Why Shooting Abortionists Is A Bad Idea
Most readers don’t need an article on why murdering an abortionist is a bad idea. But there are some of us who actually must go through the mental exercise in order to be at peace with the subject.
After all, the matter is serious. It is human beings who are being torn apart in the womb by these abortionists. And it is the women, men, and family survivors of abortion that are deeply affected. So the question arises, why then not take out an abortionist as a matter of defense of the innocent?
Consider this. In Numbers 25, Israel was sinning badly. Through the treachery of the prophet Balaam, they had joined themselves to Moabite women and had sacrificed to the Moabite god, Baal. In plain terms, that means that immorality and unfaithfulness were rampant. At its most flagrant high point, Phinehas took matters into his own hand. He thrust his spear through two fornicators, putting an abrupt end to the party – and to the plague from the Lord that had befallen the Israelites. And make no mistake: the Lord honored Phinehas for it:
‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace,and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’ ” – Nu 25:12-13
But now consider another case, Israel’s plight some decades earlier. While they were still in Egypt, trapped in slavery, the evil Pharaoh had decreed that all Hebrew babies would be destroyed immediately upon birth. The Hebrews had no human rights at all, so when a certain promising young Hebrew ruler, by the name of Moses, saw a Jewish brother being abused, he killed the Egyptian surreptitiously. Moses thought he would spark a revolt among his people, but the next day he found out that he had failed to unify the fragmented Israelites.
Moses’ personal attempt to right a truly horrible situation had achieved exactly nothing, and he was forced to flee deep into the desert to meditate on that fact in the hot sun for the next forty years. It wasn’t until God showed up, with a far better plan of deliverance, that Israel’s captivity ended.
So what’s the difference between the two scenarios? With Phinehas, Israel was under a binding covenantal system of law. To be sure, the nation had badly fallen in practice from this standard, but nonetheless the law was still in place and still binding. The problem was that the officials were not executing their responsibilities. So when Phinehas stood up and defended the law, he was successful and was honored by God.
In the earlier, Moses, scenario, the existing system of law was not covenantal to Israel, but was alien and hostile. There was no authority to appeal to, so Moses understandably chose revolt. But he failed because he did not do it God’s way.
Now, where does America fit into these models? We have left our position of covenantal law. Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord. Indeed, but though we still are a nation with many Christians, we are no longer a Christian nation. It’s not merely that our leaders are not enforcing the law, it’s that they have actually changed the law. In making abortion the law of the land, which quite simply has legalized murder, our highest institutions have placed America under a judgment that trifles Sodom’s guilt. As Daniel predicted 2500 years ago (7.25), God’s enemies have attempted to change the times and the law. And we have to admit that they have, in fact, been quite successful.
So unlike the situation with Phinehas, the breaking of God’s law now lays not only at the feet of the individuals directly involved, but upon the nation that has told them it is good to do so. It is our very institutions which are in disobedience and have fallen. An entire generation has been raised under the repeated Big Lie that abortion is a fundamental right and a good thing.
The Bible is clear that where there is no law, sin is not imputed (Rom 5.13 and elsewhere). That doesn’t mean sin doesn’t bring tragic consequences – it always does – but it does mean that God grades eschatologically on a curve, that He understands when lies we’ve been shaped under have influenced our decisions.
Because of the Big Abortion Lie, many have done things they later come to regret. Often when a person who has been a party to abortion looks into the eyes of his own later child, he comes to intuitively understand the gravity of his earlier deed. There follows remorse and repentance. The prolife army is legion with people like this. That is why the guilt of abortion in our society cannot be placed only on the direct participants. The entire society has approbated their decisions. We bear collective guilt. And that is why we must not hate anyone involved in abortions. It is not ours to read their hearts. God alone knows the amount of Light they had when they sinned.
If it were a matter of just “offing” an abortionist or two, and being done with the problem, simple math would suggest that to be an effective and efficient course of action. But it’s not. For the reasons described above, the roots of abortion go far deeper than the availability of an abortionist in Wichita, Kansas. And as long as those societal roots remain in place, other abortionists will spring up to replace him.
Violence is self-defeating
Indeed, anti-abortion violence has done more than anything else to set back its own cause, and it has done so by at least a generation. I was on the barricades during the 80s and 90s. I saw what the violence did to the prolife movement. The prolife voice had been burgeoning in American politics, not only in pulpits, but on editorial pages, talk shows, at the ballot box, from the bully pulpit of the Reagan White House, and in street demonstrations. It was the issue of a generation. But the violence instantly drove a titanium wedge between antiabortion activism and mainstream public opinion. It gave the opposition and their Big Media arm all the weapons they needed to pave the way for the passage of FOCA and for the subsequent RICO Act prosecutions. People began to stay away from our protests in droves, and political victory quickly vanished into the distant horizon. The anti-abortion movement was in a short time driven to the anachronistic sidelines of American politics. Tremendous harm had been done by a few zealots.
Now, as I hinted above, I sympathize with the motivation of sincere antiabortion zealots. I personally had to think this whole thing through long and hard before I had an understanding of the depth of the problem. I ultimately determined that because the nation had institutionally sanctioned murder, the responsibility for the abomination rested on more than the individuals directly involved, it also lay on the societal structure as a whole.
It is at that societal level that the change must come, if the change is to be permanent, for permanent change begins spiritually. That means that Christians must preach and live the Gospel, reaching out to the victims and victimizers of abortion, and to the silent majority who have sat by while our institutions were co-opted by the ungodly, bearing witness to both the love and the sovereignty of Christ.
It is through personal transformation that institutional reformation comes, one soul at a time until a viable political force is achieved. That’s often an intergenerational process. The Phinehas model doesn’t fit our situation. The first Moses model fits all too well – taking matters into our hands will backfire just as surely as it did for him. The model we need to follow is the Second Moses model of doing things God’s way – even if it means waiting in the desert for God to show up and empower us to do so.