Friends and followers of New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation know that our organization is strongly committed to preventing physician-assisted suicide from becoming legal here in the Empire State. However, some New Yorkers—even Christian New Yorkers—may have mixed feelings about the issue. Terminally-ill patients often experience pain and suffering as they approach the end of their lives. While pain management may ease the pain of some, it does not work for everyone. When a terminally-ill person is suffering, is physician-assisted suicide a compassionate solution? How should Christians, who are called to love and care for our neighbors, think about this issue from a Biblical perspective?
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC) has provided some helpful thoughts on how the Bible applies to the issues of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In its article entitled “What does the Bible teach about euthanasia and physician assisted suicide?”, the ERLC acknowledges that the Bible does not address these issues specifically. However, the ERLC points to several Scriptural passages that have some relevance. One is the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Physician-assisted suicide would make doctors complicit in helping patients to cause their own deaths. The fact that the proposed legislation would require patients to self-administer lethal drugs does not remove a doctor’s moral culpability for prescribing them. In similar fashion, pharmacists dispensing lethal drugs would be morally culpable for violating the Sixth Commandment.
The ERLC also mentions Job 14:5, which—speaking of mankind—says: “[His] days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass…” The ERLC correctly notes that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide “reject a dependence on God, the author of life and controller of death.”
Furthermore, the ERLC points to Genesis 1:27, which reads, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” The ERLC notes that “determining that our lives are not worth living fundamentally rejects” the dignity and worth conferred upon every person as an image-bearer of the one true God.
New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation encourages Christian New Yorkers to show compassion to the terminally ill by helping to treat their illnesses and ease their pain. However, we also exhort our brothers and sisters in Christ to recognize that we are not God, and that we lack the authority to determine our own lifespans or the lifespans of other innocent persons, regardless of the circumstances.