What does Christianity teach about euthanasia?

There is no single Christian teaching on euthanasia - different Christian denominations take different views.

Most Christians believe that life is sacred and given by God, and therefore only God can decide when life ends. This means that many Christians trust God to end life when the proper time comes. They would therefore not accept any intervention that would end a life before God decides.

Bible teaching on Euthanasia

  • “God made man in his own image”(Genesis 1:27). Human life is a gift from God. It is sacred and has dignity. Many people see the last part of a person’s life on Earth as a spiritual time of preparation for death and the next life. Euthanasia is wrong as it prematurely ends this special time. God gave life, and only He should take it.
  • Jesus healed the sick and the dying. Therefore, emphasis must be on caring for the terminally ill rather than on prematurely ending life.
  • Many Christians view euthanasia as murder, and murder is outlawed by the sixth commandment, “You shall not commit murder.” (Exodus 20: 13)
  • Luke 12: 6-7 teaches that each individual matters to God, even in little details, “Yet not one sparrow is forgotten by God. Even the hairs on your head have all been counted.”

The Roman Catholic Church

Euthanasia is condemned as morally unacceptable as it involves the taking of human life:

Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a foetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one who is suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. The pleas of gravely ill people who sometimes ask for death are not to be understood as implying a true desire for euthanasia; in fact, it is almost always an anguished plea for help and love.

The Presbyterian Church

Christians should be actively concerned about the quality of care for those who are terminally ill:

We believe Christians should urge government and society to adopt the other choices that are available for the alleviation of pain and suffering… Facilities like the Hospice Movement should be encouraged. Above all, the Christian community should take the lead in showing the prayerful, dignified, respectful care which assures people they are valued and loved, even in the midst of pain and helplessness.

Summary of Christian teaching

  • Human beings are made in God’s image.
  • The taking of human life is not permitted.
  • Humankind has God-given responsibilities towards human life.
  • Every person matters to God as an individual.
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on palliative care.

However, some Christians accept that if a person is terminally ill and in extreme pain or distress, euthanasia may be an act of compassion. This is provided the dying person requests it and fully understands the consequences of their request.

Some Christians may also use the teaching on free will to justify the right to choose to die.

Those Christians who support euthanasia only do so if it is voluntary and passive, and never if it is involuntary or active.