Mercy Killing: What the Bible Says about Euthanasia
Euthanasia is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “the act or method of causing death painlessly, so as to end suffering; advocated by some as a way to deal with persons dying of incurable, painful diseases.”
According to this definition, we see that this is a form of murder because it advocates one or more human beings deciding when another human being should die, and then assisting them in that process. Although, on the surface this type of death may seem better than living, when someone is suffering; there are grave consequences as man takes the position of God when it comes to dealing with life and death issues. The Bible was given to mankind so that we would know what the will of God is in matters such as this.
Importance of What the Bible Says about Euthanasia
At the time of this writing, there was a case being brought before the courts in the USA in regard to a woman named Terri Schiavo, who just four days ago had a feeding tube removed by a court order. Terri’s husband, who is her legal guardian, claims she voiced that she never wanted to be kept alive by artificial support if anything ever happened to her. The doctors have declared she is in a persistent vegetative state because of severe brain damage due to her collapse 15 years ago, even though she has been alert and conscious of her surroundings up to the present time. Others in the medical field disagree. Terri’s mother and father have been caring for her since this happened, as she has needed the assistance of a feeding tube to keep her alive. She is not dying, so this is not a “right to die” case (she has been alive for 15 years, she just needs to be fed. Babies all have to be fed and we do not consider them a burden). The parents have challenged the husband’s right to demand she be allowed no food or water, which will lead to her death by starvation. They are declaring that Terri’s rights are being violated since she is a Roman Catholic Christian. They are willing to care for her so the husband is not burdened at all. All of America has been following this story with divided opinions about the matter. Does the Bible give us answers for this complex case?
All true Christians would agree that life is the most precious gift that human beings have been given. Just the chance to be alive on this earth and play a part in the grand scheme of God’s eternal plan is a privilege indeed. The Bible clearly teaches that all life is of infinite value, regardless of its duration or quality, because all human beings are made in the image of God. Yet, despite this, there are times when life becomes so difficult or unbearable that people have tried to deal with these problems without God’s guidance and leading. Seeing a loved one suffer, where a doctor has pronounced there is no hope for them to live, is one of those issues.
The God of the Bible is a God of life, not death. All forms of euthanasia, also known as mercy killing and assisted suicide, are considered the same as acts of murder in the Bible. Saving someone from pain is not a reason to kill them, nor is it lawful to kill oneself to save oneself from pain. God has made a way for us to overcome sickness, suffering and pain by His death on the cross. He has promised deliverance and healing to all that come to Him in faith. When someone is a party to taking another’s life, it is a direct act of not only murder, but idolatry as well, for they assume the role of God. The Bible says in:
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19-20
According to these scriptures, it is God who gives us life and sets the length of our days according to His plans for us, and our response to that plan. When any human being chooses death for another and does not try to preserve life, it is murder. That is also the reason that abortion is murder as well. When a woman chooses to destroy her own child, she chooses death for that baby and is guilty of breaking the sixth commandment found in Exodus 20:13: “Thou shalt not kill.”
We are not to murder each other, or ourselves. God created human beings in His image and each of us carries within us the potential to overcome the evil in this world. If we are Christians, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to God. We are overseers of our bodies and our lives (which belong to Him), and we are responsible to guard that which has been entrusted to us. Euthanasia is a grievous sin that seriously hurts both the heart of God and others as well. Jesus is the great Healer and Miracle Worker and when we take matters into our own hands, we deny the power of God.
When anyone considers mercy killing, they are directly denying the power of life that God has put so strongly into His creation. Everywhere we look, we see life growing, even in the most hostile environments. This “survival instinct” is a gift from God. In fact, if He didn’t bestow this gift upon His creation, there probably wouldn’t be any life on this planet at all! Euthanasia, then, is directly contrary to the will of God, and originated in the realm of the demonic host, who come only to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). It is demonic influence that tempts men to kill others. As Christians, we have power over the devil and we are told to overcome him in the name of the Lord!
Is there an example of assisted suicide in the Bible
There is an account of requested euthanasia (in which one person asks another to kill them, in order to alleviate the first person’s suffering) involving King Saul and an Amalekite. The unnamed Amalekite tells King David that he killed Saul at Saul’s request, as Saul was wounded in battle. David’s response is to kill the Amalekite for touching God’s anointed. If euthanasia were a beneficial practice, David would have rewarded the Amalekite, not sentenced him to death because of his deed.
And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him: And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed? And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD’S anointed. And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son… 2 Samuel 1:8-17
How should Christians respond to the fear (or reality) of pain and suffering
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me… Psalm 23:4
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble…, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…. And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you…. Do not fear, or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:6,8
He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Romans 8:32,35,37
How should Christians respond to personal challenges, disabilities and infirmities
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9
…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am…I can do all things through Him who strengthens me…. And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:11,13,19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 34:19
According to these verses, the Lord promises to deliver us and give us His grace and strength, no matter what we may face. Even if we suffer in this life, there is coming a day we will no longer suffer and God will make all things new.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:3-4
How should we respond to suffering
That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
In this world we all experience suffering. However, God sent Jesus to redeem us from the suffering that Satan put upon mankind. Perhaps one of the things that causes us to think that God is behind all suffering is that we do not understand the different forms of suffering. The Greek word for suffering means to “bear” or “endure.” When we first come to the Lord, most of our suffering is because we have broken spiritual and physical laws. Therefore, we are suffering as a result of these broken laws. This form of suffering comes upon the Christian and the non-Christian alike. However, if we walk with the Lord, He will lead us out of this kind of suffering, as it is the result of sin. Jesus suffered on the cross to relieve us of this. Types of this suffering would be sickness, depression, fear, poverty, filth, torment, emotional pain stemming from divorce or broken relationships, anxiety, loneliness, grief, stress, disorder, confusion, etc. This kind of suffering we are to resist and ask God, in faith, to deliver us and heal us. We should also pray for others who suffer in the same way. God wants to extend His grace and love through us to a hurting world.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
There is a suffering that is redemptive and it is part of our call as Christians. How do we suffer for Christ today? We suffer for Christ by staying in a hard place, rather than fleeing, in hopes that redemption might come to those that misunderstand us. We suffer for Christ when we choose to fast instead of eat; when we leave our comfortable homes and go to mission fields that are filthy and pagan; when we turn the other cheek; when we pay a bill that is not our own; when we “go the second mile”; when we rise at the midnight hour to pray; and when we minister to others when it is not convenient for us. There are many forms of suffering that are just as valid as the stripes the Apostle Paul bore for the Lord’s sake. We can endure emotional and physical pain as we give up the things we could have in this world for the kingdom of God’s sake.
However, suffering with sickness is not a form of suffering for Christ, as Jesus paid the price on Calvary, not only for our sin, but also for our sickness. He does not want us to keep our sickness any more than He wants us to keep our sin. If He paid for it on the cross, then He does not want us to bear it today.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Does the Bible ever authorize the killing of other human beings?
How does the Bible answer the question “By what standard does man have the right to end the life of another human being created in the image of God?” The answer is: God alone gives life, and He alone may take life or delegate to another the authority to take life on His behalf. The mind of God on the matter of taking life is clearly revealed through Holy Scripture which is the final authority on the issue. Scripture distinguishes between justifiable killing and murder. The Bible indicates that man may take the life of another in four and only four circumstances: Where necessary, man may take life in defense of self, in defense of others, and acting in defense of one’s nation against foreign aggressors. Finally, the state has the civil duty to execute criminals who have been properly convicted of capital crimes. There are no other biblical grounds for taking the life of another person. Note that individuals do not have absolute rights to their own bodies. God is the owner of our bodies, which we hold in trust for Him. This is why suicide — self killing — has always been viewed as a murder, in violation of the Sixth Commandment.
Are we given the right to choose to end our lives, since it is our body
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that is what you are. 1 Corinthians 3:16,17
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
If we are not given this right, then we cannot exercise this right in helping someone else die. Humanism teaches that we have a right to do what we want to do with our own bodies, but the Bible tells us that our bodies belong to God, therefore we only have a right to do what He tells us to do with our bodies. Abortion, suicide and euthanasia are all sins.
Is it acceptable for a Christian, who is terminally ill, to refuse available technology in order to let nature take its course and bring about a natural death? What should be the position of a Christian doctor in these cases?
Since doctors have a duty to preserve life, they usually use every means available to them to save a patient’s life – even if the patient doesn’t want them to. Due to the Hippocratic Oath that a doctor takes to preserve life, they cannot do anything that hastens death; however, if a doctor is absolutely sure death is imminent and “if there is something which is preventing the soul from departing,” a doctor can remove artificial assistance or whatever is preventing the dying person’s soul from departing. Which means if something is an impediment to the natural process of death and the patient only survives because of it, he is permitted to withdraw that thing if the family agrees.
However, Christian doctors have a higher calling than normal physicians, as they will not only be concerned about the person’s physical condition, but will also be concerned about their spiritual condition. People who die that know the Lord, will be ushered into heaven, while those who do not know the Lord are destined to go to hell. Keeping someone alive, who is not saved, gives them the opportunity to accept the Savior’s grace.
I have personally heard a number of Christian testimonies of those who prayed for a Christian family member who was suffering with a terminal illness in this manner, “Lord, either heal them, or take them on home.” God responded to their prayers and faith and some were healed, while others were taken home to heaven, where there is no sickness or pain, so they received the ultimate healing. Neither the family, nor doctors, had to make any decisions about what to do, as the Lord intervened in answer to their prayers.
Older saints who have finished their course on this earth and have now arrived at God’s ordained time for their departure, will not want to artificially prolong their lives on this earth, as a new life in heaven awaits them. God promises long life to those who serve Him; however, there is a time to die for every man.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — a time to give birth, and a time to die. Ecclesiastes 3:1,2
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones. Psalm 116:15
And in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me. Psalm 139:16
With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.Psalm 91:16
The acts of assisted suicide and euthanasia deny God the opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s healing power.
And when evening had come, they brought to Him (Jesus) many who were demon-possessed; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. Matthew 8:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16
There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. Acts 5:16
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. Acts 2:21-22
Those who claim they want to alleviate another’s suffering by agreeing with euthanasia are actually denying the power of God to heal or perform a miracle.
My personal commentary about the matter:
I personally believe that the soul of our nation is on trial in regard to the Terri Schiavo case. How we respond to the issues of this day, will be the measure of what we shall reap in the future. When the people in our nation were polled by the news agencies and asked if they agreed with Michael Schiavo’s position that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube should be removed according to the law, and over 70 percent agreed that it should be done, this brought fear to my heart for our nation. You see, we reap what we sow in thought and deeds. This answer is demonstrating that a culture of death has now pervaded our country.
We can understand where the doctors, judges, congressmen and women and people are coming from when they strictly look at this from a logical and legal position. However, they are missing several other factors. This is not something in which mere logic can produce an answer, because we have a spiritual factor here also. Terri is a spiritual being, so is her husband, as well as the parents and her family, plus all the parties involved and we all must answer to God for our actions and attitudes before Him.
How can the courts uphold the guardianship rights of a husband who is an open adulterer and has violated those rights? He is not acting properly as a husband who took vows to love his wife in sickness and in health; therefore, he could not possibly make sure that Terri rights are upheld, when he has violated them himself by his own actions as an unfaithful husband.
It blesses me to see a mother and father who have a heart of compassion for their brain-damaged daughter, when so many people today are aborting their babies simply because they are an inconvenience to their own selfish lifestyles. It must please God to see a mother and father who want to care for their child, in spite of the trouble she poses for them. I pray God gives them a miracle, but most of all I pray for our nation to return to goodness and repent from our hard heartedness. We are reaping the results of hard heartedness in our society now; the violence in our streets, the corruption in our politics, the unrestrained lust that robs others; these all began as heart attitudes. We need Jesus to change our hearts so that we once again love our neighbors as ourselves. Love does not murder the innocent and helpless.
What does the Bible say about a situation like the Terri Schiavo case
In the New Testament when the law and mercy came into conflict in regard to a certain issue, we find that Jesus chose mercy against the law. It also made those people with hard hearts mad when He chose to show compassion to a needy man.
And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:1-11
Another account that shows how Jesus feels about helping those that are weak, helpless or in need is found in Matthew 25. In this story, He tells us that when we reach out and minister to others, it is the same as if we were ministering to Him. He also tells us that when we refuse to reach out to the needy, the hungry and the thirsty, we are refusing to help Him, and the consequences for this, is separation from God and everlasting punishment. True Christians will always demonstrate mercy and compassion to a hurting world because they will have the heart of God residing in them.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25:34-46
The Bible tells us to choose life. When we will agree that a woman should be starved to death because it is the law, it is time to change the law. We need to change our laws to agree with the laws of God, the true and righteous Judge. When we learn to live by God’s commandments, then we will not face these kinds of things. When we honor and obey the Ten Commandments, we will be blessed as a nation. When we vote for death of our babies through abortion, and now we begin agreeing for death by euthanasia because someone is brain-damaged; where will it end? Those who agree with death may find it on their doorstep sooner than they think, as this kind of mentality in our nation will bring us closer to judgment day. We reap what we sow.
To me, this is just another test to reveal the soul of our nation. Are we going to have a culture of death that will produce more death or are we going to choose life? Do we want to embrace euthanasia in our country along with abortion or do we want “heart”? We must not side with the part of our nation that encourages euthanasia, as life and death are in the spiritual realm. The Bible says in Revelation 1:18, “I (Jesus) am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Let’s leave the keys in His hands. Church, pray! We need to stand against the culture of death that is trying to prevail in the earth.
*Terri Schiavo died of forced starvation after 13 days by a court order on March 31, 2005
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