Should Christians Have a Living Will?
"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."1
"Dear sir," an ACTS website reader asks, "with so much talk nowadays about advance directives and living wills what does the Bible say? If you have any information on this from God's point of view, please share it with me."
First, let me say that I am not replying with legal advice, and if you are interested in having a living will, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer regarding the legal requirements pertaining to your state or country.
Second, as a reminder a living will is: "A legal document directing the extent to which an individual desires to receive artificial life support in the event of a terminal illness or injury. A living will may also name a third party to make medical decisions on one's behalf."2
Third, I don't know of any passage in God's Word directly relating to living wills. However, today's Scripture reminds us that if we don't provide for our loved ones we are worse than non-Christians. While this applies to an active living person, I'm sure the same principle applies should we be in a situation that would require artificial life-support to keep us alive.
Fourth, for those who are aware of the Terri Schiavo case, "the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman who became the centerpiece of a national right-to-die [or right-to-live] battle, died … nearly two weeks after doctors removed the feeding tube that had sustained her for more than a decade"3 one realizes that had Terri written a living will when she was in good health, this debacle would never have happened—plus she would have saved her loved ones from this painful dilemma of having to decide what she wanted.
Whether we have a living will or not is really up to each individual. The important thing to remember is that if we choose to have one, we need to have it legally ratified while we are in a healthy state of mind. It is also important to make sure our regular will is up to date to make sure we protect and take care of loved ones.
However, of far, far greater importance is that we have willed, while living, to settle matters with God, to make our peace with him, to receive his forgiveness for all our sins, and know that we know that our names are written in God's book of life with the assurance of his gift of eternal life in heaven forever. For help, see "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: http://www.actsweb.org/christian.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, regarding matters of life and death please give me the wisdom to know whether or not I should have a living will that will protect both myself and my loved ones should I ever be in a situation that would require the same. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV).
2. "Glossary of Terms," Claremont Graduate University. http://www.cgu.edu/pages/1779.asp
3. CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/03/31/schiavo/