There has always been a ‘time to be born and a time to die’
Published 9:21 am Monday, January 18, 2021
From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Dear Rev. Graham: Why are Christians opposed to people taking life into their own hands in the debate over the “right to die”? — R.D.
Dear R.D.: Today with the ability to prolong life, everyone will probably have to face the issue of living on “borrowed time.” The “right to die” has joined the abortion issue as among the most vital and complicated concerns of our age.
There has always been a “time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Somehow we have confused the right to die with the subject of euthanasia (the deliberate killing of those who are suffering). They are not the same thing. The “right to die” is defined as the individual’s right to determine whether unusual or “heroic” measures should be taken, normally involving expensive and mechanical means of life support, to prolong life in cases where death is almost certainly inevitable. Life is sacred and given to us by God; for that reason we must never condone the deliberate, unnatural taking of life. This is a major reason most Christians who take the Bible seriously oppose abortion and euthanasia.
At the same time, allowing the natural process of death to run its course is not necessarily wrong, when life can only be sustained by extreme medical measures. There is a difference between the prolongation of life and the postponement of death. Standing at the bedside of someone who has life-sustaining tubes intruding into many parts of the anatomy, we can understand how humane medical treatment could be viewed as inhumane. When the treatment of humans becomes, for all appearances, inhuman, most of us want the right to refuse such treatment. We take comfort in Job 12:10: “In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” The answer is in God alone, for our very breath comes from Him.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)