As social movements founded upon secular worldviews begin to gain more traction around the world, Christians are now forced to engage in a debate on what once seemed to be common sense: euthanasia. Literally translated from the Greek words meaning “good death,” the concept is based upon the idea that either allowing a person passively die or commit suicide with or without the assistance of a doctor should be permitted on the basis that it could end the suffering of a patient with a terminal illness.
Secular liberals believe that we should allow this practice, campaigning with slogans such as “death with dignity,” “dying gracefully,” and “compassion in dying.” Borrowing an argument from the abortion debate, those who support euthanasia claim that we should have the choice in deciding whether to live or die in these circumstances, considering that there may be no cure for a painful condition which will ultimately lead to death.
Such proponents often draw parallels saying that if we euthanize animals to end their suffering, there is no difference in why we should end the lives of people. Furthermore, they claim that euthanasia would only be allowed in the “hard cases,” advocating for guidelines to prevent any abuses to the practice, thus allowing patients an alternative to long, drawn-out suffering.
For those with a Biblical Worldview, the Bible clearly illustrates principles which lead us to conclude that euthanasia is a practice we cannot allow. In Genesis 1:26 we learn that man was created in the image of God. Throughout creation week when God formed our universe, He commanded things into existence by fiat. On the sixth day, however, God became personally involved in crafting man, leading us to understand the sanctity of human life. Later in the Bible during Exodus 20:13, God affirms the sacredness of human life when bestowing upon us the ten commandments, specifically ordering us not to murder. In some cases, proponents of euthanasia have advocated for the right to family members to determine whether to keep a someone on life support or let them die. In this case, there is little difference between murder and making the choice to end the life of another person without their consent.
In circumstances where patients are able to volunteer for euthanasia, advocates will argue that committing suicide is a preferable option to suffering from terminal illnesses. In Romans 8:28, however, we learn that God has a purpose for everything we go through in life. Later in Romans 11:33 we learn that there is futility in attempting to understand the inscrutable judgements of the Lord, and for that reason we cannot argue with our destiny, but only submit to His will. That being said, ending our life in whatever circumstances would be directly against the will of the Lord because he is sovereign over life and death. In Job 1:21 the Bible clearly states that only God gives life, and God takes it away. For man to attempt to usurp the power of God would be directly against His will since we would not yet have been called to His kingdom.
Even while the scriptures undoubtedly indicate that euthanasia is against the will of God, those with a Biblical worldview should understand that the implications of replacing a sanctity of life ethic with a quality of life ethic is detrimental to our society. Because an argument for euthanasia is predicated on the idea that life is worthless when you’re sick, society begins to view weaker members as expendable.
Secular activists may claim that they are being compassionate by allowing people to end their lives, but what they are really doing is forcing patients into a position where they have a duty to die. For the elderly person on life support in the hospital, they will now be put into a position where they feel like they are a burden to their family taking care of them and will ask to end their life for the sake of those they leave behind. No longer is life sacred but instead is labeled with a price tag. They may try to justify their decision with the understanding that their illness is incurable, but what if the diagnosis was wrong? More often than not, doctors are unable to determine the exact illness that a patient is suffering from and will often change their determination based on the development of new symptoms or the alleviation of old ones.
In one case, a woman named Karen Ann Quinlan was on life support while stuck in a persistent vegetative state, until her family decided to pull her off. Ouinlan managed to live another 10 years from when they thought it was futile to attempt to keep her alive. In our role as the family of people in these situations, we have no right to decide for them whether or not they should live or die. That is a matter for God to decide, and our purpose will simply be to love our brothers and sisters by helping them through this time. In the case of voluntary euthanasia, the Bible clearly indicates that the practice is against God’s will, and we should be offering hospice care to preserve life instead of playing God and attempting to end it. God does not make mistakes and our circumstances are never without purpose. Doctors must be trained to accommodate these situations as comforters and healers—not as mercy killers.