Euthanasia is a dominant social and moral issue in the United States today. It is not a new concept and the morality of it is widely debated in Western society. The slogans, definitions, and terms are confusing and deceptive and raise some legal and ethical questions. The view of Christians is dramatically opposed to that of secularists on how to approach human suffering. For the Christian believer, suffering is to be relieved to the extent possible within the constraints imposed by biblical teachings and Christian ethics. For the secularists, extinction of the suffering person is a considerate act of compassion. The debate on euthanasia is joined in law, medicine and morals, and in debating the rules that will determine whether and how we may end our lives, no one can afford to be a bystander. To raise these questions is to realize at once that they cannot be answered in haste or by means of the standard responses that so often controls political discussion.
The word euthanasia is derived from two classical Greek words, Eu meaning "good-, and thanantos, meaning "death-. The word refers to the process by which people's deaths are intentionally brought about by themselves or others, sometimes for generally commendable ends such as the relief of pain and suffering. While some people use the term euthanasia only when one person is killed by another the term is broad enough to encompass other definitions as well. Discussions of euthanasia are often unproductive because of confusion over these definitions. The Nazis, after all, used the word "euthanasia" to camouflage mass murder. All victims died involuntarily, and no documented case exists where a terminal patient was voluntarily killed. We can see from this experience is that secrecy is not in the public interest.
There are two types of euthanasia: active and passive. These terms refer to the kind of involvement others have in ending a person's life.