My mother died about two years ago. She was in hospice care at the time. I was alone with her when she declined unexpectedly and died. Those days were not dreamy for me, but vivid, and in all that this experience was for me, the concept of dignity was the most remote.
It seems odd to me therefore, how popular the talk of “death with dignity” is these days. There is even a nonprofit organization with this name whose mission it is to “promote Death with Dignity laws … and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care.” Perhaps this needs a little translating: These “laws and improvements in end of life care” make it legal to have a doctor (if he can still be called that) prescribe something that will kill you.
It needs to be pointed out that there is a vast difference between choosing not to prolong life with whatever offering the medical industry is making at the moment, and choosing to end your life. Hospice is about the former, and is worlds apart from the latter. As a side note: For people of faith, death is not an unknown, but a door to an expected and desired end. Therefore the “life at any cost” mentality is irrational and undesirable to them.
Religion is quite out of fashion these days, but there is a price to pay for this bold casting off, and it is a loss of dignity. These Death with Dignity laws are a disaster for our real humanness, our true dignity. Though fallen, we are still made in the image and likeness of God and therefore inherently special. What doctor, what parent, what child, what government worker, what psychologist, what computer, what statistic, is truly worthy and capable to make the decision to end life? Suicide is not an ethical or dignified option for human beings, and the question needs to be asked: why is it so important to try to dignify something that is by its very nature undignified? Death is horrible. Death mocks us, it hurts us, it disfigures us, it robs us. It is unnatural. There is only One who has risen from the grave, and He has opened the way for all who would follow Him. There are a limitless number of reasons to value Christ, but the indignity of death is a good place to start.