Physician-assisted suicide reconsidered: dying as a Christian in a post-Christian age

Christ Bioeth. 1998 Aug;4(2):143-67. doi: 10.1076/chbi.


The traditional Christian focus concerning dying is on repentance, not dignity. The goal of a traditional Christian death is not a pleasing, final chapter to life, but union with God: holiness. The pursuit of holiness requires putting on Christ and accepting His cross. In contrast, post-traditional Christian and secular concerns with self-determination, control, dignity, and self-esteem make physician-assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia plausible moral choices. Such is not the case within the context of the traditional Christian experience of God, which throughout its 2000 years has sternly condemned suicide and assisted suicide. The wrongness of such actions cannot adequately be appreciated outside the experience of that Christian life. Traditional Christian appreciations of death involve an epistemology and metaphysics of values in discordance with those of secular morality. This difference in the appreciation of the meaning of dying and death, as well as in the appreciation of the moral significance of suicide, discloses a new battle in the culture wars separating traditional Christian morality from that of the surrounding society.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death
  • Christianity*
  • Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Euthanasia*
  • Euthanasia, Active*
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary*
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Jurisprudence
  • Morals
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Philosophy*
  • Physicians
  • Postmodernism*
  • Religion*
  • Right to Die
  • Secularism*
  • Social Change
  • Social Values*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Suicide
  • Suicide, Assisted*
  • Theology*
  • United States