"Assisted suicide has moved a significant step closer"
Sometimes you wonder why you bother. Each battle seemingly won is met with another battalion of amoral guerillas happily worshipping secularity in no-mans-land, and the conclusion of the war appears to be foregone. Parliament is to vote again on assisted suicide, the Telegraph tell us. Funny, isn't it, how some issues linger until MPs give the right answer.
And John Bingham explains that "the Government made clear that it would not stand in the way of a change in the law". Well, of course not. For what does this abominable utilitarian coalition know or understand of the Christian theology of suffering or the morality of Christ's teachings? For what is 'assisted suicide' if it is not a medical doctor prescribing a lethal dose of drugs for the termination of life? And what is that if it is not assisted murder?
Life was never meant to be easy: suffering and death are intrinsic to the human condition and the whole of creation. To be painlessly happy, and to conquer every form of discomfort and inconvenience, is the dream of modernity. But since it is unattainable in nature, we seek superficial means of anaesthetising and immunising ourselves to suppress our suffering, and by doing so rob ourselves of the deeper purpose of and passion for life.
Ah, but the word euthanasia is not in the Greek NT, you charge. And you would be quite right. But Christ's teachings cannot be limited to the actual words of text; they must extend to the whole pattern of thought which they imply. And that means there may be areas where theological argument is expounded from broader principles, and the practice of euthanasia is one such example, for it is unconditionally inconsistent with biblical ethics, even though it is not explicitly condemned in the biblical text.
And because it is not specifically mentioned, it is important to keep the argument open to public examination and political discussion. But this proposal seems to come before Parliament with monotonous regularity: it is as though the contemporary vision of the world is possessed by the spirit of Nietzsche. There is nothing to morality but expressions of will: morality can only be what the will creates. "We, however, want to become those we are," he wrote: "human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves."
In this world, the moral subject is an illusion. And so Nietzsche resolves to let us make ourselves into autonomous moral subjects by some gigantic and heroic act of the will - an act of such authority and self-assertiveness as to be almost prophetic in the contemporary social order. One might almost call it a free vote in Parliament.
Euthanasia is not an exclusively Christian concern: Judaism and Islam both teach of the sanctity of life subject to divine reckoning. The Indic religions take a slightly different view on the matter, for ahimsa is palpably challenged by samsara - there is no 'book of law' by which the irrational and contradictory may be authoritatively understood. And yet all must understand that Parliament seeks to enable doctors to help their terminally ill patients to die. And they will speak of checks and protections and safeguards and guarantees.
But we know where this is heading: Belgium leads the way.
Parliament will vote, and vote, and vote again until "care for elderly and disabled people" includes the option for 'assisted suicide', if only to mitigate the burgeoning costs of that care. For how much more caring can the state be in times of economic recession, than to facilitate your swift passage into eternity?