Case Study: End of Life Decisions

Introduction

The understanding of life and death prospects remains debatable among Christians and scientists. Unlike scholars and scientists who argue that life begins at conception and ends when one dies, Christians, on the other hand, argue differently. Christians believe that life existed from the beginning of time when God breathed into humans during creation, and death marks the end of physical life while transforming into spiritual life (Antunović, 2021). However, both agree that the beginning of life is a joyful moment, while death is catastrophic. Fear of death and pain in the presence of chronic, life-threatening disease makes individuals contemplate the possible options to end life, including euthanasia. Euthanasia entails painlessly ending one`s life at their request to relieve them from their suffering (Colosi, 2020). It remains a contentious agenda that is unacceptable in most cases. This argument is applicable in the case of George and his family.

George has lived a successful life, achieving many milestones, including being an attorney as described in the case study. Unfortunately, he is diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS causes progressive deterioration in motor activities due to degeneration of nerve cells. As a result, motor activities are lost and patients present with difficulties in breathing, speaking, and movement with retention of sensory functioning. Patients end-up being dependent on life-saving procedures to survive while their quality of life is reduced. These are devastating events and apply to George`s case. He, therefore, seeks the possibility of euthanasia. In George`s situation, decisions will be made based on clinical assessment while also considering the cultural and Christian teachings. Therefore, it is paramount that healthcare providers understand the dynamics of culture and health before making decisions. This paper discusses the end-of-life decisions guided by Christian teaching in view of euthanasia.

George’s Suffering in Light of Christian Narrative and Fallenness of the World.

According to Christian teachings, human suffering and disease are a consequence of human disobedience that resulted in the fall of humankind. In the creation story, God created man as a special creature and gave him authority over all creatures and worship Him. Adam and Eve were also instructed to eat fruits from all trees except in the middle of the Garden of Eden, otherwise, they die (Antunović, 2021). However, the serpent deceived Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit and shared it with Adam. This was the beginning of sin, resulting in the breakage of the relationship between man and God. As a result, God punished man by introducing hardship and suffering, and man was chased out of the Garden of Eden. The man started suffering due to the sins he committed.

Likewise, George has ALS, which he may attribute to be a punishment from God for his sins. He may start looking into his past events that may have broken his relationship with God that warranted his suffering. He may, therefore, resort to prayers and seek God`s forgiveness. He hopes for healing. Furthermore, George may reflect on the life and suffering of Jesus Christ to his. Jesus was crucified without blemish but as a reflection of God`s love for humans (Colosi, 2020). The death of Christ on the cross to save humans from their sin may give him comfort and hope. He may resort to fasting and prayers while waiting for God`s will to prevail.

George’s Suffering in Light of Christian Narrative and Hope of Resurrection

The bible provides teachings about suffering and resurrection that Christians believe in. The gospel books in the New Testament; Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, provide an account of the life, suffering, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In this account, Jesus lived among human beings while interacting and performing miracles. He never sinned. However, he was accused of blasphemy and put on trial. During the trial, he was humiliated, suffered, and crucified on the cross (Hoehner, 2020). He died and was resurrected on the third day. Upon resurrection, he appeared to his disciples, whom he promised he was going to prepare a place for them. He then ascended to heaven. Furthermore, the bible also teaches about eternal life for believers during the second coming of Jesus. Believers will be free from suffering and inherit new bodies. Likewise, despite his suffering, George finds solace in believing that he will inherit the kingdom of heaven upon resurrection as promised by Jesus. Having hope and faith in times of despair is an important aspect of healing and provides one with better outcomes (Colosi, 2020). Even in conditions where cure is not promised, hope provides comfort. Finally, the coming of Jesus was a redemption and restoration plan to mend the relationship between God and humans while giving hope.

George`s Suffering in Light of Christian Narrative with an Emphasis On the Value of Life.

The bible provides a clear account of life. According to Christian teaching, life is sacred as it is given by God (Hoehner, 2020). After creation, God breathed life into humans. As a result, anyone, despite their forthcomings or disabilities, has equal opportunity to live and enjoy their time in the world. Furthermore, every human is unique and has a special purpose to fulfill that is God-given. Therefore, George is special, just like other people, despite having an end terminal disease. His decisions are paramount and should be respected. Furthermore, he has a special purpose to accomplish, which he must be allowed to undertake. Regrettably, he will not be able to carry out his pleasurable events, such as coaching his son`s basketball team and teaching law. He may require ventilatory support as the disease progresses. Therefore, his family must consider involving multidisciplinary teams in his treatment. This will help in improving his quality of life and restore some dignity. Furthermore, family members must also be counseled during the difficult moments to come to terms with George`s suffering.

Evaluation of the Christian World View on Deliberation of the Options of Euthanasia for George.

Death is sadly an imminent process that George will have to face. Life can be terminated using various methods, including euthanasia, natural courses, and suicide. Euthanasia is defined as the intentional ending of life to relieve them from suffering. It can be voluntary or involuntary. It is a contentious issue faced with various ethical issues that remain unclear. Some healthcare providers may advise euthanasia. However, the Christian worldview maintains a strong objection against it. According to Christian teachings, life is a sacred gift from God. Only God has the authority to take life (Hoehner, 2020). Any attempt would be considered suicide which is against the laws of God. This is supported by the commandment warning against killing, as evident in Exodus 20:13. Furthermore, healthcare providers are required to preserve life rather than end it. Therefore, despite George`s suffering and pain, he should disregard euthanasia and persevere in pain. He should persevere like Jesus during the crucifixion.

George should uphold his faith according to Christian teaching and endure difficult moments. Opting to end his life is unethically accepted and condemned by Christian teaching. He would be considered a person of little faith. Those who stood by faith and endured suffering, like apostle Paul were promised the kingdom of heaven (White, 2020). Therefore, both personal suffering and the sanctity of life must be considered when making end-of-life decisions.

Moral Justification for George`s Case

Christian teachings agree that life is sacred and begins even before conception. As a result, George must accept to endure his suffering since euthanasia will make him fall short of God`s grace. Apart from natural death, there are no morally acceptable options to end life, even in adversities (White, 2020). This is in line with Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, and resurrection when he ascended to heaven. However, some options can be used to prolong life while improving the quality of life, even in end terminal diseases. Palliative care is an option. Palliative care offers holistic care to patients to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce suffering (Verspieren, 2018). Furthermore, both psychological, social, and emotional support are provided to patients and their caregivers. George would benefit from palliative care to allow nature takes its course rather than opting for euthanasia. Besides, healthcare providers must understand patient concerns and offer the best advice to benefit both patients and their relatives. Finally, they should also support patients emotionally.

Personal Worldview in the Face of Adversity.

In the advent of a chronic condition, there is suffering, pain, and despair. These adversities affect both social, mental, and psychological well-being. Individuals may choose various options to terminate life, including suicide and euthanasia (Colosi, 2020). However, Christianity condemns such acts. As a result, individuals must persevere and overcome suffering (Verspieren, 2018). In the case of George, he should be provided with palliative care to improve his quality of life and offer dignity as he continues to contemplate his suffering. Furthermore, because death is imminent, George should be provided with spiritual nourishment through listening to the word of God. Improvement in his relationship with God will help in providing hope. The hope is to inherit the kingdom of God and attain eternal life. Finally, George has lived a successful and has amassed some wealth. He has a family and his son. He should write down a testamentary will that stipulates how his wealth should be shared. This will help in reducing conflict between family members even after his death. He needs to work with his lawyers and family members to make the right decisions.

Conclusion

ALS, like other chronic conditions, cause devastating effects on patients and their relatives. Pain, suffering, and loss of motor activity with impending reduced quality of life define ALS. The fear of death and other consequences prompt patients to make some decisions that would otherwise be difficult. Some may opt for euthanasia like George. However, Christian teachings condemn intentional killing. Suffering is viewed as a consequence of human sins. Furthermore, the endurance of pain like Jesus should be encouraged. Various options, including palliative care, offer patients an alternative to end pain while improving dignity. This conserves life and is better than euthanasia.

 

References

Antunović, I. (2021). Why does God allow suffering? Reflection about human and Christian suffering in the thought of Karl Rahner. Psychiatria Danubina33(Suppl 4), 911–917. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35026821/

Colosi, P. J. (2020). Christian personalism versus utilitarianism: An analysis of their approaches to love and suffering. The Linacre Quarterly87(4), 425–437. https://doi.org/10.1177/0024363920948331

Hoehner, P. J. (2020). Death, Dying, and Grief. http://file://Death__Dying_and_grief

Verspieren, P. (2018). Place and role of the body in Christianity. Soins; la revue de référence infirmière63(822), 23–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soin.2017.12.005

White, N. H. (2020). God, Humanity, and Human Dignity. Grand Canyon University. http://file:///C:/God__Humanity__and_Human_Dignity

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