On Sunday, June 2 with her parents’ permission, 17-year-old Noa Pothoven finally died by suicide due to starvation because she could not recover from sexual abuse and a rape during her early teens. Initially, this story occurring in the Netherlands was incorrectly reported as a legal euthenasia, setting off a media storm. At the age of 16, Noa approached an end-of-life clinic but was rejected because she didn’t qualify. According to her own Instagram, Noa starved herself because she could not overcome her depression and PTSD. Instead of pursuing continued help to overcome her adversity, Noa chose death as the solution to her problem.
Similarly, some argue that death is the best option for a baby rather than the potentially adverse circumstances into which the child may be brought As the abortion debate flares up state-by-state, arguments defending abortion cross my social media feed. Some arguments seem incredibly bizarre to me as a Christian, but chief among them is one becoming increasingly popular. A recent post stated, “It has been a little over a year since I have been open about Mason. It does not mean I didn’t love him, it does not mean I murdered him, it does not make me a monster. . . I love my little man so much. I think about what I did daily. . . I know I did what was best for my son and I [sic].” The mom essentially said death by abortion was better for her baby.
Pray tell, how is an unnatural death by suicide or abortion “better?” How is never even getting the opportunity or at least more time to overcome adversity better for this baby or for Noa Pothoven? Honestly, the argument for death as a solution comes as no surprise to me. Women don’t like inconvenience so 97% of abortions are for convenience only. It makes sense for women to also believe their children shouldn’t be inconvenienced by a difficult life. As for suicide - suicide rates in the United States are the highest they have been in 28 years. Andrew Klavan at the Daily Wire wrote that a culture that makes suicide acceptable, especially for teenagers, is operating under certain assumptions; “chief among those assumptions is that life ought to be happy and comfortable, and when it is not, it ceases to be worthwhile.”
Our culture is one in which we cling to escapism. We use books, movies, technology, cellphones, video games, social media, travel, alcohol, drugs, divorce, pornography, and the list goes on, to escape the difficulties of our lives. As a general rule, we have no idea how to resolve conflicts, how to emotionally handle heartbreak, how to gain mental or spiritual fortitude, or how to overcome adversity in general. Plus, while in these seasons of adversity, we do not know how to cultivate joy in our lives. Not only do we not know how to overcome these things, we do not want to overcome them. Instead, we ignore problems, we blame others, we cut off relationships, and we bury ourselves so deep through our preferred method of escape hoping for meager moments of happiness that extreme measures must be taken to exhume our emotional and mental fortitude. Someone call the medical examiner!
Furthermore, the groundwork for this instinctive escapism was laid by our very own parents. We are all familiar with the term “helicopter parents," but where helicopter parents swoop in to rescue their children who encounter adversity, we now have a generation raised by “lawnmower parents." Unlike helicopter parents who at least let their children encounter adversity, lawnmower parents go before their children mowing the way clear of any struggle or challenge. This sometimes means going up against college professors, challenging law enforcement officers, screaming at referees, paying an arbiter to skew SAT scores (here’s looking at you Lori Loughlin and company), or lambasting someone on social media, but by golly, sweet Susie will not suffer even if that suffering is the consequences of her own choices. As a result, we have an increasing number of adults who not only have no idea how to handle adversity, they’ve been trained to believe they shouldn’t have to handle it. While I don’t particularly like the term “snowflakes,” Mike Rowe is correct when he says, “These are the clouds from which the snowflakes fell.”
A culture that does not want to overcome adversity will rationalize the use of any avenue to escape, but death is the ultimate solution, the ultimate escape. Assisted suicide, abortion, and consensual homicide provide this escape for others and is now - strangely - viewed as the “compassionate choice." What was once viewed as an enigma is now increasingly embraced. Klavan made this poignant statement, “The culture that embraces happiness and the end of suffering as life’s chief goal is ultimately a culture that embraces death.” Culturally, we do not overcome; we succumb.
My friends, this is not who God made us to be. The Scriptures tell us as believers that "in all these things [trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword] we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35 – 37). As Christians we must know how to live life as Paul demonstrated in Philippians 4:11 - “Content in whatever circumstances I am.” Then, we must show others how to do the same.
Our culture of escapism [by death] can only be transformed into a culture of overcoming by the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers as “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). 1 John 5:5 tells us succinctly, “Who is it that overcomes the world [or rather, adversity, suffering, or sin]? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
An unnatural death is not the answer. Our culture needs Jesus and His people need to lead the way to the hope that is anchored in Christ, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). Escape is not the way to achieve the goal of happiness for “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Hannah R. Miller