The Persistent Widow Against Euthanasia



March 5, 2024
Available in Audio Format:

Jesus once told a parable that fits perfectly with how we as Reformed Christians ought to participate in politics: the parable of the persistent widow. This parable comes from Luke 18.

The Unrighteous Judge

The parable starts with an interesting setting: “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man” (18:2).

Now isn’t that pretty similar to our situation in Canada? We look at the culture and the governments around us and we see people who neither fear God nor respect man, at least not in their behaviour or their actions. For example, our government – both our judges and politicians – chose to legalize euthanasia, the murder of people who are suffering. God clearly commands us in the sixth commandment not to murder.

And why shouldn’t we murder? Because every single person is made in the image of God. We read that, in the very beginning of time, “God created man in His image. In the image of God He created Him.”

In his book The Air We Breathe, minister and evangelist Glen Scrivener comments on this passage, “…mankind is formed from the dust. But we are also breathed upon by God. We are dirtbags kissed by heaven. In ourselves we are [not worth much]. But we are touched by the divine too, and in connection with God we are precious beyond all earthly valuation.”

Some people argue that euthanasia should be legal because we euthanize or put down pets if they are suffering, but here’s the key point: human beings aren’t dogs. Human beings are made in God’s image. Dogs – no matter how much you might love them – aren’t. And that’s why it is perfectly alright to own dogs. We buy and sell them. We spay and neuter them. We breed them. We kill them if they get too old, or sick, or dangerous. Some people eat them.

But we don’t do that to human beings made in the image of God.

But our government doesn’t care. They legalized euthanasia for people near the end of life in 2016. Then they legalized euthanasia for those with chronic illness or disability in 2021. And then they set out to legalize euthanasia for those with a mental illness, an expansion that has thankfully been delayed.

Fun fact:every Prime Minister in Canada’s history claimed to fear God and claims to be a Christian: Catholic, Presbyterian, Evangelical, or some other denomination. But the laws and policies they promote really make you wonder if they truly do fear God.

And so, we find ourselves in a similar setting to this parable, living in a certain place where the government leaders do not seem to fear God or respect man.

The Persistent Widow

Jesus continues his parable, “And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary’” (18:3).

She kept coming. And coming and coming.

And that’s what we at ARPA, and you our supporters, have done on euthanasia through direct lobbying and through our Care Not Kill campaign. We’ve continually asked the government to stop expanding euthanasia. You’ve helped send thousands of emails and postcards to members of Parliament. You’ve helped deliver hundreds of thousands of flyers around the country. ARPA staff have had dozens of lobby meetings with MPs on this issue. Together, we have been persistent, just like the widow in Jesus’ parable.

And what was the judge’s response to the persistent widow? Back to the Bible. “For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming’” (18:4-5).

At long last, thanks to her persistence, the judge finally gave the widow the justice that she was asking for.

And we also have finally gotten some justice. For years, ARPA and Reformed Christians have pleaded with the government to roll back their planned expansion of euthanasia for people with mental illness. For years it seemed like the government was going to ignore us. But eventually, because of all the pushback they received from citizens on this issue, they relented. Last year they passed a bill that would pause the expansion of euthanasia for one more year, to March 17, 2024.

But for us, a pause on expanding euthanasia wasn’t enough. By God’s grace, MP Ed Fast introduced a bill that would entirely delete the planned expansion of euthanasia to those with a mental illness. This would be not just a pause, but a reversal.

The entire Conservative caucus voted in favour of this bill to stop euthanasia’s expansion. The entire NDP caucus voted in favour of it. Several Liberal MPs voted in favour of it. Unfortunately, that bill was defeated in October 2023 by a vote of 167-150. But we didn’t stop. MPs who cared about this didn’t stop. We were persistent. And they were persistent.

And again, because of all this persistence, the government relented again. Just over a month ago, the government introduced a new bill that would delay the expansion of euthanasia for mental illness until 2027, after the next election. Every single MP voted in favour of it, except for one Liberal MP and the Bloc Quebecois caucus. The Senate passed it by such a wide margin that they didn’t even bother to record the vote.

This isn’t fully justice yet. As it stands right now, Canada will still expand access to euthanasia to those with a mental illness at some point. And far too many Canadians are still allowed to choose – and do choose – euthanasia. Almost 45,000 Canadians have died by euthanasia since 2016.

But it is a step in the right direction. A step towards justice. All because of persistent political action. ARPA’s persistent political action. Your persistent political action.

The Practical Message

But that’s not the end of the parable. The purpose of Jesus’ parables is to show a truth about God. While it is good and right and effective to engage in persistent political action, that isn’t the point of the parable.

Jesus says what the point of the parable is: “‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says [Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.] And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily…’ (18:6-8). And he told them this parable “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (18:1).

Jesus told this parable so that we would always pray. How often do you pray for our governments? For people to seek their identity and worth in God, and value life? Even if political action isn’t your favourite thing to do, we can all pray.

And never lose heart. It may seem like you always pray or are persistently politically active, but nothing happens. That doesn’t mean that you lose heart and give up. If the widow lost heart and gave up, she would have never received justice from the judge. And if we lose heart and give up, why would we expect God to work in our country to outlaw euthanasia, or abortion, medical transitioning for minors, or any other evil?

So be persistently politically active. Always pray. And never lose heart.

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