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What does the bible teach about Euthanasia?


Is mercy killing ever justifiable?

Thank you for asking a question on This is your Bible.

From Wikipedia:

Euthanasia (from the Greek eu = good + thanatos = death) refers to the practice of ending a life in a painless manner.

The Bible has no specific teaching on the matter but does have examples and principles from which a conclusion can be drawn.

Example

Jesus who should be the example for all who call themselves Christians willingly endured the pain of a most horrific death.

It seems likely that he even refused drugged wine to deaden the pain.

Matthew 27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

Mark 15:23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

Barnes says the following:

The two writers mean the same thing. Vinegar was made of light wine rendered acid, and was the common drink of the Roman soldiers; and this might be called either vinegar or wine, in common language. Myrrh is a bitter substance, produced in Arabia, but is used often to denote anything bitter. The meaning of the name is bitterness. Gall is, properly, a bitter secretion from the liver; but the word is also used to denote anything exceedingly bitter, as wormwood, etc. The drink, therefore, was vinegar or wine, rendered bitter by the infusion of wormwood, or some other very bitter substance. The effect of this, it is said, was to stupify the senses. It was often given to those crucified, to render them insensible to the pains of death. Our Lord knowing this, when he had tasted it, refused to drink, he was unwilling to blunt the pains of dying. The cup which his Father gave him he rather chose to drink, He came to suffer. His sorrows were necessary for the work of the atonement; and he gave himself up to the unmitigated sufferings of the cross. This drink was presented to him in the early part of his sufferings, or when he was about to be suspended on the cross. Afterward, when he was on the cross, and just before his death, vinegar was offered to him without the myrrh—the vinegar which the soldiers usually drank—and of this he received. See Mt 27:48 John 19:28-30. Where Matthew and Mark say that he "would not drink,” they refer to a different thing and a different time from John, and there is no contradiction.

Whether Barnes is correct or not, the willingness of Christ to accept the mode of his death as being the will of his Father is clear.

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

The principle

Those that have put on Christ have become sons and daughters of God and the principle is this:

John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Every son and daughter of God has their own cup to drink.

Job had this understanding in his sufferings.

Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

James holds Job up as an example of patient endurance in suffering for us to follow.

James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

This is not to suggest that we shouldn’t make use of painkillers when available, but in the matter of life and death it is God’s prerogative to give life and take it away.

The Bible records 2 assisted suicides (‘mercy’ killings) and 5 suicides:

Assisted suicides

Abimelech

Judges 9:52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.

53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull.

54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

Samson

Judges 16:29And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

Suicides

Saul

1 Samuel 31:4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.

Saul's armour-bearer

1 Samuel 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.

Ahithophel (A type of Judas)

2 Samuel 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.

Zimri

1 Kings 16:18And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died,

19 For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.

Judas

Matthew 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

The death of Saul provides an insight into David’s view of assisted suicide.

After Saul’s death an Amalekite comes with a tissue of lies thinking to win David’s favour for supposedly complying with Saul’s request and helping him to die.

David’s response is instructive in that he was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (Acts 13:22)

2 Samuel 1:9 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.

10 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.

14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD‘S anointed?

15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.

16 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.

That the man had supposedly done what Saul requested was not deemed, in David’s view, to mitigate the killing.

The Bible records that four men asked to God to kill them.

Moses

Numbers 11:15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

Job

Job 6:9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!

Elijah

1 Kings 19:4But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Jonah

Jonah 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

All recognised that the prerogative to take their lives was God’s alone.

None proposed to take their own life.

This should be the position of those who are baptised into Christ.

We are bought with the price of Christ’s suffering and our bodies no longer belong to us to do with what we will.

In Christ our will is to be subjugated to the will of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

In death as in life we should submit to the hand of God and endure what God brings upon us.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

We should follow Christ’s example and look to the joy set before us.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Knowing that nothing that we suffer will separate us from the love of God.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith

 
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