Biblical vision

The sixth commandment reads: Thou shalt not kill. This concerns a prohibition of killing with intent. Clearly, with euthanasia there is intent: the intentional termination of life. This already makes it clear why a Bible-believing Christian cannot and may not give any support to the preparation for and execution of euthanasia.

An additional point, subordinate to the above commandment, is the condition under which euthanasia may be applied: ‘suffering without prospect of improvement’. If a patient knows that he is safe in God's hands, then there will be a prospect of an eternal heavenly future. This cannot be called ‘without prospect’. However, if a patient does not have this perspective, either because he is conscious of the absence of this saving faith or because he does not acknowledge the existence of God, then it is very probable that the period after the earthly suffering will be far more unbearable for the patient than the suffering that was considered unbearable during his life. No Christian would want to take the responsibility for intentionally putting a patient into such a situation. Sometimes the wish to die is legitimised with the so-called ‘longing for death’. However, this is in fact impossible: how can someone long for something the existence of which they are utterly incapable of fathoming? What is usually meant is: the termination of a situation such as that which is occurring to the patient at that time. In most cases, adequate palliative care will avoid a request for euthanasia.

Although physical suffering is the most well-known reason for euthanasia, the increasing disenchantment or decline of someone in the last stage of their life is more and more often named as a reason for actively terminating life, or having it terminated. In fact here is a matter of wounded pride: one is no longer who one wanted to be. The makeability of one's existence has failed. If one considers one's self to be a creature that no longer complies with the ideal image and so should be ‘cleared up’, then it is obvious that one will think the same of others or that in process of time such thoughts will arise (public opinion): people with a disability in their physical, psychological and maybe even social functioning are useless and are better removed from society. The Übermensch concept will win ground if it is not powerfully campaigned against! Thankfully, Christians have a powerful authority: Holy Scripture. It is clear that the Bible supports the weak and despised, and mercy is a thoroughly Biblical concept. Moreover, it is not about what someone is of themselves and could do. God is Creator, so the creature is His property. What is man then, that he would put himself in the place of God and have the authority to decide on life and death?

It is striking, that the Bible never suggests death as a ‘solution’ for suffering. When during His sojourn on earth, the Lord Jesus met people who suffered physically or psychologically, He always sought their remedy. In a couple of cases, someone who (humanly speaking) was dead, was brought back to life by Him. This clearly illustrates the importance that the Lord Jesus attached to life. The greater the wonder then that He was willing to give His own life to save so many!

In practice

If someone with conscientious objections is confronted with a request for euthanasia, he or she will have to immediately clarify their own point of view in that respect. It will also have to be made clear that no referral will be made to a colleague, who has no conscientious objections. Referral is felt to be a (light) form of ‘aiding and abetting’. A request for euthanasia should however be recorded in the report. After all, whatever one may think of the request, it concerns a fact of no little importance.

N.B.: reporting a wish for euthanasia in the report is also felt to be a form of ‘aiding and abetting’ by some people with conscientious objections. Although this point of view is understandable, it should be borne in mind what the utmost consequence of this standpoint could be: if one were themselves ever to have a serious sickbed and were to request spiritual guidance via a nurse, it would be found extremely undesirable if such a request were to be ‘covered up’.


Here the tension can be felt between that which is generally considered (by professional associations) as ‘professional treatment’ and that which is attributed (by the church through the confessions of faith) to the ‘office of all believers’. It concerns a matter of life and death, eternity is at the door. May we then be silent?

Unfortunately, we are usually forced to be silent. Unsolicited ‘evangelism’ with people who are in a vulnerable position is considered morally objectionable in our society.

However, sometimes there is an opportunity to express the deeper personal motives for not being able to nor wanting to be engaged in the active termination of life. The wise will speak a word in season...

It is always a good thing to immerse one's self in the, initially not indicated, motives of the person requesting euthanasia. It is not impossible for there to still be some room to positively influence the patient's standpoint.