04/16/2011 06:56 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2011

Does God Choose When the Spirit Leaves the Body or Do We?

Consider this scenario:

Your loved one is dying and there have been no conversations about what his wishes are concerning how he wants his body to be treated as he nears the end of his life. The doctors tell you that there is no expectation of recovery and that, because of the natural progression of his disease, his organs are starting to shut down. They ask if you are willing to sign a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR), so that if he stops breathing or his heart stops, a "code" will not be called, his chest will not be pounded on and his heart will not be shocked to try to restart it. He will continue to receive all medications and will be kept comfortable (free from pain) until the natural course of his disease takes over and he dies.

You believe that as long as your loved one has breath in his body, God's Spirit is present within it. Therefore, everything must be done until God's Spirit chooses to leave the body. To you, this means that all human interventions are to be tried until God decides it is the end of his life. So, you refuse to sign the DNR.

What do you think? How would you react in this situation? If your religious beliefs are consistent with the above scenario, or if you believe that there should never be "artificial interventions," do you think that God gave us all of these amazing technologies so that we might live longer? Or do you think that God gave us the knowledge to be able to create these technologies, and then, as humans are want to do, we use them way beyond their original intent (e.g., the man who invented the feeding tube device never intended it to be used for a long time -- it was invented to help people over the "hump" of major surgery or recovery from an accident)? Or do you think that God had nothing to do with it -- we invented these devices because of our strong denial of death and push to stay "alive" as long as possible? Or ... ?

There is no "right" or a "wrong" answer -- there is only your answer. And each of our answers will be different, which is why it is so important to have discussions with your loved ones, while they are still healthy, about what is important to them. Do they believe, as in the scenario above, that everything has to be done because God requires that of us? Or, do they believe that the natural course of the illness or disease should dictate how aggressive the medical staff should be?

Ask your loved ones and then, as they tell you what they would do in this scenario, don't be surprised if it is different from what you thought they would say!