As I write this, it’s Sunday afternoon, and I’ve just returned from church. The Mrs. is taking our Sunday dinner off the stove as our children set the table. I sit in my recliner and open my laptop’s browser to a news Web site. All around me is the peace of the Lord’s Day at the parsonage, but I am stunned by a headline: George Tiller, the notorious abortionist from Kansas, has been murdered.
I decide to record how my response unfolds, in real time, as I ruminate over this news. The story only broke 10 minutes ago, and I check a few other news sites. I note that Matt Drudge posts the story with a blasé, single-line hypertext link in 12 point font: “Abortion Doc Gunned Down at Church.” The Drudge Report’s banner headline, reserved for only the most important breaking news, is devoted instead to Susan Boyle, the singing Scottish spinster, and the earth-shattering revelation that she only captured second place in some British talent show. When a story like Tiller’s slaying goes up against the American obsession with television entertainers, even if it bleeds, it doesn’t lead.
Now it’s only been 25 minutes since the news broke, but evidently it’s high time for Tiller’s canonization to get underway. Hagiographers are already describing him as a “crusader” and “hero,” but I note that they do so with an agenda: His cadaver may not have cooled yet, but Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, knows an opportunity to accrue some yummy political capital when she sees one. Her press release, eulogizing the victim as a “kind man and skilled doctor,” states that “Women across the country have lost a champion today. The cold-blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller this morning in church is a stark reminder that women’s bodies are still a battleground.”
Gandy goes on to paint the suspect as a typical adherent to Pro-Life beliefs, representative of the movement as a whole, even before police have identified him or his motives. With absolutely no information and with breathtaking bigotry, she declares that “Dr. Tiller’s slaying is the most recent in a string of murders in the service of the anti-abortion cause.” Read that as, “All who believe in the sanctity of life have commissioned this killing.”
It’s coming up on an hour now since the crime was announced, and Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star somehow manages to make Gandy’s rhetoric seem reasonable. Hendricks indicts “every one who has ever called Tiller’s late term abortion clinic a murder mill” as an “accomplice” in this murder. In the zany world of Gandy and Hendricks, I fit the description of an accomplice. I have roundly criticized Tiller’s actions from my pulpit and on my radio program, yet I also know and declare that his slaying is a sin against God. But Hendricks insists, “His accomplices know they have blood on their hands, which might explain why they were quick to issue statements today expressing disapproval of Tiller’s murder.” Translation: If you’re Pro-Life, when you condemn Tiller’s slaying, you’re really confessing your own complicity in the crime!
It’s been 90 minutes now, and it occurs to me that by the time I learned of Tiller’s murder, he had already learned the truth of Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Tiller has faced God the Judge. One day Tiller’s murderer will do the same. As will I, and you. And in every case, your acquittal to eternal life in Heaven or your condemnation to unending Hell pivots upon one critical point: Have you repented of your sins and placed your trust in Jesus Christ alone? In God’s economy we all stand condemned, unless we stand beneath the blood of the Lamb of God.
Three hours have passed. The loony ravings of Hendricks and Gandy notwithstanding, I know that passionate advocacy on behalf of the unborn does not make one culpable in this or any other killing. I know I believe in the sanctity of all life — that of unborn babies, and that of this abortionist. I know that violence against abortionists is no solution for the violence of abortion.
And, I know without a doubt that the wrongfulness of infanticide can’t be demonstrated through a wrongful homicide.
But, God help me, I can’t say with any degree of integrity that I will ever mourn for the likes of George Tiller.