I awoke in the middle of the night to a strange thought. It did not seem to come out of a dream but was simply there in my mind. The thought was something like this: “They will have parties to celebrate suicides.” What the thought meant was that a day is coming in which people will gather for something of a “send-off” party, to celebrate someone’s decision to die. Euthanasia parties … The thought was … something like a realization: “this is going to happen.” It will seem normal and good, an example of the kindness of friends. That such a thing is possible, that my waking thought was both plausible and likely, reveals something about our present world. Dostoevsky famously said, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” What he did not see is that unless we are quite specific about who God is, everything is still permitted. Indeed, everything is not only permitted, but we will imagine it to have been blessed by God. There is a word for this God: sentimentality.

The larger part of what passes for “ethics” in the modern world can be described as the avoidance and effort to abolish suffering. On its surface, such reasoning is always difficult to argue against. Only a heartless beast would refuse to relieve pain when he could (we reason). [Bingo! I read part of a supposedly compelling argument against having children on the basis that life brings more pain than pleasure. Extermination of the human race was a feature, not a bug, in this system.]

To be a Christian necessarily means to embrace a life within limits. We have a God who is not the product of our imagination or sentiments. He has revealed Himself in the God/Man Jesus Christ and taught us how we should live. Various contemporary Christianities that have embraced the God of sentiment can make no true claim to be Christian. Christ becomes window-dressing, a God whose function is to bless the modern way of life.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, Sentiment, Suffering and Death