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When a person has a long-standing illness and decides against further treatment, is that a sin?

For example, if a person needs a kidney transplant and decides against it, knowing s/he will probably die without it, is that sinful to God?

Clarify Share Report Asked December 16 2019 Mini Anonymous

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Open uri20130622 23898 8dsex Kelli Hamann Supporter Pastor's Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Writer, Cellist
No, I don't believe a person who doesn't elect to pursue treatment would in any way be committing a sin, and here are my reasons:

1) To decline treatment is basically putting oneself at a greater risk for death, but in actuality, we all run the risk of death just by taking up space on the planet. I put myself at great risk when I hop on the freeway for 20 minutes to drive to work every day, but I have no choice if I want to eat. Just this morning I almost got hit by a car as I was walking my dog, so should I only stay in my yard? Death will find all of us at some point, and there is no avoiding it. I'm a teacher, and school shootings are on the rise, so does that mean my job choice is more sinful than another because I'm making myself a greater target for terrorists? I don't believe so. I see no difference between a person who declines treatment for an illness and any other person who runs the chance of dying at any moment, simply because risks are literally everywhere.

2) In my opinion, quality of life has to be considered. True, treatment might add more years to a person's life, but if that person is barely functioning due to the ravages of treatment, and so often in the hospital that s/he barely has a life, I have a hard time seeing how the months or years gained are better than a shorter time on earth, but with higher levels of functioning. For Christians, being able to function at more normal levels would probably allow a person to be more engaged with others, to go to church, and to live more fully to God.

3) The Bible mentions a few incidents regarding sick people, and I think I see a common thread: a) King Asa is mentioned negatively for only seeking physicians when he was diseased in his feet, and for not seeking God (2 Chr. 16:12); b) The woman with the hemorrhage spent all she had on doctors for 12 years, but grew worse, and then Jesus healed her; c) James 5:14 says, "Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." In all of these passages, we don't see any "must" about seeking treatment; in fact, if anything, I see the opposite: We should seek God first when we're sick. Nothing is said here about an expectation from God that we seek all treatment possible, but there does seem to be an expectation that we seek God when we're sick.

4) Treatment can be very expensive, and sometimes people simply can't afford it. It wouldn't be fair for God to insist all people seek every treatment possible when for some people, it would mean losing everything financially.

Here's my bottom line: There is no commandment regarding the topic of medical treatment, and I think we need to be careful about how we approach any topic that isn't specifically addressed in the Bible. I believe this is one that God leaves up to us to decide upon, and much of it depends on a person's individual situation.

December 17 2019 7 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
If it were a case where the person decided against available medical treatment from a belief or expectation that God would heal the condition, that (to me) would be putting God to the test, and would be wrong (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:12).

Also, in my opinion, Christians are stewards of the earthly blessings that God has bestowed upon them, which includes their lives. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Christians are not their own. They were bought with a price. Those factors would again lead me to conclude that Christians are expected to exercise available options to care for and preserve their lives so that they can be used for God's glory. (That is also the reason that God grants advancements in medical knowledge and skills, along with people who have the gift of exercising those skills to treat illness.)

(I realize there are cases where an individual is being kept alive in a vegetative state only by extraordinary means with no hope of regaining conscious existence, but that would be a case where, to me, humans (by means of technology) are once again usurping God's authority to determine when an individual's life should cease.)

December 16 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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