John Piper: Should A Christian Doctor Assist Someone In Dying? 7 Ways To Answer

March 10, 2016Mar 10, 2016

On his website Desiring God, Pastor John Piper addressed a question from a doctor who asked, "I am a physician in Canada that would soon face requests from my patients regarding assisted dying for possibly elderly, chronically ill, or cancer patients. Legislation would be approved next year. How do I have such a conversation with patients and family, given the fact that it is not God’s perfect will and not Christ/gospel centered? What is your view on it?”


Pastor Piper gave this 7-point reply:
1. "We submit to laws as Christians, but not if they contradict clear biblical convictions. So no law concerning physician-assisted suicide should be the guide for a Christian doctor in what he or she is willing to do."
2. "God wants us to obey him even if we can’t see all the good fruit that will come, or that he designs to come, from our obedience."
3. "Both the Old and New Testament command us not to murder, that is, not to take the life of an innocent person who doesn’t deserve to be put to death."
4. "Human life, which is distinct from all other earthly life in being created in the image of God and designed to exist forever, is the gift of God."
5. "A fifth clear thing is the truth that physicians historically have been life-givers and life-sustainers, not life-takers."
6. "It is right and loving for physicians to use whatever medicines they have at their disposal, if the patient wants it, to minimize the pain of their patients."
7. "God often uses [suffering] for good and wise and loving purposes and, therefore, suffering never becomes such an evil so great that it justifies disobedience to one of the commands of God like the command not to take innocent life."

Pastor Piper does say, though, that there can be ambiguity in the question of whether to sustain life, but the will of the patient to live is key. However, the will of the patient to die is not always decisive because of the ease in which a suffering patient can fall into depression.

Pastor Piper concludes, "The ambiguities of end of life decisions regarding what is fitting life support and what blocks a timely, natural death [are the decisions that] remain very, very difficult."

Do you agree? What would you change or add?