Question: "What does the Bible say about euthanasia and/or having a living will?"
Answer: Euthanasia can be 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. On the other end, at what point do we simply allow a person to die and take no further action to preserve life?
The overriding truth that drives 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, “I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.” Ecclesiastes 8:8a declares, “No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his 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 for a long time before death occurs; other times, the person's suffering is cut short. No one enjoys suffering, but that does not make it right to determine that a person is ready to die. Often God's purposes are made known through a person's suffering. “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other…” (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 to the end. Only God knows what is best, and His timing, even in the matter of 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, it would not be an offense to God to remove whatever tubes/machines that are keeping the person’s body alive. Should God desire to keep a person alive, He is perfectly capable of doing so without the help of feeding tubes and/or machines.
Making a decision like this one is very difficult and painful. It is never easy to tell a doctor to end 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 go to extraordinary means to preserve a life. The best advice to anyone facing this decision is to pray to God for wisdom (James 1:5).
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