He always seemed to have a stern, serious look on his face and no one had a beard like him. He was unwilling to be a puppet for either political party and even disobeyed his boss when he felt it was at the expense of the integrity of his office. The distinct beard and the rest belonged to 96 year old C. Everett Koop, a former U.S. Surgeon General who died last week (February 25th, 2013).
All though most you (my College 20’s crew) may not know about him, he was central in making many of the health issues that many of us talk about today common place. His partnership with Francis Schaeffer brought the issue of abortion to forefront of Christians concern. He was highly effective in using his pulpit as Surgeon General to focus attention on the dangers of smoking that helped bring about a significant change in the “it’s cool to smoke” attitude of the public. He addressed the spread of HIV, it’s catastrophic consequences and how it was spread. Even before he was Surgeon General he was outspoken about the important role that traditional family values and Judeo-Christian ethics played in the formation of our unique social values.
In the world we live in, people who raise their voices about controversial social subjects are rarely looked upon favorably and this could of been said of Dr. Koop. In many ways Dr. Koop was ahead of his time on social issues like abortion and smoking. Looking back today most Christians believe he was a great advocate for those issues, but realize that at the time abortion was not talked about as a moral issue in culture the was it is today, and smoking was (particularly in the South) not stigmatized the way it is today (watch a movie from the 80’s and notice how many people smoke in them!).
If you read the the Old Testament, the prophets often pointed out issues that, at the time, were not the focus mainstream culture. The Prophets of the Old Testament like Dr. Koop, would prove to be ahead of there time in many ways. This raises a question for us, what are the issues that God cares about in our mainstream culture that are being overlooked that need to be addressed in a bold way?
I have to say that I don’t agree with all of Dr. Koop’s ideas but one thing you have to say about the man: He was no chicken when it came to talking about controversial social issues. As Christians we will often find that God’s values contradict the mainstream American values and we, like Dr. Koop, need to avoid being chickens when it comes to addressing those issues.
Here are some articles about C. Everett Koop (notice one is from a Christian magazine and the other from a Liberal magazine).