In recent years, there are laws allowing mercy killing or voluntary assisted dying for certain people (e.g., terminal illness) are being allowed. While it seems to be merciful to end a suffering life, taking a life is murder and taking one’s own life is suicide. Where do we draw the line, and what does the Bible say about it?
No authority to take life
Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animalLev 24:17-18
God never gave us the authority to take a human life unless it is a punishment as per the law of Moses. He does however give authority to take an animal’s life and make it for good.
Surely for your lifeblood I will demand [a reckoning;] from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.Gen 9:5-6
God’s command to Noah is very clear. No one is given the authority to take a human life. These are general teachings in the Bible about murder similar to not speaking a lie yet the Israelite mid-wives were blessed for speaking lies to Pharaoh because they were merciful in saving lives as in Exodus 1. Voluntary assisted dying is generally considered to be merciful but compared to what the mid-wives did, lives are taken and not saved.
When Jesus heard [that,] He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what [this] means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”Matt 9:12-13
Even in the above sayings of Jesus, God’s desire to be merciful is always about saving lives not taking it.
Mercy killing is murder
To understand if mercy killing is acceptable for the LORD, we must search thoroughly the Scriptures.
Then the young man who told him said, “As I happened by chance [to be] on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who [are] you?’ So I answered him, ‘I [am] an Amalekite.’ He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still [remains] in me.’ So I stood over him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that [was] on his head and the bracelet that [was] on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord.” … So David said to him, “How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, [and] execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. So David said to him, “Your blood [is] on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’ ”2Sam 1:6-10,14-16
When Saul was badly wounded in battle, he called a young Amalekite man to kill him to end his suffering. The young man having realised that could not live after he had fallen, stood over and killed him. Now this young man comes to David. Instead of rewarding the man who ended the suffering of the Lord’s anointed, he was executed.
According to the Bible, mercy killing or voluntary assisted dying are all considered murder. Only God can create and destroy man from the earth.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly.John 10:10
God’s mercy always saves us, not kill or destroy. No matter what the suffering is, Jesus came to give us life abundantly. He is our great physician who can heal us from all sickness.