KEVORKIAN THE ONLY MURDERER?
Some time ago CBSs 60
Minutes showed a video in which Jack Kevorkian,
the so-called "Doctor Death," actually murdered Thomas Youk who
was suffering from Lou Gehrigs disease. Kevorkian claims
to have promoted the video so that he could provoke a showdown
with Michigan prosecutors and stimulate public sympathy toward
legalizing assisted suicide. Before the death of Youk, Kevorkian
had assisted 130 other persons in killing themselves through
suicide, but this was reportedly the first occasion in which
the doctor had actively performed the murder himself.
All right-thinking and moral
people should justifiably condemn Kevorkian as a murderer.
We know that God commanded Israel, "You shall not murder"
(Exodus 20:13). Paul repeats the prohibition for our benefit
(Romans 13:9). We also realize that all murderers are "worthy
of death" (Romans 1:29 with v. 32) and that "the
judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such
things" (2:2). The words of God in Revelation 21:8 are
sobering indeed, for in this passage we read that all murderers
will be cast into "the lake that burns with fire and
brimstone, which is the second death." The apostle John
adds to the seriousness of this sin when he declares that
"no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1
John 3:15). Evidently this refers to those who are guilty
of self-murder (suicide) as well as those guilty of regular
murder of another, as in Kevorkians case.
But is this sin only a personal
and spiritual matter? Does society and the government have
anything to do with it? The Scriptures seem to provide enough
evidence that we can answer this with some finality even though
we may not be able to understand every facet of the issue
and the answer. After the world-wide flood, in which God saved
Noah and his family, the Lord said:
I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will
require it. And from every man, from every mans
brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds
mans blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for
in the image of God He made man" (Genesis
passage seems to be saying that if an animal kills a man,
it is to be killed. And if
a man or woman murders another human being, then that person
is to be killed. Is there any other evidence that a murder
must be put to death by society? When Peter was about to
the life of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus tells
him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those
who take up the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matthew
26:52). Another passage may add to this evidence. Paul speaks
about the role of the civil government in this way: "If
you do what is evil, be afraid; for it [the civil authority]
does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister
of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices
evil" (Romans 13:4). In applying this principle to his
own life, Paul said to Festus, the Roman authority in Judea:
"If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything
worthy of death, I do not refuse to die" (Acts 25:11).
There seems to be a place for capital punishment, inflicted
by the government on murderers. The fact that very, very few
murderers are actually put to death in America does show how
dreadfully far this country has departed from Scriptural principles.
The Christian himself, however,
will not want to partake of this work of justice committed
to the civil government, since the follower of Christ operates
according to the law of love rather than the law of justice.
The Christian will be merciful, loving, compassionate, and
will not repay evil for evil (cf. Matthew 5:38-47; 1 Thessalonians
5:15; 1 Peter 3:8-9; Colossians 3:12-14). The government simply
cannot operate according to these Christian virtues as long
as there are carnal and evil men who respect neither God nor
their fellow-man. Notice the instruction to Christians in
Romans 12:14-21 in contrast to the description of civil government
in Romans 13:1-7 to see the point we are seeking to make here.
We have spoken about Jack Kevorkian
and, hopefully, most of our readers will recognize him as
a deliberate, outspoken, and aggressive murderer. However,
before we close the book and think the last word has been
spoken on the sin of murder, let us remember that the principle
of respect for our life and the life of others
finds application in many different ways in society. Consider
several of them:
Many people, in the name of "freedom of choice," claim
that they have a right to kill their unborn babies. Simply
a child has not yet been born does not give us the privilege
(?) of taking their life. Surely God will not hold guiltless
those doctors and nurses who have murdered hundreds and
hundreds of innocent little children! Nor will he hold
those mothers and fathers who have chosen to kill the little
child they have conceived.
Although it occurs infrequently, sometimes a newborn that
is greatly deformed and handicapped will be allowed to die.
The baby is just thought to be more trouble than he or she
is worth! Is this not a form of killing that God would severely
Kevorkian has been known to be a radical advocate of euthanasia
for those who are terminally ill. The Hemlock Society also
promotes this form of self-murder for those who are aged
and whose life is hard and seemingly unbearable. The Christian
knows that though life can be difficult and sometimes painful,
this does not give us the right to take life that God has
Over 30,000 people in this country alone take their own
life each year and many times this many attempt the act.
Whether we speak of killing someone else or killing ourselves,
surely this must be considered murder.
Driving. Drivers who are intoxicated and drive are responsible
for the deaths of thousands of people each year. The organization
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
does what it can to curb this slaughter of human lives.
Surely the drunk driver is not only sinning because of his
drunkenness (1 Cor. 6:9-10) but because of the jeopardy
he causes others on the road.
Use. It has well been pointed out that smoking is the
chief preventable cause of various diseasessuch as
cancer. Not only does the smoker engage in a self-destructive
act, but he also exposes others to cancer-causing agents
if they are near him. In effect, the smoker fails to love
others and is a potential murderer.
We have already spoken about drunk driving, but any continual
intoxication is harmful to the body and may lead to cirrhosis
of the liver and other serious health conditions.
Use. Anyone who lives near a major city is aware of
the disastrous effects of cocaine and other lethal drugs.
The use (or misuse) of drugs takes multiplied lives each
year. Surely this is an overlooked form of murder.
Several of the leading causes of AIDS are male homosexuality
(this has generally been the chief cause), illicit drug
use (sharing of infected needles), and, increasingly, heterosexual
sex with an infected HIV carrier. Would not these activities
also constitute forms of murder?
and Dietary Idolatry. This is a form of "murder" that
is often overlooked but one that is much in the news. Researchers,
doctors, and nutritionists tell us that eating
too much and eating the wrong kinds of foods lead to cardiovascular
disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and other
physical problems are also related to diet. In other words,
much heart disease and other disease could be prevented
if people simply practiced self-control with their diet
and used wisdom regarding what they eat. It has been said
that we are killing ourselves with our spoons!
Obviously, there are many other
forms of murder but the mention of these is sufficient to
remind us that we can kill ourselves and others in different
ways. We do not need to be Kevorkian to be a murderer. We
do not need to be an abortionist to be a murderer. We do not
need to assist in euthanasia to be a murderer. Let us not
self-righteously point a finger and overlook any self-destructive
or other-destructive forms of "killing" of which
we are guilty. Let us beware of murder!