Those who read closely about the passing of Mrs. Graham noticed that her death was hastened by her own request. This quote is from the Fox News report, “Ruth Graham has been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the last few days, Ross said.”
There was a comment to my post on June 14 about Mrs. Graham’s passing that I believe deserves addressing. The question was… “Are you okay with her asking to have her feeding tube removed so she could die? Just wondering what your thoughts are on this type of death.” What follows are a few thoughts…
First… The concepts of Active and Passive euthanasia come from Dr. Norman Geisler’s book “Christian Ethics,” Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. pages 157-172.
Second… I admit that this is a delicate topic that is not easily solved. My suggestion is that those who read this and contemplate what is written should study the Scripture… seek God through prayer… and carefully come to their own conclusion that is supported by God’s Word (Romans 14:5b, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1).
There are two kinds of euthanasia, Active and Passive. Active is when deliberate acts are taken to end human life. It can be performed by the person or someone else. In the former case it is suicide and in the latter it is homicide. It can be with or without consent. Active euthanasia produces death.
Passive euthanasia allows death to occur. It may or may not be morally wrong depending on whether death results from withholding natural means necessary for sustaining life or from withdrawing unnatural means of resisting irreversible sickenss. Withholding natural means would be to not give a person water and nourishment needed to sustain life (In many cases this would be immoral). Withdrawing unnatural means would be stopping nourishment through a feeding tube or I.V. fluids (Given certain situations, this is acceptable.).
In my understanding of what took place, the Graham family followed the passive route. They (Mrs. Graham in consultation with her family) chose to withdraw unnatural means that was sustaining her life (Feeding tube and possibly an I.V.). Thus the natural course of events took place which was that she passed from this life into glory. This is similar (But not the exact same) as a living will that includes a D.N.R. (“Do Not Resuscitate”) request.
Notice closely that this was NOT an event anywhere near to what Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted of several years ago (Physician assisted suicide), nor was it what took place with Terri Schiavo when a judge ordered her feeding tube to be removed and water withheld. In both of those instances active euthanasia was implemented and were immoral.
The Graham family made a very difficult decision, but one that they all made together… including Mrs. Graham. Personally (Not that it matters any), I believe they made their decision in a manner that honored God, His Word, and kept intact the dignity of the family. This decision follows the recent dedication of Dr. Graham’s library in which he had many kind words for his wife (Click here).
The Graham family has shown how Philippians 1:27 is lived out in all times of life.
Update: Sunday June, 17, 2007. Click Here.
Philippians 1:21-24, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christs, for that is far better…”
Luke 16:22, “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side…”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we say to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangle, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (ESV)