Must Terminally Ill Christians Artificially Prolong Life?
Life-and-death issues are some of the most difficult decisions that we may ever have to make. This one is a question many are facing.
Since the Bible does not provide specific answers to many questions of this nature, scriptural principles must be sought in order to assist us in making crucial decisions. Let us consider several matters.
Life Is a Gift from God
First, we are bound to acknowledge that biological life is a gift from God (Acts 17:25; 1 Tim. 6:13).
No person, therefore, ever has the arbitrary right to destroy that life—either by suicide or homicide. This includes the practice that is euphemistically called “euthanasia”. Mercy-killing is wrong. One must not infringe upon divine territory. See our work Biblical Ethics and Modern Science.
Death Is Unavoidable
Both experience and the Scriptures teach that death is the inevitable destiny of all men. Everyone alive today will die except for those who will be alive when Christ returns (cf. 1 Thess. 4:15).
As a result of sin, death has passed to all men (Rom. 5:12). Hence, it is appointed unto man once to die (Heb. 9:27). With good health habits and sound medical procedures, we may delay the grim reaper for a while, but the fact is we all are terminal!
What Should I Do If I Receive a Terminal Diagnosis?
But what does someone do if he is informed that he has terminal cancer?
Suppose the physician tells you, “With chemotherapy, you may be able to live a year. Without it, you will have two to three months.”
Is the Christian obligated to subject himself to sickening treatment for the sake of a few months more?
Do we love this earth and dread heaven that much? We certainly have the option of treatment, but there is nothing in the Scriptures that would require it.
And what of the accident victim who is “brain-dead,” but whose bodily functions are being maintained by sophisticated machinery? Must a Christian family maintain a loved one in a state of suspended animation for years? There is nothing in the Bible that would demand that.
Where is our hope really focused? There is something to be said for the quality of life. Sometimes the best thing we can do is let a loved-one go on home to be with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).