It turns out that those defined as “religious” have a greater desire to prolong life when death seems imminent. A study that examined 345 patients with terminal cancer found that a religious person was three times more likely to have intensive life-prolonging care than a non-religious person.
Here are a few observations from this study:
First, it is interesting how the study defines “religious.” The study determined that those “who regularly used prayer or meditation for support” were considered religious. Is this really an accurate definition of religious? Many will pray when there seems to be no other option available even if they do not hold religious beliefs. Also, meditation is used by religious and non-religious alike as a calming or relaxation technique.
Secondly, it turns out that those doing the study are against fighting death. They point out that prolonging life can, in the end, make death more uncomfortable. This is probably true at times, but is it always true? Should a person or a family make a decision based upon what is often true or what is appropriate for their particular situation?
Lastly, it should be no surprise, at least for Christians, that they would fight death the hardest. After all, a true biblical understanding of death tells us that it is not they way things are supposed to be. God gave us life and we are meant to live. It is only as a result of our sin that death entered this world. We, along with all of creation, long for the day when the curse of sin and death will be removed and we, along with all of creation, will be renewed and given eternal life.
Life is a precious gift from God and it is to be cherished above all things. It is only natural to attempt to extend it as long as possible. Is there a time to say “enough?” Yes. But do not criticize those who desire to live.