Table of Contents
In every profession, the most important code of conduct is the based on ethical practice. In medicine, there have been multiple concerns over the conflict between medical advancements and ethical practice. As such, bioethics, through the four principles of autonomy, justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence, seeks to guide ethical practice amidst the advancements in biology (Shannon, 1985). In the United States, the principle of autonomy seems to have taken precedence over the other principles, giving the patients too many rights that seem to override the code of ethics. For example, the concept of euthanasia is a clear indication of the principle of autonomy. Under this principle, the patients’ rights to make choices are acknowledged. In Oregon State, the Death With Dignity Act enforced the principle of autonomy by stating that doctors should honor a request by a terminally ill patient of sound mind to terminate his or her life (Eleftheriou-Smith, 2014). However, the four principles guiding bioethics seem to conflict. For example, the principle of nonmaleficence states that doctors should cause no harm. On the other hand, autonomy states that patients’ rights must be acknowledged. In conducting euthanasia, the doctors are observing both principles. If the doctors failed to adhere to autonomy, they would also be violating the principle of nonmaleficence. This calls for different schools of thoughts from both the Christian, legal, and community view point. If it were possible to rank the four principles from a personal viewpoint, the principle of nonmaleficence would prevail. By adhering to the principle of not doing any harm, the principle of beneficence would follow. Justice would come third whereas autonomy would come last. It is important to protect the duties of the doctors to ensure that patients’ demands do not override professionalism. In a Christian biblical narrative, based on an extrapolation of the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not kill (Exodus 20:13),” the principle of nonmaleficence would take precedence (The King James study Bible. 1995). The principle of beneficence, justice, and autonomy would follow in that order; an indication that regardless of the school of thought, bioethics should enhance professionalism.
Parts of the Christian Biblical Narrative
The Christian Biblical narrative describes four major aspects. The aspect of creation depicts how everything was made out of nothing. It denotes the beginning of life. It signifies something good or a happy feeling as it is the beginning of existence. God is powerful in the sense that He created the entire universe where humanity exists. He created an environment for humanity to thrive. This depicts that He loves humanity. However, most of the times, humanity does things that are not according to God’s will. Humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) (The King James study Bible. 1995). It began with Adam and Eve and now humanity continues to sin. Despite the fall, God is so kind that He sent His only begotten son to die for our sins (John 3:16) (The King James study Bible. 1995). This represents redemption. God gave humanity a chance to redeem itself from the fall. In addition, God loves to the extent that He has promised humanity restoration and purge all evil for eternal happiness to those who accept the redemption and embrace salvation. Sickness and disease symbolize the fall in the Christian biblical narrative. Treatment signifies redemption whereas healing restoration. As such, God heals humanity from illnesses to signify that He is always willing to restore us to His likeness as per His intentions during creation. One would find comfort and hope in restoration in times of illness because the Lord has made a promise to restore humanity to the original state.
View of Death
As stated in Ecclesiastes 3:2, there is a time to give birth and a time to die (The King James study Bible. 1995). Death is a common occurrence in the hospital. Patients succumb to illnesses, which signify liberation from pain and suffering (Evans, Richardson, Fairbrother, Hardy, & Shepherd, 1954). In addition, with the concept of the four aspects of the Christian biblical narrative in mind, it has become easier to accept death. Patients undergo pain and suffering while undergoing treatment, which can become disturbing viewing a fellow human being in such distress. One would even ask himself or herself why someone would experience such suffering. However, in the course of treatment, some patients respond to treatment while others succumb to the illness. If a patient succumbs to an illness, it is viewed as liberation from suffering. It has become easier to accept the fact of death as the view is now on the promise of restoration. Humanity needs to be liberated from evil. Despite the redemption of the biblical times, there is a promise that God will restore humanity from suffering. With such knowledge, it is easier to accept the fact of death. Jesus died for our sins; He liberated humanity from the sins that had been committed. In the same case, death in the hospital is liberation from illness. In that case, restoration occurs in the life that God has promised humanity after death.
As discussed in the principle of autonomy, euthanasia involves the doctors acknowledging the wishes of a terminally ill patient who is of sound mind to terminate his or her life. The doctors grant the patient’s wish by assisting him or her to commit suicide. There is a thin line between commenting on whether this is agreeable or not. There are religious, community-related, and legal factors to put to consideration. However, from a personal view point, which encompasses the religious and community-related factors, euthanasia is unacceptable. I am of the opinion that there is no pain or suffering that is beyond liberation in when you believe in God’s power of restoration. In addition, the reality of restoration is bestowed upon those who believe (2 Samuel 16:12) (The King James study Bible. 1995). There should be no option of giving up in life if humanity has the promise of restoration from God. No matter the suffering, God has the power to restore health. Jesus underwent suffering that no man could handle. He never gave up, but knew that He was called according to God’s purpose. He was restored from all that suffering and everything become better. If humanity looks up to Jesus to obtain salvation, why should it deviate from His ways? Life is precious and people should not commit suicide in the name of liberation from terminal illness. Only God has the power to give and take life. The society condemns the sin of suicide, and views anyone who does so as a disgrace to humanity. In the same case, euthanasia should be condemned because it signifies hopelessness despite the promise if restoration.
- Eleftheriou-Smith, L. (2014). ‘Goodbye World’ Writes Terminally Ill Brittany Maynard As She Chooses To End Her Life. The Independent.
- Evans, E., Richardson, C., Fairbrother, E., Hardy, E., & Shepherd, M. (1954). Library of Christian Classics: Volume I: Early Christian Fathers. The Philosophical Quarterly, 4(16), 281.
- Shannon, T. (1985). The Physician’s Covenant: Images of the Healer in Medical Ethics. By May William F. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983. 204 Pages. Horizons, 12(01), 204-205.
- The King James Study Bible. (1995). Nashville.