Listen:  65 Question 2

I can imagine that it would be incredibly hard to make the decision to take a loved one off life support.  Of course, it’s equally hard to watch a loved one suffer from an illness from which, in all likelihood, they will not recover.  It’s heartbreaking to witness the debilitating effect of a disease on someone we love.  We can take great comfort in the reality that whenever one of the Lord’s people suffer, the Lord is compassionate and sympathizes.  Hebrews 4:14-15 says, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  This means that Christ, our great high priest, suffers along with us when we suffer.  No believer in Christ ever suffers alone.  The Lord even instructs His followers in Romans 12:15 that we should, “Rejoice with those that rejoice, weep with those that weep.”  It’s obvious that you were suffering when you made the decision to end life support on your loved one.  It’s also obvious that you are still suffering because of the decision you made.  While you acknowledge that you believe this was the best thing for him, you still seem to have no peace yourself about your decision.  If you really believe that ending the life support was the best thing to do, then you should be able to take some comfort in that.

You asked if what you did was a sin.  Is ending someone’s life support, and allowing them to die, a sin?  First, let’s be clear about one thing: to take a life is, indeed, sin.  One of the Ten Commandments that the Lord gave to Moses to deliver to the Lord’s people addresses that, as we read in Exodus 20:13 which says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  The word “kill” here comes from a Hebrew word that literally means “murder.”  It is a sin to murder someone one.  It’s sad to realize that the very first death in scripture was an act of murder when Cain killed his brother, Abel.  Of course, all acts of killing cannot be considered as murder.  Often in war, the Israelites were ordered by the Lord to kill.  Even today, soldiers that kill others in battle are not considered murderers.

It is also a sin for a person to kill himself.  This is actually self-murder.  To take one’s own life is certainly not the unpardonable sin, but it is an act of disobedience and is sin.  However, to take action that will allow a person to die naturally could not possibly be considered murder.  In our day, we have greatly advanced in the field of medicine and it is possible to keep people alive artificially for a very long time.  There are machines that will breathe for us; machines that will keep our hearts beating; machines that will do the work of our kidneys.  To refuse to use these machines or to make the decision to remove a loved one from one of these machines would only allow death to come naturally.  It does not cause death; it only allows death.

Death for one that has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior is not a tragic thing.  It is, without a doubt, a sorrowful thing to lose a loved one, but the believer that dies goes immediately into the presence of his savior as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:8 where the Apostle Paul says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  Contemplating his own death and thinking of going to be with the Lord, Paul wrote in Philippians 1:23, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.”  King David wrote in Psalms 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  It is such a precious thing to our Heavenly Father when He welcomes one of His children home.

I am sorry for the loss of your loved one.  I am sorry that you have been dealing with guilt over removing the life support machines from him.  I trust these scriptures can help bring you peace about that, so that you can properly grieve the loss of your loved one.  Grieving is a process that you must go through.  However, when we grieve the loss of a loved one that knew Christ as their savior, that grief is tempered with the realization that they are now with the Lord.  We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”  I will be praying for you.  (65.2)