Near the end of life it is common be told not to worry about feeding and even to stop feeding, suggesting it will only prolong their life. Although I do not advocate feeding near the end of life in all circumstances, I propose stopping feeding because feeding will prolong life is not in keeping with a Christian world view. Why do I say this?
Length of life, according to the Bible, is determined by God. The Lord God gives us life, sustains life and takes away life. In the beginning God created everything. Psalm 139 tells us God formed us in our mother’s womb, and had our days written down even before we were formed. Job, in one of his prayers to God (Job 13-14), recognized God has determined our days, even the number of them. Hannah, the mother of Samuel in her prayer to God, in 1 Samuel 2, also saw this, saying that the Lord takes life, makes alive, brings us to the grave and up again. The prophet Isaiah, in chapter 42, says God created the heavens and the earth and gives breath to the people on it. These passages indicate God has our days planned, even the day of our death. Is this really so? The fact that many prophesies in the Bible have historically come true, support God being in control. As does the record that Jesus knew what people were thinking, as well as the outcome of their actions, (like His knowing Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed). God knows everything, our days, even the day of our death.read more
An odd connection? Why connect the desire to live forever with actively ending life? Consider the follow passage from a book titled, The View From A Hearse: A Christian View of Death, by Joseph Bayly.
One of my early memories is of being led into my grandmother’s room in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to give her a final kiss. She was dying, I had been told, “so be quiet and behave.” That scene impresses me today with its Old Testament quality. Grandma, an imposing person, was conscious, slightly raised on a bolster, her white hair braided and carefully arranged on the quilt she had made as a young woman. The bed, a fourposter, was the one in which she had slept for fifty years, in which her four children had been conceived and born. The wide-boarded floor creaked its familiar creak, the kerosene lamp flickered on the massive bureau, a bouquet of sweet peas from Grandma’s garden made the room faintly fragrant. The old lady was surrounded by her children and grandchildren. In a few hours she died.
Forty years later my children were with their grandfather when he had his last heart attack. We gave him oxygen, called the doctor, and then the ambulance came. The men put Grandpa on a stretcher, carried him out of the house, and that was the last his grandchildren saw of him. Children are excluded from most hospitals. In the intensive care unit of the hospital, my wife and I were with him until the visiting hours were over. The mechanics of survival—tubes, needles, oxygen system, electronic pacemaker—were in him and on him and around him. Grandpa died alone, at night, after visiting hours. His grandsons had no chance to give him a final kiss, to feel the pressure of his hand on their heads.
In this generation death has moved out of the home to the hospital, doctors and nurses have replaced the family, a dying father has become a terminal patient. If the end seems imminent and the family members are present, they are usually hustled out of the room. Why? To shield them from death’s shock, to give medical personnel a free hand if any extreme measures are necessary, perhaps to avoid a traumatic experience for other patients if a surviving relative should go to pieces.read more
In the posting titled Personhood – Which Comes First Death of the Body or Departure of the Soul/ I grappled with the question of the mind. Science can show that activities of the mind and physical activities in the brain are connected but science does not prove that the mind is simply a function of physical brain activity. Clearly, for others to know that thoughts are occurring in a person’s mind the person must have a functioning brain to express the thoughts through. Actually, more than just a functioning brain is usually required. Except when there is some kind of real time brain scanner, such as a functional MRI scan, assessing the brain, we can only know that the mind is active when the brain uses the physical attributes of the body to express the activity of the mind, such as the movement of the lungs, vocal cords and mouth, etc. This does not necessarily mean that a person’s brain must be functioning in order to think. There are examples of people who because of brain malfunction have temporarily lost the ability to move or speak, who were later able to reveal that during the time of lost function that their minds were active. The question before us is this. Is there some area of the brain that is the mind, or is the mind other than the brain and only, in a sense, making use of the brain? I accept that the center of the mind in our bodies is the brain but is the brain the mind?read more
With issues like In Vitro Fertilization, vital organ transplantation, and genetic manipulation, it is tempting to focus on the outcome, of a beautiful healthy baby, of a child revived to life or of avoiding having a child with life long illness. In spite of questions about the technology, the Lord has certainly answered much prayer. The Lord, the author of life, is one who gives life to a beautiful baby. The Lord, in whom we live and have our being, certainly, is the one who sustains the life of our child. The Lord can overcome trials such as the struggle with genetic illness. These things are true, but does this mean that we can ignore the potentially difficult questions that arise in connection with the technological paths that resulted in these great outcomes the Lord has allowed?read more