The human being was created perfect by God, able to survive eternally when it had access to the fruit of the “tree of life”, with restoring properties, found in the Garden of Eden. When they disobeyed God, our ancestors were no longer able to maintain their survival with the fruit of this tree. One day, in the future, the human race will again have access to it (Genesis 3:22, Revelation 22:2).
We are, therefore, exposed to physical death because of that original sin, and it can hit us from our youngest age, through the most varied causes. However, man is forbidden from taking human life himself. God ordained that “Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed”: blood here means his life (Genesis 9:6). This was confirmed by God to the people of Israel with the sixth of the Ten Commandments He wrote for Moses: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The death sentence was confirmed, not only for this crime, but also for others in God’s statutes to His people which followed later. It is therefore clear that the murderer is condemned in the commandment “you shall not murder”, but not the death sentence.
Euthanasia consists in killing a human being to save him from suffering. The first case of euthanasia we know of in the Bible was told by a young warrior to commander David after a battle. He explained that he had killed Saul at his request to avoid further suffering, because he was in the anguish of death (2 Samuel 1:2–16). Rather than condoning what he had done, David with his authority of commander and military judge ordered his execution, because the young man had not been afraid to put forth his hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed.
Modern euthanasia, a kind of medical humanism, consists in killing a patient by giving him a lethal injection of narcotic and toxic substances. To cover themselves legally, those responsible generally obtain the agreement of the patient or of those responsible for him. If an initial dose of toxic “treatment” isn’t sufficient to “terminate” the patient, greater and greater doses are applied until his death.
Euthanasia is justified only as the logical sequence of the adoption of the theory of evolution, and the consequent rejection of the authority of God in the Bible. Believing in the theories of Darwin (which require much “faith”, by the way), the absolute concepts of God contained in His word become relative or even inconsequential, and good and evil become a question of individual opinion. After all, if we are just the result of evolution throughout the ages, we can decide for ourselves what is right and nobody else can tell us what to do.
Only God has the right to take human life, except in the cases where He delegated authority to man to do it. As God gave life, nobody can take it away, even his own. Euthanasia violates the holy law of God, and any society which allows it will be subject to His judgement.
But euthanasia does not consist is disconnecting equipment in intensive care units which may be artificially prolonging the dying process. The basic difference is that, if the patient survives the disconnection, there will be no attempt to make him die in some other way: if there were, then it would be euthanasia. For example, the disconnection of breathing and feeding equipment from a patient isn’t intended to kill him, because if he continues to live there is nothing needed for him to breathe or feed himself naturally.
Science has developed in an extraordinary way over the last decades, allowing a great change in the treatment of diseases, with a view to prolonging human life and overcoming deficiencies, some of them mortal if these resources are not used.
Then from the Biblical point of view we must ask ourselves: up to what point is it acceptable to use these resources to prolong life?
God has dominion over the universe, and this includes disease in the human body. He has provided our bodies with means of defence which, on their own, or with the help of chemical substances, can avoid or fight diseases. For example, king Hezekiah prayed asking for healing and God did what he asked for, but by means of a poultice made of a lump of figs which the prophet Isaiah instructed to be applied on the ulcer so that it might be healed (Isaiah 38:21). God had given him healing, so why was there need for a poultice? God was introducing a principle: when we are sick, let us pray to God, but let us also use the remedies available to us.
The use of doctors and medicines is never condemned in the Bible, on the contrary, it is recommended many times. The human body, however, is perishable and will one day die in spite of efforts made to prolong life. The diseases are acquired from the environment, often through deficiency in the immune system for defending the organism, or even because of lack of it in some cases. We are now far from the perfection there was when man was first created.
We, the believers in Christ, know that our sojourn here is ephemeral, and that we ought not to worry with our life in this world. It is in the hands of God, and our tribulations have a useful purpose for us and for others. Let us by all means look after our health, like good trustees of that which God has given us. Let us make use of the resources which are within our reach, but bearing in mind that God is sovereign, let us always gladly be submissive to His will.
As to our helping others, we must love our neighbour like ourselves. Let us remember the parable of the good Samaritan, who took care of the Jew who had been abandoned as dead by the teacher of the law and the priest. If we can be useful in restoring the health of our neighbour, let us follow the example of the Samaritan, even if we have to resort to the most modern equipment.
But the decision to stop the supply of resources, such as by disconnecting equipment for breathing and feeding will always be difficult, specially if it is known that it will result in the death of the patient because his body is no longer viable. If he is a believer, it is not so bad, because he will pass into the presence of God where he will be much better. If he is an unbeliever, let us endeavour to take him to Christ to save his soul. If his brain is already paralyzed, dead, his eternal state has already been determined, relieving those looking after him from the burden of his soul.
In short, we must care for our health and that of our neighbour within our possibility, with a view to the glory of God. To withdraw artificial means of sustaining somebody’s life requires deep reflection, but if it is decided that it must be done, this does not consist in murder.