By Fr. Michael J. McKinnon
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price, so glorify God in your body” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
Our church, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Marlborough, MA (HTAC) is a congregation of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). As evangelical (i.e., Bible) Catholics we uphold the sanctity of all human life. We believe that human life is innately holy, despite the fall and sin of man, as every human being, from the moment of conception, is created in the image and likeness of God. Canon 8, Section 3 of the Constitution and Canons of the ACNA states, “God, and not man, is the creator of human life. The unjustified taking of life is sinful. Therefore, all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death”. As a priest in Christ’s holy Catholic Church (serving in the Anglican Fellowship) who is under the authority of God’s holy Word and the Constitution and Canons of the ACNA, I feel I am morally and ethically bound to share my thoughts and convictions regarding so-called “Physician Assisted Suicide”.
· There are many sad and difficult situations and circumstances which confront us as the people of God. Obedience to God and His holy Word is far from easy and often challenges us as Christians to take positions contrary to the ways of the world and human reason alone. Such circumstances call the Church to share the truth of God’s Word in love and with great pastoral sensitivity. Such circumstances may not however, no matter how dire, overthrow the revealed law of God given in His holy Word.
· God the Father created us in His image and likeness. God breathed His breath (His Spirit) into man and man became a living being (see, Genesis 2:7).
· God alone is the source of all that is good and holy. He alone is Lord over life and death. “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” – Romans 14:7-9.
· We must trust God in all circumstances, no matter how dire, for he is with us, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” – Psalm 23:4.
· Each week traditional Christians profess belief in the Holy Spirit as, “The Lord and Giver of life” (Nicene Creed, 325 AD)
· Suffering and death are the result of human sin (original sin). We, not God, introduced suffering and death into His world (into God’s creation). It is heartbreaking (to say the very least) to keep watch with a loved as he or she suffers. However, Jesus is the answer to sin, suffering and death, not suicide. We must place ourselves and our loved ones in the hands of God. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Romans 6:22-23. These Godly and Biblical principles have come down to us from the founding fathers of our nation. We have been entrusted by God to uphold such principles as a “light unto the nations” and to pass on such principles, established in God’s Word, to our posterity unadulterated.
· If you are struggling with this issue, please prayerfully consider the above and the statement below from The Massachusetts Medical Society (as printed on Titusonenine).
“My grace is sufficient for you [saith the Lord], for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
Regarding Question 2, which voters struck down on November 6th, The Massachusetts Medical Society had the following statement:
We are opposed to Question 2 for these reasons:
The proposed safeguards against abuse are insufficient. Enforcement provisions, investigation authority, oversight, or data verification are not included in the act. A witness to the patient’s signed request could also be an heir.
Assisted suicide is not necessary to improve the quality of life at the end of life. Current law gives every patient the right to refuse lifesaving treatment, and to have adequate pain relief, including hospice and palliative sedation.
Predicting the end of life within six months is difficult; sometimes the prediction is not accurate. From time to time, patients expected to be within months of their death have gone on to live many more months — or years. In one study, 17 percent of patients outlived their prognosis.
Doctors should not participate in assisted suicide. The chief policy making body of the Massachusetts Medical Society has voted to oppose physician assisted suicide.
The Massachusetts Medical Society has reaffirmed its commitment to provide physicians treating terminally ill patients with the ethical, medical, social, and legal education, training, and resources to enable them to contribute to the comfort and dignity of the patient and the patient’s family.
Lynda M. Young, MD, MMS past president, testified about the MMS policy at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on March 6, 2012:
“Allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. “Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. … Patients must continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.”
For more articles from The Venerable Michael J. McKinnon please visit HTAC's BLOG