Category Archives: Suffering Saturdays

Suicide by Doc: 3 Doctors on Trial for Euthanizing an Autistic Woman

Some of you may know that in the Netherlands and in Belgium, euthanasia (the supposed mercy killing or “good death”) is legal and more than that, it is legal for what seems like almost any reason.  It’s kind of like California’s medical marijuana laws; if you can find even a hint of plausible reason to be prescribed weed, it will be prescribed.  This is nearly the case for those who seek doctor-assisted suicide in Belgium and the Netherlands.  Surprisingly, and yet not surprisingly, a doctor is now being prosecuted for a bad “good death.”  In fact, three doctors are being prosecuted for the crime.  It’s surprising because, as much as Belgium law-makers would like to pretend otherwise, their laws are pretty lax concerning such matters.  It’s not surprising, because it was only a matter of time before someone’s family members would not be okay with a doctor taking their loved one away from them.

Such is the case with the Nys family.  Tina Nys was a 38 year old woman, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is a mild form of autism.  In 2010 she decided she did not want to live in such a condition any longer, so she saw her psychiatrist and went through the process involved with euthanasia.  This is only possible because Belgium allows for the euthanizing of those who have mental illnesses and those diagnosed with unbearable or untreatable illnesses.  Such a slippery slope, don’t you think? And now, it appears three doctors have slipped too far. What seemed to have been inevitable has, in fact, happened. After all, when a country allows for the killing of the mentally ill and allows for the euthanizing of those with an unbearable/untreatable illness, it opens up many doors of subjectivism.  

The Nys family claims there were many irregularities within the procedure, such as the doctor performing the action asked Tina’s sister to hold the needle in place while he administered the drug. He also asked the members of Tina’s family to use a stethoscope to check to confirm the heart had stopped.  These allegations led to the investigation which led to the doctors facing charges and a trial for poisoning Tina Nys.  

Can I just state the obvious? Euthanasia is simply bad.  We can dress it up and call it names, but no matter what euphemism is given, it is still wrong and it is still evil.  As the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.  The very ones who are to “do no harm” are the ones doing the greatest of harms: killing their own patients.  I know this is the minority, but one is too many.  This quote from the Associated Press article is an understatement:

“I think this (trial) has symbolic importance in the sense that it sends doctors a message…that you could be accused of a very serious crime and prosecuted if you don’t comply with the legal requirements for euthanasia,” said Penney Lewis, a law professor at King’s College London. “The prospect of criminal investigation may act as a mechanism to make doctors more careful.”

https://apnews.com/249a8067af6740d2af22ed66fc9e1a90

Let’s hope this goes beyond making doctors more careful, let’s hope this trial makes doctors simply refuse to do euthanasia at all! At this point I don’t care if doctors have a conviction against physician-assisted suicide or are simply afraid of being prosecuted for doing them, as long as they stop.  I cannot for the life of me understand how these doctors could ever be okay with purposefully ending the life of a person as if they were some sort of race horse with a broken leg.  I cannot understand how a police officer often needs to go through months or years of therapy when a person commits suicide by cop, but a doctor doesn’t bat an eye with suicide by physician.

We are more than animals! I know we are speaking about secular Europe here. I know they seek to escape any confines of religion, especially Christianity, but there used to be a conviction–a deep down belief in the goodness of living. There used to be the idea that easing pain was a good thing, but there was a line that was never to be crossed.  Biblically speaking, these physicians (and all who are like them) will not have to worry only about the trial they are facing in the Court of Assize in Ghent, but they will one day face the Great White Thone judgment of the God who gave his image to Tina Nys and the thousands like her.

Suffering Christian, understand this: as great as your suffering is, God’s grace, mercy, and glory to come are far greater.  That is not to make light of your situation and your hurting (whether it be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional). That which causes suffering in your life is real; and to say that God’s glory to come is greater does not diminish it. It simply is to open our eyes to how great God’s grace, mercy, and glory really are. If your pain and your suffering are so great that you wish you were dead, know that God’s glory will make you rejoice with even more intensity than your intense wishes for the suffering to be over.  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” (Romans 8:18, ESV).  May God grant you grace to see the truth of this Word.


Suffer Like Jesus (Part 2)

Last week, I started a two part series on Suffering Saturdays, and how we are to suffer like Jesus. I would encourage you to read last week’s if you haven’t already since the concepts build upon one another.  Last week I dealt with the ideas that we are to expect suffering, as well as, we are to exult in our sufferings.  In this week’s article, I want to deal with exalting in our suffering (different from exulting) and entrusting ourselves to God in our sufferings.

So we expect, we exult, and now we exalt.  Specifically, we exalt God for He alone is glorious.  “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christ, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name,” (1 Pet 4.16, ESV). To exalt is to lift high.  It is to raise in the sight of others.

I was recently listening to Allistair Begg, who was telling the story of Polycarp.  Polycarp was a young disciple of the apostle John and a strong believer.  As he grew older he became the bishop of Smyrna, and would eventually be martyred.  He was a wanted man and so he had fled a few homes and towns, but his captors were always on his heels, and so, he at last decided not to leave the house he was in, saying instead, “God’s will be done.”  Soon his captors were there entering the house.  He came down, at least 86 years of age, spoke with them, and then called for food and drink to be brought to his captors, asking that they allow him an hour of prayer before taking him off.  This they did.

The Proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On hearing that he was, he tried to persuade him to apostatize, saying, “Have respect for your old age, swear by the fortune of Caesar. Repent, and say, ‘Down with the Atheists!’” Polycarp looked grimly at the wicked heathen multitude in the stadium, and gesturing towards them, he said, “Down with the Atheists!” “Swear,” urged the Proconsul, “reproach Christ, and I will set you free.” “86 years have I have served him,” Polycarp declared, “and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

“I have wild animals here,” the Proconsul said. “I will throw you to them if you do not repent.” “Call them,” Polycarp replied. “It is unthinkable for me to repent from what is good to turn to what is evil. I will be glad though to be changed from evil to righteousness.” “If you despise the animals, I will have you burned.” “You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and is then extinguished, but you know nothing of the fire of the coming judgment and eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. Why are you waiting? Bring on whatever you want.”

It was all done in the time it takes to tell. The crowd collected wood and bundles of sticks from the shops and public baths. The Jews , as usual, were keen to help. When the pile was ready, Polycarp took off his outer clothes, undid his belt, and tried to take off his sandals – something he was not used to, as the faithful always raced to do it for him, each wanting to be the one to touch his skin – this is how good his life was. But when they went to fix him with nails, he said, “Leave me as I am, for he that gives me strength to endure the fire, will enable me not to struggle, without the help of your nails.”

So they simply bound him with his hands behind him like a distinguished ram chosen from a great flock for sacrifice. Ready to be an acceptable burnt-offering to God, he looked up to heaven, and said, “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of you, the God of angels, powers and every creature, and of all the righteous who live before you, I give you thanks that you count me worthy to be numbered among your martyrs, sharing the cup of Christ and the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and body, through the immortality of the Holy Spirit. May I be received this day as an acceptable sacrifice, as you, the true God, have predestined, revealed to me, and now fulfilled. I praise you for all these things, I bless you and glorify you, along with the everlasting Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. To you, with him, through the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and forever. Amen.”[1]

That is what it is to exalt God in your suffering.

It is also what it is to entrust yourself to God in your sufferings.  Entrust means to place fully into the hands and let them have control.  It was Polycarp realizing after fleeing from place to place, that God had this in store for him, giving himself over and saying, “God’s will be done.”  He gave up trying to protect himself but rather allowed God to do with him as He willed.  That’s not easy.  But Peter wrote that it was worth it.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And ‘if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner,’” (1 Peter 4.17-18, ESV).  God is your judge.  He is the judge of the whole world, the living and the dead, future and past.  The judgment starts with believers.  It is only by God’s grace shown on the cross of Christ that believers will even make it in.  You are trusting him with your future judgment, a judgment that will last for all eternity.  It’s now time to trust him with your present circumstance, your present reality.  He is not only your judge but He is your Creator.  He made you and He will keep you, love you, and give you what is best, even if that means losing everything, because He in fact is the very best.  There is not greater prize, no higher gift than God Himself.  And He is giving Himself to and for you.  “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good,” (1 Peter 4.19, ESV).

[1] https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/polycarp/