Dealing with a Euthanasia-Minded Friend

How do you deal with a euthanasia-minded friend of acquaintance? The issues are so emotional, and the arguments sound compassionate. Nevertheless, we are considering ending a person’s life. Obviously, it is critical that you know the issues and how to respond to the rhetoric. Here are some ideas:

COMMENT: “I just can’t stand to see my loved one in pain. It’s more loving to end the suffering than to prolong their lives unnecessarily.”

This comment is similar to, “We treat our pets better than our family members,” because we put our pets to sleep and end their misery. Actually, we should never treat our family like animals. God demands more from us.

A good example to follow is Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) which tells us to provide loving care for others, even when they are near death.

RESPONSE: No one wants to see a loved one suffer. Yet, our caring attitude should provide relief of the pain without killing the patient. God has complete authority over life and death, and we know that His love is perfect.

Remember that suffering is a result of sin. God does not rejoice in our suffering, but He does give us the opportunity to reflect our faith by caring for our loved ones when they are dealing with pain. Also remember that modern medicine is able to control virtually any pain so taking a person’s life is not the best solution to ending the suffering.

COMMENT: “It just doesn’t make sense to keep someone alive when their quality of life is gone. I don’t think that is the way people want to live the last days of their lives.”

It is interesting to ask people their definition of “quality of life.” It is surprising how many different opinions you get. For some, quality of life means the ability to run up and down a basketball court while others define it as an ability to contribute society. A common thread through all the definitions is a feeling of general happiness in life.

It would be interesting to hear what Jesus would have given as a definition. He certainly healed many people and had compassion for their infirmities. Yet the ones who concerned Him the most seemed to be those who were misguided in their attitudes. The rich man in Matthew 19, King Herod, and the Pharisees were just some examples. According to some definitions, their quality of life was very good, but the true value of their lives was empty.

RESPONSE: Regardless of any perceived quality of life, the truth is that we all have absolute value through the life and death of our Savior Jesus Christ. The role of loves ones is to provide the dignity and respect that is due to a redeemed child of God. That includes accepting God as the One who makes the final decisions on life and death.

This question should not be related to the quality of a person’s life. The goal is not a dignified death. the fact is that, regardless of the quality of life, people should use their lives to give glory to God. Even when people are suffering or the quality of their lives diminishes, they can still give a wonderful Christian witness and lead others to the Gospel.

COMMENT: “I know my loved one is dying, but there are still some steps I can take to keep him alive just a little longer.”

At no time should Christians feels they must do anything and everything to keep a loved one alive. When it is clear that God is taking a life, our faith leads us to accept the will of God, even if we don’t like it.

Regardless of what we do, there are times when God takes the lives of people. It is a reality even if one more medication is given or one more treatment is administered – the patient is going to die. At that time, it is better to accept the fact that God is taking that life rather than trying to fight it.

RESPONSE: We do not have the right to end life prematurely. Nor do we have the responsibility to prolong the dying process.

At times, Christians equate love and care with doing everything possible to keep the patient alive. Once it is clear that God is taking our loved one, it is actually a clearer witness to accept God’s decision and act accordingly. Although you want to provide the best care you can, it is also necessary to know when to discontinue treatment because it is futile.

In summary, different circumstances require different approaches. The directive, however, is to use unchangeable Biblical principles and apply them to each situation as you are guided by a godly motivation.

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