It is with sensitivity and a pastoral heart that Eryl Davies addresses these complex and controversial issues.
Statistics alone demand that a biblical perspective is given to these topics. In 1969, an estimated 51% of the UK population was in support of voluntary euthanasia for those suffering unbearable pain and discomfort in terminal illness, but by 2006 that figure had risen to 82%. The figures for suicide are also alarming, with 6,188 such deaths recorded in 2015. It is the leading cause of death among young people in the 20-34 age bracket.
The author views ‘assisted dying’ and ‘voluntary euthanasia’ as constituting suicide; ‘the only difference is the means by which it is achieved’ (p.75).
Its advocates argue it is an act of compassion, dealing sympathetically with the pain, the indignity, and the dependency which a terminal illness can bring. For the Christian, with the biblical emphases on the sanctity of life, human beings made in the image of God, and our lives being guided and controlled by a personal God, this is an untenable position.
Dr Davies helpfully comments, ‘the differences in approach between these two positions are considerable, nevertheless we need to debate the issue sensitively, showing respect for one another and the concerns undergirding our positions. And no side has a monopoly of compassion towards those suffering great discomfort and pain’ (p.21).
Most Bible-believing Christians will be convinced by the gracious scriptural arguments used by Dr Davies, but sadly it may be more difficult, even impossible, to convince an increasingly secular society. For this reason, it is good that the book concludes with an evangelistic thrust, and the gospel is faithfully presented to the unbeliever.
The book is short and therefore there are areas that are not addressed. Nevertheless it is an excellent resource as we seek to support those who are wrestling with these issues. It is suitable for believers and non-believers, and Dr Davies is to be commended for the considerate and responsible way in which he has handled a difficult and divisive subject.
Burley in Wharfedale