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Last night I watched a repeat episode of Star Trek: Voyager. The episode was titled "Death Wish." (1). It featured two members of the "Q Continuum." The Q are immortal superbeings . They are all confusingly named "Q" - so for convenience I will call the Q who has appeared on Star Trek before Q1 and the new one Q2.
In the episode, Q2 wanted to commit suicide. But he needed the Q Continuum to turn him into a mortal do so. Q1 and the rest of the Continuum didn't want to. So a trial was held, presided over by Captain Janeway of Voyager, to determine whether the Continuum should grant his "Death wish" or not. In the end, Q2 was made mortal and Q1 provided the means for his suicide.
When I first saw this episode I thought the producers of Star Trek were promoting assisted suicide, a la Jack Kevorkian. And right after I watched the repeat episode I tuned on the news and saw a report about Kevorkian bringing yet another body to a hospital!
But upon further reflection, I don't believe there really is any parallel between "Death Wish" and the activities of Kevorkian. It must be remember, the Q are immortal. So for them, death is not a "when" but an "if." Meanwhile, for use, death is NOT an IF, it's only a question of when.
In other words, Q2 only wanted what every other species in the Star Trek universe has: the ability to die when one has lived out his full life. And at one point, Q2 said to Janeway that he wanted to be "allowed to die." And here I believe is the application.
There is a big difference between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. In active euthanasia someone purposely gives something to someone to kill them (or to help them to kill themselves). In passive euthanasia, "heroic" methods to prolong life are discontinued (or not started at all) and nature is allowed to take it's course.
Paul said during his first imprisonment:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again (Phil 1:21-26).
I have always found this passage interesting. Paul is "deciding" he will not be executed because the Philippians need him! But more to the point here, Paul decides to live because he knows his time is not yet up, despite his dire circumstances.
But later, during his final imprisonment, Paul writes:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim 4:6-8).
So now Paul is ready to die because he knows his time is up. He has done all that God wanted him to do. So he is ready to be executed. But note, at no time does Paul even hint about committing suicide. He has simply accepted his fate.
And here I believe is the answer to the Christian position on active vs. passive euthanasia. To give someone the means to end there lives is wrong. It is "playing God" and ending a life prematurely. How do we know in what ways God might still use the person, despite dire circumstances?
But when someone's time is up, I do not believe it is appropriate or Christian to use 'heroic" measures to prolong a life for a few more days or weeks. Just let "nature take it's course."
Of course, what one person considers a "heroic" measure another may not. But as Christians we need to at least start this discussion with the recognition that this life is not all there is. Knowing there is life after death, I have never understood why a Christian would want to hang onto every possible minute of this life.
As Paul tells us:
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2Cor 5:6-8).
><> Reepicheep <><
1) October 24, 1996. The episode was originally aired earlier in the Fall of the same year.
All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
"Death Wish: Review." Copyright © 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
The above article was posted on this Web site
and in "alt.tv.star-trek.voyager" Newsgroup in May 1997.
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