I fondly remember the Hippocratic Oath I took when I graduated from medical school more than thirty years ago. This is a moral declaration that every medical school graduate must swear before practicing medicine, which includes not doing anything harming the patient, not prescribing lethal drugs, or giving relevant advice to patients.
I am convinced that this is an affirming declaration of human worth. You and I are creations, formed from the dirt and will return to the dust. From this point of view, people are worthless. But we were given this value when the God who created the heavens and the earth created us in His image and breathed His Spirit into us. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27), …and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7 )
Therefore, the value of a person does not lie in his achievements, status, and reputation, nor his contributions to society, but the image of God and the Spirit of God. When Canada passed the euthanasia law in 2016, the doctor’s oath changed. The oath added that when I give this right to take a person’s life, I must know it’s a big responsibility, I must look at it with humility and know my weakness, but most importantly I don’t play God. But in essence, we are already playing the role of God. Nordic euthanasia laws even allow a person to ask a doctor to end his life when he feels his life is complete. Those who agree with this view claim that when we face cancer and incurable diseases, we have the right to decide how to die with dignity without being a drag on others.
My father died of stomach cancer eight years ago. As the eldest in the family, I naturally brought my elderly and sick mother to live with me. For the first few years, my wife and children had a great time. But my mother had a stroke a few years ago. After she got pneumonia last year, she needed to wear an oxygen tube 24 hours a day, and she also needed help with toileting and defecation. She was sometimes conscious and sometimes delirious. My wife and children spent a lot of time looking after her. Some people feel that we are wasting our time, energy, and resources caring for an unrecoverable patient. But I can testify that this is the greatest blessing for me and my family. After dinner, when I saw my mother lying comfortably in her chair and listening to us singing, with a joyful smile on her face with her grandchildren, changing her diaper and wiping her bottom became a wonderful time for us to praise God. The Bible says, “You are my friends if you do what I command ” (John 15:14), “ This I command you, that you may love one another.” (John 15:17). This is called ‘living with dignity.’
To preserve the sanctity and dignity of life, it is not to use euthanasia to relieve pain and relieve the pressure of family members to take care of us but to deeply understand that the value of human beings is that we have the image of God and the Spirit of God. Being able to love one another with God’s supernatural love even when we face sickness, hardship, and death, then we know how to live holy and dignified lives.