Reflections on the Dr. Tiller Murder
Abortion is murder. What goes on in those clinics is institutionalized homicide, often for financial profit. Abortion is a moral scandal and a national tragedy and a blight upon the American conscience. But violence in the name of protesting abortion is immoral, unjustified, and horribly harmful to the pro-life cause. Now, the premeditated murder of Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his church is the headline scandal -- not the abortions he performed and the cause he represented. We have no right to take the law into our own hands in an act of criminal violence.
We are not given the right to take this power into our own hands, for God has granted this power to governing authorities. The horror of abortion cannot be rightly confronted, much less corrected, by means of violence and acts outside the law and lawful means of remedy. This is not merely a legal technicality -- it is a vital test of the morality of the pro-life movement.
The Christian church has been forced by historical necessity to think through these issues again and again. The church has reached a basic moral consensus on issues of violence and governmental obedience, and this consensus requires that Christian citizens work within legal, judicial, and political means to persuade governing authorities concerning what is good, right, just, and honoring to God. Those who operate outside of this consensus and perform acts of violence are rightly understood to abrogate authority to themselves in a way that violates not only the laws of men but the law of God. Civil disobedience may be justified so long as the Christian is willing to suffer at the hands of the governing authorities, but is not justified if the
citizen employs violence against the state or against other citizens.
In the case of Dr. George Tiller, the governing authorities failed again and again to
fulfill their responsibility to protect all citizens, including those yet unborn. The law is dishonoring to God in its disrespect for human life. The law failed to bring George Tiller to account for what should have been seen as crimes against humanity. But this failure does not authorize others to act in the place of the government, much less in the place of God. The government must now act to prosecute and punish the murderer of Dr. George Tiller.