The Death Culture in the West

In the West the culture of death continues to grow. And there is a connection between the culture of death and the death of Christianity. When a nation dies spiritually, it begins to fixate more and more on death. A belief in the fundamental sanctity of life is replaced with a focus on anti-life ideologies and practices.

Consider two recent events which highlight this. Earlier this month Australian euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke launched an online euthanasia manual. One press account says this: “Dr Nitschke describes the book as a compilation of the ‘most reliable and peaceful methods’ used to end life. End-of-life options detailed in video and text formats include use of the drug Nembutal obtained from Mexico, and the hypoxic method using a plastic bag.”

Of interest is the fact that even the New South Wales voluntary euthanasia society was concerned about this move. As its president, Dr Giles Yates, said, “I’m very concerned about the lack of safeguards on the publication of suicide techniques. [We have] always taken the view that people need assistance with voluntary euthanasia but that assistance should be covered with comprehensive safeguards against non-rational suicide and coerced suicide. The other risk is that it could be used by people for murder, not to put it too strongly. If someone wants to get hold of granny’s estate, and they encourage granny to use the techniques, they can actually coerce someone to commit suicide for all the wrong reasons.”

But things are not much better in the UK. A renowned British medical ethicist, Baroness Mary Warnock, recently argued that dementia patients have a “duty to die”. They are simply obliged to get out of our way, the moral philosopher stated. Charles Colson picks up the story:

“She says elderly people who suffer from dementia are ‘wasting people’s lives’ – that is, the lives of those who care for them – and ought to choose to die even if they’re not suffering. And even if they aren’t a burden on their families, they ought to ‘off’ themselves anyway, as she puts it, because they’re a burden on the public, which, under British national health care, pays for their treatment. According to the Daily Telegraph, Warnock hopes people will soon be ‘licensed to put others down’.”

Yes, put others down, like a dog. Says Colson: “That’s the kind of euphemism we use when talking about injured horses or sick dogs. It’s not how we talk about human beings – or at least, it’s not how we used to talk about them. At age 84, Lady Warnock is old enough to remember Hitler’s Final Solution – and the thinking that drove the slaughter, not only of the Jews, but also of the handicapped, gypsies, and others the Nazis considered ‘defective’ or ‘useless.’ But even though Lady Warnock should remember World War II, she evidently has forgotten its terrible lessons. Given her despicable recommendation for the elderly, she ought to hope that her memory issues aren’t related to dementia.”

Notice how the relief of suffering is not even being talked about here. If anything, it is the relief of suffering of those around the patient. It is for their sakes that we should make use of euthanasia. And this new duty to die will of course always be tied in with economic concerns. As Colson says,

“This tale out of England is also a dire warning about what happens when countries nationalize health care. There’s never enough money to go around – and some bureaucrat at the top is always going to start making choices about who gets to live and who’s going to die. If those targeted for death don’t go willingly, well, they will need to be encouraged to die – or they might get a visit from someone ‘licensed to put others down.’ Has the Western world truly sunk this low? Do we ever need a more vivid reminder of the tremendous importance of worldview?”

Lest people think Colson is going a bit far with the economic factor in the push for euthanasia, recall that here in Australia similar ideas were expressed in a government paper on health care put out by the Economic Planning Advisory Commission in 1994. It actually looked at the issue of euthanasia as one option in the whole discussion of saving money in health care.

But as we abandon the Judeo-Christian worldview, such utilitarian considerations of human life will only continue. Colson concludes: “Either all human life – from unborn children to demented mothers and fathers – is created in the image of God and therefore infinitely precious, or humans are nothing but the result of mere chance, indistinguishable morally from a sand flea. The choice society makes will determine whether the most vulnerable among us will be respected and protected . . . or whether we will ‘put them down’ when they become a burden. We Christians must speak out as others – especially those in authority – move us closer and closer to compulsory killing. If we do nothing, it’s evidence that perhaps we’ve all lost our marbles.”

We are certainly losing something here. As we allow the secularists to push their worldview in every area of life, the case for life becomes less and less strong, and the case for death becomes more and more attractive. And that puts every one of us at risk.

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18 Replies to “The Death Culture in the West”

  1. Whilst Britain, is distracted by the economy and the war in Afghanistan, it remains indifferent and in denial concerning unspeakable crimes taking place in hospitals and clinics throughout the UK. On Wednesday 22nd of October, the final stages of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (HFE Bill) were all wrapped in Parliament, all within the space of ten minutes debate!!

    This Bill is one of the most destructive pieces of legislation that we have seen in 2000 years. It is anti-life, and anti-family. It will create animal-human hybrids, create fatherless families and raise children as spare parts. Mercifully other amendments to the bill that would have released the reins on abortion in Britain were for political reasons withdrawn – for the time being.

    But the death mills in Britain continue their relentless work. If we just want a quiet life, undisturbed by what is happening all around us, don’t look or listen any further; but remember. by doing so, we will be no different to the European citizens who during the war closed their eyes to their Jewish neighbours being led away to extermination, or the English who preferred to ignore the plight of slaves and the very poor.

    David Skinner, UK

  2. It seems to me that since abortion has become a bit of the norm in our day we need to move on to a more difficult target. People that are older and may be able to actually speak, but probably won’t have a strong enough voice/ influence to stop themselves from being murdered (is that too strong of a term? I think it fits).

    It does seem to smell a lot of a foul smell of Hitler’s day. It is selfishness and a lack of morals. This moral slide is frighteningly getting more slippery in our day. What is going to be the next level after this? Killing disabled people? Killing people with mental handicaps? What about people that are just a bit old and retired and riding on our economies for a bit too long. What about people with other diseases? What about prisoners?…. Where is the stop line? Where was the start line?

    We should be ashamed of ourselves. My question to myself is shouldn’t we be doing something to stop this slide? I guess this doesn’t overly surprise me since in our day we are thought/taught that we are on the same level as animals. Human rights might as well be tossed out the window.

    Oliver Ins, BC, Canada

  3. Great essay Bill. Especially at the end. I found it incredible how proponents of voluntary euthanasia totally refuse to admit two things – the likely possibility of abuse and the ultimate cheapening of life (and therefore threatening of their own). Just days ago I spent part of an afternoon listening to my mum recount some of her experiences of Nazi Germany. It was compelling to hear of the downward progression of what human beings are capable of doing. And it all started so innocuously. But then, Jews started disappearing, pastors were arrested and their families watched, spies on every street watching to see if you put out the Nazi flag on certain days (apparently my grandmother had a small one that would just get casually draped in the window – many had huge flags prominently displayed out into the street) and so on – this was how she grew up. Even though she’s the kind of mum who gets all bothered if I even vaguely sound like I have a cold (NO I’m FINE!), she didn’t bat an eyelid when I mentioned that if things continue the way they are, Christians will end up in jail. She’s seen it before, and it happened in a society that was technologically advanced for its time. Beware of utopian dreams where the end justifies the means.

    I’m just reading about Jesus getting arrested and the disciples abandoning Him. But the apparent failure of His mission was all part of His plan. Let’s not forget that God knows everything and when things look especially grim, there is an assured outcome for those who trust in Him. Let us fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen… the former is temporary, the latter eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

    Mark Rabich

  4. Wisdom speaks In Proverbs as follows:
    “All those who hate me love death” (Prov.8:36)

    Since Wisdom is identified with Christ in the NT (see 1 Cor.1:30; Col.2:3), and the eternal Logos of John 1:1, 14, we can explain how the culture of death came about: rejection of Christ, the Prince of Life, and a love and embrace of death in His place.

    This is not only the death of people, however. It is the death of a civilisation; the death of an entire generation (birth rates are going down all across Europe); and the advent of the world-wide Antichrist with all his totalitarian powers.

    However, those who love death, God’s Word warns, shall have it – eternally!
    “Then I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
    And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…
    Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
    And if anyone’s name was not found in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
    Revelation 20:11-15.

    If men and women love death now, they shall have it forever. God has His way of giving people what they want!

    Murray Adamthwaite

  5. Oliver, the deadly logic given by the British Government for aborting babies under 24 weeks is simply because, not being able to survive outside the protection of the mother’s womb below 24 weeks , they do not deserve to live. This same logic will be applied to all those, including the elderly who cannot protect themselves. This truly is the survival of the fittest theory which incidentally had a rehearsal, long before Hitler, with the British and our treatment of the Tasmanians.

    David Skinner, UK

  6. It would seem to me that if you remove the moral plumbline of a personal creator then you are left with a relative approach to these problems.

    To be consistent with the removal of God from the public arena you can only use utilitarian ethics. the trouble i think comes when we have to work out who defines “happiness” or “harm”.

    To have such power to define these terms would be to have the power of life and death over whole nations. This is not an issue if you believe, like the humanists do, that man is inherently good and able to carry such a weight.

    I on the other hand, on the basis of our past record, believe we will witness horrors that go far beyond those dreamed of by Hitler.

    Richard Blake

  7. I guess to add to my earlier post i am worried that violence against certain of our fellow human beings is seen as an acceptable, even necessary way to solve social problems.

    Perhaps the way to solve the global warming issue would be to cut down the number of human beings creating a carbon footprint. wow a human cull!

    Richard Blake

  8. Bill, and Richard

    This relativist factor

    ‘To be consistent with the removal of God from the public arena you can only use utilitarian ethics. the trouble i think comes when we have to work out who defines “happiness” or “harm”. ‘

    reminds me of a couple of themes from the atheistic Douglas Adams (in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)
    – the key question is how to select the person whom people in general will allow to dominate them and set the rules
    – anyone who volunteers for the job (of President of the Galaxy) is ipso facto disqualified

    Adams wrote humorously from his evolutionary and atheistic viewpoint, but he made some very serious philosophical points.

    John Angelico

  9. Great article Bill, I believe ‘Death Culture’ is exactly right. Today, death is paraded everywhere in tattoo’s, CD covers, T-Shirts, and even murder as a photographic art. Our society has become desensitized to death, some even calling it beautiful, and although I am deeply saddened by the state our world finds itself in, I can’t say I’m surprised that this death obsessed world has found itself here.

    I’m extremely happy that you are doing your part, Bill, to make the world aware of what it believes and where it is headed.

    The information in this article makes it painfully obvious that the consequences from some ideas are coming to fruition.

    Utilitarianism is an idea and it is a bad one. One of it’s consequences was seen in recent history: slavery. Some people depended on slavery for their income; it was the backbone to their success. I can see similar parallels for doctors who perform abortions and for ethicist Baroness Mary Warnock. It is hard to see past money sometimes, I can attest to that because I am human and have found it difficult to see things objectively when money is involved. But in 1833 slavery was recognized to be wrong and therefore forbidden by law in England. They did make fiscal restitution, but no matter of money given to the slaves that were freed could make up for the years and dignity lost during that time, but at least those that were freed got to live afterward.

    Now we are talking about taking life away completely. When those who are for euthanasia and abortion finally recognize their serious error in these ideas, no amount of money will be able to bring those lives back, and the blood is on their hands. If the consequence of an idea such as euthanasia is the potential for murder, I am frightened to see the implications on our society in years to come.

    In John 10:10 (ESV) it states that “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life abundantly.” By abortion and euthanasia alone we see this to be true. Satan obviously understands that ideas have consequences, and we are yet to see the full affect that some ideas are going to have on us.

    Michelle Guillemaud AB, Canada

  10. Thanks Murray, Proverbs 8:36 is a great summary of exactly what’s going on here!

    George Kokonis

  11. On the same theme but a different subject, how about all those death obsessed CSI type programs on TV every night.
    How much death and violence can viewers consume? It is becoming increasingly harder to watch a program on TV (or the movies) that doesn’t contain lots of violence and death.
    I don’t understand this obsession with all things dark.
    Peter Coventry

  12. Dear Bill,
    I recently heard you speak, but didn’t want to bother you on the day as you must have been exhausted! May I now take the opportunity to thank you. It was an honour and a privilege to hear you speak. May God bless you continuously, continue to guide you, help you in every way and keep you safe in His loving care. Be assured I will be informing everyone I know about your website. Thank you again.
    Mandy Varley, WA

  13. Dementia patients a burden on the public? – This makes my blood boil! I actually pay money to be with dementia patients. I’m a volunteer in aged care and there are plenty of other people who do the same, driving long distances to spend time with these beautiful old folks.

    And it’s true what you write – When a nation dies spiritually, it begins to fixate more and more on death.
    Just yesterday I noticed the window display of an elite clothes store. No longer the barbie doll standard of model. Now we have skeletons – I don’t mean gaunt female mannequins. I’m talking about skeletons – yep, skulls and bones dressed in the latest fashion – hey, it’s the death look.

    Annette Nestor

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