Q: Some people these days are opting for euthanasia and suicide. The terminally ill and people who feel they have lived past their use- by date. How does this action sit with God?
A: It is true that people today are beginning to question whether they want to stay on the earth while they have diseases that may rob them of a quality of life that they desire. They make these decisions not only on an individual level, but also begin to question whether laws can be made to assist others when they feel that their life has reached a point of unsustainability without extreme medical intervention or discomfort of other kinds. Physical pain is a big factor—money or availability of resources may be a factor as well. The Urantia Book does not specifically address these questions, although suicide is mentioned, most meaningfully in this quote:
Suicide among men testifies that such beings have emerged from the purely animal stage of existence, and to the further fact that the exploratory efforts of such human beings have failed to attain the artistic levels of mortal experience. Animals know not the meaning of life; man not only possesses capacity for the recognition of values and the comprehension of meanings, but he also is conscious of the meaning of meanings—he is self-conscious of insight. (160:1.5)
From this quote we can see that suicide is not a good choice because it fails to address the issues of living a life that includes pain of some kind. All mortals experience pain of one kind or another, but we are called to address those issues, and reach, with God, a means of living a good life in spite of our mortal troubles. And this kind of life is possible when we go in partnership with God.
The issue of euthanasia is a bit thornier, but this issue comes down to whether one person, or group of persons can make the decision for another whether to continue a life or end it. In some cases—the one that comes readily to my mind is that of the woman a few years back, who was on a life-support machine—the issue seems somewhat clear. In this woman’s case, she was being kept alive by artificial means when her brain had ceased to function, yet some of her relatives were determined to keep her body alive, in a vegetative state. The husband eventually won, saying that he knew from her when she was functioning, that she did not desire this kind of intervention. And so, her machine was disconnected, and she died soon afterwards. Was this murder? Or was it compassion?
God seems silent on this issue, and I certainly cannot presume to speak for God, but I think we can use our reasoning minds to make some conclusions about euthanasia. And to do so, I will speak only for myself. I have a directive in my will that instructs my loved ones to let me go when my brain has ceased to function, and not to keep me alive with artificial means. We learn in The Urantia Book that, once the brain has ceased to function, the Thought adjuster leaves, and the only mechanisms that are left are those keeping the physical body alive—the heart beating, the lungs taking in air, etc. When there is no brain function, there is no longer a reason to have a breathing body, in my opinion. In such an extreme circumstance, there is also no consciousness, and life loses any meaning for the one inhabiting the body.
I certainly cannot support euthanasia for a person who has potential for life and spiritual progress, no matter what the ailment may be. In our modern life, when we have so many medical miracles, and life-sustaining methods, we will surely be confronted with more of these kinds of ethical questions. But for me, the issue is pretty clear. Once the mind is demonstrated to be non-functioning, and the person has lost the ability to think and reason and is in a life-support situation, I see no moral problem with pulling the plug and letting that person go to God, where they can continue their upward ascension. Again—I cannot presume to say that this is what God wills. In these kinds of situations, there are social mores that come into play, and these change from generation to generation. But I do believe that God wants us to live as long as we can—to be productive, to be able to love him and receive his love in return, to contribute to our world, and serve our fellows. I do not believe that he means for us to just be a breathing body, and that that is a good enough reason to be alive. Since God indwells each of us at the level of mind, the evaluation of that mindal function has to be the final determiner as to whether euthanasia can be a valid and moral act.”