?  Is that peaceful?  Or are you – without consciously considering and putting it into words – hoping for a “better place”?  If that’s the case – the same questions apply.  Where is this “better” place – who sets the rules – who “made” it – why is it better – and on and on.  After you’ve worked out all of that – and have a clear picture of it – Who told you it would be that way?  Who are you relying on for your picture of the place you’re going to “RIP”?  Are they dependable?  Do you really believe them?  Are you willing to stake eternity on them?

If you’re still with me here – and you’re still willing to believe you’re going to that place – and you’ve really set up the criteria for entrance – I have just two more questions.  If you take the assisted suicide approach – will you still qualify for entrance and who told you this is true?

If you have even the slightest amount of doubt – check this out.

In The Bible – Book of Hebrews – Paul writes –

Heb 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Let’s break that down –

See to it that no one misses the grace of God.  That includes don’t turn people off before they even listen to what we have to say.  That’s why I tried to be really careful about not offending anyone above and maybe telling you that you’re wrong to hold the opinion that you do.  I even stated that the opinion I hold is based on things I cannot see.  Neither you (the reader) nor I will know for sure who’s right – until it’s too late to change our minds.  That’s faith in the unseen – for both of us!  If you’re still with me here – I at least have a chance of giving you the message of God.  Not forcing you to accept – or even believe – but to listen.

that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  That bitter root would be me – if you didn’t at least get this far in reading.  Again – since you’re here – hopefully I haven’t turned into a bitter root (at least, not yet).

So – let’s keep going.  Looking again to what Paul wrote, but this time the entire sequence, related to things unseen, from 2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Treasures in Jars of Clay

2Co 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
2Co 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2Co 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 This section is very famous – the “Treasure in jars of clay”.  The treasure – that would be Jesus.  He is the one who told us about what we believe comes next after this life.  He is the Son of God – the one we believe created every thing and every one.  So our answer to the who told you question is Him – Jesus.

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

But equally important in what Paul wrote is the Jars of clay part.

2Co 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  Look at the parts –

Therefore we do not lose heart

I pray that this would be true of me when the time comes.  It’s not easy.  It requires strength for God.  He promises to give it to us – but we must ask.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

outwardly we are wasting away

No question about that.  I sometimes say that being born is fatal.  For a time things get better after we’re born.  But after that time – it’s downhill for the physical body – and often the mind within that body.  And yet –

yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day

Again – this is from God.  Without Him – eventually, we will give in to some amount of suffering.  And again – it’s not easy.  I wish it was.  I’m nowhere near the point where Brittany was.  My problems are tiny compared to most of the people in the world.  But without Jesus – they’s still be too much for me.  I cannot imagine not having Him.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Hard to believe sometimes – that our troubles are either light or momentary.  And yet, compared to forever, that’s exactly what they are.

For what is seen is temporary

We can only see a short past – along with this present moment – and we can guess about what’s coming next – and we can also only guess about how long the “next moments” will be.

but what is unseen is eternal.

But forever is – well – a really long time.  Longer than a long time.

So now – where are you?  Which grave marker do you want?  If you were thinking the “nothing” or the “RIP” have I given you some food for thought?  Have you changed your mind?  Either way – God still loves you.

If you’d already chosen the Cross – and you stayed with this whole message – maybe you could pass along the love and the message to someone who made a different choice.  Don’t crush them.  Don’t criticize them.  Love them.  Treat them with kindness and respect.  They are as much God’s children as we are.

If you’ve changed your mind (or change it later) – I am so happy for you.  As is God.

Lk 15:3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

If you’re still thinking about it – I’m praying for you.
If you’ve decided to stay with the “RIP” or the “nothing” – I’m still praying for you.

As I said – you’re a brother or a sister – as much one of God’s children as me.  Peace and love to you.

 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Someone’s at your door.

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