Monday, February 1, 2010

From One Extreme to the Other [Elizabeth]

Pro-abortionists have long characterized us as religious freaks without the capacity for reason and logic. That narrow view was fulfilled last year by the actions of one man who hardly represents us.

It took jurors in Kansas 37 minutes last Friday to convict Scott Roeder of murdering Dr. George Tiller.

The judge in the case shocked the nation when he initially agreed to consider allowing the defense to pursue a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, since Roeder believes he righteously killed a “mass murderer under protection from the state.” After all, Tiller was ending the lives of the unborn — approximately 300 a year, and even through the third trimester.

Anyone familiar with LTI knows that we repudiate such heinous violence and reject anything that would work to undermine our cause. Extremists, like Roeder, are a minority, but they sometimes unfairly become the poster children for the pro-life movement.

Roeder is a man who once considered severing Tiller’s hands with a sword. He fantasized for years about ending the doctor’s career or life. The pro-life movement doesn’t want him to be elevated to the status of an idol. He needed God’s direction just as badly as Tiller did.

In fact, pro-life apologists have nothing in common with extremists like Mr. Roeder. Our purpose is to communicate the pro-life message in a God-honoring way. We take our cues from Jesus himself, who was irresistible and charismatic. He spoke truth, and some received that truth and allowed it to change the fabric of their lives. He changed the world with love.

February’s issue of GQ magazine featured an article “Savior vs. Savior” detailing the events leading up to that fateful day when Roeder’s and Tiller’s paths crossed.

The article starts off, “Both men believed they were doing right: Dr. George Tiller was one of the last men in America willing to provide late-term abortions. Scott Roeder was convinced that killing his kind was the duty of the righteous.”

It is human nature for us to justify our behavior and actions, especially if it’s something we believe in passionately. Both Roeder and Tiller clung desperately to their dogmatic beliefs until passion led them to forsake reason.

Roeder — a Messianic Jew — had been following the actions of Operation Rescue. But they weren’t doing enough. While they protested outside Tiller’s clinic, the doctor was ending lives inside.

There had been other attempts to stop Tiller’s practices in conservative Wichita, Kansas. There was a clinic bombing in 1986 and Tiller was shot in 1993 in both arms. That day he put a sign out front his clinic that read, “Women need abortions and I’m going to provide them.”

Tiller viewed what was taking place in response to his clinic as a war. He provided combat pay for employees and would generously reward them for their loyalty.

Roeder fed his hatred of Dr. Tiller for months, maybe years, prior to marching in the doctor’s place of worship — Reformation Lutheran Church — and shooting him once in the back of the head.

Roeder thought he was doing God’s work. Tiller said he was in the business of saving people. In the end, both men murdered for their own agendas. Instead of elevating themselves, both men needed a real Savior.

Pro-lifers will continue to fight the good fight, but we will do so with our words. We will put on the armor of God and battle the real enemy here. Somewhere along the way Roeder lost sight of one of the most basic and important of Christian principles — to hate the sin and love the sinner.


  1. I'm not sure I completely agree with the analysis of why Roeder's actions were incorrect.

    For instance, if the law of the land allowed the murder of 2 year olds for convenience, and you knew a man was taking 2 year old inside a house to kill them, is there a moral imperative for you to go beyond the law of the land to obey God's law to protect the innocent? And this means taking the life of the murderer potentially paying with your own (when the law of the land declares you a murderer?). I would think most people will agree that the answer is yes.

    So why is this case different? For a very simple reason: Proceeding the way of Roeder will ultimately result in civil war leading to a large number of deaths. The only question then is are more or fewer people saved going Roeder's way than going the LTI way?

    Think of it a different way - when Nazi Germany was exterminating the Jews, what would you say to someone who said that one needed to send apologists into Germany, not fight a war (in fact one very famous pacifist made exactly such a statement)?

    I am NOT advocating going Roeder's way - but I'm not convinced the argument of why Roeder's way is wrong is clear in what you articulate. For if abortion is murder, then how is "rational arguments and appeal to the intellect" the justified way in this case and not in a case where say murder of a particular class of grown up people is allowed by the law of the land?

    Someone please respond with holes in my argument and/or refutation for my own education.

  2. Curious,
    I didn't read Elizabeth as saying that you can never take human life when an agressor is bent on bringing harm. She simply said that SR did not have sufficient reasons for doing so. I agree.

    Given my gout flareup makes typing painful for the moment, I'm posting below some thoughts from my friend Melinda Penner (from the STR Blog) that cover some of your other moral questions.

    Moral vs. Pragmatic

    Some have objected that Greg's argument against killing abortionists is pragmatic rather than moral, and I guess therefore being weaker than it should be. But this is wrong. It is a moral argument. Remember first that is a response to the challenge that the pro-life logic inevitably leads to killing abortionists. We strongly deny this, and this article is a reasoned response to that claim. Second, it's a moral argument because the principles is and remains to end the unjustified killing of unborn children.

    This is the moral argument, not a practical one. If an action such as killing an abortionist leads to the death of more innocent children, that is an immoral thing. If more children die, it's immoral. Killing abortionists doesn't do anything to end abortion and innocent babies dying - it actually extends it by damaging the moral force of the pro-life argument to bring a final and legal end to abortion.

    Those who kill abortionists (there have been eight such killings in the U.S.) probably think they are saving some lives of unborn children. One person compared killing an abortionist to shooting a sniper at a playground. Isn't it justified to take out the sniper? These are very different circumstances and killing an abortionist cannot be justified in the same way.

    One difference in the circumstances is that in the playground comparison there is only a specific group of children on the playground to save and one sniper who isn't likely to be replaced by another; it's not comparable to the industry of legalized abortion. There are other "snipers" operating, and many more children now and in the future are in danger, not just those on that "playground." Shooting this "sniper" doesn't prevent more snipers from continuing to work long into the future. It's all of those threatened lives we have to keep in view, and any action that extends legalized abortion and thus sacrifices more lives of innocent children is immoral and cannot be justified on pro-life logic.

    Another serious difference in this analogy is that someone taking out a sniper would be operating under the law to stop someone from operating outside of the law. The reverse is true for killing an abortionist, so it's the law that has to be changed, not just individual "snipers." Otherwise abortionists keep operating under protection of the law. We live in a country of laws and are morally obligated to work within those to change a legal but immoral circumstances.

    Our system of laws is a fabric that protects our citizens, though inadequately and imperfectly. But we have the freedom and obligation to work within our system of laws to challenge, lobby, argue, with the goal of changing the law to protect each and every person. This system of laws is also at stake when vigilantes take matters into their own hands. Our actions should not undermine and weaken the system so that we possibly lose our freedoms to change the law and also undermines a system that protects us. We have an obligation to God to obey the laws and work within the system of laws to include unborn children under that protection....


All comments are moderated. We reject all comments containing obscenity. We reserve the right to reject any and all comments that are considered inappropriate or off-topic without explanation.