Euthanasia is in the news a lot lately and is presented as a humane alternative to a suffering life. The word means a good death, but is simply another word for assisted suicide. I don’t want to look at the questions of the potential misuse and abuse of it but I would like to examine the fundamental claim it is based on, the right of a person over their own life.
Do we have a right over our own life to live it and to end it when and as we will? In this article I want to show that the only one who has the right over the life of man and animal is God. He has given mankind the right to eat animal flesh and to put people to death in certain circumstances. He has not given us the right over our own lives, to live and end them as and when we please.
At creation God called mankind into existence in His image and likeness to give him a royal task in His service (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). Nevertheless, He had the right of life and death over the the life He had created (Genesis 2:17; 3:19). We live under God’s authority. He had and still has this exclusive authority and power over human life and death as He asserts in Deuteronomy 32:39 and now has given to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18 John 5:22,27; Acts 17:30,31; Romans 2:16).
God did not give us the right to take the life of another including our own because we are created in His image and likeness (Genesis 9:6). Only in the case of murder was that granted for the blood called to the Lord from the ground for vengeance (Genesis 4:8,10; 9:5). God wanted human life in His image to flourish in His creation (Genesis 1:28; 9:1,7). Life was meant to be sacrosanct, even after the fall into sin. It had to be treated with great respect because it was in the image of God.
The desire for life to flourish also applies to animal life. At creation God did not give animal flesh to mankind to eat (cf. Genesis 1:29). That right was only given after the flood. Even then mankind was to show respect for the life taken. They were not to eat the blood for it spoke of that life. God is the God of life and He wants life, not death.
Blood, therefore, received a very special role in the history of redemption from death since it stood for life. The Lord banned the eating or drinking animal blood and products made from it and commanded that it be poured out on the ground (Genesis 9:3,4) or placed on the altar when sacrifices were made. It was already being shed in sacrifices soon after the fall into sin (Genesis 4:4; 8:20) and later it is made explicit that the blood on the altar made atonement for the life of the sinner (Leviticus 17:10-14). A life had to be given so that the sinner could live. That blood ultimately pointed forward to the substitutionary blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which He shed on the cross to pay for the sins of all who would believe in Him (Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:12-14; 1 Peter 1:19 etc.).
The Lord Jesus Christ died (and rose again) so that we might live and again serve God. The intention of God was to redeem the world from the sin and death into which it had fallen (Colossians 1:20). God’s desire was that life might flourish again under His rule. Yes life in this world continues to suffer under the consequences of the fall into sin, but we may know that life will one day be fully restored even beyond what it was before the fall (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:20,21; 1 John 3:2).
Now we are God’s servants, God’s children, and our lives are no longer our own. We are doubly God’s for He created us to be His servants and redeemed us from death. We have been bought free from the power of sin and death by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1). We have no rights over our own bodies and lives. They belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a duty to serve Him as long as we live. We have no right to take our own lives.
We may ask why all our suffering isn’t taken away already if our sin has been paid for? Just as a person can be forgiven for some evil he has done, but still suffer the consequences that flow from that evil, so it is with us. We still have to bear the consequences of our fall into sin in this life, but death will bring an end to that and be the beginning of a new life in a world without suffering. Believers already have this life here and now for we are a new creation (John 5:24; 11:25,26; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Those who want euthanasia made legal, however, do not recognise the rights of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ over their lives. This does not mean they have a right over their own lives though. God created them and gave them a task to do. Whether they want to or not, they are answerable to Him for the use of their lives. They too have no right to take their own lives or the lives of others for they are His creatures, His servants, rebellious ones, but servants still and are answerable for their actions.
What, however, is worse - euthanasia and suicide remove the person from the suffering of this life, but there is a next life, a resurrection to condemnation, to hell (John 5:28,29). What awaits them on the other side of death is even worse than what they are attempting to escape here. Euthanasia and suicide are no escape at all but an intensification of distress! The misery people are trying to escape in this life is minimal in comparison what awaits those, who reject the Lord Jesus Christ, in the next.
The joys of our life and our misery here is meant to call us to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only source of joy and life. If we would answer that call life would have meaning and value, joy and happiness, whatever the situation (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 4:4-7). We would know that we can go on in the strength of the Lord (2 Cor 12:9-10; Philippians 4:13). Our Lord would help us through until we stand before His throne where He will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).
The Lord has planned to undo the consequences of the fall into sin, but in the meantime He uses those consequences to bring us back to Him. However, as every parent knows, discipline does not always have the desired effect. It can arouse anger and opposition. God calls us to humble ourselves before His majesty, accept what He gives us to bear in this life and then to enjoy the perfect beauty of holiness and righteousness in the peace of the world to come (Hebrews 12:5-11). Will we do so? May all who read this humble themselves before Him and live! That is what we were made for. Let us then live and live that way.
Rev John Kroeze