A Biblical Perspective of Suicide, Physician-assisted Dying, & Euthanasia
Taking one's own life is frowned upon in most societies, but when searching the Scripture on the ramifications
of committing suicide, no passages can be found that specifically address this issue in either an approving,
or disapproving light. In fact, when studying the official positions held by various churches on either suicide,
physician-assisted dying, or euthanasia, their reasoning for condemning these practices are almost entirely
based on philosophical views and opinions.
Many of these reflect the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, who were able to officiate their
own personal beliefs, rather than support them through Scriptural accounts. Their positions were adapted
and upheld through the Middle Ages and the Reformation, and not only resulted in a denial of Christian burial
for those who had committed suicide, but also allowed the confiscation of their property, and desecration of
Historically however, suicide and assisted suicide (mercy killings, or assisted dying) were commonly
practiced to avoid being tortured, abused, or being taken as slaves by the enemy.
The Roman historian Josephus Flavius recorded one account of mass suicide, where in AD 73, the Romans
besieged the desert fortress of Masada, trapping 967 Jewish men, women, and children, who belonged to a
group of rebels - or terrorists - known as the Sicarii. Upon breaching their defenses, the Sicarii burned their
belongings and either killed one another, or committed suicide, rather than be captured alive.
When the Romans reached the mountain top, they were met with a multitude of the dead, save for two women
and five children, who had hidden themselves, being the only survivors.
There was also the Hindu practice of "Sati" (or "Suttee"), where widows would commit suicide in their hus-
bands' funeral pyres, a deed regarded as honorable, while "Seppuku" (or "Hara-Kiri") is known as a ritual
and honorable suicide with the Japanese to atone for disgrace and defeat.
Even early Christianity celebrated virgins who preferred suicide to dishonor. Saint Pelagia, who feared the
loss of her chastity and jumped from a roof to escape a Roman soldier, was later canonized for her suicide.
The generally negative connotation surrounding suicide when viewed as a desperate escape from responsi-
bility, pain, or punishment, can be in sharp contrast to an act of suicide being committed for a noble cause,
which bestows an air of honor and heroism.
If a lifeboat is crowded to capacity, and someone offers his place to another who is about to perish, and by
doing so faces certain death, this (suicidal) deed would be universally viewed as selfless and honorable.
On the other hand, there are so-called "Peace Missions," where Western nations invade and occupy hostile
territories (such as the Middle East), trying to impose Western values and policies that are neither welcome,
nor have any probability to succeed. Or, by flaunting international law, and - under false pretenses - invading
militarily-inferior countries for their natural resources, they prove just how sacred "Christian" nations regard
the lives of the many thousands of foreign and domestic puppets who perish for avaricious causes, not to
mention atrocities committed by so-called "peacekeepers" against the inhabitants of occupied territories.
Despite the futility of these endeavors, those who have lost their lives are commemorated as heroes for their
voluntary, or involuntary participation in these suicide missions: ¶ A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and
hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.˜ (Pr 22:3).
The question remains how these same people would feel if Eastern nations appointed themselves to occupy
and police the West, trying to enforce their values, dominated by religious customs that are entirely different
from those of Western religions -- or worse yet - trying to purge the West of crime, immorality, and corporate
and financial corruption?
The Scripture says: ¶ Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.˜ (Mat
5:9), but it also says: ¶ And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not
the beam that is in thine own eye? ... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then
shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.˜ (Mat 7:3-5).
Globalization will give birth to many such "peace missions," "interfaith movements," and "visionary leaders,"
promising an end to the current Middle East crisis, however lasting Peace in the Middle East will not materi-
alize until a One World Religion unifies Christianity, Judaism, and Islam under the same umbrella, which the
Scripture predicts will only come to pass after the Messianic return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev 11:15).
Today, both Judaism and Islam teach that human life is sacred and they forbid Suicide and Euthanasia under
any circumstances, while Christian denominations are somewhat divided:
• Jewish Law (in summary) forbids euthanasia and regards it as murder. There are no exceptions to this
rule and it makes no difference if the person concerned wants to die. However if a patient is certain to die,
and is only being kept alive by a ventilator, it is permissible to switch off the ventilator since it is impeding
the natural process of death.
• Muslim Law (in summary) states that suicide and euthanasia are explicitly forbidden. All human life is
sacred because it is given by Allah, and Allah chooses how long each person will live. Human beings
should not interfere in this.
With the exception of the United Church, Methodist Church, and Unitarian Church, who to some extent sup-
port the principle of assisted dying for the terminally ill, most other churches offer very similar views against
suicide, physician-assisted dying, and euthanasia (mercy killing, or painless death), although many have
changed their official stand from a generally less liberal position they held centuries ago.
• The Evangelical Lutheran Church (1992), adopted the following "End of Life" decisions (in part): "When
medical judgment determines that artificially-administered nutrition and hydration will not contribute to an
improvement in the patient's underlying condition or prevent death from that condition, patients or their
legal spokespersons may consider them unduly burdensome treatment. In these circumstances it may be
morally responsible to withhold or withdraw them and allow death to occur...
Because competent patients are the prime decision-makers, they may refuse treatment recommended
by health care professionals when they do not believe the benefits outweigh the risks and burdens. This is
also the case for patients who are incompetent, but who have identified their wishes through advance
directives, living wills, and/or conversation with family or designated surrogates...
Physicians and other health care professionals also have responsibility to relieve suffering. This respon-
sibility includes the aggressive management of pain, even when it may result in an earlier death. However,
the deliberate action of a physician to take the life of a patient, even when this is the patient's wish, is a
different matter. As a church we affirm that deliberately destroying life created in the image of God is
contrary to our Christian conscience...
We also recognize that responsible health care professionals struggle to choose the lesser evil in ambig-
uous borderline situations -- for example, when pain becomes so unmanageable that life is indistinguish-
able from torture. (However) We oppose the legalization of physician-assisted death... suicide and
euthanasia, ...and to medical personnel having any part in actively inducing death, even at the patient's
request or at the request of the family..."
• The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2003) states (in part): "All forms of suicide and euthanasia
remain strictly prohibited, but questions of moral culpability and eternal salvation are left open.
Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous...or disproportionate to the expected
outcome can be legitimate... The decisions should be made by the patient if he is able and competent or,
if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient... Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care
owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of
the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death
is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable. Palliative care is a
special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged..."
• The Greek Orthodox Church states (in part) that it "is opposed to suicide in any form and regards it as
a grievous sin and has taught that we do not have the right to take our own lives, since life is a gift from
God which we are called upon to preserve and enhance. Hence, suicide is the most serious kind of murder,
because there is no opportunity for repentance.
Morally speaking, there is also the case of indirect suicide, in which people harm their health through
abusive practices such as excessive smoking, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, and unneces-
sary risk-taking...However, they do not carry the same negative implications which the direct taking of one's
own life has.
The Orthodox Church firmly opposes euthanasia and regards it as "a form of suicide on the part of the
individual, and a form of murder on a part of others who assist in this practice, both of which are seen as
sins. The Church does not expect that excessive and heroic means must be used at all costs to prolong
dying, as has now become possible through technical medical advances..."
So at what point - financially, or heroically - is it appropriate to switch off life support? -- On the one hand, it
is prohibited to compassionately help terminate someone's life for the purpose of ending that person's suffering
(euthanasia), because "life is a gift of God." On the other hand, it is perfectly permissible to go to war, shed
the blood of countless people (are their lives not a "gift of God?"), and cause untold suffering for the survivors.
Does Church Doctrine represent the Word of God?
Regrettably, even major denominations are not immune from invoking decrees and ordinances that are self-
serving and/or contrary to the Scriptures (Mr 7:7-9). Such doctrines include the praying to saints (Ex 20:4-5),
endless, vain repetitions [Rosary] of prayers (Mat 6:7), claims that salvation depends on becoming a church
member and receiving its sacraments (Joh 14:6), calling the head of the church Holy Father - even though
there is only one Holy Father, that is God Himself (Joh 17:11, Mat 23:9), confession (1Ti 2:5), papal infallibility
(Galileo's heliocentric ideas and the subsequent Inquisition in 1633), and finally the fictional creation of purga-
tory for the purpose of extorting revenue from its trusting flock.
¶ Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do
them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may
keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.˜ (De 4:1-2).
With so many erroneous teachings and doctrines misrepresenting the Word of God, questions about suicide,
physician-assisted dying, and euthanasia should therefore be explored from a Scriptural perspective only -
rather than man-made "Church Traditions," ¶ We ought to obey God rather than men.˜ (Ac 5:29), since
ultimately, we will have to give account to the creator, but no one else for our actions!
Opponents of suicide (and physician-assisted dying) frequently quote Biblical passages that relate to either
the taking of a life (Ge 9:5-6), or the endurance of life, and the willingness to let God decide when to take it
back (Ps 31:15, 1Co 6-19, 2Co 12:7-10, 2Ti 4:6-8), yet none of these apply to the taking of one's own life.
"Thou shalt not kill"
This is the most commonly (mis)quoted commandment when debating justified or unjustified types of killing.
The literal translation from the Hebrew language however is: ¶ Thou shalt do no murder.˜ (Ex 20:13), which
distinguishes murder from killing someone by accident, in self-defence, or from taking one's own life through
suicide or euthanasia. Jesus used the correct wording when quoting that commandment in Matthew 19:18.
Of all the sins and transgressions documented in the Scriptures, no mentioning is made even once on the
consequences of committing suicide, or condemnation for those who took their own lives as a result of
that particular act committed:
¶ Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these
uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was
sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was
dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.˜ (1Sa 31:4-5).
¶ And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him
home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was
buried in the sepulchre of his father.˜ (2Sa 17:23).
¶ And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's
house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died.˜ (1Ki 16:18).
¶ Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and
brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have
betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the
pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.˜ (Mat 27:3-5).
¶ And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen
me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up,
of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the
Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the
people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his
life.˜ (Judg 16:28-30). So God granted Samson his request to commit suicide, and to kill the Philistines for
putting out his eyes, with no condemnation recorded for either act.
Some people claim that suicide is one sin that will not be forgiven, because of the inability to repent after
death, however Jesus said: ¶ ...All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the
blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.˜ (Mat 12:31), which is further explained
in Hebrews 6:4-6.
¶ But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.˜ (Mat 24:13), is often quoted to discour-
age suicide. In context, this applies to religious persecutions and the end times, during which ironically God
intervenes, and as a form of punishment prevents people from taking their own lives: ¶ And in those days
shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.˜
¶ There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer
you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye
may be able to bear it.˜ (1Co 10:13), makes even less sense when applied to suicide:
Temptation - to yield to the works of the flesh: adultery, fornication... (Ga 5:19-21) leads to gratification,
which is certainly different from Torment, which may drive some individuals to kill themselves as a form
of Escape from overwhelming physical suffering (pain), or emotional distress (depression). If applied to
suicide, the above verse would certainly imply that those who have taking their own lives, were in fact
"tempted" above of what they could endure, invalidating the Word of God.
Is life not sacred?
Let's look at the Evidence from God's and man's perspective.
As documented in the Old Testament, those who - by today's standards - committed seemingly harmless
offences were to be put to death, which included psychic and occult activities (Le 20:27), gathering sticks
on the Sabbath (Nu 15:32-36), disobedience by children (De 21:18-21), cursing one's parents (Ex 21:17),
or cursing the Lord's anointed (2Sa 19:21).
People were also consumed by the fire of the Lord for "complaining" (Nu 11:1), or they were smitten (killed)
with a very great plague for their dietary "lusts" (Nu 11:33-34).
In the New Testament, Paul warns that they, which do those things: "... women who change the natural use
into that which is against nature, and likewise men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burning in their lust
one toward another...," or are filled with "unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, full of envy, maliciousness,
covetousness, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, proud, despiteful, boasters,
inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without natural affection, without understanding, covenant-
breakers, implacable, unmerciful: ...are worthy of death..." (Ro 1:26-32).
What about chosen leaders such as Moses, or King David, of whom God said that he was "a man after
mine own heart?" Did they - being anointed by God - value human life as being sacred?
In Exodus 2:12 it is documented that while the Israelites were under bondage in Egypt, Moses slew (killed) an
Egyptian after witnessing him smiting one of Moses' brethren. No divine condemnation is recorded for this
act, but instead some time later, God appeared to Moses and chose him to bring his people out of Egypt.
In 1 Samuel 18:25-27 it is recorded that David was required to mutilate 100 Philistines in order to get Michal,
King Saul's daughter, for his wife. Instead, he slew (killed) 200 Philistines, and subsequently became the
son-in-law of King Saul. Again, no divine condemnation is recorded for this act.
1Samuel 31:4-5 describes the suicides of both, King Saul and his armourbearer: ¶ Then said Saul unto his
armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust
me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a
sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword,
and died with him.˜
2Sa 1:6-10 records how a young Amalekite presented King David with a different version of that event, and
told him that after being wounded, King Saul asked that Amalekite to slay him, and he claimed to have fulfilled
that request (possibly expecting a reward from King David).
However King David said to the Amalekite: ¶ ...How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy
the LORD'S anointed?˜ (2Sa 1:14), and he had one of the man smite (kill) the Amalekite (2Sa 1:15).
So King David's justification for killing that Amalekite was not that he seemingly killed King Saul, but the
LORD'S anointed - making a distinction between different classes of people and the differing values of their
Likewise, King David himself did not take revenge on King Saul for his numerous attempts to slay him, even
though King David had the opportunity more than once to (justifyingly) retaliate and kill King Saul. Instead,
David said: ¶ ...The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD'S anointed, to
stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.˜ (1Sa 24:6).
A similar principle applied in 2Samuel 6:6-7, where God smote (killed) Uzzah for putting his hand to the Ark
of God (trying to steady it), because - not being a Levite - he was not anointed for this task. Of course,
God does not have to justify His actions, but says: ¶ ...I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is
there any that can deliver out of my hand.˜ (De 32:39).
Judges 9:52-54 documents how Abimelech (who was made King by the Israelites, but not anointed to be
King by God), had his request for assisted dying fulfilled: ¶ And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought
against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece
of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his
armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him.
And his young man thrust him through, and he died.˜ No retaliatory action is recorded against the armour-
bearer for the mercy killing of King Abimelech.
After committing adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba (2Sa 11:2-17), and - by God's definition - killing Uriah
by sending him to the forefront of the hottest battle (2Sa 12:9), King David remained oblivious to the serious
nature of these sins. This displeased the Lord, and He spoke to King David through Nathan the prophet, that
although the Lord had put away his sin and he would not die, nevertheless the child that Bathsheba bore him
would die (2Sa 12:13-14). So God valued the life of King David (who had sinned) more than the life of his
child (who had not sinned).
God also approved, and even commanded His people to practice genocide (De 20:16-17), and by doing
so confirms that the lives of those who worship Him, and (try to) keep His commandments, are clearly more
valuable than the lives of those who reject Him.
Of course, considering someone's physical life in the context of eternity, God says in Matthew 10:28:
¶ And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to
destroy both soul and body in hell.˜ --- Which is a comfort to believers, and a wake-up call for unbelievers,
because it puts everything into a proper perspective by distinguishing between the Spiritual (eternal), and
Physical (temporal) aspects of an individual's life -- i.e. we all have to give up our physical existence at some
point in time, so from that perspective, being killed, or killing oneself (suicide) simply quickens the inevitable.
Without Scriptural support for their position, why do so many so-called "compassionate"
individuals condemn the practice of Suicide, Physician-assisted Dying, or Euthanasia?
Perhaps those who enjoy the gift of good health and never had to endure immense suffering hold the physical
aspects of life in greater esteem. Or some of them sincerely believe that humans should suffer (for their sins),
just like Christ had to suffer on the cross so that mankind may be redeemed, or could it be that a more darker
side of the human Psyche is at work, which secretly delights in seeing people or animals tortured, punished,
or tormented? Why else would there be game farms, recreational hunting and fishing, bull fighting, wrestling,
or boxing matches?
Until recently, whole generations of doctors refused to prescribe narcotic pain medication for those in chronic,
severe pain, or the terminally ill, and it took until the year 2006 before doctors "discovered" that newborns
actually feel pain (!), and that it would be appropriate to use (narcotic) pain medications when they required
But even so, current pain control methods do not work for everyone, in which case physician-assisted dying
or euthanasia - while not a perfect option - should be readily available, without someone being forced of
having to travel to another jurisdiction or country where it is legally provided.
¶ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and
a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;˜ (Ec 3:1-3).
Those in power to pass legislation on suicide, physician-assisted dying, or euthanasia are members of an
elite class of society that tends to enjoy the finer aspects of life, which usually include good health (at least
for a time), so how can they - when being so far removed from the real world - be expected to support a bill
that would allow individuals with zero-quality of life to call an end to their suffering, or legally ask for
physician-assisted dying, if required?
Ironically, sick or injured animals in the wild are taken care of by predators; and domestic animals are treated
compassionately and put out of their misery in a humane fashion. Leave it to humans to create an environ-
ment for the chronically ill, or dying, where one group tries to force its ill-conceived ideology - frequently in
the name of "religion" - on others. Those who suffer the most, frequently lose their so-called "friends" as a
result of their illness dragging on for an extended period of time, so the last thing they need is a group of self-
righteous individuals impose rules, that would prolong a vegetative state, or suffering, until a "natural death"
seals their fate.
The difference between murder, and mercy killing (voluntary euthanasia), is obviously consent, so why do
some people have to turn euthanasia into a "Coward versus Hero" issue? Do they, who are so fixated on
prolonging someone else's life at all costs, anticipate a special place in heaven for their fanatical disposition?
If they wish to play hero "till the end," let them exercise their right to do so, or let them even go a step
further and decline pain management if they think this will earn them extra points towards sainthood -- but
let them not be caught having engaged in any activities that could be construed as having "life-shortening"
attributes, such as indulging in snacks or convenience (fattening) foods, stimulants (including alcohol), not
getting enough sleep, watching much TV, not exercising enough --- or even driving in a bad neighborhood
after hours --- otherwise heaven might regard them as just another common sinner...
¶ Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.˜
We are not only judged for our deeds, but also for actions we would have committed if we had been able to
fulfill them, so preventing someone from committing a particular "sinful" deed will not absolve them from that
sin, unless that person repents. In other words, provided God views an act as sin at all - a person is still guilty
of sin (by desire), even though the actual act was not consummated (Mat 5:28).
The importance of a Living Will
To avoid (religious) conflicts among family members, including hospital staff, it is advisable for every adult to
sign a Personal Care Power of Attorney, along with a Medical Directive (Living Will) that expresses one's
wishes for various medical situations in the event that illness should make one unable to communicate them
directly. Fortunately, most hospitals now follow these directives to the letter, but in addition to the emotional
issues arising out of having to make life-and-death decisions for someone, and trying to comply with the
wishes of the sick person as much as possible, a Christian also has to deal with the spiritual aspects in such
situations. This is why prayer for guidance is vitally important, so that - no matter what the outcome - one
can enjoy the spiritual peace that comes from including God's will in all of one's decisions.
While it makes sense that atheists or agnostics would want to extend their lives at all costs, or want to
desperately cling to the physical, rather than the spiritual aspects of life (erroneously expecting death to end
it all), it is much more difficult to comprehend that born-again Christians would want to prolong their earthly
incarnation rather than enter the Kingdom of God: ¶ We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent
from the body, and to be present with the Lord.˜ (2Co 5:8), and ¶ He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he
that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal,˜ (Joh 12:25), and finally, ¶ Greater love hath no
man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.˜ (Joh 15:13). ¤
The first 10 Generations recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible,
and the Interpretation of their Names:
ADAM .............................................................. Man
SETH ...................................................... Appointed
ENOSH ......................................................... Mortal
KENAN ........................................................ Sorrow
MAHALALEL ................................... The Blessed God
JARED .......................................... Shall Come Down
ENOCH ..................................................... Teaching
METHUSELAH ........................... His Death Shall Bring
LAMECH ........................................... The Despairing
NOAH ........................................... Rest And Comfort
Man appointed mortal sorrow. The blessed God shall come down teaching.
His death shall bring the despairing rest and comfort.
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