Religion and euthanasia
Religions and death
Death is one of the most important things that religions deal with.
All faiths offer meaning and explanations for death and dying; all faiths try to find a place for death and dying within human experience.
For those left behind when someone dies religions provide rituals to mark death, and ceremonies to remember those who have died.
Religions provide understanding and comfort for those who are facing death.
Religions regard understanding death and dying as vital to finding meaning in human life. Dying is often seen as an occasion for getting powerful spiritual insights as well as for preparing for whatever afterlife may be to come.
So it's not surprising that all faiths have strong views on euthanasia.
Religious views on euthanasia:
Religions and euthanasia
Most religions disapprove of euthanasia. Some of them absolutely forbid it. The Roman Catholic church, for example, is one of the most active organisations in opposing euthanasia.
Virtually all religions state that those who become vulnerable through illness or disability deserve special care and protection, and that proper end of life care is a much better thing than euthanasia.
Religions are opposed to euthanasia for a number of reasons.
God has forbidden it
- virtually all religions with a supreme God have a command from God in their scriptures that says 'you must not kill'
- this is usually interpreted as meaning 'you must not kill innocent human beings'
- this rules out euthanasia (and suicide) as well as murder, as carrying out any of these would be against God's orders, and would be an attack on the sovereignity of God
Human life is sacred
- human lives are special because God created them
- therefore human life should be protected and preserved, whatever happens
- therefore we shouldn't interfere with God's plans by shortening human lives
Human life is special
- human beings are made in God's image
- therefore they have a special value and dignity
- this value doesn't depend on the quality of a particular life
- taking a life violates that special value and dignity
- even if it's one's own life
- even if that life is full of pain and suffering
Some Eastern religions take a different approach. The key ideas in their attitudes to death are achieving freedom from mortal life, and not-harming living beings. Euthanasia clearly conflicts with the second of these, and it interferes with the first.
Freedom from mortal life
- Hinduism and Buddhism see mortal life as part of a continuing cycle in which we are born, live, die, and are reborn over and over again
- the ultimate aim of each being is to get free of this cycle, and so be completely liberated from the material world
- during each cycle of life and death human beings make progress towards their ultimate liberation
- how they live and how they die play a vital part in deciding what their next life will be, and so in shaping their journey to liberation
- shortening life interferes with the working out of the laws that govern this process (the laws of karma), and so interferes with a human being's journey to liberation
Warning: this 'explanation' is very over-simplified; there's much more to these religious ideas than is written here.
Non-harm - the principle of ahimsa
- Hinduism and Buddhism regard all life (not just human life) as involved in the process above
- therefore they say that we should try to avoid harming living things
- this rules out killing people, even if they want to die
The sanctity of life
Religious people often refer to the sanctity of life, or say that human life is sacred. They usually mean something like this:
You can look at that sentence in several ways. Here are three:
- God gave us our lives
- we owe our lives to God
- God is the final authority over our lives
- we must not interfere in the ending of our lives
- God is intimately involved in our lives
- God was intimately involved in our births
- God will be intimately involved in our deaths
- it would be wrong to try and shut God out of our dying
- we should not interfere in the way God has chosen for our lives to end
- God gave us our lives
- we are only stewards of our bodies, and are responsible to God for them
- we must use our bodies as God intended us to
- we must allow our lives (our stewardship) to end at the time and in the way God wants
Abortion And Euthanasia Essay
Part 1 The Roman Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred Explain how this teaching influences its attitude to abortion and euthanasia, showing that you have understand other points of view (you should refer to the bible, to the thinking and writing of Christians and the Roman Catholic tradition and writing to illustrate and support what you say).
The word sacred literally means "dedicated to a god or religious purpose". Christians believe human life is scared because it is given by God.
Abortion Abortion literally means "Premature expulsion of the foetus from the whom," An abortion is when a pregnancy is ended before a baby, capable of surviving on its own outside of the mothers' body is born". There are two types of abortion there is natural abortion which is where the unborn child is terminated due to medical reasons this is called a miscarriage on the other hand a procured abortion is where it is induced artificially for example an operation to remove the foetus from the mothers whom.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that all life is scared and therefore abortion is morally wrong and unacceptable in all cases because they believe that it is killing. The teaching of the catholic church is expressed in the declaration on procured abortion (1974) in this document, the church points out that respect for human life is not just a Christian duty. Respect for life is deeply embedded in the mind and the heart of the human race. Below are some extracts from this document:- "From the time that the ovum is fertilised, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother. It is rather the life of a new human being with its own growth. It would never have been made human if it were not human already".
"…. Never under any pretext, may an abortion be resorted, either by a family or by the political authority, as a legitimate means of regulating births".
"…. This does not mean that one can remain indifferent to these sorrows and miseries, every man and woman with feeling, and certainly every Christian, must be ready to do what he can to remedy them".
There is however one incidence where the Roman Catholic Church agree with an abortion and that is if it is an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when the mother and child or just the mother will die due to the pregnancy continuing therefore the only solution to the problem being an abortion.
The catholic view to abortion shows in baptism where the baby is blessed and dressed in white and entered into the family of god this shows that the baby is special and that has the right to live a baptism shows...
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