Does the Bible say anything about euthanasia?

Watching anyone, especially a loved one, suffer is extremely difficult. Suffering is a result of the fall, and it is natural to want to avoid it. Wanting to end suffering through euthanasia, however, opposes two of God's principles.

The first relates to the importance of suffering. In Philippians 1:19-26, Paul writes,

for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

When he wrote this, Paul was under house arrest in Rome. His movements were limited, although he could receive guests. He would have welcomed death—a heavenly euthanasia. But he understood how little suffering mattered compared to God's plan in his life. Several years later, Paul was imprisoned again. He was not under house arrest this time, but in a stone cell. Most of his companions had deserted him. His closest friends were miles away, ministering to others. Despite these horrible conditions, he wrote to Timothy, "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10). Again, Paul knew God had a plan. In order to fulfill that plan, Paul needed to be in a dark, dank prison cell. That being the case, Paul was willing to suffer.

We, too, need to have faith that God's plan for those who suffer is in their best interests. They may have to live through difficult seasons of pain and disease and exhibit great humility as others care for them. They may even have to stay on this earth longer than they'd wish to. Even in the midst of the suffering, God is working, and will continue until we draw our very last breath (Philippians 1:6).

The second truth euthanasia opposes is the sovereignty of God in His creations. God ordains the days of our lives (Psalm 139:16). Death is inevitable (Psalm 89:48), but it is also controlled (Hebrews 9:27). And active euthanasia is murder. Even when motivated by the most selfless desire to end someone's suffering, active euthanasia is still sin because it is done in rebellion to God's will and in rejection of His plan.

But causing a death and allowing a death are not the same. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to go to extraordinary measures to save a life if the person wishes otherwise. It is not unbiblical to shut off machines that keep a person alive. If the person has made his or her wishes known in a living will, or is in a persistent vegetative state, it may even be the duty of a loved one to make that call. Reluctance would be natural. Death was not God's plan for His creation (Genesis 2:17).

Death is inevitable, but it is not our place to actively seek death for a loved one. Like Paul, we need to believe God when He says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). God has control over the timing of our death (Psalm 89:48). Until then, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 150:6).

Related Truth:

Does life have meaning?

Is sickness ever part of God's will for believers?

What does it mean to be fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)?

What should be the Christian view of cloning?

Does the Bible talk about cremation?

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