Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Critical Look at Abortion and Euthansia: introduction & brain death

I decided to go ahead and post (most of) my essay I completed a couple months ago for the Ethics course I took. But instead of overwhelming you by putting all of it into one post, I will divide it up into seven, by paragraphs and content. I hope that not only will you understand the position I take, but that it will encourage you to think carefully and turn to Scripture to develop your own conclusions about these serious biblical issues.
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God’s Word says that He treasures and upholds life. He alone has the power to give life and take it away. The ethics revolving around life are crucial in our culture today, and something we must biblically think through and determine. A biblical view will give us hope and uphold life, while a secular, evolutionary based view will catalyze destruction and destroy life. In my essay I have chosen two critical issues in our day, issues revolving around when life begins and when it ends, the topics of abortion and euthanasia. The issues at hand may be difficult, but they are crucial, and coming to a clear, biblical understanding in these areas is important as we face the future.

Webster’s dictionary defines brain death as “final cessation of activity in the central nervous system especially as indicated by a flat electroencephalogram for a predetermined length of time”. This sounds like a reasonable definition. In the United States, the term “brain death” is considered an ethical and acceptable means to determining if a person is dead. The problem with the definition of brain death is that doctors are not consistent—they do not all hold to the same standards of brain death. There is no national standard for brain death, so it’s basically left in the hands of the physician. What if the doctor is anti-life, an evolutionist who believes he’s helping the world by killing off the weak and infirm? He could convince the patient’s family or guardian that the patient is indeed brain dead according to his own definition, while the patient may not really be dead. This would be a startling and horrifying thing to imagine. Oppositely, sometimes the doctor doesn’t clearly understand what brain death is, and prescribes that patients whom he considers brain dead be euthanized simply because of his lack of knowledge. However, just because there is a lack of brain activity does not denote that the person is truly dead. We must biblically define death. Leviticus 17:11 says that “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. Even if a person has a lack of brain activity, if his heart is still beating, he is still alive, and we have no right to take that life away. This definition is important and affects our decisions regarding organ donation, quality of life ethic, types of euthanasia and the popular right to death view.

(the next few posts will go into more detail regarding euthanasia including organ donation, quality of life ethic, terminology and right to death, and a biblical response to life, death and suffering)


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