by Pastor Art Kohl

The Bible Speaks On Euthanasia

One of the topics in the political arena today is in regards to physician assisted suicide—Euthanasia. Two definitions of Euthanasia are in vogue today.

First— from the dictionary—“Easy painless death. A painless killing esp. to end a painful and incurable disease.”

Second— from current societal evolution—“physician assisted suicide, mercy killing.”

Most reading this know of “Dr. Death,” Dr. Jack Kevorkian from Michigan. The state of Oregon is actually the state trying to blaze the trail in the United States. The following excerpt is from an article by Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship ministries:

“Last week Oregonians blazed a new Oregon trail: They voted to retain the state’s physician-assisted suicide law. Overnight Oregon became the only place in the world where physicians are legally empowered to help patients kill themselves. Doctors may now throw out the Hippocratic Oath and ask themselves: “Which hat shall I wear today- the white hat of mercy or the black hat of death?” Both supporters and opponents of the law describe Oregon as a laboratory in which the viability of physician-assisted suicide will be tested. If the experiment is deemed successful, however, the chilling result will go far beyond Oregon’s borders: The Supreme Court may use the Oregon law to legalize assisted suicide. The Supreme court tipped its hand last June in a case called Washington v. Glucksberg, in which it unanimously ruled that there’s no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. That sounds like good news—but in reality this ruling meant only that the justices were still a little squeamish: They were not quite ready yet to embrace a constitutional right to physician assisted suicide. Justice Seuter in particular said he first wanted to see how the law works out in places like Oregon. There was no discussion about whether the Constitution permits it- just how it works. And if the law seems to work out—well, the justices may then decide to impose this new world disorder on all Americans.”

Needless to say, the ramifications of legalizing physician assisted suicide are almost like a horror movie. The thought of what it might lead to frightens most thinking people.

Does the Bible address suicide? Physician assisted suicide? Death? Mercy killing? Let’s see:

1. Man is a body, soul and spirit.

I Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When Jesus died His body was placed in a tomb (Matthew 27:60), His soul went into Hell to preach to the departed ones in prison (Acts 2:27) and His spirit went into Heaven (Luke 23:46).

2. God owns the spirits of all flesh.

Numbers 16:22, “And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?”

Numbers 27:16, “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,”

Hebrews 12:23, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”

3. God has appointed a time for all to die.

Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 7:17, “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?”

4. Death is when the spirit leaves the body. This is an act of God.

Ecclesiastes 8:8, “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.”

James 2:26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The Lord even sees when a sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29). Although animals do not have a soul they do have spirits (Ecclesiastes 3:21).

5. Euthanasia is the taking of a life before God’s time.

Only the government has been given authority by God to take a person’s life and that is only in the case of Capital Punishment. (See chapter five.) Physicians are nowhere in Scripture given authority by God to take someone’s life. Apart from the government in the case of capital punishment, all other human beings are given the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” Exodus 20:13 and “Thou shalt do no murder,” Matthew 19:18.

6. Assisting a suicide is putting oneself in the place of God.

As we have seen, the taking of the spirit from the body is something done by God in His time. This is God’s business, not ours or a physicians.

7. What about pain?

Often those in favor of euthanasia use the words “mercy” and “compassion” as their argument.

The Scriptures authorize man to treat the pain but do not authorize taking the life of the dying.

Proverbs 31:6, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Today we have many drugs and painkillers that help relieve some pain as strong drink did in Solomon’s day.

In November, 1997, Gary Eisler, who lives in Oregon, wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. In poignant words, Eisler describes the slow, painful death from cancer of his beloved wife, Bonnie. When the cancer spread from Mrs. Eisler’s breast to her brain, her doctor recommended that all treatment be stopped. Bonnie Eisler spent the last two months of her life in agonizing pain. And yet, Eisler says, many “wonderful things” happened during that time: the birth of their first grandchild, a last Christmas together. Despite his wife’s suffering, Eisler writes that their last hours together were “some of the most intimate and precious of our marriage.... Reason and compassion would have dictated that Bonnie’s life be ended weeks earlier,” Eisler says, “but how much poorer everyone—including her—would have been.” Eisler ends his piece with a warning. Unless assisted suicide is repealed, he predicts, “it will not be long before the vultures begin circling.” Cancer treatment, after all, is expensive. If Bonnie Eisler had known the cost of her treatments, her husband says, “she might well have felt she was a burden” and opted to kill herself. Eisler asks one final question: “Will what has been ‘optional’ someday become ‘suggested’— and perhaps eventually required?”

8. Biblical accounts of suicide:

• Abimelech’s suicide assisted by his armorbearer.

Judges 9:50-55, “Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. 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.”

Note two things about this story. First- the Bible is a history book. It does not condone what the armorbearer does here, it just reports it. Second, during the days of the judges, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6;21:25)

• King Soul commits suicide. His armorbearer refuses to assist him.

I 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.”

• Ahithophel kills himself.

II 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 kills himself.

I Kings 16:18, “And 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,”

• The most notorious human being in human history, Judas Iscariot, kills himself.

Matthew 27:5, “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Acts 1:18-20, “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

The Bible is a history book. It records these suicides but makes it clear suicide is wrong. Except in the case of capital punishment administered by the government, the taking of any life, even our own before God’s time, is wrong. We are nowhere in Scripture authorized to take our own lives.

Besides what the Scriptures say most physicians have bound themselves to an oath. The oath is called the Hippocratic Oath.

A part of this oath states: “I will never give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” Those of us who value life must pay close attention to the way the news media depict Oregon’s pioneering new law. We must be ready to set the record straight every time media portray physician assisted suicide as an act of “compassion,” as they surely will in the dark days ahead.

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