Many Christians seem to be opposed to this concept in all cases. For me, however, there may be a difference between putting someone to death and allowing them to die. Our technology has grown to the point of causing serious ethical questions. Doctors, for example, can keep someone “alive” for months who has had a life-threatening stroke.

I’ve had two difficult personal experiences with this issue. One of my best friends named Bob developed ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It is 100% fatal. It’s a nasty disease that slowly destroys muscle ability to move. When it hits the diaphragm, people cannot breathe on their own. Finally all internal movement goes and the person will die no matter what kind of life support they have access to. In Bob’s case, we fervently prayed for his healing. That never happened. He realized that God must be taking him home and he did not want surgery to open a new airway for a breathing machine to be hooked up to him. His wife and two children, however, insisted that he go through the procedure, so he did it for them. I visited him the next day in the hospital and when he saw me, he rolled his eyes back as if to say, “I knew this was a bad idea!” Of course, he still had a tube in his airway and could not speak, but clearly he was physically and mentally suffering from this procedure.

He was now dependent on that machine to inflate his lungs. He could not move any body part except his eyes, so he would signal things to his family by blinking. He could not even tell his family that he had an itch somewhere on his body. He was simply painfully existing with full mental capacity (horrible awareness).

His family eventually realized that they made Bob go through all this so they would not have to deal with his passing, so they finally gave Bob his wish. With some official people on hand, they “pulled the plug” and Bob slipped away to his Father in Heaven. This was back in 1986 and I miss him, but was happy for him.

I say all this to make the point that we cannot make a doctrine of “one size fits all” on this tough issue. We need to discern every case separately because there are many factors to consider. Would it have been wrong to allow Bob to die naturally from ALS without putting him through the pain and torment of “extended life?” I do not see sin in this decision if Bob was okay with it.

Many Christians, rightfully so, are concerned with giving the okay in the above example becoming a “slippery slope” to all sorts of wrongful deaths. I agree that we need to be on the alert for such a mindset. This does not cancel, however, the loving concern in Bob’s case. There are many people who are suffering but not from a fatal disease and they want to die. Again, these need to be decided on a case by case basis. We certainly do not advocate suicide.

My other case in 2009 involved my dad who always insisted that if he became severely incapacitated, that we not put him on life support. People can opt for DNR (do not resuscitate). This was my dad’s choice and he made it while being fully mentally aware of the ramifications. At age 89, he had a massive stroke and in spite of us recognizing what happened very soon and getting him to the best of care for strokes in Buffalo’s Millard Filmore Hospital, the experts diagnosed the seriousness of his condition and told us that he would be “a handful” to take care of if he survived. While I do not think that this factor should be part of a life-death decision, we did honor his prior DNR request. Doctors assured us that they could make him comfortable with drugs until he passed.

My sister and I also had to consider our mom. She had just been diagnosed with a serious carotid artery (main vessel to the brain) blockage that needed surgery (probably to save her life) and her doctor told her to keep her emotional stress levels low until her scheduled operation! She did remarkably well through the ordeal and is doing very well as of today at age 89. My sister and I had many Christian friends praying through this family ordeal and I believe that God’s will was done.

In conclusion, it is sometimes difficult to formulate a “one size fits all” doctrine in Christianity. I think, however, we need to reject the broad philosophy of Jack Kevorkian, commonly known as “Dr. Death.” There are, of course, many factors to consider when faced with this issue. In Bob’s case, his access to technology only served to prolong intense suffering imposed onto him by others and his family finally realized they were being selfish. We all want to uphold the great value of life that God gives us, but at the same time, we need to have the Holy Spirit’s discernment to make decisions…not always an easy task.


Gary R – Well now you have ventured into the veritable “slippery slope.” Frankly, lets get real here. HOSPICE CARE is nothing more than euthanasia. They put these horribly ill poor people in these so called care facilities then fill them up with morphine in the interest of “comfort” until they pass out, stop breathing, and die. I personally witnessed my best friend Ray Fletcher put down like a dog. This happens DAILY, minute by minute in this country and NO ONE does a thing about it. The Bible is out the window and the world takes over. Frankly, they are killing the wrong people.

Mike M – I volunteered at a hospice (Isaiah House) for many years. I never saw what is described [above]. People were made comfortable, but never drugged to death.

Chris L – Wow, what an interesting contrast. What are the Bible verses that Gary believes are thrown out the window? I could be unfairly judging, but my guess is that he is relying on his experiences and gut feelings rather than an actual sound interpretation of scripture. I’m not sure scripture ever directly addresses the issue; at best one’s opinion on the topic comes from an indirect application of an interpretation of scripture. Certainly have to be careful about that…

I do know that God commands us to do unto others what we would want done to us, love others, respect others, respect elders, care for the sick and poor, etc. that can probably justify a whole range of opinions on the issue. As you know, I thought yours and mom’s decision with respect to Grandpa was absolutely made out of love, respect, goodness, wisdom, etc. But could it has been wrong? I don’t know. I feel like people do things wrong all the time, every day, and yet sometimes the decisions actually made out of a right motivation are what people harp on. It’s like Satan’s great distraction to make people so focused on debating this very difficult issue that they can forget to operate out of love when even doing so. Same with abortion and other tough topics.

At some point, my opinion is that we can’t unilaterally characterize certain actions as right or wrong with an evaluation of the heart that only God can do. Maybe some people pull the plug for completely selfish reasons that God despises. Maybe others do not pull the plug out of selfish reasons that equally concerns God. I would assume that anyone actually struggling with the issue is at least at the right starting point…it might be evenĀ  more important to respect the difficulties than to take a firm stand either way.

Frankly, though, my initial reaction to Gary may be unfair. To me, his comments seem ignorant, destructive, and not at all how God would want Christians to respond to this issue. But am I guilty of being too concerned about sounding sophisticated and really only pretending to be loving while missing the simple plain truth that Gary is right? Am I missing that Gary is really speaking out of a sincere conviction born out of deep prayer and personal experience? Has he prayed more about this issue and received more insight than me? Maybe. But I still think his approach is totally inappropriate though…so I can’t help myself from judging him…

Pat T – Thanks for sharing these heartfelt testimonies with us. I hope they inspire others to make “advance directives” (a legal document) about their end of life care so they and others do not have to go through any needless suffering. I agree it is very difficult for families and other loved ones to make such decisions and not all people agree as to what is best, but in the end it makes it all the more difficult in what to do if ones wishes are not made in advance. My wife had made her decisions known about her end of life care to others and our doctor after much prayer and counsel in which I am very grateful. It made her passing with her loved ones by her side with the appropriate care (hospice) to relieve any needless pain. When the MS had ravished her body to the point where she could not move, speak, or swallow, as difficult as it was to let her go, I knew her life would be so much better in heaven than for her to be put on life support. I also knew it would have been selfish of me to keep her alive (I had that option) when she had already made her end of life care decisions known. Also, most hospitals have a default policy to resuscitate all patients who do not declare an advance directive regardless of their condition. And even if one has declared an advance directive to not resuscitate (DNR), it is not automatic if it not made known to all hospital staff. My own mom had this happen to her when she stopped breathing in a hospital even though she had declared not to be resuscitated in a written advance directive. We watched helplessly for weeks her body kept alive in an vegetative state only to have to make the painful decision to unplug her. Something that should not have happened. Also, advance directives are not etched in stone, sometimes life support is necessary for a brief period of time to keep someone alive to bounce back (doctors can help here). Again, I know this is a very personal decision and every circumstance if unique and requires much prayer and counsel before you let someone go to their heavenly Father. Thanks Dave for bringing this topic up for discussion.