I officiated my first funeral recently, as I was bedside much of the time; this question was posed to me after the funeral by lay leaders… Humane to take life?
The Problem: In recent years the “right to die” has been debated. This has led to several controversial judicial cases, as well as to confusion in the medical field.
I. Alternative views
Mercy death-This view hold that a person in violent pain, a less than functioning life, or facing imminent death should have the right to die or rather be put to death medically for the benefit of the victim or their families.
Personal Choice-This view hold that only an individual may make the decision on whether they would like to be killed. This view prohibits others from making that decision.
Obligation to live- This view hold that everyone should strive to live for as long as possible. Neither the Patient, Doctor nor family should cause death to a person. There is a distinction made between “cause death” and “let die” in this view.
II. Sources of Authority
Ps 71:7-11 NASU
I have become a marvel to many,For You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise And with Your glory all day long. Do not cast me off in the time of old age;Do not forsake me when my strength fails. For my enemies have spoken against me;And those who watch for my life have consulted together, Saying, “God has forsaken him;Pursue and seize him, for there is no one to deliver.”
Deut 32:39 NASU
39’See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.
Gen 9:5-6 NASU
5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
B. Notable Quotes
am not unaware of the poor-spirited fear which prompts us to choose rather to live long in fear of so many deaths, than to die once and so escape them all; but the weak and cowardly shrinking of the flesh is one thing, and the well-considered and reasonable persuasion of the soul quite another. That death is not to be judged an evil which is the end of a good life; for death becomes evil only by the retribution which follows it. They, then, who are destined to die, need not be careful to inquire what death they are to die, but into what place death will usher them. And since Christians are well aware that the death of the godly pauper whose sores the dogs licked was far better than of the wicked rich man who lay in purple and fine linen, what harm could these terrific deaths do to the dead who had lived well? (www.newadvent.org/fathers/120101.htm)
(When asked when he wanted to suffocate a handicapped boy”…
“Because I think he’s simply a mass of flesh without a soul. Couldn’t the devil have done this, inasmuch as he gives such shape to the body and mind even of those who have reason that in their obsession they hear, see, and feel nothing? The devil is himself their soul. The power of the devil is great when in this way he holds the minds of all men captive, but he doesn’t dare give full vent to the power on account of the angels.” (www.independentliving.org/docs7/miles2005b.html#boy)
[A]merica should be hanging its head in shame because of its complicity in the horrible death of Terri Schiavo, a woman’s whose body committed no crime, no matter what the laws of our land may say concerning euthanasia, and no matter that America slouches toward a culture of selfishness even in death, God is the ultimate authority over life and death.”
While it is obvious that death is part of life, we must never be the cause of innocent death. Scripture teaches that it is God who has set the time for man to die. For anyone to take innocent live is always wrong. Mercy in death is God’s choice alone.