Is physician-assisted suicide a sin?


Is physician-assisted suicide, otherwise known as medical aid in dying or death with dignity, a sin? What if the person is severely suffering from a terminal illness? If I was suffering I would want to eliminate my suffering.


Throughout mankind’s history, God has demanded that life be respected. "Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man" (Genesis 9:5-6). Animals also have life, and we show respect for their lives by not eating blood (Genesis 9:2-4; Leviticus 17:10-14).  But human life is different because, unlike the animals, we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children'" (Acts 17:24-28).

God is the giver of life. Then, by implication, God is the one who decides when our life ends. While we find a few wicked men committing suicide in the Bible, we find that even in extreme circumstances, righteous men would not end their own lives. It was something they left in the hands of God

  • Job did not want his life to continue, but he did not try to take his own life. "Why is light given to him who suffers, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death, but there is none, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice greatly, and exult when they find the grave?" (Job 3:20-22).
  • Elijah also had given up, but he asked God for death instead of taking his own life. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers" " (I Kings 19:4).
  • Jonah was angry that God spared the Ninevites, but he asked God to take his life. "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life" (Jonah 4:3).

Respect for life is what is behind God's law, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13). One person is not to take the life of another person (Revelation 21:8). Governments are allowed to do so in response to evil (Romans 13:3-4). But suicide is the taking of a person's own life -- it is a form of murder. And assisted-suicide is nothing more than murder where the victim agrees to the crime.

In several European countries, such as the Netherlands, euthanasia (voluntary deaths) has been steadily rising. It is somewhere between 4 and 5% of the deaths in countries that allow it, though, in the Netherlands where euthanasia first was legalized, it has recently seen rates as high as 7.5% to 14.5% ["A critical look at the rising euthanasia rates in the Netherlands", 2021]. These grim numbers reflect a lack of respect for life.

To be clear, euthanasia is not about allowing the natural progression of an illness to take the life of a terminally ill person. This is about a person who would continue to live but doesn't want to. The person is seeking an escape from pain or discomfort (real or imagined). Suicide, at its roots, is an act of cowardice. The person doesn't want to face life and sees death as an escape. When Job's wife suggested that Job offend God so that God would strike him dead, Job's response was, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). Job didn't like what happened to him, Job was certain that death was better than continuing to live, but Job bravely accepted the life God gave him.

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