Advocates of euthanasia, as well as of assisted suicide, have sought to justify the taking of human life on moral grounds by describing it as a truly compassionate act aimed at the relief of human suffering. In light of what the Scriptures say about the kind of care God wills that we provide to those who suffer and are facing death, we reject such claims as neither compassionate nor caring. Christians aim always to care, never to kill
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod at its 1992 convention recognized the growing need "to counteract a false understanding of compassion in our culture which claims that terminating the lives of those who are weak and helpless is a compassionate act" and to provide spiritual care and support to those who must help to bear the burdens of those who suffer. A report by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations issued a report on euthanasia in 1979. It specifically commended to the members of the Synod for reference and guidance twelve principles presented in the report as they addressed ethical questions related to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Those twelve principles are as follows:
1. Euthanasia, in its proper sense, is a synonym for mercy killing, which involves suicide and/or murder. It is, therefore, contrary to God's Law.
2. As Creator, God alone knows with certainty whether a disease or an injury is incurable.
3. When the God-given powers of the body to sustain its own life can no longer function and doctors in their professional judgment conclude that there is no real hope for recovery even with life-support instruments, a Christian may in good conscience "let nature take its course."
4. Administering pain-killing medications, even at the risk of shortening life, is permissible, since this does not entail the choice of death as either a means or an end.
5. It is good ethical procedure for the doctor to request and receive a statement signed by the patient, if competent to consent, or by the nearest of kin, agreeing to the uselessness of further "heroic efforts" and consenting to termination of treatments.
6. Each person, no matter how infirm and socially useless he or she may appear to be, deserves to be accepted as a being created in the image of God.
7. While suffering is an intrusion into life, it provides the opportunity for Christian witness and service.
8. Often the time prior to death is so wrapped in mystery that no one ought forcibly to interrupt the movement of a man's spirit as it may be communicating through God's Spirit and his Creator and Redeemer by way of responding in trust and inner yearning.
9. Death is not merely a physical but a crucial spiritual event for each person.
10. Any decision made in this highly complex area, and any actions taken that may later appear to have been wrong, have been redeemed by that forgiveness which is available to all who put their trust in the work and merits of mankind's Savior and Redeemer.
11. The spiritual and moral questions raised by the issue of euthanasia are of such nature that their evaluation is an enterprise touching on the very survival of the basic principles which undergird the integrity of our Christian faith and the survival of our cultural heritage. They constitute the primary spiritual and moral crucible of this age.
12. Christians are obligated to make their position known, by whatever means possible, as a way of helping to shape public opinion on the questions of euthanasia.
It is taken from the pamplet "A Religious Response to Euthanasia" by Advocates for Better Care, 2340 Porter St., SW, P.O. Box 901, Grand Rapids, MI 49509-0901. (616) 530-2864.