by Judy Salisbury
Judy Salisbury is an author, speaker, and founder of Logos Presentations. She is a certified lay counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors, and serves on the board of directors for the International Society of Women in Apologetics (ISWA)as a trainer and an advisor. Her new book, The Conversation: An Intimate Journal of the Emmaus Encounter (Lederer/Messianic Jewish Publishers), fills in the blanks of the Luke 24 story. For more information, visit: www.logospresentations.com.
On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in January 1999, I decided to discuss the 60 Minutes broadcast that past November of what I deemed to be a snuff film. The title of my talk was 60 Minutes with Dr. Death.
Dr. Death, of course, was a reference to Jack Kevorkian, also known as Jack the Dripper due to his homemade suicide machine that dripped lethal drugs into his victim’s veins. We were told the reasoning for 60 Minutes airing of the film was simply to prompt further discussion of the subject, to enhance public awareness, they were “allowing Kevorkian to tell his story.” I’m sure their motives were pure, despite the fact that the program aired during Sweeps Week.
As news spread of Dr. Death’s death it sickened me to hear people hail him as a hero of a great cause. I wondered just how much these folks really knew of Kevorkian. Surely they knew of his 130 victims and his uncanny ability to evade prosecution three times. However, his doing in of his final “patient” during that 60 Minutes snuff film, did him in with a ten to twenty-five year prison term. He was released in 2007.
Euthanasia is simply the logical step after legalized abortion as we find ourselves on a very disturbing yet prophesied path of what some affectionately label Mercy Killing, Doctor Assisted Suicide, Death with Dignity, and The Right to Die. (I bet you had no idea dying was a “right.”) Euphemisms however do not hide the heinous act of taking, or encouraging the taking, of an innocent human life. I find the same emotional arguments used for abortion have also been useful in attempts to sway one’s opinions on mercy killing.
Hailing Kevorkian as almost a hero, the widow of his final victim stated, “I’m so grateful to know that someone would relieve him of his suffering. I don’t consider it murder I consider it humane. I consider it the way things should be.” During that infamous broadcast, the family agreed that the 60 Minutes airing of the snuff film and their interviews that followed, were “socially useful.”
Kervorkian’s last victim’s widow was not the only one to hail him a hero. Derek Humphry, regarded as the “father” of the assisted suicide movement once stated, “In my view Kevorkian has been of enormous value (to the movement) because of the extensive publicity that his acts of compassionate help in dying have attracted…, he is a determined man with great integrity who has forced the medical profession to reconsider its outdated position on euthanasia.”
While it seems compassionate to end suffering, the question remains; to what end? In the matter of euthanasia, this question is ignored. I believe it would have been a good idea for his potential victims to at least consider Jack the Dripper’s own views on death and the afterlife. Views I thought I should investigate for that 1999 talk and feel is important to write about now especially in light of what I discovered.
In a 2009 interview with Niel Cavuto of Fox News, when asked what was going to happen to him when he dies, Kevorkian said, “You’re gunna stink for a while and then you’re gunna go into the ground… When I’m dead nothing matters.” For clarity, he added in a 2010 follow-up interview regarding that comment, “That’s all we know that happens at death is what we observe in the body, we don’t know anything else about it, we can’t investigate death.” Cavuto then asked what if, when Kevorkian dies, he sees a Higher Entity. His response, “I’ll look at the Man on the Throne and I’ll say, ‘So why didn’t you make me smarter?’”
Therefore, Kevorkian’s position was that he couldn’t know anything beyond a dead body with no visible signs of suffering. For him, if his actions were in error and he met a displeased “Higher Entity” then those actions weren’t really his fault. It would be the Man on the Throne’s who should have made him know better. In other words, once again, as with many hostile to the Gospel, it is all God’s fault.
As Believers, matters of eternal life are our business. That is why, though stunningly unpleasant, it’s important to address Dr. Death’s death. After all, when you have a program like 60 Minutes airing a serial killer’s snuff film, lending him credibility, and secular radio talk shows, articles, and other news programs elevating him in the market place of ideas, Christians should take a serious look at this subject and into this man of supposed “great integrity.”
So what of the former pathologist, Jack Kevorkian? As a medical student, he was so obsessed with death that he would gaze into the eyes of dying patients and would later photograph them to capture the precise moment of death. When questioned about that macabre practice he admitted, “There was no practical application. I was curious, that’s all.” When questioned about his obsession with death he said, “Maybe it’s the boy in me.”
I wonder what his victims would have thought if they had viewed his paintings before they entrusted him to usher them into eternity. These windows into Kevorkian’s soul no doubt reveal a man with a sociopathic satisfaction from not only witnessing a death, but also administering it. Take, for example, his paining entitled Nearer My God to Thee. Nice title, but it depicts a man with horror on his face, falling into a dark chasm while desperately clawing the sides. Of this painting, the artist remarked:
“This depicts how most human beings feel about dying—at least about their own deaths. Despite the solace of hypocritical religiosity and its seductive promise of an afterlife of heavenly bliss, most of us will do anything to thwart the inevitable victory of biological death. We contemplate and face it with great apprehension, profound fear, and terror.”
Admitting his awareness of how most people face death, with utter terror, he wants most to be the one they call to administer it.
Another one of his chilling works of art, Brotherhood, is a painting with a demonic looking face at the center surrounded by other faces looking on. Kevorkian described it this way:
“Every person is physically a part of the fabric called humanity, which is --unilaterally-- bedizened with all kinds of noble epithets and arbitrary virtues. On the contrary, the pervading spirit is, and always was, a miasma of distrust and suspicion, periodically accentuated by hate and outright mayhem and murder. Despite effusive lip service to sublime ideals, humanity's awe is lavished on its real god, Satan...”
Now, why share these things after the man’s death? Because ideas have consequences. Darwinian evolution has produced the thinking that humanity is no more or better than an animal. Therefore, since we are mere animals, the most compassionate thing we can do would be to put one who is suffering out of their misery as we would the beloved family pet. After all, that is how Kevorkian viewed what he did as he told Mike Wallace in 2007. When asked if he regretted “helping” his last victim, he coolly replied, “No, why would I regret that? That is like asking a veterinarian, ‘Do you regret helping that person’s animal?’ No. A vet wouldn’t say he regrets it.”
Kevorkian then described his victim as, “A man whose life didn’t measure up anymore.” That one statement speaks volumes. This prevalent thought should prompt the question of who exactly will that be who gets to measure the worthiness of human life? Through the sacrifice of His own Son, God has already expressed His value of human life, which is far greater than those discussed in this article.
Unfortunately, we have become a society so selfish, callused, concerned with convenience, and expedience that the thought of having to care for someone in difficult circumstances makes the question to abort or euthanize the helpless seem not only attractive but also honorable.
What Jack Kevorkian did was not usher his victims out of pain and into a state of bliss, quite the contrary. Without Jesus Christ, he ushered them into eternal torment. This is why euthanasia is certainly our business and we can no longer remain silent when the subject arises in our presence, since we are bound to ethical choices and moral judgments. When confronted with arguments for abortion or euthanasia, if we measure them to what is biblically moral and ethical, we can successfully answer these concerns.
Also, from my own personal experience, I know that when you are suffering excruciating pain, you are not thinking rationally but reactionary. How much more so for folks who face ALS, or AIDS, or terminal cancer? How awful, goes the argument, not to help someone end his or her suffering, to deny him or her death with dignity. Why, they are simply a burden to themselves, society, and their families.
Then again, what amazing lessons we learn from those who face their suffering with true dignity. What wonderful lessons we learn about ourselves when caring for the terminally ill, or the elderly in the twilight of their lives. What incredible life lessons are taught when assisting folks who have agonizing physical challenges. These difficult, heart-wrenching, realities of life are opportunities to elevate our society to the level that separates us from the animals. People are not inconveniences that allow us to lower ourselves to a depravity that believes we become no better than an unwanted household pet who has overstayed its welcome.
My dear brothers and sisters in our blessed Lord, please let us not leave these life and death decisions and situations in the hands of the Kevorkian’s of this world. Rather, let us remember that our suffering is for us, as the Apostle Paul put it, but a momentary light affliction. These are opportunities to rise to the occasion and reach out to the suffering lost of this world offering a hand to hold, an ear to hear, a heart filled with compassion, and the love, hope, forgiveness, and promise of eternal life that can only be found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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