Killing a dying person to put them out of pain

So I saw a movie the other day where the protagonist’s friend got captured by the bad guys and sentenced to be burned at stake. As he was being burned alive and screaming in agony, the protagonist, who was in the crowd, shot him right in the chest… killing him and putting him out of his misery.

Killing an innocent person is intrinsically evil, regardless of the reasons, right? But in a case like this, would it still be a sin? Is what the protagonist did a loving thing to do, or is it immoral?

Since he couldn’t stop the burning at the stake, he showed mercy by killing him.

I don’t think this is true. It was a direct killing and as far as I know, directing killing someone to put them out of pain is always wrong, because we as humans have such a huge dignity.
This is different from in certain cases, allowing someone to die, because of pain.

The action the protagonist took is intrinsically evil, and objectively is the grave sin of murder. However, the psychological and emotional factors present would likely reduce the protagonist’s culpability for his action.

Are we the ones who decide when we die? , We do not decide when our life will end, any more than we decided when it began. Much less does someone else – a relative, a doctor, or a legislator–decide when our life will end. None of us is master over life and death.

You are not allowed to do a lesser good, here saving someone from pain, by committing a direct evil (in this case, the greater evil of murder). So, this option is immoral.

(Spoiler Alert) In the film “Million Dollar Baby,” the choice is over euthanasia of a person who is paralyzed from the neck down. But the choice of death is a rejection of life as we are given it–“If I cannot live on my terms, I don’t want it.” But asking someone to kill us, or killing ourselves, is wrong, because God is not about death but life, and we are to receive God’s gifts in hope.

More, such reasoning can easily spill over into making choices for others on their quality of life. This is why, tragically, 90% of children with Downs Syndrome are aborted these days. We refuse to accept the gift of life, unless we can have it on our “perfect” terms, so we get rid of the first gift to hope for something better.

Not really sure… I kinda find it hard to believe that God would be that displeased with you, but I’m not sure whether or not it’s okay.

For example, you needn’t keep someone alive on life support if they can’t survive without it-- you can let them go. But you can’t just put someone down who’s old and dying from cancer. Thing is, with those people dying of cancer or some similar disease, there’s no telling how much time they have left. With someone burning to death on a stake, the window is pretty narrow-- maybe a minute.

I don’t offer any NT advice or advice from the catechism. However, in the OT, there are several occurrences where someone asks to be put to death to put them out of their misery before the enemy reaches them. To be fair, none of these people are considered upright, and David does kill a guy who claimed to kill Saul for touching the Lord’s anointed… so the OT is very sketchy about it. :shrug: (for the references, one is Saul, the other is… I don’t remember… the guy who got hit on the head by a woman and wanted his own man to kill him so no one would say a woman killed him)

And how would you know if the painful death by burning did not serve some hidden purpose of God? He is Lord of our Life and of our Death, every breath we take!

This is from the Last of the Mohicans? The guy that did the mercy killing in the movie you watched was a Native American that wasn’t catechized in anyway.

“Putting somebody down” to make them die quicker is objectively evil, but of course there is still a distinction between murdering somebody with vengeful cold blood and murdering somebody out of ignorance and likely even a misguided sense of compassion. Without instruction, I’m not sure how well the human conscious alone would be sufficient in dealing with this, as this is admittedly a more challenging moral dilemma. He should have just let him burn for a few more seconds before blacking out instead of stopping and sniping him in the chest with a musket. Euthanasia and related practices are very dangerous, and it is not our place to voluntarily decide the death of a person by intervening.

Probably Last of the Mohicans…I have never believed in redemptive suffering. I think it is something that someone thought up to make people feel better about their suffering. My vision of God doesn’t include having nearly unbearable suffering sent upon us.
I know that is in variance with many here, but I believe that if a person is terminal, continued suffering serves no purpose.
We are kinder to convicted murderers.

Yes, it remains murder, and a grave sin.

We may say that the profound psychological pressure that lead to it would attenuate in the Lord’s eyes the man’s culpability, but that is not up to us to determine, nor are we to justify such a gesture.

Suffering does not lessen the human dignity, but “putting them down” does. It puts them on the same level as animals as if somehow we are masters over them. We are not.

Whenever suffering is brought up, I am constantly reminded of St. Paul in 2nd Corinthians 12 (I believe) where he talks about the thorn in his flesh.

Yes, it is.

I dunno… I find it hard to believe God would really be that upset at any of us if we were standing in front of our child or spouse or sibling being burned alive at the stake, and all we could do was shoot them… and we did so.

There is no way I’d walk away letting a loved one go through that type of horrible death. Especially if it was a child or a spouse. If I had a gun, I’d shoot them.

Thank you for all the responses.

I saw the movie. I can’t say for sure that I’d do a mercy killing, but I’d sure as shootin’ do what I could to make the sin worthwhile by taking out as many of them as I could before they got me.

This does lead to an interesting question: what about when a military chaplain picks up a gun and starts shooting? I’m pretty sure this was reported from early in the Iraq War.

My thoughts are that the person who shot the burning person would not be guilty of sin only if he was one of the legal executioners and the shooting was authorized as part of the execution protocol (such as a coup de grace at firing squad executions). Otherwise, he is working outside of the law and is therefore guilty of murder as he is directly causing the death of the person, reasons notwithstanding.

Of course, I speak objectively. In reality, there’s just too much emotion and subjectivity in such a scenario that I wouldn’t be able to judge the state of the shooter’s soul.

You can’t say what you would do until you were in a situation that severe. I imagine the producers of the movie slid that moral dilemma into the movie on purpose. It’s hard for a person not to be understanding of it.

Dying in a fire is extremely painful and extremely brief. You’ve got about 10-15 seconds once you’re engulfed and then you black out. I’ve got a question then: if you had a relative dying of terminal cancer and was being eaten away over the course of several months, would you still have the same opinion, or would you allow them to cling on until they died a natural death? What about in the final weeks where they may not even be able to hardly communicate at all? In terms of overall misery, which one do you think suffers more? The cancer patient or the person engulfed in fire?

What if you came across a loved one that was ripped apart and dying after a car accident, and there was not an ambulance in sight. Would you also put a bullet in them, or would you stand beside them in that situation in their final moments?

Just some stuff to consider. The scene in the movie was very graphic and was intended to play on your immediate emotions. You don’t have to answer if you don’t’ want to.

You cannot commit an evil act and call it good. Our life is in God’s hands.

I understand your sentiment and would not judge your conviction as sin, but there is something much greater here and that is the recognition that God is Good, Loving and that suffering can accomplish His greater good. It’s all about trust and not usurping His sovereignty.

Just for the fun of wondering, I wonder if in that situation you couldn’t shoot the guy with the intention of wounding him and inducing shock which switches off the pain receptors for a time. Then the guy won’t suffer as much during the process of burning to death which the protagonist is powerless to prevent.

The death isn’t the intention, nor is killing the means to the end. The bullet is used to induce shock to relieve pain. The cause of death is still the fire.

No immoral means, no immoral ends. Just shoot straight! :wink:

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