Monday, June 1, 2009

More on the Tiller Murder

From Al Mohler:

For many years, Dr. George Tiller has represented the horrific reality of the abortion industry in this nation. Infamously known to the pro-life movement in America, Tiller was known as "Tiller the Killer" because of his well-known willingness to perform late-term abortions almost no other doctor in the nation would perform. Because of Dr. George Tiller, Wichita became the destination of choice for women seeking abortions in the late third trimester...

Proponents of abortion rights often charge that the rhetoric of the pro-life movement leads to violence. After all, we describe abortion as murder and point to the business of abortion as the murder of the unborn. We make clear that abortion is the taking of innocent human life and that what goes on in abortion clinics is the business of death.

We make these arguments because we know they are true. 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.

Read the entire post HERE.


Mike said...

I struggle with these two moral dilemmas...i.e. calling abortion murder and it being anathema to kill Tiller. When does something become so heinous that it becomes "OK" to disobey the law of the land. During the time of slavery if I had had the opportunity I would have harbored fugitive slaves and this would have been illegal but I don't think I would have needed God's forgiveness for this act. I guess this is the same question that Bonhoeffer wrestled with in the plot to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer saw this as his duty as a Christian...and then started writing about "religionless Christianity". Although I don't agree with the killing of Tiller...I do see some moral consistency in the position. I don't know of any such guidance on when it is OK for a Christian to disobey the gov't... other than "it is better to obey God than man". I am aware of Paul's directive in Romans 13. How do we know where that line is drawn (between obeying God and obeying man if it is God that has established the human authorities)? Can we "sin" in order that grace may abound? These questions bother me....

Todd Pruitt said...


I share some of your struggles with this one. If we saw someone killing two year old kids we'd (most of us) would use force to stop it. I'm not sure how to reconcile it.

Todd Pruitt said...

In the end we can't condone vigilantism. And I know that this is still a little tricky. For instance, would we have excused a Christian for taking the life of Stalin or Mao? Conservative estimates are that the death toll due to those men are: Stalin (30-50 million) and Mao (70 million or more). It boggles the mind. I think we can certainly agree that state sanctioned justice toward those two monsters would have been called for. But what about an assassination? Could Christians participate in such a thing?

Now, Tiller did not kill on a scale of Stalin or Mao. But he certainly did kill at least tens of thousands of unborn babies. Somehow in Mr. Tiller's twisted morality he was doing a good thing. Although I agree with J. Budjasewski (philosopher at Universtiy of Texas) who has written that abortion is someting "we can't not know" is wrong.

Having lived in Wichita for nine years I know a lot about Tiller's record. I drove by Reformation Lutheran Church almost every day (his former Lutheran church excommunicated him). Women came from all over the country to have abortions at Tiller's clinic. He even provided shuttle service from the airport. It was quite an operation. On any given day visibly pregnant women would enter the doors of his clinic to have him cut apart, poison, burn, or partially deliver and then kill their living baby. Sorry to be so graphic but this is what we're talking about. It sounds evil precisely because it is.

You can bet that in all the condemnations of the violence against him there will be no mention of the blades, suction tubes, saline solutions, and incinerator at his clinic. There will be no mention of the emotional and spiritual torment that so many of his "patients" experience to this day.

I am sorry that Tiller was murdered. It was an act of vigilante violence. Many of us know that there are times when the state must use violence to put down evil doers. We are grateful for those who are called upon to use force in defence of the citizenry. But I do not have the right to kill those who, like George Tiller, violate God's laws. Vengeance belongs to the Lord not me.

Tragically Tiller does not have the chance to repent. Periodically at my church in Wichita we would pray specifically for Dr. Tiller, that his heart would be broken and would come to repentance. I regret that that day will not come.

BillPoll said...

This is truly something that tries one's beliefs.

I absolutely despise what Tiller has done (and assumedly would continue to do).

The world will look at what has been done and will condemn not just the killer but Christianity in general for judging Tiller and hating Tiller. The world just does not understand. Worse yet, the world may well seek to control the teaching of the church because of such actions by individuals who take manners into their own hands.

James 4:12 says There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Does the world know what Christianity claims better that those in the church? Are we really hypocrites or are we simply ill equipped to provide a gospel response to such actions.

As my son-in-law, Ben, reminded me "What if Tiller himself was near to coming to repentance - and now there can never be rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over this one sinner who repents?"

The church needs to stand against what Tiller represents while presenting Christ as viable alternative and not an instrument of hate.

Bill Legge said...


That's an odd, and ironic, label to hang on a murderer.

While I enjoy redundancy, I'm not given to it. Most of the comments, posts, and quotes accurately, and eloquently, reflect my beliefs so I don't really see the need to reiterate all that has been written, but I have a few thoughts.

This was the act of a man who is not pro-life at all. He is pro-cause, pro agenda, pro-him.

Too often we get so caught up in our own idea of what is righteous that we loose sight of what is moral and truly right.

As far as I can tell there is no moral dilemma here. Both men sinned. Both men are guilty. Both men are subject to God. Neither one, in my opinion, has committed a worse crime. They're equally guilty of sin against God.

Are their any of us who are not? Does it really matter how many lives you've taken after you've taken one?

I do not mean to write that the anti-abortion movement should not move forward vigorously. Merely, that it should move forward as a God based, prayer based, Savior invoking plea for permanent cessation, and not a man-based, wrongly thought effort by a vigilanty community.

As is all too often the case, the minute we take up a Godly cause, stating scriptural mandate, we corrupt the entire thing.

He has a plan. Let's let him work it.

Harley A. said...

Bill, I hear you, but I think the nature of the moral questioning is inextricably wound up with the nature of the crime of abortion. What Tiller’s murderer did is evident to all, even those not discerning enough to understand how criminal the act of abortion is. Abortion, on the other hand, is deceptive. Consider this… If you saw a man in the maternity ward about to start killing the babies, most anyone would say that you would be justified in killing that man to save the innocent lives. But, as long as we allow the killing of the babies just before they are born and it’s done by a medically trained person in a clinic, somehow the world is okay with that. While I cannot condone what the man did, I think we ought to be careful in judging him too harshly. I think Mike’s point is an excellent one (I immediately thought of Bonhoeffer myself) and something that is very difficult to wrestle with – no easy answer here.

Also, I’d have to disagree with you that “neither one has committed a worse crime”. The Bible does teach that all have sinned and are under the same ultimate judgment. But, the Bible also teaches varying degrees of punishment for varying degrees of crime (sin) in the Law. Not that his crimes were beyond forgiveness, but Tiller’s crimes were most certainly worse in that sense.

Bill Legge said...

Hi Harley,

Fair points to be sure. I guess I don't see abortion as deceptive. I view it as open, legalized, murder; no different than gunning down a man in a church.

And while I appreciate your analogy, I don't think it applies here. The shooter did not kill Dr. Tiller prior to the Doctor's own killing spree, rather he killed him after the babies had been slain. Would you still find a man justified if he waited for the maternity ward killer in the parking lot and then shot him?

I appreciate the arguement that Dr. Tiller would continue his work and therefore the shooter was preventing the deaths of hundreds of future children. But we assume that as fact; we don't know it as such.

My issue remains that the shooter took the place of God in issuing judgement. Dr. Tiller will not, as Ben said, have the opportunity to repent. What if someone had taken the law into his own hands and assassinated Paul for his crimes against Christianity prior to his conversion?

I do not mean to suggest that Dr. Tiller and Paul are the same, but I think it's fair to say that their crimes were equally evil.

Forgive me if I have misunderstood scripture here, but doesn't "the varying degrees of punishment for varying degrees of crimes in the Law" appear in the Old Testament as judgements for an old covenant society? Are we not under the new covenant, where we are to forgive seventy-seven times?

I understand, more than I care to share here, the level of evil in Dr. Tiller's acts. But when I view them through the prism of my own thoughts and actions, I cannot condemn him to death, nor can I say he is more evil than I. And I am very thankful that I have been shown mercy now denied to Dr. Tiller.

Bill Legge said...


"I view it as open, legalized, murder; no different than gunning down a man in a church."

No different, except for that legalized bit.