What Does the Bible Say About Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia?
by Dr. Peter Saunders | London, England | LifeNews.com | 11/11/13 11:37 AM
There are two instances of euthanasia in the Bible.
In the first, Abimelech, believing himself to be fatally wounded (with a fractured skull after being hit on the head by a millstone), asks his armour-bearer to kill him to spare him the ‘indignity’ of being killed by a woman (Judges 9:52-55). In the second, an Amalekite despatches the mortally injured Saul, still alive after a failed attempt at suicide (2 Samuel 1:6-9).
These two cases demonstrate the two main arguments for euthanasia, autonomy (‘death with dignity’) and compassion (‘release from suffering’).
The Bible tells us that human beings are unique amongst God’s creatures in being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and it is on this basis, after the flood, that God introduces to all humankind the death penalty for murder (Genesis 9:6,7).
The prohibition against killing legally innocent people is later formalised in the sixth commandment, ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17). The Hebrew word for ‘murder’ is ratsach (Greek phoneuo) and its meaning is further defined in four main passages in the Pentateuch (Exodus 21:12-14; Leviticus 24:17-21; Numbers 35:16-31; Deuteronomy 19:4-13).
These passages resolve any ambiguity for us and give a precise definition of what is prohibited, namely the ‘intentional killing of an innocent human being’ (Exodus 23:7; 2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 106:37,38; Jeremiah 19:4). Euthanasia clearly falls within this biblical definition. There is no provision for compassionate killing, even at the person’s request and there is no recognition of a ‘right to die’ as all human life belongs to God (Psalms 24:1). Our lives are not actually our own. Suicide (and therefore assisted suicide) is therefore equally wrong.