Death and Dying Case Study

Introduction

God is the giver of life, and he desires that people live life in a happy and fulfilling manner. However, on the other hand, people still go through hardships and do not see the perception of a better life, and they at times question why God allows them to go through such challenges and still maintain that He loves them (Felgoise et al., 2018). Both Christians and non-Christians experience the challenges and suffering that make this question real. Diseases and sickness often push people to the edge and change their life experiences (Fagiolo, 2021). In the case of George, the issue is quoted as personal to him as it affects him directly. However, various spiritual, religious, and authors’ beliefs provide meaningful answers to the question of life and the emergence of disease and death’s possibilities (Antoniadi et al., 2020). Helping patients and their families ride along and relieve them from pain, especially in their end journeys, is still a challenge for healthcare professionals in the Christian worldview.

Today’s world consists of over 70% of people who have high esteem for God and believe He is all-powerful, knowing, and loving. However, despite the people’s belief, bad things still happen, and the human race faces challenges that often push them to think there is no God. The issue of deadly diseases, inexplicable pains, and tragedies that can result in death has become the norm of life. For instance, in the case study, George is a middle-aged man diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (Fagiolo, 2021). Researchers and scientists have conducted multiple research projects and concluded that when a person is diagnosed with this disease does not have a chance of living with the condition beyond ten years. In the case of George, his current life expectancy is 3-4 years. Based on his condition progressive history, George will eventually lose his ability to speak, move, eat, or breathe. Therefore, as time goes by, he is getting closer to the point where he will need to use a ventilator. This has consequently pushed him to the point of contemplating euthanasia to avoid getting to that point where he will depend on the machine to survive. This paper will analyze George’s options and the ethics involved in view of the Christian worldview.

Fallenness of the World

George has lived for over fifty years, and all his life, he has had multiple things to show and celebrate the years he has been alive. He has built a successful career as an attorney, lecturer, family man, and athlete and fitness guru. He is happy that he has seen his son grow up in his years and is certain that he has played his part well as a father. However, the current diagnosis of ALS brings a threat to what he has built for years as it will completely change his life. The performance of people with ALS in specific areas such as remembering, reasoning, understanding, and problem-solving is affected (Fagiolo, 2021). George, in his capacity as a career person, the progressive nature of the new condition will affect his speech, thinking, and the general art of life (Felgoise et al., 2018). The condition has no cure, and it keeps getting worse with each day.

In such a case, Christians teach George is expected to endure the suffering and live like Jesus, giving thanks to God for everything. The Bible in Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away,” (King James Version, 1769/2017). In this view, Christians must remain hopeful that the things of this world shall pass and that there is a promise of a better life after this (Antoniadi et al., 2020). The Christian teaching to George is that he should follow the example of Job that despite losing everything, his hopes and trust in God were not shaken. He must also remember that although he is a believer, the fallenness of life will not escape him. Although he is a staunch believer, George will question God’s plan over his life as his condition worsens. As a person, this is normal, especially when one knows that all he is waiting for after suffering is death.

On the other hand, there is an assumption that their current situation for George might be a result of something he did, and he should take this suffering moment to atone for his wrongdoing and make amends with God (Felgoise et al., 2018). Although God has given people free will, when people go against His will, God takes his protection and exposes them to bad things. However, once one recognizes their sins and repents, the Bible teaches that God is faithful and all-forgiving and takes the person back to His wings and covers them with His love. The Christian worldview perception is that George should take this chance to strengthen his relationship with God through Jesus Christ and have the confidence that God will comfort his family and give them peace. He can also use this chance to praise God in the hopes that this could be a chance for God to show His supremacy. Therefore, instead of feeling sorry and thinking of what he should do next, George should use the opportunity to allow God to do His will in his life.

Hope of Resurrection

In the New Testament, the Bible teaches of the suffering, persecution, and crucifixion of Jesus, whom Christians are required to emulate. Despite that, He was the Son of God; Jesus went through suffering at the hands of humans to the point of death. However, after death, the Bible teaches that Jesus resurrected and ascended to Heaven. In John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die,” (King James Version, 1769/2017). Therefore, George has a reason to believe that there is the hope of resurrection after death.

In this context, the Bible shows that even though he is currently enduring suffering, there is a promise that he will be rewarded with internal life where he will not know suffering or pain. This text also shows that being a Christian does not change life experiences but rather strengthens the beliefs that one has towards God and His promises (Felgoise et al., 2018). Therefore, George is expected to know that his condition and suffering are temporal and will lead to a path of success and reward. Additionally, he is expected to view his condition as the will of God and a lesson to others about whether he will receive a miracle at the end (Fagiolo, 2021). Based on the Christian teaching, suffering is viewed as a punishment from God to sinners. It should also reflect the unconditional love of God towards humanity.

Life with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Based on the Christian worldview teachings, George is expected to view life as a precious gift from God and be grateful for it even with ALS. Although his condition is set to become unbearable for him, he is expected to endure the pain and suffering that comes with the disease until he dies. He is expected to practice Christianity and avoid the temptation of asking someone else (other than God) to take his life (Antoniadi et al., 2020). However, as a person and a patient, George has the right to choose treatment long before he gets to a point where he cannot make any decisions. Therefore, he needs to think about whether the option of taking his life will be the best decision for him and his family in the long run. The choice of taking euthanasia or waiting for the disease to take his life is a choice that is tough to make in line with the Christian beliefs and values of life.

Contemplating Euthanasia in the Context of the Value and Consideration of the Christian Worldview

Even when facing a critical condition that will eventually lead to death, it is still considered suicide to request euthanasia according to the Christian worldview (Felgoise et al., 2018). For most families and relatives, considering this option is their way of relieving their loved ones from the pain and suffering of the disease. However, the Christian worldview teaches that God has a plan for everyone, including that person facing death at the moment (Fagiolo, 2021). Life is precious regardless of the quality of life, and the Christian teaching expects that George should be grateful that he is alive. The option of giving others the power of taking life to expect God should not be considered; but rather, George should pray for the grace to ensure. However, critically-thinking, there are times when the need to decide for the patients and their families is convenient.

The Christian worldview teaching indicates that the person going through pain also has an opportunity to be productive for himself and the family at large. However, in the case of George and his ALS condition, the situation is different (Felgoise et al., 2018). There are no chances of him ever becoming productive. Rather, the condition will keep worsening. George is also expected to think about whether he still has the capacity of serving God’s purpose on earth through his current condition. Ecclesiastes 8:15 says, “So I commend the enjoyment of life because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun,” (King James Version, 1769/2017). That is the purpose of God for people. Therefore, George will not live to serve the purpose of God, considering that the illness will limit his ability to toil, eat, and drink under the sun. Instead, he will be bedridden and expectant the machine to survive. As he suffers and goes through pain, his family will also be affected physically and emotionally as they see him undergo pain.

Morally Justified Opinion in the Christian Worldview

Even with all the above considerations, the justified moral opinion of the Christian worldview remains the same (Antoniadi et al., 2020). The Christian view in the case of George is to allow him and his loved ones (beneficence) to exercise their right to direct care (autonomy) and expect the greatest good and not to harm (nonmaleficence) but rather focus on getting the best treatment option without bias (justice). The morally justified option for the Christian worldview, in this case, should therefore be choosing the euthanasia option since it will capture all the interests’ autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice. Even though life is precious, it is humanely convenient to choose the quality of life to fulfill the purpose of God.

What Is The Rational Decision From An Outside View Of The Situation?

To protect the future of George’s children, their education level, and their memory of the father, euthanasia is the most rational decision for George to make. He will not suffer long enough to deplete family wealth and resource trying to treat him hence giving his children an opportunity to access better education and a better life in the long run.

Conclusion

The Christian worldview brings a Christian perspective to the world on a couple of issues for better living. For Christians, sanctity and value of life are extremely important, and it is vital to examine various factors before making any life-related decisions. Understanding that there is a God who is all-powerful and is the giver of life, it is also essential to recognize the reality of fallenness. Diseases and pain frequently impact people, and they are subjected to ongoing suffering. The Christian worldview states a careful balance between ethically and morally proper because of a certain situation.

References

Antoniadi, A. M., Galvin, M., Heverin, M., Hardiman, O., & Mooney, C. (2020, November). Identifying features that are predictive of quality of life in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In 2020 IEEE International Conference on Healthcare Informatics (ICHI) (pp. 1-2). IEEE.

Fagiolo, M. (2021). The Meaning Hidden Behind Every Human Suffering: A Christian View Concerning the Mystery of the Cross. The Person and the Challenges. The Journal of Theology, Education, Canon Law and Social Studies Inspired by Pope John Paul II11(1), 23-46.

Felgoise, S. H., Feinberg, R., Stephens, H. E., Barkhaus, P., Boylan, K., Caress, J., & Simmons, Z. (2018). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–specific quality of life–short form (ALSSQOL‐SF): A brief, reliable, and valid version of the ALSSQOL‐R. Muscle & nerve58(5), 646-654.

King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/ (Original work published 1769)

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