Physicians of Houston do harm Willie...

We shed innocent blood when we withdraw food and water from patients, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters whose deaths otherwise are neither imminent nor inevitable. And this is true whether or not the patient or loved one is in what's sometimes called a "persistent vegetative state."

The teaching of the Westminster Standards is clear on this as they open up Scripture to us. The Sixth Commandment requires of all men the provision of the basic care necessary for the sustaining of life, and not to give it is to murder a man made in the Image of God.

This matter comes up again and again in pastoral ministry. Most recently it's been in the front of the minds of believers in Houston watching physicians murder the much-loved father and husband, Willie, whose family was helpless as they sought to defend his life against all the medical ghouls determined to murder him.

And they did.

Here then is...

a statement on euthanasia I wrote some time ago. It was written with much help by Christian medical professionals and ethicists, then adopted as its Position Statement on Euthanasia by Presbyterians Pro-Life of the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) where I then served.

David and I hope this statement will be a starting point for pastors, elders, Titus 2 women, and conscientious Christian medical professionals willing to do the hard work of opposing our culture of death in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. May God strengthen each of us for this evil day. (TB)

The Christian View of Euthanasia...

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1Corinthians 15:25-26)

(Death) has been destroyed in such a way as to be no longer fatal for believers, but not in such a way as to cause them no trouble. ...the sword of death used to be able to pierce right to the heart, but now it is blunt. It wounds still, of course, but without any danger; for we die, but, in dying, we pass over into life. (John Calvin)

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? ...For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:1,35-36)

Christians have, for two-thousand years, recognized Scripture as the final authority in all matters of controversy (Footnote 1) and have appealed to its authority with the same words their Master frequently used when He taught His disciples: "It is written..." (Footnote 2) The reformed tradition has confessed through the centuries that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. (Footnote 3)

Scripture teaches that human beings are the crown of God's creation (Footnote 4), and that the murder of a human being is a great wickedness before our Heavenly Father because each man and woman has been made in His image. (Footnote 5) The Sixth Commandment condemns not only the directly intended taking of innocent human life, whether our own or another's, but also "neglecting or withdrawing the lawful or necessary means of preservation of life." (Footnote 6)

Today there are mounting pressures upon medical professionals, pastors, families, and individuals to hasten the death of those under their care or authority. Such hastening sometimes takes the form of direct action, such as a lethal injection. More commonly, it takes the passive form of neglect or withdrawal of the necessary means of preservation of life. (Footnote 7) Such means include medical treatment, both extraordinary and ordinary. But they also include basic provisions historically understood as care: warmth, cleanliness, food, water, and love. Christians must distinguish between "treatment" and "care."

Where medical treatment which is not gravely burdensome is necessary for an individual to continue to live, the withdrawal of such treatment--except in cases where death is imminent and inevitable and to continue such treatment would pose a grave risk or cause more of a burden to the patient than it would alleviate--is a violation of the image of God which all men and women bear.

Loving care for all members of the human community is a fundamental Christian teaching and an obligation of Christian discipleship. (Footnote 8) Therefore it ought never to be withheld. This includes providing liquids and nutrition through spoon-feeding or tubes where the patient is unable to take them by another manner. Withholding such necessary means for the preservation of life must, therefore, stand under Scripture's condemnation, (Footnote 9) even in the case of those who are perpetually comatose or in a persistent vegetative state. Christians should also ensure that members of the human community are upheld with the warmth and love of human contact.

Christians follow their Master in humbly serving those who suffer and acting to alleviate their suffering. We recognize, however, that suffering is not to be avoided at any cost,(Footnote 10) especially if the cost is either our own or the patient's breaking of the Sixth Commandment. Scripture teaches that affliction often produces spiritual growth and holiness. (Footnote 11) Such spiritual fruit is far more valuable in God's eternal economy than those commodities so frequently mentioned by proponents of "quality of life" ethics such as self-determination and autonomy. (Footnote 12)

People who ask to be killed, to be assisted in suicide, or to have actions taken which will hasten their death, frequently do so out of a misguided desire not to be a burden to others. Regrettably, they are often pressured in this direction by talk of "quality of life" and "death with dignity."(Footnote 13) Such individuals, though, are best helped by a simple warm embrace and other visible demonstrations of our love and affection for them. We need to reassure them by expressing our desire that they live here with us until God Himself, in His sovereign will, (Footnote 14)intervenes to take them. Jesus warned we would be judged on the basis of our ministry to "the least of these my brothers." (Footnote 15) Weighty indeed are our responsibilities when "the least of these" are our own family members, (Footnote 16) especially our mothers and fathers. (Footnote 17)

Those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ are urged to approach death with the recognition that the only "good death" is the natural death of a man or woman, boy or girl, who is "in Christ." (Footnote 18) Although for Christians "to die is gain," (Footnote 19) until our Lord returns in power and glory, death itself will not cease being our "last enemy." (Footnote 20) And for those who don't believe, death is the terrible moment "after (which comes) the judgment." (Footnote 21)

Yet as followers of Jesus Christ we cling to our hope that the Holy Spirit has given us a living faith in our precious Lord, and that through His blood our sins will be forgiven and we will be welcomed into His glorious presence where there "is fullness of joy [and] ...pleasures for evermore."(Footnote 22)

Footnotes:

(Footnote 1) Matthew 22:23-33Acts 17:11II Timothy 3:14-17II Peter 1:19-21; Preliminary Principles of the Presbyterian churches of America.
(Footnote 2) Matthew 4:4,6,7,10Luke 19:46Mark 7:6.
(Footnote 3) Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1.
(Footnote 4) Psalm 8:5Matthew 6:2612:12.
(Footnote 5) Genesis 1:279:6.
(Footnote 6) Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 135,136.
(Footnote 7) ibid.
(Footnote 8) 1Timothy 5:4-8James 1:27.
(Footnote 9) Exodus 20:13Matthew 25:31-46James 2:14-17.
(Footnote 10) James 5:10,11; Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 27:34Romans 8:17,18Philippians 3:10.
(Footnote 11) Lamentations 3:1-66; Romans 5:3-5Colossians 1:24.
(Footnote 12) Hebrews 5:8James 5:101Peter 4:1,12-16.
(Footnote 13) Job 2:9.
(Footnote 14) Deuteronomy 31:14Job 14:5Matthew 24:42-44Luke 2:26-3212:40James 4:13,14.
(Footnote 15) Matthew 25:31-46.
(Footnote 16) 1Timothy 5:8.
(Footnote 17) Exodus 20:12Deuteronomy 5:16Ephesians 6:2.
(Footnote 18) Romans 6:238:1,38,391Corinthians 15:221Thessalonians 4:16.
(Footnote 19) Philippians 1:21.
(Footnote 20) I Corinthians 15:25,26.
(Footnote 21) Romans 14:10Hebrews 9:27.
(Footnote 22) Psalm 16:11.

Appendix:

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy quire of Saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy Music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

-John Donne

O cross that liftest up my head, 
I dare not ask to hide from Thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead, 
And from the ground there blossoms red 
Life that shall endless be.

-George Matheson

They, then, who are destined to die, need not be careful to inquire what death they are to die, but in what place death will usher them.

-St. Augustine

O Heavenly Father, who didst bless Thine aged servants Simeon and Anna, suffering them to behold with their eyes the Savior of the world and to see Thy salvation; bless, we humbly pray Thee, this Thy servant in his later days. Give him a clear knowledge of his Savior, and a sure faith in that Savior's merits and sacrifice. Let not his mind be clouded over with doubts or darkness. May his path be as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. May his end be calm and blessed. Suffer him not at the last from any pains of death to fall from Thee. Guide Thou him through the valley of the shadow of death. And may he pass joyfully from the weakness and weariness of this mortal life to a blessed rest; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Scottish Book of Common Order; Prayer for the Aged

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

-Isaiah 53:1-12

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

-1Peter 4:1-2 

Comments

One pro-life leader noted the bitter irony that many will learn of Willie's death today ... World Water Day

They would never allow a convicted mass murderer to be executed this way -- it would be cruel and unusual punishment. This type of torture is only for the weak, the helpless, and the innocent.

Rise up, O Just One!

It goes without saying that what happened to Willie is about as unjust and deplorable as it gets.

On the other hand, about 98%+ of Tim's Position Statement on Euthanasia adopted by Presbyterians Pro-Life is excellent, I must be your loyal opposition on one point. If a person is of sound mind and writes a living will that states that he or she does not want to be put on a respirator, a feeding tube, or to receive total parenteral nutrition (TPN), or other extraordinary measures under certain conditions, I think we should allow them that opportunity.

Several elderly people I know have done this and I know them well enough that their motivation was not to be a burden on their families or be concerned about draining their finances and leaving nothing left for their surviving spouse to live on, for example.

Two of them include my own parents. When my dad, who had late stage Alzheimer's disease, lost the ability to swallow my sisters, brother, and me felt we preserved his last shred of dignity to follow the request in his living will and not put him on a feeding tube. He was put on IV fluids so he would not get dehydrated and on enough pain medication so that he would not feel his hunger and died within a week. We like to believe that he's looking down from heaven and saying, "Thank you for letting me go home."

Hey "Mark," if you're going to get personal, here, use your real name. Identify yourself, man. If you don't, we won't allow your comments. That's our rule.

And if I may add some advice, if all you have to offer is the sort of wickedness anyone can find done better on the oped pages of the New York Times, don't bother. It's not original. It's not even interesting. And it's defiance of the Living God, which will be judged.

Love,

I just finished reading a book by a Christian physician who specializes in geriatric care. The book is titled "Finishing Well to the Glory of God" by John Dunlop M.D. (I highly recommend the book). Among other topics, the book touches on the subject of this post. There is a huge difference between refusing to tube feed someone who is not dying (for example Terry Schiavo), someone like Willie with a potential treatable condition, and someone who is dying and will not benefit from tube feeding.

One example I can give is a dog my husband and I had a few years ago. He became quite ill with what was apparently a tumor of the pancreas or liver area. The vets office kept him overnight towards the end, giving him IV fluid for a few hours. His body was unable to accept it, and he drowned in the fluid that had collected in his lungs overnight. In the case of a person in this condition, the treatment would do more harm than good, actually hastening their death which would feel to them like the agony of prolonged drowning.

So this type of treatment is a wisdom issue that requires a pastor, a pro life Dr. like Dr. Dunlop, and the person and their family to make the decision, and should not be left to a hospital, an insurance company, or anyone else. Dr Dunlop also recommends filling out an Advanced Directive.

I wonder if Willie's situation would be different if he'd had an Advanced Directive filled out that said he wanted all possible treatments done for him in the situation he's in, or that would have put his wife as the one to tell Drs. to do all possible treatments to save his life?

It would be wonderful if all churches took a stand on this by having a statement such as the one Pastor Bayly has above.

Blessings,
Nancy Wilson

NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: This is not my work. I'm posting it at the request of a physician-friend.]

Dear Sue,

Your position is very appealing, and at first glance very compelling. And yet, I must be your loyal opposition. As an internal medicine doctor, and one who specializes in hospital and nursing home medicine, I deal with situations like your father's on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. Each time, I find myself pulled in many directions, but the most comfortable direction is the one you advocate. The natural man in me can slip into your position as easily as I can my suede house slippers, and I'll never face a moment of questioning or pushback from the nurses, other docs, hospital, or anyone in our Big Ten university community. It's precisely because of that ease and acceptance from the world that the spiritual man in me starts to ask questions. Maybe it's not so simple after all.

The first important question to ask about your argument is "What does it presuppose?" There are many underlying presuppositions that are required to make your position work. First, ventilators, CPR, feeding tubes, and TPN -- to name a few commonly available interventions -- are all placed into one category of relatively equivalent “extraordinary measures.” Second, we have to assume that all a person needs is a sound mind to make that decision and that the definition of a sound mind is even clear. I think all of those assumptions are flawed, but rather than spend time on dissecting those, I want to zero in on the assumption behind the stronger part of your argument, the part that really pulls at my heart strings.

This is the assumption that dying with dignity and autonomy is of the highest ethical value. Or, if you're not willing to go that far, you have to at least say there's no other competing moral principle that both has the power to trump personal dignity and autonomy and might force a different conclusion. Really, that shouldn't be too hard for us to admit. The fact is, we Americans value our own dignity and freedom to choose our future more than almost anything else. Even as Christians, we rarely see how God's will could be at odds with our own self-reliance and freedom of self-determination. Only when we see that the very manner in which we die must comply with God's will, only when we cross examine our presuppositions with Scripture, only when we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal and purify our motives, only when we remember that from beginning to end we are not our own but we are bought with a price can we then think rightly about these most difficult of situations.

Search the Scriptures and you actually won't find much about the importance of maintaining a man's dignity, and when you do it's arguing for preservation of life because man is made in God's image. Or, you'll see boasting, but it's boasting in the Lord. With that recognition, you can't really compare our unwillingness to burden our families with things like Paul's unwillingness to burden certain churches. (Keep in mind he was more than happy to have his needs supplied by other churches.) Paul's concern was not his own dignity but rather God's glory and the furtherance of the Gospel. And then we come to our Lord Himself, He who taught us that no servant is greater than his master. How is it we think that Jesus had to die an undignified death but no one in our day and age should ever have to?

One last thought on this idea of burdening others. When we throw a banquet, whom does Jesus tell us to invite? The sick, the lame, the poor, the blind. We love passages like that as long as we get to be the one throwing the banquet. But without the presence of the poor and sick, the one throwing the banquet never has the blessing of serving them. We know we will always have the poor, and we believe in serving the least of these. But we’ll be damned if we’ll ever actually have to be one of the least of these. So here we are, back to protecting our own dignity, and whether we’re in our right minds or not, there’s nothing Christian, nothing Biblical about it.

Sue, I really don’t write this because I want to cause you pain as you remember your experience with your father. But the arguments you put forth and the assumptions behind them are so ubiquitous that they needed to be examined here honestly and Scripturally. Lives and souls are at stake so I hope you’ll understand why I have written as I have.

Sincerely in Christ,

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the book recommendation; I'll see if our local library system has it.

If you have read my post (#3), you can see that I agree with you all the way.

With my dad, it was so much easier that my siblings and I knew what his wishes were about end-of-life care because his living will/advanced directive spelled it all out.

Well, we don't have a Pastor Bayly, but our Fr. Ron invited an attorney in the church knowledgeable about our state's laws about health care proxies, living wills, advanced directives, etc., to hold meetings after all three of our services one Sunday. She explained all of these subjects in very understandable language and from a Christian perspective.

I pray that when I am old and dying I may have the courage and strength and faith and humility to allow myself to be a burden to those around me, trusting in God to use the hard work for the sanctification of my wife (if she is still living) and children, and the indignity for my own sanctification, and all to the glory of God.

I don't want to understate the importance that suffering with faith has as a testimony to the next generation either.

Reading in the comments about the effect that caring for Aunt Elaine had on your kids ( http://www.baylyblog.com/2007/12/elaine-curriden.html ) was really eye-opening to me and got me thinking about this, and talking with my wife, about when my parents are old, and about when we are old.

This is different from the typical case, if I've got it right, in that Willie had given no directive to let him die, and the family didn't want to let him die, and, it seems, even the insurance company was willing to pay to keep him alive. It was just that the hospital-- and all the other hospitals in the area-- said that they didn't want to care for Willie even as a paying customer. Am I right?

I don't think it ultimately changes the ethics of the situation, but it's something I hadn't heard about before. It's as if the hospitals said, "We know you're willing to pay for treatment to keep yourself alive, but we think that's a waste of your money, so go away and die."

I am one of the "believers in Houston" that has been following this case and I posted it on my Facebook where it has generated a bit of debate -- mostly being critiqued for being "full of emotionally charged wording" and "clearly so biased," with very "little facts." My conflict has been -- should the facts matter? I do wish that Elizabeth Graham wrote in a more journalistic style and had given more of the facts, but I would be surprised if she flat out lied about her interaction with this family. I have erred on the side that Mrs. Graham is telling the truth because I have always trusted the TX Right to Life organization as a resource on life issues. I have e-mailed her with some questions, but have not received a response yet. In the meantime, I have been able to put together a little more of "Willie's" case through other sites:

- His name is Joe Willis and he was first admitted to Houston's Northwest Medical Center a few weeks ago after experiencing chest pains. The doctors first diagnosed him with pneumonia, then later with leukemia. They immediately started chemo treatments. He allegedly verbally told his daughter "Fight for me, baby; I ain't done living." (My understanding is that this is the extent of his "directive.")

-He responded negatively to the chemo treatments and he was put on "life support." Sometime after that the hospital's bioethics committee made a decision about his care and told the family that they would pull him from life support in 10 days (according to Texas law, doctors can, with the help of an ethics panel, declare a patient's life to be futile and are required to give the patient/family 10 days to relocate -- whether to another hospital, hospice, etc).

-The hospital's social worker called other hospitals on the family's behalf, but allegedly described Willie as "already dead," thus no other hospital would take him.

-Sometime before the 10-day deadline, the family called TX Right to Life and Mrs. Graham stepped in to help (without success).

-A spokesperson for the family has stated that Willie actually progressed during the 10-day time frame: "He didn't need anymore dialysis, his kidneys started functioning on their own, and he was breathing on his own."

-Allegedly, the man had insurance and the family was willing to pay for any extra costs beyond that.

-Mrs. Graham is the only person who has said that the patient was starved and dehydrated to death. I do not know what other "life support" he was on, other than the dialysis that was mentioned. It sounds like he died within 24 hours of being pulled from life support.

I haven't been able to nail down the location of the precise law/bill that has passed, but it seems to be something new as of 2 or 3 years ago. I want to say that I remember it being originally targeted to patients that either did not have insurance or had government insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.), but again I cannot find the precise law (and honestly I don't know if I would even be able to understand it if I found it). One friend of mine said that she has been to one of Mrs. Graham's seminars learning that a "living will" is different than a "will to live" and that if a person does not have a will to live then pretty much anything else can now be trumped by a hospital's ethics committee.

That is so good. Where did you get those brilliant ideas. Wow very well written. Thx a lot.

No eusthanasia?

I can just imagine God saying, "I didn't want anyone to SUFFER! Use your brain, man! Use some flexibility! How much suffering have you caused by your rigidity?"

Dear Chris,

You can imagine your god saying whatever you want.

But the one true God has indeed actually said, "Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man." (Genesis 9:6)

The moment you euthanize a human is the moment you become a murderer, whether they want you to kill them or not, whether you do it actively or passively.

Be warned. Just because you claim God's blessing on an action doesn't mean that God agrees. We must test our words and thoughts against the Scriptures.

Dear Dr. X,

Thanks for taking the time to write such a long and thoughtful post that already has or will affect everyone at least once during their lives.

Please allow a few comments...

#1 from 3rd paragraph, second sentence, "you have to at least say there's no other competing moral principle that both has the power to trump personal dignity and autonomy and might force a different conclusion." I'd say yes, but with some exceptions.

For example, if someone has an advanced directive saying "no feeding tube, respirator, no CPR", I think it is appropriate to honor the advanced directive, especially when the loved one cannot speak for him or herself. But if a family feels that they could not do this in good conscience, they should start these measures, as long as their loved one cannot speak for him/herself.

Second, isn't there a difference between providing basic necessities of life (food and water) and some extraordinary measures who to (a) someone is not terminally ill, even though incapacitated, (b)someone who is terminally ill and nearing death, (c) someone who needs extraordinary measures (and doesn't want them and has this specified in their advanced directive) after a successful surgery.

In my father's case, there were 2 times we asked for a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order per his living will because of what his personal physician and the nurse practitioner at his nursing home told us. In these same instances, we asked to remove the DNR after his condition improved. Therefore, we went against living will because we thought it was in his best interest. Did we play God there?

Last summer, dad contracted aspiration pneumonia, and after initial disagreement, we decided he should be treated because the treament (antibiotics) wouldn't cause him pain and/or suffering that no one could explain to him. Also, the treatment could restore his health to what it was before the infection.

Around that time, he didn't want to eat much, and then could no longer chew solid food, so he was spoon-fed pureed food instead. His doctor and nurse-practitioner told us he was likely to die by the end of 2011. There were other indicators that his body was beginning to shut down, too. So when we learned that he could no longer swallow, my brother talked to his minister about the situation. His minister thought that it looked that his physical body was declining so swiftly, that it would be OK to not start a feeding tube, especially because he requested that in his living will. He thought when a person's body deteriorates so quickly he thought it might even be God's will to take him "home".

I write this to say that our family was one of millions of others that face this issue head on, just this year alone.

I find it interesting that modern medicine has done well at keeping the body alive for many years longer than 100 years ago, yet mental health is severely lagging.

Consider the increase in Alzheimer's.

Can one argue that in Biblical days people died of 'natural' causes before Alzheimer's took over their minds? Today modern medicine keeps the body going and Alzheimer's effects many of them and we face the right to die problem.

We also have some theories that modern toxins are to blame for the increase in Alzheimer's. Again this problem is new to the world... Paul never thought of the problem.

The old saying "let nature take its course" does not deify nature. For me it simply means let death come naturally, i.e. modern medicine advancements (feeding tube, respirator) can be withheld so that death may come to a person naturally.

Personally it seems to me that many of us 'want to play God' by keeping people alive longer than God intended. (sorry if that upsets some)

>>For me it simply means let death come naturally, i.e. modern medicine advancements (feeding tube, respirator) can be withheld so that death may come to a person naturally.

Dear Martin,

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.

Giving food and water to the hungry and thirsty is not unnatural. I'm quite sure "Paul" thought of it because the Holy Spirit and the Son thought of it. In fact, Jesus even spoke of it:

* * *

Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’

Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:44, 45)

* * *

"But Lord," they will say, "we were just allowing you to starve to death naturally! We were just letting you die from thirst and dehydration. It was our ministry to you, Lord. You wouldn't have wanted to live on for another three years being hated and humiliated and scorned--and such a burden for your familly (and your mother) to bear! We knew you didn't want that, Lord! It would have been monstrous for us to allow you to continue to live. So out of deep respect and love, we let you go naturally. It was an act of faith, you see?"

Listen, men and women, there is nothing natural about death. It is an enemy only our Lord Jesus did, and can, defeat. We don't defeat it with the world's wisdom about the good of death by starvation and dehydration.

When you stand before God, you must not find yourself having spurned these warnings. You do not want to tell Almighty God on that day how you didn't intend to give yourself to bloodshed. How you had no intention to kill your unborn child with the Pill or your pharmacy's ECPs. How you were not intending to kill your mother when you did nothing. Yes, she died from dehydration, but she herself didn't want to drink. Yes, truth be told, she died from starvation--but she herself didn't want to eat. It was her choice. You did nothing--it was her decision. You promise! It's true!"

Look at the cause of death and you'll learn something. If it's suppression of vital functions by increasing dosages of morphine, that's murder. It it's dehydration with no complicating factors, that's murder. If it's starvation with no complicating factors, it's murder.

It's actually quite simple. The Bible commands us not to murder, and when we suppress vital functions or refuse water or food, thereby causing someone to die, we have become murderers. The Sixth Commandment is God's command to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, and the fact that the drink comes from our hand or theirs, the food from spoon or a tube, matters not a whit.

There are times not to insert a tube, but only when death is imminent and inevitable, and the cause of death will not be our withholding the necessary means of the sustaining of life. To withhold food and water, thereby causing the death by dehydration or starvation of our son (Baby Doe) or mother or grandmother is murder.

What a terrible day we live in when normally godly men and women do not know this and fail to tremble at these words Jesus warned us would be the excuses given Him at the Last Judgment: "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?"

Wake up, men and women! This world's cruel mercies have given you hearts of stone, leaving you fully convinced that what you are doing is pure as the fresh driven snow and motivated only by love. Do you remember anything about the deceitfulness of sin? Do you really think all the people of God who have given themselves to bloodshed down through salvation history did not have perfect self-justifications for their bloodshed?

Turn away from bloodshed to compassion and humble service to the least of these. Don't withhold food and drink from the least of these His brothers.

Love,

Everyone thinks they know what God is saying. Your chances of being right are no better than mine.

As long as I act with compassion to the suffering, I feel I am on the right track. Scripture commands us to show compassion and love to those less fortunate. So, I guess I've got Scripture "on my side" too!

As I read Scripture, God would never condone unneccessary suffering to the terminally ill.

After all, if a "warm embrace" cured all the pain of the terminally ill, there'd be no need for hospice.

If you spend some time with the terminally ill, watched some of them in agony, begging for morphine, you'd see how laughable your comment is.

We faced a similar situation with my mother in law a while back. She was in her mid-eighties, mentally sound but declining physically, having trouble eating but still living in her own home with her with one of her sons. We were horrified when it was suggested by her doctor that the family could just stop feeding her. Why would we want to be so cruel as to let her starve to death? A few months later it became necessary to place her in an assisted living facility where she lived for another 8 months. The day came when she could no longer swallow anything but liquids and even that was difficult. She also came down with pneumonia. Her veins had collapsed and there no way to hydrate her or get medication in her. At that point all we could do was make her comfortable and wait for the Lord to take her home. It was like we did what we could to keep her alive while that was still possible by feeding her, yet when the day came that there was nothing else left that we could do for her, we could let her go knowing that we had done all we could.

Saul's quality of life suffered much (sore wounded of archers, falling on his sword). He begged one man for mercy in ending his life. That man was afraid to do it and would not. Sual then either convinced an Amalekite to do it, or that Amalekite lied and said he himself had done a kindness to Saul in mercidfully ending Sual's life. David put him to death.

Chris,
Your comments are naked foolishness, and anyone who knows Tim or David knows that they have OFTEN spent time with those who are weak, sick, and dying.

You say that you have compassion and that as long as you have compassion, that you FEEL that you are on the right track.

Your feelings mean nothing here. Compassion is not a question of feelings, but of right actions. This is why Scripture warns against those who say "Be warmed, be filled," and then do not provide what is necessary. I contend that food and water are necessary. You advocate deliberate killing instead.

Compassion does not equal dehydrating/starving someone to death. You justify yourself simply by redefining the key word to suit your purposes.

Tim has been very clear on the distinction between a person who is dying of an acute terminal illness, and someone who is comatose/PVS. Would I demand that someone who was expectant due to cancer be force fed up until the very instant of death? No, but that's not what is being discussed here.

My Grandmother has had a series of strokes, going back a number of years now. She retained full control of all her limbs, but her coordination was greatly reduced. Also, she began having difficulty swallowing. My parents diligently cared for her in their own home for years, until subsequent strokes raised the level of care that she required beyond their ability. We moved her to a nursing home not far from my parents. If she deteriorated further, and could no longer swallow at all, should she be allowed to starve? If left alone, she certainly would. However, she's not in poor health otherwise. Her family loves her, cares for her, and visits her.

The compassion you advocate is cruel, showing no fear of God, and no true mercy for those who are suffering.

I sense some misunderstanding here.

I sense some misunderstanding here.

I sense some misunderstanding here, two.

Seriously, though, I'll try to make it clear what I' not saying tomorrow, and that may help. Patience please.

Love,

I am guessing you folks are against capital punishment too.

Joseph Bayly already mentioned this to you:

But the one true God has indeed actually said, "Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man." (Genesis 9:6)

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:
but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
- Proverbs 12:10 KJV

Even the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Here are some notes I hope will clarify my earlier post and comments.

Some years ago, Mary Lee and I faced the question of how best to care for Aunt Elaine in her dying days. I don't think it would be appropriate to give the particulars here, but the work then made two things completely clear to us.

First, there is simply no replacement for a Christian physician who is faithful in opposing our culture of bloodshed at the end of life being available and willing to provide counsel in family's decision-making at such times. As I've pointed out above, what's at stake is murder and none of us wants to cross the line and become a murderer because we lack wise and pastoral counsel.

Such good and wise counself physician and elder Adam Spaetti ("Doctor X" above) provided Mary Lee and me as our dear Aunt Elaine did the hard work of dying. We cannot thank Adam enough nor commend him highly enough as an elder of Christ's Church who spends his life caring for the sick and dying both as a hospitalist and nursing home physician.

Each Baylyblog reader dealing with the above questions needs to find such a doctor and put himself or herself under that man's counsel and authority.

Second, there are errors of refusing to accept death just as there are errors of being so desirous of death that we become murderers. Both must be avoided, although we should work to err on the side of life, not murder. Making these decisions is not easy. I'm sorry for making it sound like they are easy, at times. I know they're not.

And yet, please keep in mind that it's hard work to avoid becoming murderers in our bloodthirsty day and it's quite important that the stakes be presented clearly.

Long ago, I learned the lesson that it's very, very easy for a pastor to become an accomplice to murder by silence in the face of suicidal souls. If doctors, how much more pastors must first of all do no harm! So whether it's exhorting a deprssed bedridden soul or a depressed pastor with a wife and children and congregation, we are called to exhort those wanting to kill themselves to protect their lives despite and in the midst of their terrible suffering. We must not flinch in this.

Such is Christian faith.

Love,

Ecclesiastes 3:1f

A Time for Everything
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth and a time to die,"

Out of curiosity, are the comments from "Chris" on this post coming from the same address as the "Josiah" on the other post that you called out?

>>are the comments from "Chris" on this post coming from the same address as the "Josiah" on the other post that you called out?

Yes.

Love to you and your good hubby,

Hi Tim,

In the above post, your last paragraph included: "So whether it's exhorting a deprssed bedridden soul or a depressed pastor with a wife and children and congregation, we are called to exhort those wanting to kill themselves to protect their lives despite and in the midst of their terrible suffering. We must not flinch in this." What difficult decisions for shepherds of their flocks have to make!

This laywoman would certainly want a priest or minister with this viewpoint providing pastoral care for anyone in my immediate or extended family or close friends. Maybe what I say below goes without saying, but I'm just suggesting it as an appendix to your post.

However, if the patient's clergy also sensed depression in any of their parishioners (whether simultaneously with serious physical health issues or not), I'd also except a request for a medical or psychiatric consult. If the depression is for real, maybe the depression could be helped with medication prescribed by a Christian psychiatrist and/or counseling by a Christian psychologist or other licensed clinical mental health professional.

Just my .02,

Sue

>>If the depression is for real, maybe the depression could be helped with medication prescribed by a Christian psychiatrist and/or counseling by a Christian psychologist or other licensed clinical mental health professional.

Absolutely, dear sister.

Love,

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