Some thoughts on engaging with others about the issues surrounding euthanasia
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Jesus spoke the above words, as recorded in Matt 10:16, to His disciples as He sent them out to preach the Good News. I think they also apply to how we need to engage with others when we speak about important issues such as euthanasia.
Whether it is a conversation around the table at the café at work, chatting to colleague, talking to non-medical people over a cup of tea after church or at more formal presentation / debate, as doctors we have an important voice on assisted suicide.
As Christians we are called to speak out regarding injustice (Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 31:8-9). Our speech needs to be full of both truth and love (Ephesians 4:15), as well as talk that builds up (Eph 4:29).
You may have noticed that Jesus asked a lot of questions when He spoke to people. Asking questions, when done well, can be less threatening, gets people thinking, and can subtly expose weaknesses in their pre-conceptions.
Knowing the issues well and having some facts and figures tucked away from studies published in reputable journals or official information records can also be helpful.
We all know that stories can be powerful. Although we strive to be evidence-based practitioners, it is hard to not let anecdotes or memorable cases sway our practice. We need to be wise how we use stories. They can be very useful in illustrating a concept. Stories are often used by those arguing for a law change regarding euthanasia. However we need to advocate not crafting legislation based on hard cases but on what is in the interest of society as a whole.
When speaking to those who do not acknowledge Christ or the authority of the Bible, it is generally more fruitful to not bring these into the discussion but instead build on common ground, talking about ethical principles, protection of the weak, avoiding harm etc, which can be easily argued from a secular human point of view, although they also align with a Christian world view.