Is Violence Ever Justified in the Pro-Life Cause?

Title: Is Violence Ever Justified in the Pro-Life Cause?

Text: Matthew 2:16-18, Romans 13:4, Romans 13:1-2

Date: January 31st, 2010

January 21st was the 37th anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court decision Row v. Wade – the legalization of abortion in the United States. Since 1973 over 50 million abortions have taken place in the United States, 50 million unborn babies were murdered legally in this nation, 50 million innocent human lives taken in a so-called Christian country. It’s important to pause, reflect and pray each year at this important anniversary in order to keep the memory of that tragic decision and to never forget that the killings are stilling going on today, everyday. I first became aware of the tragedy unfolding in respect to abortion and the unborn as a student at Wheaton College. I began attending meetings of a pro-life group on campus and started reading as many books on abortion as I could. I began to see abortion as the greatest evil in our nation. I’ve prayed every day since then that abortion could somehow end and the laws of the land could once again protect the unborn. I’ve participated in abortion protests, once outside a hospital which performed them and another time in a “life chain” alongside a busy intersection with hundreds of other people carrying signs and pro-life messages. I’ve voted for only pro-life political candidates over the years, never once voting for anyone who was committed to the continued legalization of abortion. I’ve followed the Supreme Court decisions over these last few decades, hoping and praying that at some point there would be a decision that prohibits or at least bans most abortions in the United States. After all these years I have to say that not much progress has been made – thousands, millions of abortions are still performed each year in this country. One encouraging sign has been that the worst type of abortion – partial birth abortion, where the baby is late term and is partially born and then murdered – has been somewhat curtailed in some parts of the country. But overall, we still have a long way to go before the unborn baby in the womb is protected once again by law. But the battle over abortion is still raging on, against all odds. After all, abortion could have quietly become a non-issue after the Supreme Court decision of 1973 and especially after so many years have passed since that tragic decision. Yet against all expectations by secular scholars 37 years later it’s still being fought over. For example, in the latest health care debate abortion was front and center in that legislation, whether or not to include it in national health care coverage; it’s still being debated. But perhaps the biggest abortion-related news of late has been the murder of the late-term abortion doctor George Tiller and the trial of his killer Scott Roeder. Roeder was found guilty of murder in a court of law just a few days ago. I have to admit, when I heard of the murder of the abortion doctor I felt no sadness, I shed no tears. I thought to myself, “Maybe justice was served,” but I wondered, “Was his death justified?” Since that time I’ve thought a little more about the situation and I’d like to share a few points on this subject – since we are remembering the infamous Row v. Wade decision. 

First, the abortion doctor was a mass-murderer. Matthew 2:16-18, “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’” The secular new media can spin it all they want but the reality is Dr. George Tiller was a mass-murdered. Even King Herod who forever will be branded a murderer and linked to the Slaughter of the Innocents in the Bible, even he didn’t murder as many innocent babies as George Tiller did over a lifetime. Tiller was one of only a few abortion doctors who would perform the gruesome procedure of a late-term abortion. He performed thousands of these over the course of his career. The blood of thousands of near full-term babies is on his hands. We hear in the news reports how he was such a family man, a church member, loving husband and father, and so forth – but we can’t forget that he murdered babies for a living! It was said of Herod the Great that he was one of the most prolific builders in the ancient world – some of his architectural wonders are still standing today. He was also a shrewd politician, among other things. Some scholars say he was given a bad rap in history. But no matter what achievements he might have accomplished in this world, he will forever rightly be known as a murderer because of the way he used violence to accomplish his goals. Well, the same could be said of George Tiller. He was a secular, liberal ideologue who wouldn’t be deterred from his use of death to advance his political vision. Like many far left liberals, he saw abortion as a key component in women’s liberation. So committed was he to murdering babies for the cause of feminism that he refused to back down from late term abortions even when his colleagues were quietly discontinuing the practice. On principle, he refused to stop murdering nearly fully formed babies, even as he was repeatedly threatened and pressured and intimidated – someone tried to assault him before and his response was to dig in his heels and continue with even greater determination to murder more babies! Here was an unrepentant baby killer; the quintessential abortionist.  I don’t know how history will look back upon him, but I know how the modern press is trying to portray him – as some kind of crusader for women’s rights. But as far as a biblical Christian judgment of him, he’s a mass murderer in the class as Herod. So that’s an important thing to remember, despite how you see it portrayed in the news media – George Tiller was a mass murderer. I don’t have the time to make the biblical case that abortion is murder, I hope you are already convinced of that, but I’ll try to include a few passages later on to remind us all of this fact. According to the Bible, George Tiller was a murderer.

Second, the state failed to administer justice. Romans 13:4, “For he (the governing authority) is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. For he is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” The United States government, that is, the governing authority in this country, failed on at least two counts in respect to abortion. One, it failed in confusing a right with a wrong and a wrong with a right. In other words, the Row v. Wade Supreme Court decision was wrong. It not only violated the Constitution, but it violated the basic rights of the unborn to life. The decision basically left an entire class of human beings without any civil rights or protection under law. I’m aware that there is a debate going on in society over whether abortion is right or wrong, but in going ahead and deciding the question and then granting a so-called right the Supreme Court in 1973 essentially imposed a conclusion on society before the debate had been heard. It’s normally sound logic to look at evidence, debate, make argumentation and then make a conclusion. Well, society wasn’t given an opportunity to makes its voice heard, wasn’t given time for debate, because the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled ahead of the debate. Abortion is still debated today nearly 35 years after the court decision – that proves that the debate isn’t over. So then how solid is the decision to permit abortion before it had been thoroughly reasoned out? No, the Row v. Wade decision was perhaps the worst case of “raw judicial power” ever seen; it was the worse decision the court has ever made, and the continued debate proves it. If the logic behind it were sound people would have seen the logic of it and debate would have ended. But because the debate continues 37 years later even stronger that’s living proof that something is wrong with the initial decision. But not only did the state fail in its court decision to legalize abortion in 1973, it also failed in not punishing injustice against the unborn. George Tiller was permitted to murder full term babies and the state did nothing to stop him. The ridiculous situation developed that in the same city there were doctors delivering babies in the delivery room at the same stage of development as George Tiller was delivering and killing babies at the same stage of development in his abortion clinic. And the state, either the local, state or federal governments, didn’t do anything to stop him. That’s injustice. In a just society George Tiller would have been put on trial as a mass murderer and either sentenced to life in prison or sentenced to death for his crimes. Now, in the United States, he’s given the respected title of “Dr.” and permitted to continue his grizzly work. So the government failed to protect the unborn and it failed to prosecute a murderer.

Third, the shooter took the law into his own hands, but was he justified? Romans 13:1-2, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Now here we get to the real question that I’ve asked myself many times, “Was the shooter justified in taking the life of a mass murderer?” I read the news report of the trial of the shooter Scott Roeder and it says his defense was he wanted to stop the doctor from killing more babies. So then his motive was to stop the murder of more babies; he took the life of the doctor to stop him from taking the lives of the babies. And he did accomplish his objective – the abortion clinic, that doctor, is no longer killing babies. But does that justify the shooting? The shooter also brought a mass murderer to justice, something which the state should have done but didn’t. But again, was it justified? The problem is that he had to break the law to do it; he had to take a human life to save human lives. It’s a pretty serious thing. But should a mass murderer such as Dr. Tiller be receiving the protection of the U.S. government while the unborn receive no protection from it? Is that just? Something is wrong with that situation. But then there is something wrong with Scott Roeder acting under his own authority. How can society function if everyone just acts under their own authority and does what they feel they should do? That would lead to chaos. We just can’t have citizens deciding on their own to be judge, jury and executioner; only the state can serve these functions. Romans 13 clearly states that government is a tool of God to maintain order. Anarchy is not the will of God. Vigilante justice isn’t the will of God. But what if the state refuses to administer basic justice to the unborn by recognizing their right to life? What if the state refuses to punish mass murderers of unborn babies? Is an individual or group ever justified in standing up and fulfilling the roles the state is neglecting to fulfill? That’s the basic issue I’m asking when I look at an individual like Scott Roeder, the shooter. By now we can all see that it’s a complex issues, a lot more complex than the news media portray it. If the shooter’s motive was to stop this mass murderer from killing more babies, and the only way to do that was to take him out or kill him, I can see the logic in that, and I can understand how he felt. But I’ve got a problem with taking the law into his own hands and acting on his own authority to do it. What would happen if everyone with a passionate cause felt justified in acting out in violence to achieve their goal? Society would turn to chaos.

We live in a democratic society, which means that we have the freedom to persuade with words and reasons – and if we can persuade enough people we can bring about change in society. In some societies, under some forms of governments, citizens are not given the opportunity to voice their convictions; they aren’t given the right to attempt to change society even through peaceful means. But we are still able to make our case and work to change society through persuasion and politics. The man who shot the mass murderer George Tiller made the decision by himself that all efforts at changing abortion through persuasion and politics had ended in failure, so for himself he felt justified in taking violent action. But not all of us agree that the only way to bring about justice in respect to abortion is though violence. I admit that when I look back on the last 37 years and consider how abortion is still legal in our nation and how even late-term abortions are still being carried out, I wonder if the cause is lost. Every presidential election we hold out so much hope that if only a pro-life president could be elected then he would appoint pro-life judges and then abortion could be overruled. But we’ve had plenty of pro-life presidents appoint plenty of pro-life judges and still abortion is legal, still babies are killed by the thousands, by the millions each year. Is this situation ever going to change? Is the shooter right? Have all rational, persuasive and political options been exhausted? Is violence the only alternative now? That’s what he concluded, but is that correct? I don’t think so. I can’t believe so. I’m not saying that there might not come a time in the future when I might agree that all other options have been played out and only taking the law into our own hands is left; I might be pushed to that point some day. But for me right now, I can’t believe that violence is the only thing left. We still are free to voice our opposition to abortion. We are still free to protest publicly. We are still free to make the case for life in public in debate. We can still vote for pro-life politicians and oppose pro-abortion politicians. We are still seeing the abortion issue debated in government. We still see laws passed restricting abortion to some degree in different states. The abortion debate is still a factor in American politics; it’s still a force in society that can change elections and laws. So as long as the debate is still alive, as long as there is still hope, as long as there still is a battle of ideas and convictions and values in society, I don’t feel there is any need for taking violent action. As long as we can still work within the law and within the framework of government, we should do so. But most important, we can still pray and petition the Lord to change things and bring about justice for the unborn. All of these things we can still do. We don’t have to resort to violence. So to sum it up, I don’t think the shooter Scott Roeder should have resorted to violence in order to stop abortion.

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