Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

“When is OK to tell the Doctor to Pull the Plug?”

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“Today I have given you the choice between life and death,
between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness
the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose life, that you
and your descendants might live!”
Deuteronomy 30:19

 Author Tony Campolo used this verse in his book “20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch,” in the chapter asking this question:  “When is it OK to tell the doctor to pull the plug?”  At the beginning of the chapter, he gives the following scenario.  A man has an accident and his brain is rendered dead.  The rest of his body, however, is still capable of pumping blood.  His best friend has enough money to pay all the medical bills necessary to keep the life-supporting machines running indefinitely.  The author then asks the question, “Is he doing what a Christian should do?  He thinks not and gives the following reasons:

Stewardship – the money that is being used to keep this body alive could be better used. 

“Pulling the plug” is the decision to “simply stop doing what was prolonging life in an unnatural manner.”  That if you made this decision for a loved one, that you were simply no longer fighting what God would have allowed to happen had it not been for human interference. 

Let’s go back to the first paragraph.  Haven’t we always heard “with God everything is possible?” (Matthew 19:26)   How can we know for sure that God isn’t going to work a miracle? 

And actually, the use of these two verses is a good example of how people take specific scriptures and make them “fit” a particular situation.  The verse in Deuteronomy, I think, was really referring to the life-altering choice of whether to follow Christ.  The verse in Matthew was Jesus’ reply to the disciples regarding whether rich people could get into heaven. 

So where does this leave us if we are ever faced with this choice?  A long time ago, I did have to make this decision.  During my first marriage, our infant son was born with many deformities, and a certain medical condition that in most cases meant he would not live more than a few months, even with constant medical attention.  I was either still under the effects of anesthesia or I was in shock or both, so much of that time is a little foggy.  But I do remember thinking to myself that if we took away the “machines,” whatever happened would be what God wanted to happen.  We did make that decision, and he passed away a day later. 

I think the line from above, to “simply stop doing what was prolonging life in an unnatural manner,” might actually be the answer.  What do you think?

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One thought on ““When is OK to tell the Doctor to Pull the Plug?”

  1. I agree with your last statement and I will add that there should be some dignity of living and not just like some plant that we feed and water!

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