Euthanasia: Is Life a gift we can give back?

The Euthanasia debate is coming up in Germany.

Some context: Passive euthanasia is legal in Germany. It’s called Passive Sterbehilfe (Passive death-help, literally translated) here, and means everything that involves not taking certain steps to prolong life.

Aktive Sterbehilfe is completely illegal here. That is, killing people whether privately or by doctors to end their life at their wish. This is what is being debated currently, and Parliament is planning a new approach to the topic, the outcome of which is not yet discernible.

The other day, a popular talk show on public TV had guests to discuss the topic. The pro-life side was made up of two people, a famous Social Democrat who lost his wife to cancer but cared for her until her death, and a Protestant theologian of the EKD. The pro euthanasia side had two people, one who actually performed it (not a doctor) by providing material and detailed instructions to the people but not actually killing them, and a former TV personality who has been tied to a wheelchair for many decades.

I don’t want to discuss Euthanasia here in its entirety, rather the question circles around something the guy providing his “services” from the pro euthanasia side said in response to the theologian. She, the theologian, argued (without naming God for the sake of argument) that life was a gift that we received and over which we had no jurisdiction, that we are to preserve it, but we cannot decide to actively end it. In response to her argument, the above mentioned man said: “Well, there are theologians who disagree. Hans Küng, for example. He says that yes, life is a gift, but we can give that gift back.” At the naming of Hans Küng I laughed, since I had somehow expected that to happen eventually.

Now, I’ve been doing some more thinking about that sentence. Here are my thoughts: The thing about a gift is that the giver has no jurisdiction over it once it has been accepted. It is then entirely in the hand of the new owner, the one presented with the gift of life. If that is our position, why do we argue the contrary, viz. that we are only custodians of life, not rulers over it?

The Gifts of God -remain “God’s”.

And as to life – such is constantly being given. Not something we can ‘return’ in that sense.

In most cases. however without God, there is no life.

It is an ongoing gift from God.

There is no life in the past, the life of the future is not here.
Every moment, we have a new gift of life.

Is it really our right to refuse it?

I guess we don’t have an answer here. That’s a shame because if Euthanasia was legal in my country I’d probably ask for it. But I also worry we’re not allowed to end it ourselves. I always heard life is a gift. But in my case it seems this gift was given me simply to suffer. And the older I get the worse it gets.

When there is nothing more you can do with it, offer it up.:thumbsup:

What does that mean, “offer it up”? Explain please.

“Offering up” our suffering (and joys, works, and prayers) is our way of contributing a miniscule amount to help Christ in His great offfering up of Himself in death so that we could have life in God.

Imagine a 6-year-old asking his mother to bake him some brownies, and she says she will, but he has to help. The child is contributing what he can contribute, but the mother is doing most of the work, right? His contribution shows how much he appreciates her making the brownies for him; if he refused to help, she would know he wasn’t all that interested.

So we offer up our sufferings, accepting them as coming from God rather than fighting against them. This is the prayer that I use: *All for Thee, dear Jesus, Who has suffered so much for me. *

This also recalls to my mind what Christ suffered for me, compared to which my sufferings are usually pretty small.

Suppose someone gave me a gift, a large, beautiful vase which I would never be able to hope to buy for myself. Say it’s an antique Ming vase, and I am a scholar of Chinese history and always have lots of flowers around my home. And suppose the giver of the gift scrimped and saved for 10 years to be able get it for me.

Now, wouldn’t that be a great gift? Well, Suppose I unwrapped it, looked it over, and the threw it to the ground, destroying it.

What would that show? I mean, that would be a horrible thing to do, wouldn’t it? One might not really blame the giver of the gift for cutting me entirely out of his life, would one?

And that is what happens between God and us. We cannot think of His gift to us of life *and of salvation *on the same lines as we think of a box of chocolates or even a car our parents might have bought for us. These things wear out, break, and/or can be used by others.

Our lives are *irreplaceable. *If ten years after the car my parents gave me is old to drive anymore, or I need a bigger one because my family is growing, *I can obtain for myself another car. *I can not obtain for myself a new life–the only source of life is God.

I suspect that the gift of life is more like the gift of a job, without the implications of pity. If someone has been out of work for a long time, he will be very grateful for a job, and he will show his gratitude by working hard, etc. He won’t throw it away by taking advantage and spending time carousing instead of working, right?


Lord, those in purgatory are suffering now to be with you.
Please take my suffering into account towards their debt.

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