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What About Artificial Life Support?

One reader has sent a number of questions dealing with life support systems.  His letter is too lengthy to reproduce here, but it has to do with the question of whether it is right to prolong life artificially on such systems, especially when there is little or no discernible hope of recovery.

Such questions as these are very difficult questions and usually cannot be answered generally.  It is best, therefore, to say that each case has to be dealt with individually by those who are involved (family members, etc.)

There are, however, several principles that we must keep in mind in all such cases - things that every Christian ought to remember when facing such difficult and heart-breaking decisions as these.  We mention especially two such principles here.

The most important principles is that our life is not our own, but belongs to God.  That is true first of all because He is the Creator.  Every life belongs to Him as Creator, and no one has the right to dispense with his own or another's life apart from God.

That this is often forgotten is evident in the abortion debate.  Abortionists usually argue that a woman's body is her own, but that is not true.  It is not her own, but God's, and she has no right to do with it as she pleases, nor with the life that has been conceived in her.

There are, of course, instances in which God gives the right to take another person's life to certain people.  The magistrate has not only the right, but the obligation to punish certain crimes with death, as well as to conduct war on behalf of the country over which God has placed him.  That, however, is not an exception, but only serves further to prove that all life belongs to God.  It is He and He alone who gives that right to the magistrate.  No man, even if he is a magistrate or ruler, has the right of himself.

All this is doubly true for the Christian.  His life and the life of his fellow Christians is not only God's by creation, but also because God has purchased it with the blood of His Son (I Cor.  6:20).

Not only that, but his "times" are not his own either.  The number of his days and the length of his life are in God's hand, not only in the sense that God determines and rules them, but also in that they too belong to God (Ps. 31:15).  As a result of modern technology it is very difficult to answer the question of when life ends (our question in the next issue).  Nevertheless, it remains true: our times are in His hands.

Thus, the Christian especially must be very careful with the life God has given Him.  He has no right to waste his time and strength, to abuse his body, to endanger his own life.  He must use the life God has given him and all that belongs to that life for God to whom he and his life belong both by creation and by redemption.

For these same reasons the Christian ought to be very careful about deciding to end someone else's life or his own by having these life support systems turned off.  If such a decision is made, those who make it must be sure that they are not taking into their own hands the life that belongs to God and His prerogative in determining the end of life.

He ought also to consider carefully before making what is sometimes called a "living will," deciding ahead of time and under what circumstances he wishes such life support systems to be turned off in his own case, should he be on them and unable to make a decision for himself.  To saddle others with such heavy responsibilities by way of these "living wills" is also questionable.  The life at stake belongs to no one but God.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 25
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017

Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/

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    13823 Clear Lake Rd.
  • City
    Medical Lake
  • State or Province
    WA
  • Zip Code
    99022
  • Country
    United States
  • Mobile
    360-527-6633

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