I mentioned in my sermon on Sunday that I just finished reading a book entitled, “The way we die now.” The book was not written by a Christian, which made his conclusion even more striking:
“There is a perception—even a consensus—that death is something that medicine should somehow ‘sort out’. But our needs are spiritual, not medical. Medicine’s dominion should be limited and explicitly defined. Medicine, and our culture, would be healthier and happier if we stopped expecting medicine to solve our existential and spiritual problems, if we stopped thinking of our bodies as machines and if we gave up our fantasies of control and of immortality. Doctors can indeed help the dying, but dying needs to be de-medicalized” (271-272).
When the author, a medical doctor, writes about giving up “our fantasies of control and immortality” he is talking about doctors who will do everything necessary to keep someone alive even though those doctors know 1) this may result in much more pain and suffering for the patient and 2) that the disease is terminal regardless of what the doctors do.
The author says he wrote the book “because my limited, strictly medical, expertise was inadequate to meet the demands placed on it by society and by my dying patients and their families. I had no answers, no profound insights.”
I appreciate his honesty. Ultimately, the only one who has the final answers to life and death is the One who himself conquered death through His resurrection. We have His thoughts and the Spirit-inspired wisdom of his earliest followers, in the New Testament.