Three Questions Before Exiting

Three Questions Before Exiting

One of the consequences of a selfish and materialistic culture is the rise of physician assisted suicide, even un-consenting euthanasia.

Thus, it was no surprise when I saw an August 2023 story announcing a new device to make physician assisted suicide even easier. Dr. Philip Nitschke has invented a “suicide booth” which, at the touch of an interior button, seals and floods with nitrogen gas, causing disorientation, unconsciousness, and eventually death by hypoxia. The machine is mostly 3D-printed and thus very cheap to manufacture and easy to transport. Dr. Nitschke says that he has a long list of people wanting to be the first to use it when he gets government approval.

But what did hook me was the headline: “Inventor unveils suicide booth that asks three questions before suffocating user.” I had to know: What could these three questions be? They must be among the most deep and meaningful questions ever posed to mankind! So, I clicked through and read the article.

You want to know the three questions? What’s your name? Where are you? Do you know what happens if you push this button?

I thought I was beyond being shocked by news, but I howled in disbelief. You’re about to end your life, and THOSE are the only thoughts necessary to contemplate before carrying it out? I decided I need to supply Dr. Nitschke with three more questions he might ask his “patients”:

What is the value of your life? A materialistic worldview leads to a culture of death. Oh sure, most people think a materialistic worldview is just about hedonism and fun. However, “when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity, and his life” (Karol Wojtyła). When an individual no longer brings pleasure to himself, or when he is inconvenient to his peers, and when there’s no other basis on which to ascribe him worth, he may be discarded!

Those who grasp that human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 2:24) value human life. Whether big or small, male or female, ugly or pretty, old or young, abled or disabled, sick or healthy, human life has value because of its humanity, not its relative usefulness. There are very few reasons to prematurely end human life without guilt (Exodus 22:2, Genesis 9:5 – 6).

Do you love your family? Older generations exert tremendous influence on younger generations. To make an impulsive exit would deprive the younger generation advice and wisdom, as well as an example of patient endurance.

Even when an elderly person requires support, there is a benefit to learning to “make a return”

(1 Timothy 5:4) to older generations. It might be a pain to take care of grandma, but Christ smiles upon it. An opportunity to serve teaches us important lessons about the value of a person. God has unseen purpose in the periods of disability, pain, and suffering that can accompany the end of life. God spares some people from this, such as Moses, who died healthy; God causes others to experience decline. Perhaps, if I may speculate, it helps the sufferer focus on the eternal (2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:4), and it helps the caregiver rediscover charity. When we witness a loved one’s physical body deteriorate, it forces us to confront the impermanence of life (Eccl. 7:2 – 3). We have God’s promise that we will not be asked to bear more than we are able.

Where will you soul spend eternity? Without getting into a debate over what Samson did in Judges 16 (which may be read in many ways) physician assisted suicide is a form of murder. I would not want my last act in this world to be a form of murder. It’s probably accurate to say that it’s materialist non-believers who would be considering the suicide booth anyway, cutting short God’s last ditch effort to soften the heart to think on eternal things (Luke 23:39 – 43).

God claims sole purview over matters of life and death (Deuteronomy 32:39, 1 Samuel 2:6). I am not arguing that life should be extended artificially by all means necessary. It is perfectly good to long for, and even pray for, a Christian’s peaceful passing (Phil. 1:21 – 23). But it’s not righteous for a person to take this into his own hands. Job suffered tremendously and prayed for death (Job 3:20 – 26, 6:8 – 10), but he did not take matters into his own hands; eventually he found herself in a healthy state again. Hezekiah suffered and prayed for healing (2 Kings 20:1 – 11). Better to trust God.

–John Guzzetta