News of the death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian has caused me to reflect once again on the sanctity of all human life, even life that is suffering. Dr. Kevorkian, who won himself the name “Dr. Death”, advocated for years that physician-assisted suicide was a reasonable alternative for those who were suffering from an illness that was terminal. He took part in over 130 physician-assisted suicides. Dr. Kevorkian served time in prison in the State of Michigan having been convicted of second-degree murder. He was released after serving eight years. His advocacy for physician-assisted suicide let to Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” legislation and since 1998 525 adults have taken advantage of the law and died from taking a Doctor prescribed lethal drug.
Dr. Kevorkian died in a hospital bed reportedly of kidney failure. It is said that he died peacefully and without suffering.
The Christian faith has historically declared that all human life is sacred from fertilization to the time of natural death. Today the vast majority of Christians hold to this position. The Church has held that the taking of one’s own life (suicide) or allowing others to take your life (murder) is immoral and contrary to the truth that the Lord God is the giver of life.
The Church has also historically had compassion for those who suffer whether from illness, poverty, war, or corrupt political systems. Yet, the Church knows that genuine compassion is not found in the ending of human life but in the administration of compassionate care and generous giving to the relief of suffering. Therefore, around the world it is the Church that has built hospitals, elderly care facilities, colleges that train medical professionals, built orphanages, opened schools, and given to relief efforts. The Church declares that not only is all life sacred but that death is never a solution to a problem. This is the heart of being Pro Life.
We do not rejoice at the death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. We must pray for his soul. Dr. Kevorkian declared that he was a “spiritual man”. Yet, all his comments about religion showed his distain for tradition faith and revealed that he was most likely an atheist. He once declared that his god was “Bach”. And then stated, “At least I didn’t make mine (god) up.” We pray that somehow before his death he encountered the mercy and compassion of the living God.
The world will not be a better place because Dr. Kevorkian is dead. There are others, countless others, who continue to advocate and advance a culture of death. Organizations like the Hemlock Society will not go away. Planned Parenthood continues to be funded with millions of dollars not only from taxpayers but also from private donors and corporations. The Pro Life movement must not give into the temptation to condemn. Our call is the same as the Lord Jesus who we serve. Jesus came not to condemn but to offer abundant and eternal life. Our call is not condemnation but conversion and transformation of life from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth, from hopelessness to hope, and from hatred to love. We proclaim this message knowing that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to the One who sits upon the throne.
Our efforts are paying off. As we speak from the love of God and the mercy of God countless numbers of women have been bold in standing up and proclaiming, “I regret my abortion.” There are now more and more people in the medical and health care profession who refuse to perform abortions and who will not get involved in the practice of mercy killing, lethal injects, or assisted suicide. The Pro Life movement now has among its ranks former abortion providers. The majority of Americans are expressing their opposition to abortion on demand. And, now we are seeing State legislators passing Pro Life legislation restricting abortions. We pray now that the majority of States that have not passed euthanasia laws will remain firm in their convictions and that States like Oregon will overturn their death legislation.
I encourage all the members of the Charismatic Episcopal Church both in the United States and around the world to not only speak Pro Life but to live Pro Life. We continue to pray both privately and corporately. We must continue to give generously of our time, talent and treasure not only to CEC for Life and other Pro Life organizations, but also to relief and mission efforts. We must continue to unite and remain in unity with other Pro Life organizations, mission groups, relief groups, and brothers and sisters from other denominations that are Pro Life. At the death of Jack Kevorkian we pray as we would pray for anyone who was lost in this world and who died without the knowledge of Christ. May God have mercy on his soul.
+Craig W. Bates,