Suicide and euthanasia are complex and contentious subjects that generate a range of ethical and moral perspectives. Within a Christian framework, suicide is generally viewed as morally wrong due to its perceived contradiction of humans’ nature as creatures and their role as recipients of the gift of life from God. Meilaender (2013) underscores this viewpoint, stating that Christians believe suicide involves a refusal to accept life as a continuous gift from God, instead treating it as a possession that can be ended at will.
By presenting life as a gift perpetually bestowed by God, Meilaender highlights the inherently relational aspect of human existence. Humans, as creations, are not independent owners of their lives but recipients of divine generosity. Suicide, therefore, can be seen as an act of rebellion against this relationship, as it rejects the continuous, moment-by-moment receipt of life from God. In this perspective, suicide represents an attempt to usurp the role of creator, disregarding the sacredness of life and asserting autonomous control over its duration.
While Meilaender’s argument emanates from Christian theological perspectives, it is crucial to acknowledge the existence of divergent viewpoints on suicide and euthanasia. There may be circumstances where chronically ill individuals with diminished quality of life or severe chronic pain may desire to end their lives. In these situations, some argue that allowing individuals autonomy in deciding the course of their lives is a fundamental human right that honors their personal values and beliefs.
Discussions around euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide often involve considerations of suffering, dignity, and the concept of a life not worth living. Advocates maintain that individuals should have the right to determine the value and quality of their own lives, even if that means choosing to end them. They argue that prolonging human suffering goes against the principles of compassion and respect for autonomy. In such cases, taking one’s own life may not be seen as selfish but as an act of self-determination and control over one’s destiny.
On the other hand, Meilaender’s perspective is rooted in the belief that life is a sacred gift from God and that human beings are not empowered to take it away. This viewpoint upholds the sanctity of life and stresses the importance of recognizing the divine creator as the ultimate authority over life and death.
Despite the variety of opinions on this topic, Meilaender’s argument against suicide aligns with many religious traditions and has a long historical and philosophical lineage. The sanctity of life perspective is often invoked in opposing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, drawing on the concept of life as sacred and inviolable. For those who adhere to religious beliefs that oppose suicide, Meilaender’s argument strengthens their convictions and provides a foundation for ethical decision-making.
In conclusion, Meilaender’s perspective on suicide as a rejection of God’s gift of life resonates with a Christian understanding of human existence. This viewpoint emphasizes the continuous receipt of life from the divine and frames suicide as an infringement on God’s role as the ultimate creator. While alternative interpretations and perspectives exist, Meilaender’s argument contributes to a broader discourse on the ethical and moral dimensions of suicide and euthanasia. The discussion surrounding these topics requires careful consideration of diverse perspectives and an open exploration of the complex ethical, religious, and philosophical questions they raise.