Canada recently passed a bill legalizing what they term as “medical aid in dying”, whose proper acronym, fittingly, is “MAD”. Countless religious leaders of all persuasions spoke out against this so-called medical procedure as the bill worked its way through the Canadian Parliament and then the Senate, but the majority of Canadians supported the bill and now support the law. In other words, the majority of Canadians consider that getting someone to help you kill yourself is not only a darn good idea but a “right” that should be protected by law.
How far we’ve fallen as a nation! Historically, Canadians were a polite, reserved, hard-working, level-headed and God-fearing people with a decidedly conservative bent when it came to food and politics, but overall a good heart. We were one of the middle children of the British Empire, happy to sit in the ample shadow cast by Mother England and not talk back when she called the shots. We took in the escaping Loyalists who fled north during the American Revolution, and then, decades later, took in the escaping slaves. Now we take in hundreds of thousands of refugees, immigrants and migrants annually. As a nation, Canada has traditionally stood for kindness, honesty, fairness and decency and has been world-renowned as such; for the longest while, we were known as a “peacekeeping nation”, and we were blessed by God for our efforts. We became a prosperous, peaceful, first-world country.
So what happened to us?
How did a country that was founded on such Godly principles devolve into a state that not only condones self-killing but enshrines it as a right?
Only a few years ago, before the bill was tabled in the House of Parliament, people who indicated they were suicidal were still considered mentally ill in Canada and in urgent need of mental health intervention. If they persisted in voicing their suicidal intentions or even attempted suicide, they were usually taken into protective custody. Suicidal thoughts were considered – by law, by the medical community, and by the general public – an aberration and a clear sign of severe illness.
But the law protecting people’s right to suicide has changed all that. There is no longer a legal or social stigma attached to declaring your suicidal intentions. You are simply directed to the appropriate health professional who will give you two weeks to change your mind and then, if you don’t, happily assist you in killing yourself by lethal injection.
There is something utterly and profoundly wrong with a country that helps its own citizens kill themselves. Such a country has crossed the line into madness. Throughout human history, the expression of suicidal thoughts has been equated with a cry for help and a sign of a deeply disturbed individual. No person of sound mind wants to kill him or herself. In my opinion, the desire to commit suicide has and remains an expression of an unhinged mind, regardless of the circumstances (i.e., terminal illness) or legal pronouncements.
So what made Canadians change their position on suicide?
This is where it gets dicey. In fact, Canadians seem to be double-minded when it comes to suicide. On the one hand, suicidal young people are still considered by most Canadians as being in need of medical intervention to prevent them from killing themselves, whereas people diagnosed with a terminal or debilitating illness are considered fair game for offing themselves. To my mind, Canadians who support MAD are simply projecting their own fears about pain, illness, aging and death onto the medical and legal systems. They want to know that if they reach the point of extreme pain (whether physical or emotional), they have the extreme option of having someone help them kill themselves to stop the pain. They look at bedridden elderly people with Alzheimer’s or people physically incapacitated by disease and declare they never want to be like that, and if they are trending in that direction, they want to be able to kill themselves with the blessing and assistance of the state.
However – and this is an argument that was never raised during the debates on MAD – killing yourself does not stop the pain. Death by your own hand is not a way out of a painful life. I know this to be an absolute fact, as do others who have approached death’s door and, for one reason or another, retreated. And yet, this absolute fact was never tabled as evidence against MAD during any of the debates or discussions prior to MAD becoming law. Instead, MAD was framed as a way out of suffering rather than a passageway to endless suffering, which is what it is.
There is a deep-set aversion in all of us to suffering. We don’t want to suffer, we don’t want our loved ones to suffer, and MAD seems to offer a way to prevent suffering. That is half of the explanation as to why Canadians have embraced suicide as a medical intervention rather than a sign of mental illness. The other and what I would suggest more profound half of the equation is that the majority of Canadians have rejected the existence of God and in so doing have rejected God’s commandments and ultimately God’s judgement. Fear of death is at heart fear of God’s judgment on the choices you’ve made in your life. So, if you reject God’s existence and Commandments, you also reject his judgment, and if you reject his judgment, you no longer have to fear it.
In theory, anyway.
Canada was once considered a Christian nation, but it is no more. For most Canadians, this dissociation with all things Christian is “progress”, whereas the truth is that turning away from God is the very opposite of progress. Rejecting God and his Commandments is precisely how you end up suffering not only as an individual but as a nation. God is the only one who can heal your suffering, and God is the only one who knows the precise second when your time on Earth should be up. God is also the one who determines if a nation has collectively earned destruction by the choices made both by the nation’s individuals and by the state.
A nation that once espoused Christian values but now rejects those same values and embraces the opposite is a nation in swift decline. Canada is such a nation. Even as the majority of Canadians shake off what they consider to be the shackles of religion, mental illnesses are proliferating. In fact, there are so many people suffering from mental illnesses now that many of the illnesses have been redefined as “lifestyles” or “choices” or “alternative norms” and their manifestations enshrined as laws to be rigorously adhered to and rights to be respected and supported, not as the aberrations that they actually are.
People who want to kill themselves need help, not a needle full of poison. People who want to kill themselves need help to get to a state of mind where they no longer want to kill themselves, but in post-Christian Canada, they’re now given a doctor’s appointment and a two-week waiting period, and then they’re given a needle. This is not progress. You have to be mentally ill to see this as progress, and all those who reject God are in fact mentally ill. Canada is regressing as a nation and regressing swiftly in every conceivable way. Sadly, I believe that, like all other post-Christian nations in the world, Canada has reached the point of no return. It’s too late for collective repentance; all that can be salvaged is a few individuals who still hold to God’s laws and follow Jesus.
Given the alternative, you’d be wise to count yourself among those few.