When Dad Is Dying

John Piper | August 14, 2014

You’ve just returned from the hospital. Your 86-year-old father has been diagnosed with cancer, and you’re trying to decide if he should undergo chemotherapy. He isn’t keen. He says he’s had a good life and wants to join his Savior. But he’s your dad. How do you decide what to do? How does the Bible guide us?

Our behavior consists of motivation to act, which influences our intentions, which informs our actions, which have consequences. As Christians, we use the Bible as our moral compass. Christian motivation is grounded in the summary of the commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus told us that our actions reflect what is in our hearts and minds (Mark 7:21-23), so both intentions and actions will be morally significant. Consequences are important too, and we do need to consider them as we will be concerned how our actions affect our neighbours.

So, back to Dad in hospital. What to do?

First, in modern medical care, mentally competent individuals can make their own medical decisions. God does give us…

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