Posted by Gary on June 7, 2008
You will find below a Pastoral Statement on Euthanasia and Imposing Death by Starvation and Dehydration. This statement is born of concern for our willingness and increasing intention to end the existence of the ill and disabled through any means but especially through the inhumane and sinful practice of starvation and dehydration.
We recognize that all decisions concerning the end of life are not as clear morally and medically as others and that this statement cannot cover every potential situation adequately. This being said, the fear of misapplication or misunderstanding of our intent must not keep us from speaking to a situation that needs clarification from God’s servants. Our fear of making blanket applications has led us at least in the Protestant world to say very little and sometimes nothing. While it is given that one could present a situation that needs special consideration the simple truth is that with greater frequency people whose condition is not terminal and who by God’s grace might recover are being starved to death. The “quality of life” mantra of recent decades has been successful and has wrought great destruction upon human life.
While this statement makes reference to one individual (Lauren Richardson) whose life is currently threatened by the intention of her guardian and a Delaware court decision, we include also a concern for the many who are starved and dehydrated to death without our knowledge. A few such cases become high profile because of a dispute between family members but most deaths of this nature are never heard of. Because there is no debate between family members the act happens largely unnoticed and uncontested.
It is our prayer that God will use this statement and the voice of His servants to rebuke this practice and those who advocate and enforce it, to call them to repentance and to reverence for God and the life that He gives and takes and that bears His image. This call to repentance is not limited to those of the medical field or political/judicial world but includes all of us who by ignorance and/or apathy have allowed this practice to become entrenched and to increase.
Signatories will be listed in the comments section.
A Pastoral Statement on Euthanasia and Imposing Death by Starvation and Dehydration
Believing that human life at all stages from conception until natural death and in every condition regardless of disability or cognitive ability bears the image of God, we, the undersigned offer our voice in support of life and in opposition to imposing death on the ill and disabled, in particular through starvation and dehydration.
Those of us who minister in Delaware have a special concern at the potential imposed death by starvation of one of our citizens, Lauren Richardson. We urge those who have influence over Lauren’s life, her guardian and the Delaware court system, to act on the basis of hope which comes from faith and reverence for human life, of which God is the author and finisher (Deuteronomy 32:39).
Acknowledging the tragedy and difficulty of human suffering we ask our fellow citizens to consider the following:
1. Euthanasia is an act of hopelessness. Human suffering humbles us as we see our inability to heal suffering despite our many medical advancements. But by imposing death on the ill and disabled, society is declaring that there is no purpose in suffering. This is contrary to the message of Scripture as seen in the lives of many people, most notably Job, and ultimately our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. God has told us clearly that He is the author and finisher of our existence. Fear of God should prevent us from ever seeking to end our own life or the life of another prematurely, especially by depriving them of the sustenance that is essential to human existence.
3. We express our concern that nutrition and hydration have been classified as medical treatment by many medical authorities and in the legal system. Food and water are now referred to in some legal documents as “life support”. This classification then becomes the basis for interpreting unguarded or uninformed comments from individuals about life support as an expressed declaration of their intent. The result is a deceptive vehicle by which many people are starved to death.
4. We urge our citizens to reject the claim that euthanasia is a private act. Even if one’s wishes to have his life ended prematurely were documented (Lauren Richardson left no such written documentation), society must give its approval to euthanize, which it has not done. Euthanasia advocates demand that society validate the so called private decision and make provision for the practice of imposing death. By depicting euthanasia as a purely private act, euthanasia advocates hide the reality that if Lauren is starved to death, we will all share in the decision to do this to her.
5. New Jersey recently ceased capital punishment calling death by injection “cruel and unusual punishment”. If imposing death by injection is cruel, how much more so death by starvation, which can be a two week process!
6. Faith leads to hope. We readily acknowledge that suffering is tragic and painful, both for the one suffering and for their loved ones. But because God is real and active, the end of our life is not certain until He makes it so. Often doctors using their best judgment declare that there is no hope; often they are wrong. Faith believes that God can heal, and that if He doesn’t, He is with us and has a purpose for our suffering.
7. Human suffering is ultimately a result of the fall by which our first parents Adam and Eve turned away from God and brought death (physical and spiritual) upon themselves and their offspring. Human suffering is a reminder of our need of the Savior Jesus Christ and the eternal life that comes through His atoning death and resurrection.
- We call our fellow citizens to acknowledge God’s prerogative in beginning and ending life.
- We encourage prayer to God in Jesus’ name on behalf of those who suffer.
- We call on the medical profession and government to turn from their irreverence for God demonstrated in the sinful act of starving and dehydrating the ill and disabled.
- We remind us all that because mankind bears God’s image our treatment of life is taken as our attitude toward God Himself (Genesis 9:6).
- Finally, we remind us that God sees our actions and will render to each one of us according to our deeds (Jeremiah 17:10).
Reverend Gary Knapp
East Gate Presbyterian Church (Millsboro, DE)
Heritage Presbyterian Church (New Castle, DE)
Assistant Pastor, Grace Church, (Dover, DE)
Reverend Dave Lort,