[Please Note: Open to Other Viewpoints]
Dr. George Tiller is the only abortion doctor's name I know. I had been following his recent court case with great interest and so when I heard that he'd been shot Sunday, it wasn't just another name to me.
The reactions from the pro-life community have ranged from a clear condemnation of the murder to some calling the murderer a hero. The rational of the latter goes something like this: If you knew that a man was premeditating to kill several toddlers in the coming week and you had no lawful way to stop him, would it be wrong for you to kill him for the sake of the children? I feel conflicted. But first, here are some points that both views within the pro-life community can agree on.
First: George Tiller was deserving of death.
This statement does not condone the man that took the law into his own hands and shot Dr. Tiller. It is only a statement of justice. When Genesis 9:6 states that, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” It is stating a principle for all societies for all times.
Many are quick to dismiss statements from the Old Testament with a blanket rule that the old has passed away. However, it is the law of Moses that Christ fulfilled, with regulations such as no eating shellfish, which the New Testament clearly revoked (for instance, Peter was told in a vision to kill and eat unclean animals.) However, this statement was written long before Moses and is grounded in the fact that man is made in God’s own image.
One principle that is helpful in understanding what things from the Old Testament carry over and what still apply, is to study the grounding behind the statement. The ceremonial law, with its regulations on washing and sacrificing animals, had the express purpose of pointing us to Christ and his substitutionary death. Now that the death of Christ has taken place, the ceremonial law is no longer necessary.
But the grounding for a man forfeiting his life by taking another man’s life is the image of God. As long as man continues to be created in God’s image, the principle will hold. A just society should have enough respect for the destroying of the image of God that this principle would be written into its law code. Dr. Tiller would have been stopped long before he was allowed to destroy over 60,000** people created in the image of God (**see endnote). However, if the laws were such, it is likely he and others would have never gone into the abortion business in the first place. But God’s laws remain whether or not the laws of this country line up.
I think we can all agree that it is okay to feel relieved that this man will no longer shed blood. If you had Jews hiding in your attic and you heard that a plot to assassinate Hitler had finally been successful, there would be a certain degree of relief, maybe even rejoicing, going on in your house. This would be true even if you staunchly opposed to the assassination plan, felt that it was unbiblical and unethical. You would still be thankful that the oppression of the Jewish people had come to an end.
I feel relieved for the babies that were supposed to die yesterday and today and the rest of this week. Some of those women may not be able to get another appointment (Tiller’s clinic is one of only three clinics in the U.S. that perform abortions after 21 weeks). They may have to give birth to their babies. Perhaps a couple that has been waiting for years to adopt a baby, will finally get their wish. Many of the babies Tiller killed had Down’s Syndrome or some other defect that was not detected until late in the pregnancy. There is a national registry of families desiring to adopt such children. If some of these children will now live as the result of his murder, I am thankful that they will have life.
Third: This is a moral dilemma that we should do our utmost to remove.
No man should have to make a choice between spending the rest of his life in prison or perhaps receiving the death penalty on the one hand, or else, allowing a planned killer to continue with his work day in and day out. We have a unique privilege in this country that few in the history of the world have ever had: to have a say in the laws of our land. But with every privilege comes a responsibility, and we need to take seriously our responsibility to see that our laws are just. We must soundly reject the idea that the best way to save babies may not be through overturning Roe. This argument is popular and advocates other methods such as increasing welfare and free birth control to reduce abortion instead. Abortion will still continue even if illegal, the argument asserts. This logic is applied to no other societal ills, (i.e. let’s not make homicide illegal, because it will continue anyway.) But more than this, it does not promote justice and give the protection of the law to the weak and innocent.
With all that said, I believe that the man who shot Dr. Tiller was acting contrary to God’s law and has forfeit his own life. Paul commanded the early Christians to obey Nero (Rom. 13:1), not assassinate him, although he murdered many Christians and fed them to the lions as sport. This verse has to be read carefully, for Paul himself did not stop preaching the gospel after commanded to by the governing authorities to stop (Acts 5:40). We obey government except where government conflicts with God’s clear commands, and then we obey God. Because our government does not allow us to kill abortion doctors, only a clear command from scripture to kill murderers who the government wrongly refuses to bring to justice would justifies taking the law into our own hands as Tiller's assassin did. I can think of no scripture in his support.
Truly God has commissioned us to: "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)
But we must seek to obey both God and the government when we can. We must seek to rescue the weak in all ways that do not kill. We cannot condemn killing through more killing. We must seek to change our laws and not become a law unto ourselves.
We pray for abortion to end and for God to bless our efforts knowing that He will not help this movement so long as we use as our methods the very thing we seek to uproot: death.
**Down in Wichita, Kansas, there is a physician by the name of George Tiller. On his website he boasts that he has already performed 60,000 abortions, mostly late-term, and week after week he is killing 100 more unborn babies.
Dr. Tiller does not think of these fetuses as clusters of cancerous cells. He knows they are human because he baptizes some of them before he incinerates them in his own crematorium. You don’t baptize non-humans. Dr. Tiller knows that. He is a practicing Lutheran. His former congregation, Holy Cross of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, excommunicated him as an unrepentant sinner. But the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, which belongs to the ELCA, communes him. Did I mention that he kills 100 human beings every week and has already done away with 60.000? Sixty thousand! In Nuremberg they hanged some fiends for murdering less than 60 -- zero point one percent of Tiller’s toll.
Perhaps this little tale will give even non-believers pause if they have not discarded their conscience, known to Christians as the law God has written upon every man’s heart. One day, of this I am certain, this will indeed result in collective shame – and God knows what other horrible consequences."
From Remembering Collective Shame