Even though, many Christians hide behind Deuteronomy 32:39 ("There is no God besides me, I put to death and I bring to life"), saying it’s all in God’s domain, Christians have a lot to say on issues of life-and-death.
Abortion? Pro-life. Euthanasia? Pro-Life. Death Penalty? Pro-Death. War? Pro-democracy.
Right now I’m just tackling one: euthanasia- the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment. (Dictionary.com).
I know the “Christian” stance on this was pretty clear, but like any good Christian, I wanted to see on what basis Christians consider euthanasia sinful. I don’t want this to be an argument for or against euthanasia but more about what the Bible says or doesn’t say about it and how Christians distort the message for their own political agenda, typically with gaping holes in logic. I have found many websites but there’s just one I’m writing about now for space and time. It’s called A Christian Response to Euthanasia. Here are some of its arguments:
Argument 1: “God is sovereign over life and death: we have no jurisdiction in this area, therefore we have no mandate to end lives.” If God presides over life and death, under the same token, we have no mandate to save lives. Therefore, to withhold medical treatment would be just as justifiable as giving it- or just as unjustifiable.
Furthermore, the verse where this idea comes from, Deuteronomy 32:39, is taken out of context. Chapter 32 is a song sung by Moses right after God told Moses that he would die soon and that Moses’ people, the Israelites, would succumb to the lives of sin that they were used to. The entire verse is:
“See now that I , even I, am he; there is no god besides me, I kill and I make alive; I would and I heal; And no one can deliver from my hand.”
It’s a warning to the people to not sin, because, as a reminder, God is really powerful. If you get on his bad side, he will smite you up your little hiny. The verse says nothing about the people’s power to wound and heal, to kill and make alive- which we all know is possible and not always sinful. It’s and just like in everyday life when someone steps on your toe or when mom puts a band-aid on your boo-boo. This is wounding and healing, which God is ultimately in control of but which, of course, humans play a part in. The verse has NOTHING to do with euthanasia, and saying it does is just misinterpreting the Bible.
What the Bible really means by saying "God is sovereign over life and death" is that you can’t kill or revive someone against God’s will. So if God really wanted this person alive, you couldn’t euthanize them anyway. The Bible offers no mandate in this verse or chapter about not interfering with matters of life and death. God doesn’t smite all physicians, for example.
Argument 2: Christians know that man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26,27), and that God is the giver of life (Ps. 139:16-18). These facts rule out the taking of a life because of unpleasant circumstances, lack of personal "quality of life," or detracting from another’s "quality of life." There is no logic in these arguments. First, as for killing, people killed people all the time in the Bible with God’s consent. Just flip to any old passage in the Old Testament. It’s not a sin to kill men with God’s consent, even though all men are made in the images of God. The fact that God gives life should not draw away from the fact that God also takes life away- often using humans as his instruments.
Second, those verses say nothing about “quality of life". I’m not saying that "quality of life" should or should not be a factor in whether someone should be allowed to die- but bringing that in with these verses is just spontaneous.
Argument 3: Further, a Christian is not to take his own life, or that of another Christian, because believers have been purchased by Jesus (1 Cor. 6:20), their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), their bodies are to be a living sacrifice presented to God (Rom. 12:1), and all things are to be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). That’s a whole lot of verses that seems to say a lot but really doesn’t. First, believers’ lives have been purchased by Jesus- but that’s eternal life- not life on Earth. The purpose for Jesus to die was so that death would not be the end but rather eternal life external from this body. Didn’t this guy learn anything in Sunday school?
The second verse- that’s from a passage that says to not fornicate. It has nothing to say about suicide. The third verse- I’m sure you’re supposed to emphasize “living” with big caps and italics, but that just means your life should be lived pleasing to God. The verse isn’t discussing life and death but rather attitude. Besides, John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” This was from a passage about love. And say, in the scenario of Mar Adentro, a great movie about a quadriplegic who wants to be euthanized, he was giving his life so that his friends and family could live independently and not slave on him all day long. Others who want euthanasia may not want their families to have to pay the huge sums of money that it would cost just to keep them alive at any cost.
If you couch a death in such love, can it really be so wrong? You may say that this verse only counts for Jesus and doesn’t count for suicide, but I’m not so sure that’s really being honest. In a way, Jesus committed suicide for all of us. He knew he was going to die and took steps to meet that end- in order to save the rest of us. He did not count this life on earth as one that was to be saved at all costs. And he says that this kind of love is the greatest kind. I guess it may give new meaning to those WWJD bracelets.