Euthanasia is defined as the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.  It is often referred to as ‘mercy killing.’  I have sat at the beside of many people as they suffered from various diseases that eventually took their lives.  It is heart wrenching to watch people suffer as they draw nearer to death, often feeling the effects of their disease/illness.  I have sat with some who suffered injuries which eventually took their lives.  That is equally heart wrenching to observe.  I can certainly sympathize with those facing days of suffering that sometimes linger for months or even years.

The question we must ask, though, is: Does God give us permission to take our own lives or the lives of our loved ones.  I’m sure the first verse that comes to most of us is Exodus 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill.”  Literally, it means that we should not murder.  Colossians 1:16 tells us, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”  ALL THINGS (included all people) were created by God.  Only He has the absolute right to take away a life that He has created. 

Let’s consider one example of ‘mercy killing’ in the Bible.  King Saul had been fatally wounded in battle and asked his aide to kill him.  1 Samuel 31:3-4 says, “And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. 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.”  He desired that his aide kill him instead of allowing his enemies to take his life.  His aide refused so Saul took his own life.  In 2 Samuel 1, we have the account of a young man, an Amalekite, who came to David and told him how he had found the dying Saul and had actually killed him himself.  Whether his account is true or not, David treated this very seriously.  We read the end of the man’s account in verse 10, “So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I WAS SURE THAT HE COULD NOT LIVE after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.”  For taking Saul’s life, David commanded that his man be killed as we read in verse 15, “And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.”

Perhaps this man acted out of compassion for the king who would soon die anyway, but David condemned his action and considered it to be punishable…even to the point of executing him. 

The Bible does not address euthanasia directly, but I think we see principles in scripture that would show us that the Lord does not want us to take someone’s life, even though they may be suffering terribly.  With that being said, I will also say that the scriptures do not require us to prolong the life of one who is dying.  There comes a time when it is more merciful to try to relieve the suffering of a person rather than try to keep him alive.  Hospice was founded upon this principle.  Hospice care is defined as: Care designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure.” 

This, I believe, is more in line with what the scriptures teach us.  Let’s consider the words of Proverbs 31:6, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish…”  Here we are instructed to relieve the suffering one of who is soon to die.  You can’t cure him.  You should not kill him.  But you can make him comfortable by acting to relieve his suffering.  The Lord will take him when the time is right.  (403.2)