Since the fall, we are all destined to die. However we were created to live, not to die. Death is not how God intended this world to be. In creation, death was not natural, but now it is an ugly reality. Anyone working in nursing or aged care can tell you graphic and regular stories of end of life care.

With the aid of drugs and other medical equipment, we have extended our ability to live longer than naturally intended. While not avoiding death, we can sometimes postpone death’s arrival for a few months or years. Quality of life is rarely improved, but we do artificially extend our existence for a period of time. Fifty percent of our medical bills are incurred in the last twelve months of our lives. It is amazing that as a society, we can justify spending that much money to avoid something that is coming anyway. Maybe that speaks to how society silently fears the unknown of eternity. As someone who knows Christ, I say “bring it on.”

I do not have a death wish. Nor am I going to go and jump off the Gap. But I really identify with Paul when he says “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I would rather die suddenly at seventy than slowly die into my eighties.

But this brings us to an interesting point. What are Christian ethics regarding end of life issues? Let me say from the outset that I am not an expert here, but this is my current thinking based on both theology and my application of it in today’s complex world.

Pulling the plug

Many families face the heart-wrenching pain of watching an older relative grow towards death. At some point the family needs to make life/death decisions for their family member who becomes incapacitated. I see no theological problems with pulling the plug or removing a certain drug prescription. If God wants the individual to live, he will sustain their life without human intervention. I am in no way trivialising the scenario, but I think we must debunk the idea that it is murder to deny life sustaining medical assistance.


This is a bit of a grey area. I don’t hold to the traditional Catholic view that suicide is a mortal sin. Suicide is not something that I would recommend or justify. However, for many people with incurable diseases and pain, suicide is an ever present temptation. Many succumb to that temptation. If someone takes that way out, then they will answer to God for that. However, let’s not judge their action as any worse than our failings.

Voluntary euthanasia

Often times a suffering individual cannot bring themselves to suicide. This could be for multiple reasons, religious or internal fortitude. They then ask a friend or relative an extremely obnoxious question. “Will you help me kill myself?” It is hard to say a blanket no, but I lean that way. Thousands of moral dilemmas can be raised here (e.g. the mortally wounded soldier in battle, etc.). I am sure there are examples galore out there in which we could make an argument one way or the other. I would like to think that if someone is in the situation of knowing the number of minutes/days/months they have left, that they would spend time considering Jesus. My approach would be to bring him into their thinking. I believe then a correct decision will become clear.

Involuntary euthanasia

In no way do I support this. We may as well call it murder. This already happens frequently in our nation under the title of abortion. I pray that we as a society will reject involuntary euthanasia for the elderly and wind it back for the unborn.

It is hard to put a positive spin on this topic. But I do like to remind us that the solution to all our our problems is Jesus. Death is a depressing topic, but when we focus on Jesus we are reminded that death is not the end. For us followers of Jesus, it is merely the portal through which we will meet Jesus face to face. When we focus on him, the ugliness of death does fade. And this truly is a blessing.

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About Jeremy Crooks

Jeremy grew up in Sydney Australia. He has tertiary qualifications in business, training, and Bible. With experience in both church ministry and corporate human resources, Jeremy has a strong interest in how faith is demonstrated in our homes and workplaces. You can contact Jeremy at


  1. Jason Harris 5 April, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for your thoughts on this topic Jeremy.

    I am concerned that some of the things you said could be directly and severely damaging to some of our readers if not clearly understood.

    Could you clarify in what sense suicide is a “grey area”? I’m concerned that this could be easily misunderstood by those who are tempted in this area (especially young people) to suggest that suicide is not necessarily sinful or to downplay the massive damage such a decision has on those around such a person.

    I’m confident you don’t mean to endorse suicide at any level, but a few words of public clarification would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Jeremy Crooks 5 April, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Jason,

    Suicide is damaging and anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts should seek a trusted and supportive friend for counsel.

    My comment is that suicide is no more a sin than any other sin. Some have taught (particularly in the Catholic church, but not limited to there) that if someone commits suicide that they are not going to heaven or they could not have been a child of God. That is far from the truth.

    In regards to my saying it is a grey area, I was particularly thinking of end of life (aged issues). Choosing to end one’s own life is far different to choosing to end someone else’s life. They grey area comes when we look at the means of death. e.g Did they slit their wrists, not follow the doctors lifestyle suggestions, or take a little too much medication? I don’t have all the answers, but in our increasingly complex world, we have more ethical dilemma’s in this area.

  3. Jason Harris 5 April, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Got it. I agree. Thanks for those clarifications. =)

  4. Greg Gorton 6 April, 2012 at 12:07 am

    As someone who has on multiple times attempted suicide and am severely grateful to my merciful God that he kept me alive to continue the work he has planned for me here on earth, I believe that suicide does not send you to hell, but it is a sin in that it prevents you from doing God’s will. That said, I see suicide as being “doing an active action that leads to death” rather than “passively avoiding an action that may sustain your life” and that one should consider killing oneself as not always “suicide” just as killing another may not always be “murder”.

    As to voluntary Euthanasia, I struggle to believe that anyone is in a position where they wish to die greatly enough but can not practically do so (other in the “pull the cord” situation as discussed above”). If they need “that extra push” then they don’t have the full drive necessary and should not be given it. God is holding them back from the need drive for a reason.

    In all other ways I agree with what has been said here and am VERY supportive of the fact that it has been brought up to be discussed in a proper, Christian fashion, despite its controversy.

  5. Jason Harris 6 April, 2012 at 1:42 pm


    I really appreciated your comment on several levels, particularly your view of how God fits into the picture of your past struggles.

    Your distinction between active/passive was very helpful, as was your comparison to killing/murdering. For instance, is it suicide to throw yourself on a grenade that’s been lobbed into a crowd of people? I think we’d all recognise that this active act of “self-killing” is not suicide, but is rather selfless and heroic. I think these distinctions provide a helpful framework for assessing other more complex situations.

  6. Elizabeth 6 April, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    interesting post. I am interested in your thoughts about premature babies and the often expensive and major surgeries they are subjected to in order to keep them alive. I have a 3 month old and fortunately he was born at 42 wks and not 25 weeks or thereabouts. In the Netherlands, a baby born at 24 wks is left without any medical attention to assist it to survive. If it is born 1 wk later, they will hook it up to machines, give it open heart surgery etc etc. What do you think about leaving premature babies to die? My husband and I discussed this recently and I just could not imagine having to make a decision like heart surgery or worse for a 25 wk old baby. Hmm.

    • Jeremy Crooks 13 April, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Hi Elizabeth

      Wow. I am struggling with those same questions. As someone who believes that life begins at conception, I think wherever we draw the line is arbitrary. It does seem unfair that the rich can support premature babies with medical technology, but the poor cannot. I try to see it as a blessing for those who can afford it. Yet, we have a problem when we expect that level of health care to be universal. It is not financially possible. I am not sure that the absence or withdrawal of medical technology for life is a moral issue. It is just a reality of the fragility of life in general. Happy to hear other thoughts.

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