What does the Bible say about euthanasia and/or having a living will?

 euthanasia,  living  will

Question: "What does the Bible say about euthanasia and/or having a living will?"

This is a very difficult issue. There are two sides that are difficult to balance. On one end, we do not want to take a person’s life into our own hands and end it prematurely - euthanasia. On the other end, at what point do we simply allow a person to die – a living will?

What about euthanasia? The overriding truth that drives me to the conclusion that God is opposed to euthanasia is His sovereignty. We know that physical death is inevitable (Psalm 89:48; Hebrews 9:27). However, God alone is sovereign over when and how a person's death occurs. Job testifies in Job 30:23, "For I know that You (God) will bring me to death and to the house of meeting for all living." In Psalm 68:20, we read, "God is to us a God of deliverances; and to God the Lord belong escapes from death." Ecclesiastes 8:8a declares, "No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death." God has the final say over death (see also 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54-56; Hebrews 2:9, 14-15; Revelation 21:4). Euthanasia is man's way of trying to usurp that authority from God.

Death is a natural occurrence. Sometimes God allows a person to suffer long before death is realized; other times, the person's suffering is cut short. No one likes to suffer, but that does not make it right for us to determine that a person is ready to die. Often God's purposes are made known through a person's suffering. "In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider - God has made the one as well as the other so that man may not discover anything that will be after him" (Ecclesiastes 7:14). Romans 5:3 teaches that tribulations bring about perseverance. God cares about those who are crying out for death to end their suffering. God gives purpose to life even until the end. Only God knows what is best, and His timing even in one's death is perfect.

At the same time, the Bible does not command us to do everything we can to keep a person alive. If a person is being kept alive only by machines, it is not immoral to turn off the machines and allow the person to die. If a person has been in a persistent vegetative state for a prolonged period of time, I do not believe it would be an offense to God to remove whatever tubes / machines that are keeping the person alive. Should God desire to keep a person alive, He is perfectly capable of doing so without the help of feeding tubes and/or respirators.

As a person who has been through this situation, I truly feel for those who must make these life decisions. It is never easy to tell a doctor to suspend the life support of a loved one. We should never seek to prematurely end a life, but at the same time, neither do we have to preserve a life as long as possible. My best advice to anyone facing this decision is to pray to God for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what He would have you do.

On a practical note, I believe a living will is an excellent thing to have. A living will simply states your desires in regards to this issue. A person with a living will can state that he or she does or does not want to be kept on life-preserving machinery. A person with a living will can say what procedures he does and does not want done to preserve his life. A person with a living will can state what conditions he or she does or does not want to be kept in. Most importantly, a person with a living will can save his loved ones from having to make these painful and difficult decisions.

Recommended Resource: In His Image by Brand & Yancey.

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What does the Bible say about euthanasia and/or having a living will?