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Canadian Anglicans Contemplate Suicide as a faster route to Heaven or Hell

Canadian Anglicans Contemplate Suicide as a faster route to Heaven or Hell
Study guide dodges ethical questions, pushes pastoral response

By David W. Virtue, DD
January 5, 2019

The Anglican Church of Canada has published a study guide for its pamphlet "In Sure and Certain Hope", or, how to commit suicide inclusively with diverse missionality, while listening with a generous pastoral response as we journey together.

In keeping with its floundering response to same-sex marriage, the church isn't particularly interested in whether suicide is right or wrong: instead, it prefers to indulge in conversations about it, long and boring enough to drive all but the most resilient to...suicide, writes David of Samizdat, an orthodox Anglican blogger.

The ACoC is an expert in suicide, of course, since it has been committing it institutionally for years, he writes.

Recently, the Bishop of Toronto Kevin Robertson married his partner at St. James Cathedral, in a form of ecclesiastical and moral suicide that is rapidly emptying the Anglican Church of Canada.

A study guide encourages Anglicans to grapple with realities of medical assistance in dying. Created as a companion piece to In Sure and Certain Hope, the Anglican resource on physician-assisted dying, the study guide encourages groups to consider the topic in terms of pastoral response, rather than ethical debate.

"What does it mean to 'be present' to someone who is dying, and to 'provide care'? What care do I want to experience when I am dying? Can I provide care for somebody who has very different values from mine?" These are some of the questions posed in a new study guide aimed at helping Anglicans reflect on and respond to Canadian legislation regarding medical assistance in dying.

The Rev. Eileen Scully, director of faith, worship and ministry for the Anglican Church of Canada, who provided staff support to the team who created the guide, says changes in legislation have helped to open conversations about "how do I envision how I want to be cared for in my death, in my dying?"

In a historic ruling Feb. 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws against physician-assisted dying and gave the government a year to produce new legislation.

In the wake of this decision, a task force of the faith, worship and ministry committee produced an Anglican response, called In Sure and Certain Hope.

The new law, which took effect in June 2016, allows eligible Canadian adults who have a "grievous and irremediable medical condition" to request medical assistance in dying. The ACoC wants to be in the progressive forefront to push remnant geriatric Anglicans into columbaria before their time.

According to the government of Canada's April 2018 interim report, 1,982 medically-assisted deaths were administered in the first year of the practice's legalization. (An additional 167 medically-assisted deaths took place earlier in Quebec, which passed provincial legislation prior to federal legalization.)

"The changed legal landscape has moved us...to a point where many of us are likely to know, love and care for those who will face difficult decisions and may choose to avail themselves of medically-assisted dying or to reject such an option," the study guide notes.

Like In Sure and Certain Hope, the study guide does not address "the debate about the moral appropriateness" of medically-assisted dying. Instead, it aims to provide what Scully says has been missing from the church's response--"the ability to really sit with the pastoral, ethical questions and just say, 'So how now do we live?' "

The challenge, Scully says, is nudging people to have those kinds of conversations and to knock yourself off by giving the word to a doctor. To date there is no record of an Anglican bishop still collecting a pension that has given the word to have themselves knocked off.

Is there an example of assisted suicide In the Bible? In 2 Samuel 1:1-16, King Saul requests that an Amalekite kill him at Saul's request. He does so and when he tells King David, David's response is to kill the Amalekite for touching God's anointed. If euthanasia were a beneficial practice, David would have rewarded the Amalekite, not sentenced him to death.

So how should Christians respond to the fear (or reality) of pain and suffering? Deuteronomy 31:6,8: "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble..., for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.... And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you.... Do not fear, or be dismayed."

Paul in Romans 8:32,35,37 writes: "He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."

Psalm 23:4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me ..."

We can do no better than to close with Paul's admonition in 2 Corinthians 12:9: "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.'"

Job experienced physical, spiritual and psychological suffering, so how did he respond?' Job 1:20-21, 2:10: "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.' Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God." "... Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"

But, you might argue, it's my body. don't I have a right to choose when I die?' Paul writing in1 Corinthians 3:16,17 says: "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that is what you are."

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." --- Psalm 116:15:


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