On June 3, 2011, Jack Kevorkian died of natural causes. He is best known for promoting assisted suicide and his claims to have helped over 130 people to end their lives. In an interview last year, Kevorkian stated that he had no regrets, “How can you regret helping a suffering patient?“
During his years at medical school, Kevorkian was promoting a utilitarian view of human life as he advocated for allowing murderers on death row a choice to die by anesthesia thus allowing their bodies to be used for medical experiments or organ donation (see NY Times article). His utilitarian view served as the foundation for why he viewed death as a help to a suffering patient. Never mind that suffering is totally subjective and that anyone, at any time, could say that they are suffering too much and wished to die. Rather than offering hope, love and care, Kevorkian only offered death as a solution to pain and suffering.
In today’s world, society tells us that it’s okay to look at someone who is suffering or in pain, shake our heads and say “wouldn’t it be better if we could just end this suffering?” Kevorkian’s promotion of assisted suicide, and even euthanasia, led people only to despair…the despair of thinking there is nothing of value to their lives and that they are a burden to their families, friends, and caregivers.
But there is a different way. We are admonished to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NKJV). We can help those who are suffering know that they are not alone, that someone does care for and love them. Rather than confirm someone’s fear that they are no longer “useful” to us by helping them kill themselves, we ought to reaffirm that they are valuable and valued. By selflessly bearing one another’s burdens, we fulfill Christ’s commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NKJV).
Maybe it’s just me, but…rather than do what Kevorkian did, that is, help or encourage people who are facing seemingly insurmountable pain or suffering kill themselves, or kill them directly at their request, we ought to help someone through their suffering. We can walk beside them and show them that all human life is precious and valuable no matter what age the person is, what condition the body may be in, or what stage of development that human life has reached. Even more importantly, we ought lead them to the one true hope we have, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May God have mercy on your soul, Dr. Kevorkian.
“But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.” Psalm 31:14-15 (NKJV)