Mix My Blood with the Blood of the Unborn
by Paul Jennings Hill
by the Author
Paul J. Hill
All rights reserved
Published August 2003
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®
© Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977
Used by Permission
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the many people who have encouraged and prayed for me, and my family, during the last few years. The Lord has used your love and concern to sustain and uplift us in a wonderful way.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Don and Thea Spitz for the immense amount of effort they have exerted in conducting research, doing word processing, and mailing books and materials to me for this project. Their aid has been remarkable and indispensable.
Dan, Erin, Dallas, and the entire Thiele family have also been used by the Lord in a marvelous way in the production of this book. Their sacrificial help has filled my heart with joy, and helped to make this publication possible.
Rebecca Mortensen and Cathy Hoffer served as a team to help with one of the appendices. Their help was very encouraging.
The Lord provided wonderfully for the word processing through the skilled effort of Connie Rogers. She is due special thanks.
Appreciation is also due to Cathy Ramey, Stephen T. Booker, and Mike Keen for their invaluable aid with the text. Linda Wolfe has also rendered considerable service and encouragement, as has Mike Bray.
I also praise the Lord for the many contributions of those who have gone before me, and stand with me, in upholding these glorious truths.
I. INTRODUCTION 12
Fighting for Life 13
Striking Results 14
II. THE STORY OF THE SHOOTING 16
A Window of Opportunity 16
Remembering God’s Promise 16
An Agonizing Decision 17
Preparing to Kill 18
Waiting for the Abortionist 19
Arrested but Successful 20
Breaking the Shackles of Submission 21
Family Neglect and Excessive Force? 22
The Burden of Proof 22
Ill. THE PRINCIPLES OF DEFENSIVE ACTION 25
All Killing Forbidden? 25
Illegally Observing the Sixth Commandment 27
Apostolic Example 29
Submission or Resistance? 30
The Priority of Preventing Mass Murder 32
Called to Kill? 35
Sinful Negligence 37
Honorable Defense 39
Anti-Abortion Wall Building 40
Faith, Prayer, and Defensive Action 42
World -Transforming Truths 44
Objections Answered 46
Intentional Killing Forbidden? 51
The Lower Civil Magistrate 58
Southern Baptists Take A Stand 60
Freedom from Abortion 71
Abortion Semantics 76
IV. COURTROOM CONTROVERSY 78
Pre-Trial Proceedings 78
Mock Trial 79
The Golden Rule Defense 82
List of Appendices
APPENDIX A - JONATHAN EDWARDS, DEFENSIVE ACTION, AND REVIVAL
APPENDIX B - WHY SOUTHERN BAPTISTS ARE WRONG TO NEGLECT THE DEFENSE OF THE UNBORN
APPENDIX C - DOES THE PCA ENDORSE ANTI-ABORTION FORCE?
APPENDIX D - STANZAS ON FREEDOM
APPENDIX E - THE FINAL SOLUTION TO ABORTION
The clash between Peter and Paul over circumcising Gentile believers (Galatians 2) was enormously important: the truth of the gospel, and the salvation offered to all men, from that day to our own, is directly connected to it. The controversy that currently rages over defending the unborn with force is of similar significance: both people's physical and their spiritual lives literally depend it. Not only is the legitimacy of using the means necessary for defending the unborn at stake, by logical extension, the duty to similarly defend all human beings, both born and unborn throughout all future generations, hangs in the balance. In addition to this, people's spiritual lives are also directly related to their willingness to maintain the rights of a persecuted minority in their midst. When murder has been legalized, and thousands are being slaughtered each day, to neglect the right of these people to be defended is a sin of immense proportions, with many dire consequences. It is nearly impossible, thus, to overstate the importance of the issue before us.
I do not claim extensive knowledge of pro-life causes, nor do I claim any extra-biblical revelations on the subject. But I am convinced that the Lord has called me to maintain the defensive duties of the Moral Law, as it applies to the unborn. I offer this work to the public in obedience to this divine call, and in an effort to depend on His enabling grace. Considering the huge number of lives at stake, and ultimately for Christ's sake, I beg you to overlook the numerous shortcomings of this earthen vessel author, and search and see if the principle I am asserting is truthful and biblical, or not.
It is certain that we should use the means necessary to defend the innocent, and since the unborn are innocent, it is equally certain that we should use the means necessary to defend them. If we knew that we, or our loved ones were about to be killed, as thousands of unborn children are each day, we would defend one another with the means necessary. We would not limit ourselves to legal and educational remedies that might possibly stop the bloodshed in the future; rather, we would take the immediate action necessary to save one another. If questioned, we would assert the moral necessity of taking this action. The law of love requires us to similarly defend the unborn, and uphold the duty to do so.
The duty the defend the innocent with the means necessary is an essential aspect of the Moral Law that is found in both the Old and New Testaments, and has been recognized and implemented throughout history. Neither the overwhelming majority of citizens, nor the government, questions the duty to defend the innocent. Not everyone agrees on the degree of defensive force that is appropriate, but the obligation to defend innocent people with the means necessary is such a clear and compelling aspect of the Moral Law that it can scarcely be denied.
Not only does the Moral Law require the means necessary for defending the innocent, this duty comes directly from God, and cannot be removed by any human government. The duty to defend your own or your neighbor's child, thus, is inalienable. When the government forbids this defense, the people “. . .must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b). The Scriptures teach that when the government requires a sin of omission (as it has by forbidding the defense of our unborn children), we must obey God rather than the government. As a consequence, you do not need the state's permission before defending your unborn child. No man-made law can remove the individual's duty to defend his own or his neighbor's child.
A consistent effort to bring civil law into conformity with the Moral Law should be based on asserting, rather than denying, the duty of the Moral Law in question. If we want to alert people to the immediate necessity of protecting the unborn, and if we want the government to provide this protection on our behalf, we must assert this duty in a forthright manner, rather than continuing to neglect and deny it.
Abortion remains legal, in part, because Christians and pro-life advocates have not harnessed the horse to the cart. The moral obligation to defend the unborn with the means necessary should be the force that pulls the pro-life movement along. This compelling duty should provide both the logical ground and the moral impetus for all anti-abortion activities, including direct intervention, as well as educational and legislative efforts. Since we should use the means necessary for defending the unborn, even though this is illegal, how much more should we avail ourselves of legal remedies, and insist that the government provide this protection for the unborn on the people's behalf?
Not only does the Moral Law require the means necessary for defending the innocent, the Moral Law also requires that this duty be upheld in no uncertain terms. The Ninth Commandment (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” Exodus 20:16) not only forbids lying, it also requires the maintaining and promoting of truth, including the defensive duties of the Moral Law. When murder, thus, has been legalized, and thousands are being slain every day, there is an overwhelming moral obligation to maintain and promote the means necessary for saving those threatened.
For instance, when the King of Persia, in the book of Esther, legalized the slaughter of the Jews, and afterwards permitted them to assemble and protect their lives, it was essential to the survival of the Jews that they understood and asserted the duty to defend themselves. There is a similar moral imperative that we maintain the right of the unborn to be protected with the means necessary. Just as there is a moral obligation to promote the duty to clothe the naked, and feed the starving, there is a similar imperative to maintain the duty to defend those who are being attacked. This duty must be fervently proclaimed and maintained so people will be roused from their slumber, repent, and devote themselves to this task in obedience to Christ.
As we shall see, preventing mass murder must be given a much higher priority than it is currently given. Christians commonly believe that, while legal abortion is a great injustice, it does not require the same drastic response that would be required if the government were to forbid public worship or the preaching of the gospel. But this view cannot withstand critical analysis. Since all the rights and duties of life are dependent on being alive, maintaining the right to life should have the highest immediate priority. The freedom to worship or preach the gospel is of no use to dead people. It is bad, thus, to forbid people to worship the Lord, but it is worse to sanction their murder. Preaching is important, but if you are in a worship service, and someone begins shooting people, the first priority is to stop the killing. Under these circumstances, to ignore the killing and continue with the preaching is wrong and irrational.
The issue at stake must be kept in perspective. The problem is not that the government has merely forbidden Christians to preach the gospel or worship. At issue is not the legalization of rape or slavery; the government has sanctioned mass murder, and thousands are being slaughtered every day. What is more immediately important than saving your child, or your grandchild from being murdered?
Some sins are more heinous than others. Neglecting any aspect of the Moral Law is sinful, but neglecting the duty to defend helpless children, as millions are being slaughtered, is an especially heinous sin. Bowing to an injustice of this magnitude encourages submission to an untold number of lesser atrocities. Tolerating this form and number of murders also sets a precedent for submitting to more heinous types, and even larger numbers of murders. If your right to defend your own child may be removed by the government, there is no right that may not be similarly removed by the state. These aggravators, as well as many others, make neglecting the defensive duties of the Moral Law (as they apply to the unborn) an extremely heinous sin in the sight of God.
The magnitude of this sin should be held in sharp contrast to the virtue and wisdom of maintaining the defensive duties of the Moral Law. Just as neglecting this duty enables the cycle of sin, misery, and death to continue and accelerate, so upholding the duty to defend the unborn breaks this cycle and produces extraordinary results. Upholding this duty brings an entirely new perspective to the abortion controversy, and unleashes previously neglected potential. Affirming this aspect of the Moral Law enables us to connect it to all the other truths and duties of the Bible. This lays the basis for a comprehensive understanding of the problem, and for prescribing an effective remedy. It also opens people's eyes to the necessity of immediate and effective action—as required by God’s law—and their former neglect of this obligation. This duty provides strategic insight for directing people's efforts to defend the unborn in an effective manner, and ignites people to make the sacrifices necessary to stop abortion.
Affirming this duty also provides an adequate rationale for calling people to the degree of commitment that is consistent with the extremity of the situation. Since the Moral Law requires some people to lay down their lives in defense of others, including the unborn, how much more should those not called to make this supreme sacrifice determine to devote themselves to serving God in this compelling cause? Legal abortion will only end when people become willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stop it. The Moral Law requires the sacrifices necessary to stop it. Thus, it is imperative that people repent of neglecting this aspect of the Moral Law, and rather assert it with great zeal and devotion. Nothing moves people to action like the duties of God’s word that require that action.
The more we love the Lord, the greater will be our affection for His word, including the defensive duties required by the Sixth Commandment. David, in Psalm 119:97, cried out, “0h, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” His affection for God’s law certainly included the duty to defend innocent people. We should have a similar fervor for this neglected but essential aspect of God’s word. As believers meditate on this aspect of God’s law, as it applies to the plight of the unborn, His Spirit will give us great ardor for proclaiming and maintaining this duty throughout the world.
What those who favor abortion need to fear, and what those who oppose abortion need to promote, is a God-given zeal for protecting the unborn. The immoral passion that drives the pro-abortion movement—to indulge their lusts and abort the unborn—must be overcome by an even greater and godly passion for defending these children. This desire needs to be fanned into flames, purified by the entire Bible, and directed toward God (He is the ultimate source and object of our fervor for protecting those made in His image). As we learn to sustain and spread this zeal, it will illumine the world with the blazing brilliance of the glory of God.
God has unspeakable zeal for His own glory and honor. All of His glorious attributes, including His love and holiness, incline Him to protect the unborn. He is certainly not cold or indifferent about defending the unborn, and is absolutely devoted to defending these helpless, little ones. We must experience a similar compassionate zeal for their protection; our joy in life—under these intolerable circumstances—and God’s glory, are inseparably connected to it.
It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance of maintaining the eternal and immutable principles of the Moral Law, especially when the government opposes these principles. The most powerful and effective weapon in the world with which to fight the lethal force of abortion, and every other evil in the world, is the particular aspect of God’s word that exposes and opposes this evil; in this case, the moral duty to resist lethal force with force. To this end, we must buy truth at all cost and sell it at none. Though the entire world may deny and dash itself against the defensive duties of the Moral Law, this aspect of God’s word abides forever and will prevail against all opposition.
Upholding this principle of the Moral Law is essential to maintaining a consistent and credible pro-life position. It is obviously and blatantly inconsistent to assert that the unborn are fully human but deny that they should be defended with the means necessary—like other humans. If you condone defending born children, you should not condemn defending the unborn. Those who are pro-life should either stop defending born children or start defending the unborn.
The faith that abortion is murder is dead unless it is put to work by upholding the duty to resist this murderous force with force. How can you show your faith that abortion is murder as long as you neglect the duty to intervene in defense of these children? You believe the unborn are human. You do well; many who support abortion also believe this, but they don't act like it. “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (James 2:20).
Thus, the issues at stake involve much more than the lives of millions of unborn children; our response to the immediate needs of our neighbors demonstrates the difference between biblical Christianity, which requires costly repentance, and the devil's counterfeit that allows people to continue in sin. (Men will profess faith in all sorts of religions so long as they may live as they please, and they are not required to take up their cross and follow Christ.)
If the message being proclaimed does not require people to love their neighbors as themselves, and repent of neglecting this duty, that message falls far short of the teaching and examples of both Christ and the apostles (they plotted to put Christ to death because He healed on the Sabbath , and the apostles were persecuted for illegally ministering to their neighbors
cts 5: 12-42]). You cannot be a true Christian and persist in any sin, especially the gross neglect of your neighbors. Nor can you be a faithful teacher, under these circumstances, unless you are willing to call people to repent of neglecting their unborn neighbors. Any teacher who will not uphold the inalienable duty to love God with all the heart, and one's neighbor as himself, is guilty of gross omission.
If your brand of Christianity allows you to conform to popular opinion, and thereby avoid great sacrifice, when the government has forbidden people to save their neighbor's souls, or their lives, you have adopted a cross-less and false religion that contradicts the teachings of Christ— “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 17:24-25). Such a corrupt religion may be popular and easy to swallow but it renders Christians tasteless and lukewarm—fit for nothing but to be spewed out and washed down the drain.
Many assert that the best way to stop abortion is by the transformation of life that results from the proclamation of the gospel. This is precisely the point I am trying to make. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, and offers the only hope in our bloody and aborting world. But the gospel being preached must be true, and not a watered down counterfeit that does not expose sin, or call people to repentance. Let us not forget that an essential aspect of proclaiming the gospel is the application of the law of God to the most common and heinous sins of the day. Our culture is not only guilty of committing murder by abortion; our hands are also covered with blood for neglecting the duty to prevent murder. Christ's perfectly fulfilling this aspect of the Moral Law on our behalf, and suffering the wrath and curse of God due to us for our neglect of the unborn, can only be properly appreciate in the light of this duty. Without a lofty ethic, there can be no hearty repentance; without a sight of sin, there is no apparent need of a Savior. How can you expect to convict people of neglecting the unborn, and point them to Christ for pardon, unless the requirements of God’s law are being applied to the murder of the unborn? To fail to apply this essential duty of the Moral Law to the world's neglect of the unborn is to omit an extremely important aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A characteristic of false teachers is that they refuse to expose the sins of the day, and rather encourage conformity to the sinful omissions required by the State. But when the government requires sin, by omission or commission, true teachers must uphold the duty to obey God rather than men. Thus, an important aspect of preaching the gospel to our culture is a proclamation of the defensive duties of the Moral Law, since they have been forbidden by the government. Therefore, the question is not whether preaching and practicing all the beliefs and duties of the Bible is the best way to transform the world; the question is whether we believe the unborn are human beings who should be defended with the means necessary—as are all other human beings. If so, they key to ending abortion, and transforming the world, is both preaching and practicing these principles.
Many are in denial of this forbidden duty, but apart from it one cannot understand the individual's defensive duties, just war theory, or consistently consider the many historical manifestations of this duty in the past, present, or future. These considerations are also fundamental to comparing and contrasting the pro-life movement with other social movements that have engaged in forceful intervention. Minds that are closed to this aspect of the Moral Law cannot even weigh the morality of the American Revolution against the ethics of similar revolution in defense of the unborn.
Unless this forbidden aspect of the law is maintained, there is no consistent basis for maintaining any other aspect of the Moral Law that has been, or may be, forbidden. But asserting this prohibited duty gives glorious relevance and significance to all the other duties and truths of the Bible. It causes the whole Bible to take on new meaning and relevance. It should revive all aspects of the believer's personal life, as it requires his faith to be put into action with joyous and sacrificial service. This practical concern for people's lives should stimulate a similar concern for lost and needy souls, and promote personal holiness and zeal for evangelism. Many of those who assert this duty will find that all of their God-given gifts, and abilities will be infused with new vigor and put to work, thus promoting God’s kingdom and glory in an extraordinary manner.
The strength and beauty of Christianity consists in exhibiting the relevant truths and duties of the Bible—not in suppressing and ignoring them. Thus, we must rid ourselves of the satanic delusion that we some how further the pro-life movement, or our personal ministries, by ignoring the defensive duties of the Moral Law. Biblical Christianity is not advanced by suppressing and hiding the difficult and unpopular duties of morality, lest people take offense. The suffering for Christ's sake that occurs when believers disobey unjust laws is one of the principle means that God has ordained for purifying His church, and brining glory to Himself.
True and Spirit-filled believers, thus, should get up on a high mountain and proclaim the duties of the Bible—regardless of the consequences: “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:27-28). Any movement that is based on ignoring the duty to love and defend your neighbor, as millions are being slaughtered, is fatally flawed and cannot hope to enjoy God’s blessing.
Any strategy to bring about true repentance and revival that is in denial of this aspect of the Moral Law must necessarily be piecemeal and superficial and can hardly be expected to provide adequate ground for ultimate success. There can be no true individual, church, or national revival unless people repent of tolerating the murder of their unborn children, grandchildren, and neighbors. The Lord Jesus was particularly insistent that men care for the needy and oppressed, “But go and learn what this mean, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE.” (Matthew 9:13a). Any revival in love to God must demonstrate itself in love to our needy neighbors. God gives little account to our outward worship of Him as long as we are tolerating the oppression and abuse of our neighbor: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” (Isaiah 1:15). We must, therefore, repent of neglecting our duties to the unborn if we would enjoy the blessing of God: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Preserve
justice, and do righteousness, for my salvation is about to come and my righteousness to be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1).
The influence of Satan, our sinful nature, and the world's system have combined to blind us to the defensive duties of the Moral Law. Sin has a searing and stupefying effect on the heart that blinds it to the offense in question. One of the punishments for tolerating mass murder is the inability to recognize the duty to resist this lethal force with force. Our only hope is that the Spirit of God will quicken the word of God to our consciences, and awaken us to the magnitude of our neglect.
The battle over abortion is primarily spiritual. The conflict is between God’s will and kingdom, and Satan's opposing will and kingdom. We must choose between maintaining God’s word, though it turns to the world upside down, and ignoring the truth so that the murderous status quo, and our place in it, may remain intact. The choice is between the misery of sinful negligence, and the joy of sacrificial service. Instead of adjusting our responses to legal abortion to fit within our comfort zones, we must adjust our lifestyles so they conform to God’s law under these truly horrific circumstances.
Make no mistake, under current circumstances, deciding to uphold the defensive duties of the Moral Law is a weighty and far-reaching decision that should not be taken lightly. Taking this step is similar to Christ's decision to help the needy on the Sabbath, and the apostles’ decision to minister to their neighbors in the name of Christ—contrary to the law. It is difficult for us to appreciate just how radical and costly it was for the apostles to decide to disobey the law of the land. Many in that day, no doubt, considered the apostolic refusal to submit to the authorities to be wild-headed, unwise, and counterproductive to the “movement.” It resulted in horrible persecution that cost thousands of Christians their lives. Surely the respectable, law-abiding citizens of that day questioned the wisdom, and perhaps the sanity, of those who joyfully endured the loss of their property, family, and lives. Those who hated vital Christianity stigmatized the believers who upheld the forbidden duties of that day as despicable outlaws, and tried to marginalize them in public opinion, to discourage others from associating with them.
The question that confronts us is whether we are willing to be similarly stigmatized for upholding the duties of the Moral Law that have been forbidden in our day. It is time for us to count the cost of being a Christian under a regime that has legalized murder, and has made it illegal to protect one's children and neighbors from harm. What would have happened if the
apostles had refused to go outside the camp with Christ, bearing His reproach, and had rather loved this present world, and agreed to submit to the authorities? It is a good thing they immediately obeyed God in the matter, and did not limit their responses to those permitted by the state, or scorn those who obeyed God rather than men.
Since the government has legalized the murder of the unborn, much as when the Roman government legalized the murder of Christians, it gives believers a glorious opportunity to show where their true allegiance lies: either with Satan, the state, and the protection of murderers, or with God, His law, and the protection of the oppressed; there is no neutral moral ground. You must choose between protecting abortionists, and protecting the unborn. To encourage submission to mass murder, and stay in the mainstream, is to forsake the straight and narrow way that leads to life.
The time is long overdue for people to move beyond their unbiblical assumptions about ending legal abortion, and begin to uphold God’s word at this point. Rather than continuing to plaster over the abortion problem by merely endorsing legal remedies, we must cut to the heart of people's sinful neglect of the unborn by upholding this forbidden aspect of God’s law.
Those who have failed to uphold this duty should be reproved and warned of the consequences of persisting in this neglect. Both defending people with the means necessary, and upholding the obligation to do so, are such obvious duties of the Moral Law that God will not excuse those who neglect these responsibilities on the basis of false please of ignorance:
Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter,
0 hold them back. If you say, ‘See, we did not know this,’ does He not consider it who weighs
the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man
according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12).
Christ declared, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven...” (Matthew 5:1 9a). If someone who annuls one of the least of the commandments will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, what consequences will come on those who annual this essential aspect of the Moral Law as millions are being slaughtered? Deuteronomy 27:1 9a declares, “Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow...” This curse should be held in sharp contrast to the blessing Christ promises to those who maintain, rather than annul, His commandments: “...but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:1 9b).
There is a real danger of becoming so engrossed in resolving the many empty objections that people raise to this duty that one loses sight of the compelling nature of the obligation at stake. We must not allow this to happen.
The Moral Law (as summarily comprehended by the Ten Commandments) requires the means necessary for defending innocent people. The unborn are innocent people. Therefore, the Moral Law requires the means necessary for defending the unborn.
Not only is this a vitally important duty of the Moral Law, since the unborn are unable to defend themselves, or to assert their right to this defense, it is imperative that this right be maintained on their behalf: “Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). God requires us to “. . .defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” The unborn are afflicted and needy and have a right to be defended with the means necessary. Therefore, God requires us to defend the right of the unborn to be protected with the means necessary. Our duty and highest joy, under these circumstances, should be to promote this duty with unwavering passion and zeal. If, therefore, you believe that abortion is lethal force, you should uphold the force needed to stop it!
This work will arm you with the most powerful weapon anyone could wield in the battle against abortion: the defensive duties required by God and forbidden by the government.
I challenge you to join with me in upholding these duties as the light of God’s law dawns on the battle for the unborn.
I didn't normally stand in the middle of the driveway leading to the abortion clinic. But this day was different. I was determined to do everything in my power to prevent John Britton from killing any children that day—or ever again. I had made up my mind that the clinic door would not close and lock behind the abortionist—protecting him as he dismembered over thirty unborn children.
Taking this “defensive action” first occurred to me eight days earlier, on July 21, 1994. I had a business touching up cars at dealerships and used car lots. I was working at a car lot in the afternoon, wondering who would act next, when the idea of taking action myself struck; it hit hard. During the next two or three hours, as I continued to work in a distracted manner, I began to consider what would happen if I were to shoot an abortionist.
The man who had previously shot an abortionist in Pensacola on March 10, 1993, Michael Griffin, had been dismissed because what he said about shooting abortionists contradicted his actions. But I wanted to put my beliefs about defending the unborn into consistent action.
God graciously converted my proud and rebellious heart when I was seventeen. Though I am a slow learner, I managed to graduate from seminary in 1984. The Lord then opened the door for me to serve in both the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. After seven years of rather unfruitful ministry, I turned from both of these denominations because I became convinced that they were inconsistently providing baptism to infants while denying them communion. (Taking this stand was made much easier by my diminishing desire to continue my unsuccessful preaching career). I then started my own business and moved my family to Pensacola to join a reformed Presbyterian church that practiced both infant baptism and infant communion.
In God’s amazing providence, I began to engage in pro-life activism at the Ladies Center in Pensacola a couple of months before Michael Griffin shot and killed the abortionist, Dr. David Gunn. (I knew of Dr. Gunn before his death, and had seen him entering the clinic). Two days after Michael Griffin killed Dr. Gunn, I called the Phil Donahue Show and told them I supported the shooting. Three days later, I appeared on the show with the abortionist's son, and compared killing Dr. Gunn to killing a Nazi concentration camp “doctor.”
The Lord then led me to contact Advocates for Life Ministries (Portland, Oregon). They graciously published an article I wrote for their magazine, Life Advocate, and provided the contacts necessary for numerous activists to sign a “Defensive Action” statement justifying Griffin's actions. After this, through another set of amazing providential occurrences, I appeared on ABC's Nightline, and justified Shelley Shannon's shooting of an abortionist in Wichita, Kansas in August, 1993.
Fighting for Life
During the Nightline broadcast, I defended the shooting on the basis of the Sixth Commandment (which not only forbids murder, but also requires the means necessary for preventing murder). It is not enough to refrain from committing murder; innocent people must also be protected.
Most people don't realize that legal abortion requires a sin of omission by forbidding people to intervene as mass murder is taking place. By legalizing abortion, the government has robbed you of your right to defend your own relatives, and neighbors, from a bloody death. It’s as though a machine gunner is taking aim on bound peasants, huddled before a mass grave, and you are forbidden to stop him. In much the same way, the abortionist's knife is pressed to the throat of the unborn, and you are forbidden to stop him. It’s as though the police are holding a gun on you, and forcing you to submit to a murder—possibly the murder of your own child or grandchild.
No human government can remove the individual's duty to keep each of the Ten Commandments: these duties are inalienable. Thus, when the government will not defend the people's children—as required by the Sixth Commandment—this duty necessarily reverts to the people. If the people's children will not be defended by the government, they must be defended by the people, or they will not be defended at all.
And if you want your fellow citizens and the government to recognize this duty, you must assert it. The outrage is not that some people use the means necessary for defending the unborn, but that, since most people don't uphold this duty, the government will not perform it on the people's behalf.
Could it be that those who point the finger, and accuse Michael Griffin of murder—even though he obviously prevented murder—are themselves guilty of complying with murder? Instead of faulting Griffin for going too far is it possible that people should be accusing themselves of not going far enough? As distasteful as it is to kill a murderer, isn't it infinitely more repulsive to allow him to murder, not just one or two, but hundreds and thousands of unborn children?
When I first appeared on Donahue, I took the position that Griffin's killing of Dr. Gunn was justified, but I asked the audience to suspend judgment as to whether it had been wise. I realized later, however, that using the force necessary to defend the unborn gives credibility, urgency, and direction to the pro-life movement. These are traits that it has lacked and that it needs in order to prevail.
I realized that using force to stop abortion is the same means that God has used to stop similar atrocities throughout history. In the book of Esther, for instance, Ahasuerus, the king of Persia, passed a law allowing the Persians to kill their Jewish neighbors. But the Jews did not passively submit; their use of defensive force prevented a calamity of immense proportions. (In this case, the government also permitted the Jews to defend themselves, but the morality of their defense was not dependent on men's approval). In much the same way, when abortion was first legalized in our nation, if the people had resisted this atrocity with the means necessary, it may have similarly saved millions of people from an untimely death. Thus, it is not unwise or unspiritual to use the means that God has appointed for keeping His commandments; rather, it is presumptuous to neglect these means and expect Him to work apart from them.
I realized that many important things would be accomplished by my shooting another abortionist in Pensacola. This would put the pro-life rhetoric about defending born and unborn children equally into practice. It would bear witness to the full humanity of the unborn as few things could. It would also open people's eyes to the enormous consequences of abortion—not only for the unborn, but also for the government that had sanctioned it, and those required to resist it. This would convict millions of their past neglect, and also spur many to future obedience. It would also help people to decide whether to join the battle on the side of those defending abortionists, or the side of those defending the unborn.
But, most importantly, I knew that this would uphold’ the truths of the gospel at the precise point of Satan's current attack (the abortionist's knife). While most Christians firmly profess the duty to defend born children with force (which is not being disputed by the government), most of these professors have neglected the duty to similarly defend the unborn. They are steady all along the battle line, except at the point where the enemy has broken through. I was certain that if I took my stand at this point, others would join with me, and the Lord would eventually bring about a great victory.
With thoughts like these racing through my mind, I finished my work that Thursday afternoon and drove home. Although, at the time, my thinking on these things had not crystallized, no matter how I approached the subject everything seemed to fall together in an amazing manner. I continued to secretly consider shooting an abortionist, half hoping it would not appear as plausible after I had given it more thought.
II. THE STORY OF THE SHOOTING
A Window of Opportunity
The next morning, Friday, as was my practice, I went to the abortion clinic (the Ladies Center). I arrived at about 8:00 a.m.: the time that many of the mothers began arriving. I was usually the first protester there, but that day another activist had arrived first. What was even more unusual was, after discrete questioning, I learned that he had been there when the abortionist arrived: about 7:30 a.m. More importantly, I discovered that the abortionist had arrived a few minutes prior to the police security guard. This information was like a bright green light, signaling me on.
For months, my wife had planned to take our children on a trip to visit my parents, and to take my son to summer camp. She planned to leave that coming Wednesday morning and return the following week. I would have the remainder of the day that she left, and all of Thursday, to prepare to act on Friday, eight days after the idea first struck me. All I had to do was hide my intentions from my wife for a few days until she left. If I did not act during her planned trip (since I could not have kept my feeling from her for long), she would almost certainly develop suspicions later, and my plans would be spoiled for fear of implicating her. I could not hope for a better opportunity than the one immediately before me. God had opened a window of opportunity, and it appeared that I had been appointed to step through it.
Remembering God’s Promise
Saturday afternoon, the second day after I began to consider taking action, we took a family outing to the beach. My wife, Karen, and I enjoyed going to the beach in the afternoon, when it isn't so hot.
Our three children were delighted with the outing. My son was nine, and my two daughters were six and three. We dug in the sand, splashed in the water, and walked along the beach on the wet sand. All the while I weighed my plans in my mind, being careful not to arouse suspicion.
This became a heart-rending experience that almost overwhelmed me. I doubted I would ever take my family to the beach like this again. I would be in prison, separated from my beautiful wife and children. The sight of them walking along the beach so happy and serene, and the contrasting thought of being removed from them was startling, almost breathtaking. Waves of emotion swept over me—threatening to start tears in my eyes.
I could not allow my emotions to show. To retain control, I lifted my heart to the Lord in praise and faith. As long as I responded to the swelling pain in my chest with praise, I could rise above it, and still see things clearly—and what a strikingly beautiful sight it was. Somehow, responding to the pain with intense praise turned it into joy—joy as clean and clear as the sand and sky. As I lifted my heart and eyes upward, I was reminded of God’s promise to bless Abraham, and grant him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I claimed that promise as my own, and rejoiced with all my might, lest my eyes become clouded with tears and they betray me.
All my parental instincts were stirred as I played with my children. They enjoyed their father's attention. I took them, one by one, into the surf with me. As I carried and supported each child in the water, it was as though I was offering them to God as Abraham offered his son.
I also admired the beauty and grace of my wife. I knew that, by God’s grace, she would be able to cope with my being incarcerated, but it was soul-wrenching to think of being separated from her, although I knew our relationship would continue.
Though I would almost surely be removed from my precious family, I knew that God would somehow work everything out. I would not lose them but only be separated from them. The separation would be painful, but the reward would be great, too great to fathom; it was simply accepted in faith.
An Agonizing Decision
By the time the sun set, the emotions that I had experienced on the beach had ebbed. We brushed the sand from our things and walked back to the car. Neither Karen nor the children seemed alerted to anything. Like a man savoring his last supper, I enjoyed watching them through eyes unknown to them. I decided to suspend final judgment as to whether I would act until the upcoming Monday. After making my decision I would then have four days to prepare myself to act on Friday—the day abortions were performed.
The decision was agonizing. I would be leaving my home, children, and wife, but I felt that God had given me all I had so that I could return it to Him. Nor was I unmindful of the impact this gift would have, ‘or of the reward. I was also assured, from God’s “word” that He would be a Father to my children and sustain my wife.
I had not moved to Pensacola for this purpose, nor had I gotten myself on Donahue or Nightline and carried myself through them in my own strength. I certainly had nothing to do with Michael Griffin shooting Dr. Gunn, or with the highly publicized Pensacola abortion clinic bombings on Christmas of 1984. I was not standing for my own ideas, but God’s truths—the same truths that have stopped bloodbaths and similar atrocities throughout history. Who was I to stand in God’s way? He now held the door open and promised great blessing for obedience. Was I not to step through it?
When Monday arrived, I knew I had to decide. When I went from debating whether to act, in general, to planning a particular act, I felt some relief. Romans 14:23b says, “. . .and whatever is not from faith is sin.” If I had not acted when I did, it would have been a direct and unconscionable sin of disobedience. One of the first things I told my wife after the shooting was, “I didn't have any choice!” That cry came from the depths of my soul. I was certain, and I still am, that God called me to obey His revealed will at that particular time.
My plan was to carry my shotgun from my parked truck to the front of the abortion clinic in a rolled-up poster board protest sign. I would leave the concealed shotgun lying on the ground until the abortionist drove past me into the clinic parking lot.
Preparing to Kill
In spite of my careful plans, the morning of the shooting was not easy. Although I had gone to bed late, I forced myself to rise about 4:00 a.m. to spend time in prayer and Bible reading, and to prepare myself for the day. I concluded my meditations in Psalm 91. Verses five through nine stood out:
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the
pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A
thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right had; but it shall not approach
you. You will only look on with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked. For you
have made The Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.
I was fully determined to act, but my usual zest, and the zeal I expected to feel were missing. The lower half of my body was gripped with a gnawing emptiness. This was not an easy task.
While driving to the clinic, I decided to drive past it first, to see if everything looked normal (I was concerned that someone may have become suspicious and called the police). Just as I approached the clinic, a police cruiser drove by me in the opposite direction. I forced my fears under control as I continued down the road. After driving a quarter of a mile, it was time to head back, but the freedom of the open road beckoned to me. I could hear the undercarriage of my truck groan as I did a tight turn around in an open parking lot. It was hard to turn around, but I knew I could not continue down the road. Obedience was the only option.
Waiting for The Abortionist
Several months prior to the day of the shooting, GQ magazine had interviewed both the pro-life protesters and the pro-choice people (including the abortionist) who frequented The Ladies Center. This piece (published in February 1994) discussed the threat I posed to the abortionist, and the possibility of someone—like me—shooting him as he entered the clinic.
I knew from having read this article that the abortionist and his escort were on guard when entering the clinic. Jim Barret, an escort who took his turn driving the abortionist to the clinic, was described as being well armed. He was quoted as saying that, if threatened, he would “...shoot first” and “. . .not miss.” As it happened, in God’s providence, he was the driver killed that day.
Two thoughts sustained and impelled me as I went through this ordeal. The first was that if I did not intervene and prevent the abortionist from entering the clinic, he would kill two or three dozen children that day. The second, and more prominent thought, was that if I did not succeed in killing the abortionist, but merely wounded him, he would, in all probability, return to killing the unborn as soon as he was able. In the coming months and years, he would likely kill thousands of unborn children, under the security of the best police protection available. I was determined to prevent this.
As I stood awaiting the abortionist's arrival, I was struggling in fervent prayer to maintain my resolution of heart. At the end, as the moment of his expected arrival approached, I was praying fervently that the police security would not arrive first. I could still find the heart to shoot the abortionist but, while I knew it would be justified to kill a policeman in order to stop the murderer he was protecting, I did not want to have to do it. I implored the Lord, in an earnest and personal manner, to spare me, and the policeman—if possible.
God answered my prayers, and the abortionist arrived two or three minutes before the police guard. When I lifted the shotgun, two men were sitting in the front seats of the parked truck; Jim Barret, the escort, was directly between me and the abortionist.
When I finished shooting, I laid the shotgun at my feet and walked away with my hands held out at my sides, awaiting arrest. I did not want to appear to be threatening anyone when the police arrived.
Arrested but Successful
I was relieved when they cuffed me. I gave a hopeful and non-resisting look to the policeman who ordered me under arrest with his drawn handgun. I did not want to be shot, and was glad to be safely in police custody.
When they later led me to the police car, a handful of people had assembled. I spontaneously raised my voice: “One thing's for sure, no innocent people will be killed in that clinic today.” Not only had the abortionist been prevented from killing about 30 people that day, he had also been prevented from continuing to kill—unlike other abortionists who have merely been wounded and have returned to “work.” The remarkable thing about that day was that, unlike the children who survived to possibly work some other day, the one who intended to kill them did not.
At the police station, a specially summoned plain-clothed officer sat talking with me for two or three hours. He had sat similarly with Michael Griffin. But I did not discuss what had just happened. I did not want to aid those who had sinned by swearing to uphold mass murder (as have virtually all those who have sworn to uphold the law of the land).
The arresting officer then led me out of the police station, and escorted me 20 yards to his squad car in front of a teeming mass of reporters and photographers. As I came out of the door of the station, I seized the initiative, and raised my voice in a carefully planned declaration:
“Now is the time to defend the unborn in the same way you'd defend slaves about to be murdered!”
Soon I was alone in a large one-man cell. The emotions surging within me burst forth in praise to God for all that He had done. I repeatedly sang a song commonly used at rescues. The refrain begins, “Our God is an awesome God;”
Breaking the Shackles of Submission
Although I did not understand the meaning of all the emotions I experienced immediately after my incarceration, I understand them better now. Prior to the shooting, I experienced the oppressive realization that I was not free to defend my neighbors as I would defend myself. Wrath was ready to be poured out on me if I cast off the shackles of passive submission to the state. The fear of being persecuted for disobeying our tyrannical government made submitting to its yoke seem attractive. My mind and will recoiled from the high cost of acting responsibility. It required an act of the will to even consider obeying the Lord.
Any nation that legalizes abortion throws a blanket of fear and intimidation over all its citizens who rightly understand the issues involved. By legalizing abortion, the government has aimed its intimidating weaponry at any who dare to interfere with the slaughter. The resulting fear of the government has a paralyzing effect on both the individual and the collective mindset that is incalculable. Anyone who underestimates the power that fear of the police has over men's minds fails to appreciate what may be the government's most powerful weapon. If you wonder why so few speak, or practice, the whole truth about defending the unborn, you need look no further for an explanation—it’s illegal to save those being led away to slaughter.
The inner joy and peace that have flooded my soul since I have cast off the state's tyranny has made my 6’ x 9’ cell into a triumphant and newly liberated kingdom. I shudder at the thought of ever returning to the bondage to bloodguilt currently enforced by the state.
What is the appropriate response to news of an abortion provider being slain by someone defending the unborn? Under such circumstances, the focus should not be on the slain murderer, but on the deliverance of his intended victims. For instance, in the book of Esther, when the Lord delivered the Jews from the Persians who intended to harm them, the people did not mourn the death of their enemies; rather, they established a holiday of feasting and rejoicing that continues to be celebrated to this day.
Family Neglect and Excessive Force?
Some object that I have neglected my family. But in spite of the emphasis the Bible places on performing familial duties, it is abundantly clear that you must respond to the call of Christ—even if it requires you to leave your wife, children, and also forfeit your life. To perform a higher calling, it is often necessary to leave lesser duties behind.
Others object that killing Dr. Britton was excessive. But many who hold this position would not object if they learned that, during the Jewish holocaust, someone had shot and killed a Nazi concentration camp “doctor.” Suppose, for instance, someone had shot and killed the notorious Dr. Joseph Mengele who practiced at Auschwitz. Wouldn't this have been warranted, under the circumstances, to prevent him from continuing his torturous and murderous experiments?
The appropriate degree of defensive force is determined by the circumstances. Force that is excessive under one set of circumstances may be totally inadequate under conditions that are more demanding. Extreme circumstances normally call for extreme measures. Would you think that you had done your duty if you merely wounded someone who was trying to kill your family, if, afterwards, you had to sit in jail as the murderer returned, week after week, until he had killed everyone in your family?
Under circumstances where it is likely that merely wounding an assailant, rather than killing him, will result in that person later returning to murder numerous people, lethal force is justified. Genesis 14 records an incident in which Abraham, and his men, attacked and killed a group of men who had taken Abraham's nephew, Lot, captive. God later blessed this slaughter through Melchizedek (a type of Christ), who declared that God had delivered Abraham's enemies into his hand. Under these circumstances, lethal force was necessary. It certainly prevented those killed from later regrouping and returning to threaten Abraham's family.
The Burden of Proof
In order to determine where the burden of proof falls in this debate, we must begin with a realistic ‘evaluation of the circumstances: the government has legalized murder, and the overwhelming majority of people, including those who oppose abortion, are in denial about the duty to defend the unborn with the means necessary. But since the defensive duties of the Moral Law are such a self-evident aspect of life, no one wants to bear the burden of trying to disprove the obvious. It would certainly be difficult for a pro-lifer who believes in justifiable homicide in defense of born people to prove that similarly defending the unborn could not also be justifiable. The best those who are determined to suppress this duty can do is to ignore it. It they can't do this (it is difficult to ignore all the abortion clinic bombings and shootings), they cast about for an objection to a particular aspect of this duty that appears plausible. (People in this debate commonly grasp at objections even though they know them to be flimsy as straw). But it is important to distinguish between raising an unsubstantiated objection to what someone did, and proving that what they did was wrong. In both church and civil courts, no accusations should be sustained unless they can be proven (I Timothy 5:19, Deuteronomy 17:6).
The tactic employed by those who prosecuted me, in both my church and civil trials, was to assume that it is wrong to kill abortionists, and proceed on this unproved assumption. But this was to assume the very point in question (they begged the question). Yet the Bible clearly puts the burden of proof on the accuser (I Timothy 5:19, Deuteronomy 17:6). All the accused needs to do, in a civil trial, is to raise a reasonable doubt about the prosecution's case. In both church and civil courts, a man should be presumed innocent unless it can be proven that he is guilty. Thus, in both my church and civil trials, the prosecution should have borne the burden of proving that what I did, under the circumstances, was wrong: i.e., that abortion providers should not be restrained with lethal force (even though they are protected by the police, and will likely return to killing the innocent if they are merely wounded).
The prosecution in both my church and civil trials was intent on suppressing, not only my particular actions, but any sort of forceful intervention. Thus, the last thing they wanted to do was to assert the obligation to defend the innocent with the means necessary, and then show why my particular use of force was inconsistent with this obligation. Yet, from a consistent biblical and pro-life perspective, this is what was required. If someone allegedly uses excessive force, this in no way annuls all the lesser and appropriate degrees of force. Rather, if you want to prove that someone used excessive force you must begin by asserting the proper parameters of defensive force, and then demonstrate that the act in question exceeded these parameters. But since those prosecuting me were in denial about all of the defensive duties of the Moral Law, and not just lethal defense, they did not do this; they assumed that what I did was wrong and did not try to prove their case. If they had done so, it would have soon become obvious that not only was the force I used appropriate, under the circumstances, lesser degrees of force would have also been justified. Thus, they did not accept the impossible task of proving what I did was wrong.
If they had asserted that I had used excessive force, I could have done more than raise a reasonable doubt about this charge; I could have proven that lethal defensive force was, under the circumstances, a moral necessity (Genesis 14). Since they could not have proven I did anything wrong, neither of these courts should have accused me of wrongdoing. But since they charged me with guilt, they should have at least accepted the burden of proving their accusations.
Not only do my accusers bear the burden of proof, this proof must be based on the Scriptures; men's laws, declarations, constitutions, and opinions should be tested by God’s law. People commonly appeal to America's Declaration of Independence, and the American Constitution in this debate. But even if those who drafted these documents had attempted to be distinctly biblical, which they did not, a man-made civil constitution is no more infallible or authoritative than a man-made church constitution. God’s word, as interpreted by the Holy Spirit, must be looked to as the supreme judge by which all of faith and life is to be examined— not any uninspired church or civil constitution.
Many of my detractors, who are ordinarily careful to base their teaching on God’s word, in this instance have not done so, but have rather based their opposition to my actions on men's unfounded opinions. And not only do some of their objections contradict the word of God, their arguments often contradict the commonly accepted norms for using defensive force. Since many of their arguments are contrary to the Moral Law, they not only fly in the face of Scripture, they often contradict common sense.
When a society is guilty of tolerating mass murder, it is difficult for those within such an inverted society to view the appropriate response from an objective viewpoint. The Bible provides this viewpoint. Viewing things from God’s perspective requires a conscious and concentrated effort when you, and those around you, are hanging upside down. While it is difficult for us, under these circumstances, to see things as they are, the effort must be made.
III. THE PRINCIPLES OF DEFENSIVE ACTION
All Killing Forbidden?
You do not need to enjoy detective stories, or even to have read the Bible, to know that some killings are evil, and some are good and necessary. This knowledge is instinctive since it is part of the Moral Law. Yet, in spite of this inner testimony, some mistakenly believe the Sixth Commandment forbids all killing. Those who hold this position commonly quote the King James Bible, which translates this Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” But the more accurate translation, used by most current versions, is, “You shall not murder.” The Hebrew word that is properly translated “murder” in the Sixth Commandment is “ratsach.”
Biblical Hebrew, much like modern English, has several words for killing that do not necessarily imply wrongdoing. But “ratsach,” like “murder,” is used to designate those killings that are wrongful, e.g., Psalm 94:6, “They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder (ratsach) the orphans.” Ratsach is never used to designate justifiable killings, such as when David killed Goliath, or where God commands those guilty of capital crimes to be executed.
Therefore, the Sixth Commandment does not forbid all killing—only wrongful killing. This is consistent with the numerous texts that justify, and often require, the taking away of human life on three occasions: public justice (Numbers 35:3 3), lawful war (Jeremiah 48:10), and necessary individual defense (Exodus 22:2).
In order to grasp the full meaning of the Sixth Commandment, it is essential to understand that this Commandment, when joined with each of the other nine Commandments, forms a summary of the Moral Law (which requires the performance of all the duties of holiness and righteousness owed to God and our fellow man). Each of these Commandments, thus, summarizes the duties that are required under a particular aspect of the Moral Law.
There are two particularly important rules that should be observed in order to rightly understand each of the Ten Commandments, including the Sixth:
(1) “That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded...” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q.99.4). The sin forbidden in the Sixth Commandment is murder; one of the contrary duties commanded is the prevention of murder.
(2) “That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q.99.6). We see here that when God requires a duty in any of the Ten Commandments, He also requires the means necessary for performing that duty. This principle, when applied to the Sixth Commandment, shows that this Commandment not only requires the prevention of murder, it also requires the means necessary for preventing murder, under the particular circumstances in question. Abraham's defense of Lot, in Genesis 14, provides a good example:
And when Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his
trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit
as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants,
and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus
(vs. 14 & 15).
The circumstances described in Genesis 14 required Abraham to leave his place of residence, and execute an attack that he knew would involve lethal force. Since he used the means necessary, under the circumstances, to save Lot, his actions were not only moral, they were positively praiseworthy, and resulted in his receiving God’s blessing through Melchizedek (a type of Christ):
And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most high, who has
delivered your enemies into your hand” (Genesis 14:19-20).
Considering the explicit blessing that God gave to Abraham's use of lethal force, we should consider his rescuing Lot to have been an appropriate use of lethal defensive means, as required by the Moral Law.
And since the Sixth Commandment justifies the greatest degree of force, it follows that lesser degrees of force are also justified—when they are necessary. For instance, since it is justified to kill a violent aggressor, it is also justified to wound him, threaten him, or destroy property he is using—as necessary to protect the innocent. There are, thus, numerous legitimate means for saving someone from imminent death or bodily injury that do not involve the use of deadly force. Wisdom is needed to determine which means are required by the circumstances. The use of all these various means, however, falls under the general moral obligation to defend the innocent.
It is clear, thus, that the duty to use the means necessary for defending the innocent is an essential aspect of the Moral Law; this is why the principle of resisting force with force is so widely understood and accepted. Thus, we have good reason to believe that God requires the means necessary for defending innocent people—including the unborn.
In order to avoid confusion, however, we must carefully distinguish between the three previously mentioned cases in which it may be justified to take away human life: public justice, lawful war, and necessary defense. A common objection to my actions is to confuse what I did with public justice. Some assert that I wrongly acted as judge, jury, and executioner. Although the civil government should put murderers to death, this does not mean that every citizen who kills a habitual murderer is necessarily presuming to act as a civil judge, or a civilly sanctioned executioner. I did not kill John Britton to punish him for his past murders, but to prevent him from continuing to murder. My actions, thus, serve as an example of necessary individual defense—not public justice.
Some have also confused my actions with lawful war. It has been objected that since I was not serving in the capacity of a duly-constituted civil leader, who was leading a just revolt, that I had no basis for killing an abortionist. This objection will be handled more thoroughly when the doctrine of the lower civil magistrate is considered. At this point, I will simply point out that my actions should not be confused, either with public justice or lawful war; my actions serve as a clear example of an individual using necessary defensive force—as required by the Sixth Commandment.
Illegally Observing the Sixth Commandment
Of all the people who have opposed my killing Dr. Britton, both formally and informally, I don't know of anyone who would deny that the Moral Law requires some sort of direct intervention to prevent murder. But due to the relative silence and neglect of the pro-life community on this duty, combined with the vigorous promotion of numerous legal activities, many mistakenly believe that their efforts to protect the unborn should be limited to legal remedies. But while this approach eliminates the difficulties and stigma attached to disobeying the government, it does not satisfy the requirements of the Moral Law. We must take the action necessary to help needy people, even if the government forbids it. When men forbid us to help those in need, we must obey God rather than men.
The Scriptures record several incidents in which Christ mercifully aided men's bodies (as required by the Sixth Commandment) in sight of men's opposition. Matthew 12:9-14 tells of Christ healing a man's withered hand on the Sabbath, even though the Pharisees had made it unlawful. Verse 14 records their response to this healing: “But the Pharisees went out and counseled together against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” In spite of the impending persecution, Christ put the Moral Law before man's law, and used the power needed to heal the man's withered hand.
Notice that Jesus did not comply with the laws imposed by the Jews, and hope they might eventually be changed through educational means. He did not even wait until the Sabbath had passed before healing the man's hand, lest the Pharisees take offense. Rather, He took a bold stand at the precise point of Satan's attack in His day. The way He performed this merciful deed served to highlight and contradict the sin of omission required by the authorities. He not only taught the duty to love your neighbor as yourself, He also had the audacity to exemplify this teaching in spite of the opposition.
And since Christ would not submit to a law forbidding Him to use the power necessary to heal bodies, how much more should we refuse submission to a law forbidding us to use the means necessary to save lives? They plotted to destroy Christ for only healing bodies, should we not endure similar treatment for actually saving lives?
The Scriptures record other instances of God’s people taking the action necessary to help the needy, as required by the Sixth Commandment, in spite of official prohibition. The book of Exodus tells how the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiprah, and the other Puah, disobeyed Pharaoh by allowing the Hebrew boys to live. Even though those actions were illegal, they were approved by God. We read that the Lord was good to these midwives, and established households for them, because they feared God (Exodus 1:20-21).
We also have record of Obadiah illegally saving a hundred prophets of the Lord by hiding them in a cave when Jezebel was seeking to kill them (I Kings 18). The Scriptures paint this illegal act in a favorable light: Obadiah is described as one who “. . . feared the Lord greatly” (vs. 3).
And not only is there a duty to protect people with non-lethal means, in spite of official prohibition, there is also a duty, under the Sixth Commandment, to similarly use lethal means— when necessary. As we have seen, the Sixth Commandment requires the means necessary for defending the innocent, including lethal force. And since we must obey God rather than men, it necessarily follows that we must use the means necessary for defending the innocent, including lethal force, even though the government unjustly forbids it. For instance, if it had been necessary for Obadiah to have used lethal force to save the lives of the prophets he was protecting, he would have been justified in using this force—even though it would have been illegal. From God’s perspective, the principle of justifiable homicide is not dependent on men's laws.
As we have seen, Abraham's lethal defense of Lot was also required by the Moral Law, and was explicitly blessed by God through Melchizedek. This use of force would have been moral even if a human government had forbidden it. Similarly, the Jews' defense of themselves, in the book of Esther, would have been justified under the Sixth Commandment, even if King Ahasuerus had not sanctioned it.
The Sixth Commandment, thus, requires the means necessary for protecting the innocent from harm—including lethal force. This duty exists even if horribly unjust laws, which sanction murder, and forbid the use of these means, are in force. Under these circumstances, we must obey God rather than men.
However, we should not assume from the preceding examples that, of all the duties of the Moral Law, the ones required by the Sixth Commandment are the only ones we should disobey the government to perform. On the contrary, we are obligated to keep the entire Moral Law, even though men may forbid it. The Scriptures teach that when men require sin, either by omission or commission, that “. . .we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b). We are not limited to illegally healing and preserving men's bodies (as exemplified by Christ, the Hebrew midwives, and Obadiah). We must also refuse to participate in false worship (Daniel 3:18), refuse to neglect true worship (Daniel 6:10), and proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 4:18-20). These duties are obligatory, even if they are made illegal.
There is a relation between the duties that were forbidden to the apostles, Christ, the Hebrew midwives, and the duties that are now forbidden to us. The authorities did not require the apostles to lie and break the Ninth Commandment; they were just forbidden to do what this Commandment requires: to proclaim the truth and clear it of the opposing error. Similarly, Christ was not required to murder and break the Sixth Commandment. He was just forbidden to do what this Commandment requires: to take the action needed to help people physically—much as we are forbidden to physically save the unborn. The apostles were forbidden to use the means necessary to save souls; Christ was forbidden to use the means necessary to heal bodies; we were, and still are, forbidden to use the means necessary to save lives. In each of these cases, it was illegal to take action that was required by God and owed to one's neighbors.
What would have happened if Christ had submitted to the Pharisees and not healed on the Sabbath? Suppose the apostles had gone along with the authorities of their day. Consider the carnage that would have resulted if the Hebrew midwives had complied with Pharaoh. It is similarly imperative that we defend the unborn. Our failure to do so has resulted in a terrible bloodbath. Evil prevails when men fail to take the action necessary to stop it.
Submission or Resistance?
The flip side of submitting to the “powers that be” is the duty to “obey God rather than men.” Several passages, including Romans 13:1, I Peter 2:13, and Titus 3:1, require subjection to the governing authorities. But this submission is qualified. Other passages, such as Exodus 1:17, Daniel, 3:18, and Acts 5:29b, maintain the obligation to “. ..obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b). The Scriptures, thus, warn against two evils: both rebelling against good laws, and submitting to unjust laws.
While it is true that, throughout history, many have sinned by rebelling against just laws, such sin has also resulted from submitting to unjust laws. It is important, thus, to apply the appropriate duty to the problem at hand. Under circumstances where the laws are just, and men are rebelling against these laws, it is appropriate to exhort people to submit to the authorities. But when the government is enforcing unjust laws, and men are habitually submitting to these laws, it is imperative that the duty being forbidden by the authorities be stressed, and that people be called to obey God rather than men. When the government requires an omission of duty, to teach obedience to the government, in that respect, is to teach rebellion against God. For instance, the apostles certainly believed in submitting to the authorities. But when the Jewish authorities required them to sin by omission, if they had responded by encouraging submission— rather than resistance—they would have been guilty of a sin of enormous consequences. It is no less sinful to counsel submission to unjust laws than it is to urge rebellion against just laws.
If people need to be warned not to rebel against both God and men, when the state is enforcing just laws, how much greater is the need to exhort people to obey God when the government sanctions rebellion against Him? When sin is given official approval, this disguise not only makes exposing the iniquity vastly more difficult, it also makes it all the more imperative. It is difficult enough to perform the duties of love with the government’s approval, but when the government forbids these duties, it is all the more important that they be urged upon the people.
However, when Christian pastors and teachers are instructing their people in the extremely difficult duty of disobeying authorities, it is important that stress be laid on the necessity of disobeying respectfully. The Sixth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother...” requires both preserving the honor that is due to everyone, and also discharging one’s respective duties to them. But the emphasis in this Commandment is laid on treating those in authority with honor. Thus, when believers are called upon to disobey the civil authorities, it is imperative that they do so respectfully. When a citizen is brought before a judge who is upholding a grossly unjust law, it may become difficult to remain respectful. Be forewarned of this difficulty, and resolve to suffer as Christ did: “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (I Peter 2:23).
We have plenty of teaching on submission to authorities; the current need is for educators to adequately prepare people to step forward and resist unjust laws. If we expect to move people to perform these biblical duties we must give appropriate emphasis to them: not just make passing and general references to the subject. We need to get specific about stopping the holocaust that is going on in our own backyard. When, therefore, the government requires the neglect of an oppressed group of people (as Jezebel did when she killed the prophets of the Lord, and Obadiah hid a hundred prophets in a cave), it is vital that the population be taught to aid and protect their neighbors. Under such circumstances there will be no lack of people teaching submission to the “powers that be;” while those who advocate resistance can be expected to be few in number.
Much of the blame for legal abortion must be laid at the feet of the pastors and civic leaders who have failed to apply the whole counsel of God to this matter. Our leaders have not called people to both believe what God says we are to believe about abortion, and also do what He requires of us in protection of the unborn. Many pastors, with varying degrees of boldness, have forbidden murder by abortion, but almost no one upholds the obvious duty to protect the unborn as we would protect ourselves.
The urgent need in our day thus, is for teachers to proclaim the God-given duties that are currently being forbidden—much as the apostles did in Acts chapter five. Christ, in Matthew 28, commanded the apostles to teach the disciples to observe all that He had commanded them. This most certainly includes the defensive duties required by the Sixth Commandment. Paul told the Ephesian elders “...I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable...” (Acts 20:20). Pastors today are shrinking from proclaiming the duty to defend the unborn as we would ourselves. While this duty may be difficult and unpleasant to us, it is certainly profitable to the unborn. The duty to defend the unborn is a pertinent and important duty from which teachers in our culture cannot, in conscience, shrink.
When the government has sanctioned mass murder, and thousands are being slaughtered each day, it is immoral to avoid the subject of using the means necessary to defend these people, or to stress submission to those who forbid this protection. God will hold those who have served as teachers during the abortion holocaust, and who have failed to maintain this duty, to special account.
Therefore, our response to a law forbidding us to save our neighbors’ lives should be similar to the response offered by Christ, the Hebrew midwives, Obadiah, and the apostles to similarly unjust laws. Under these circumstances, they did not teach subjection to the “powers that be.” They did not comply (as we have with legalized murder), and agree to remain within the law, in the hope that legal remedies would eventually change the law. If they had, they would have been guilty of blatant sin.
The Priority of Preventing Mass Murder
What practical priority should be given to stopping abortion? While many people realize that abortion is a serious problem, they still categorize it as one among many other “social issues” that should be given a lower priority than family or church concerns. But it must be recognized that the daily murder of thousands of helpless children is a problem in a category all its own. Since murder by abortion poses an irreparable and immediate threat to thousands of unborn children each day, it demands an immediate an effective response that is unlike the response required by lesser social ills.
It is also common for people to try to excuse their inattention to the needs of the unborn by asserting that preaching the gospel has a higher priority. They would never appeal to the importance of preaching the gospel as an excuse for neglecting the immediate needs of a born child, but they somehow believe that this excuse allows them to neglect the unborn.
I am not suggesting that we should neglect the preaching of the gospel in order to defend the unborn. But I am saying that we should not neglect the unborn to preach the gospel. This is not an either/or proposition—the two go hand in hand; the one is an essential to the other: as practicing the golden rule is to preaching it.
The third chapter of Ecclesiastes tells us: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven” (vs. 1). In His providence, God has appointed, “A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up” (vs. 3); “A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together...” (vs. 7a); “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (vs. 8). Thus, there is a time for all the various duties in life, including going to war, tearing down, and killing. When the appointed time for a particular responsibility arrives, whatever it may be, the other duties of life should be temporarily set aside. When mass murder has been legalized, and thousands are being slaughtered each day, that is the time, in God’s providence, to take the action necessary to protect these children.
To help us view our various duties in their relation to one another, God has summarized and categorized them in the Ten Commandments. The last six of the Ten Commandments require you to honor your neighbor, defend his life, chastity, property, good name, and to have a loving attitude towards him. It is clearly more important to preserve someone’s life than to preserve his reputation, property, or chastity. Since the performance of all the duties of love to your neighbor are contingent on his being alive, it is worse to allow him to be murdered than it is to allow him to be raped, robbed, slandered, or disrespected.
If you were able to choose between saving someone’s soul and saving his physical life, it would be more important to save his soul. But you don’t know when, or if, sharing the gospel with someone will result in his salvation. It is certain, however, that if you allow someone to be murdered, his ability to respond to the gospel, or perform any other duty in this life, comes to an abrupt and irretrievable end. Also, if you miss an opportunity to share the gospel with someone today, you, or someone else, may have a similar opportunity in the future. But if you neglect to save someone’s physical life, and he is killed, there is no future opportunity to save his life, or share the gospel with him. This is why no one ever neglects the pressing physical needs of a child, and claims that sharing the gospel is more important (at least when it comes to born children). As bad as it is to neglect an opportunity to share the gospel with your neighbor, it is worse to neglect to save his life, or the life of his unborn child.
It is obviously necessary to interrupt the proclamation of the gospel, and come to the aid of the needy, under numerous pressing circumstances: e.g., if someone is choking on food at a restaurant, if a child runs into a busy street, when a truck filled with explosives is about to detonate under a towering office building, or in numerous other situations where people are otherwise about to be unjustly killed. When there is an immediate threat to the innocent, especially if numerous people are involved, there is an overwhelming responsibility to lay aside the ordinary duties of life, including the duty to proclaim the gospel, and save those who are in danger.
Christians commonly have the attitude that, while legal abortion is a great injustice, it does not require the same drastic response that would be appropriate if the government were to forbid public worship or the preaching of the gospel. But this is incorrect. It is bad to forbid people to worship the Lord, but it is worse to sanction their murder. It would have been a great injustice, for instance, if King Ahasuerus, in the book of Esther, had forbidden the Jews to worship the Lord, but it was an even greater injustice for him to legalize their slaughter. (The freedom to worship or preach the gospel is of no use to dead people.) Since all the duties of life are contingent on being alive, an immediate threat to life takes precedence over all other duties. Of what use is the freedom to bring your child, or your neighbor’s child, to church if you cannot prevent them from being murdered?
The problem isn’t that we lack a cognitive understanding of these things, the difficulty is our carnal reluctance to apply them, at great personal cost, to people with whom we have no close association. This is the problem Christ addressed in the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). Those who give the immediate help required are the ones who prove themselves to be neighbors to the needy. By providing this help, the Samaritan showed that his priorities were in order. We should respond similarly to the immediate needs of the unborn.
There is, thus, a critical need for us to reexamine the priority we assign to ending legal abortion, and our excuses for not devoting ourselves to this task. There is no excuse for tolerating mass murder. Our persistent neglect of this duty, as millions are being slain, is an inexcusable and extremely heinous sin.
Called to Kill?
The Scriptures record a variety of responses to governments that legalize horrific injustices. The book of Acts, for instance, records the responses the early church offered to a law forbidding the proclamation of the gospel. At times, the apostles openly preached the gospel when they knew it would result in their arrest. At other times, they hid themselves to avoid arrest: as Peter did following his miraculous release from prison (Acts 12:3-19). During the persecution that arose after Stephen's martyrdom, some fled Jerusalem while others remained in the city (Acts 8:1). Those who did not flee persecution often went underground, and hid their beliefs and practices from authorities. Believers, thus, initially avoided Saul after his conversion (Acts 9:26-27).
But this diversity of practice does not mean that there are no biblical norms for responding to oppressive governments. The Westminster Larger Catechism provides eight rules of the right understanding of the Ten Commandments (Q.99). The fifth of these rules provides an excellent summary of our duty to God when the government requires sin by either commission or omission: “That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; what he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times” (A.99.5).
The first principle set forth in this rule, “That what God forbids is at no time to be done...” is consistent with the biblical teaching that we are never allowed to sin by commission (Daniel 3:18). For instance, if the government were to require citizens to abort their children, it would always be sinful to comply.
The second principle contained in this rule, “...what he commands, is always our duty and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times...” sheds light on the believer's duty when the government forbids an obligation of the Moral Law. The duty forbidden by the government (in this case, the duty to intervene with the means necessary to defend the unborn) remains in effect, but since, “. . .every particular duty is not to be done at all times...” it is not always sinful to omit this duty. For example, when the early Christians were forbidden to preach the gospel, this duty was still obligatory, but not everyone was necessarily required to preach the gospel until they were arrested. They wisely omitted this duty, at times, to avoid arrest.
Not only is it permissible (under some circumstances) to omit the defensive duties owed to the unborn, these duties should only be performed by those who, in God’s providence, are in a position to do so. For instance, when Ahab and Jezebel slew the prophets of God (I Kings 18:4), they did not require every citizen to kill these prophets, but they did make it illegal to take the action necessary to protect them. A sin of omission was required, but not everyone who failed to protect a prophet thereby sinned by omission. When Obadiah protected these prophets, he performed this duty according to his calling and providential circumstances in life. But, in his case, if he had failed to act when he did, he would have likely sinned by omission.
Not everyone, therefore, is called by God to intervene in defense of the unborn. In matters like this the Christian must follow his own conscience as it is informed by the word of God. Some may choose to keep their beliefs on this subject private (as Obadiah did), while quietly aiding those who stand for this duty. Other hearty souls, like those who have openly justified my actions, may give credence to their beliefs by suffering mild forms of persecution (some who have supported my actions have been forced to change their employers). But, as a general rule, everyone should promote and maintain the moral obligation to use the means necessary to defend those who are being threatened: in this case, the unborn.
Those who lack the calling or ability to kill, or take other forms of direct defensive action, should not necessarily consider themselves to be cowards, and dismiss themselves from the duty to uphold this aspect of the Moral Law. You don't need to be an ex-marine, or have a Ph.D. in philosophy, to discuss these things with your family, friends, and associates. Not only should pulpits be ablaze with these principles, they should also be the subject of much everyday discussion among people of every sort and station in life. Virtually everyone willing to serve can play a vital role in promoting this duty as they consecrate their various God-given talents and abilities to this task. A body cannot function without the use of all of its members—even the ones that seem insignificant.
The crying need is for large numbers of people to support this aspect of the Moral Law as it applies to the unborn. This is the key to ending legal abortion. You can hardly expect the government to protect the unborn on your behalf if you lack the courage to stand up and assert this duty—even at great personal cost. You need not wait for this principle to be understood and accepted by the masses, or for anyone else to take defensive action. If enough people were to openly promote this duty, legal abortion would soon come to an end. It is, therefore, imperative that you prayerfully consider taking this step.
In order to gain the sacrificial zeal needed to rise to this duty, we must recognize how extremely sinful it is to neglect the means necessary for stopping an ongoing holocaust. The Westminster Larger Catechism lists and categorizes some of the aggravators that make some sins more heinous than others. We are told that sins receive their aggravation: “1. From the persons offending...; 2. From the parties offended...; 3. From the nature and quality of the offense...; 4. From the circumstances of time and place...” (Answer 151). Let us consider how these aggravators compound the sin of neglecting the defense of the unborn.
Not only is it sinful to neglect the defense of the unborn, this sin is greatly aggravated when the “persons offending” are in positions of authority. Those who hold such leadership positions are often of ripe age and experience, and frequently possess eminent gifts and offices. Their example, thus, is likely to be followed by others, in this instance, into sin. The greater the knowledge and ability a person has, and the higher the position he attains, the greater his culpability for neglecting or denying the duty to defend the unborn: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
The primary party offended by neglecting the defense of the unborn is God Himself. He has many attributes that are directly impugned by those who are guilty of this neglect.
God is life, and has created human life to reflect Him in a unique manner. Since those at war with God cannot harm Him physically, they often vent their murderous fury on those made in His image, including the unborn. To deny the duty to defend these helpless children is an affront to the One in whose image they are made.
It is common to decry force against abortion providers as being unloving. But God often displays His love for the needy by defending them through human instrumentality. Those who truly love the unborn with a godly love should be willing to affirm the means necessary to save them—even at great personal cost.
Also, to confuse murderous killing with defensive killing is an affront to God’s ethical nature. To fail to distinguish between just and unjust force is to offend the perfect righteousness and justice of God: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15). Denouncing the force necessary to prevent murder on this basis, thus, incites God’s righteous indignation against those stained with the blood of encouraging this neglect.
Those who neglect or deny the duty to defend the unborn impugn one of God’s attributes which affirm Him as Lord, King, and Sovereign: His omnipotence. God is not an impotent king; He has an abundance of power to enforce His will. He is El Shaddai, God, the Omnipotent One (Genesis 17:1); the One with invincible strength and might. When Christians will not maintain the means that the Lord has ordained for carrying out His will, but bow in servitude to the devil, it brings a reproach on the Almighty God whom they profess. By not defending the Lord's little ones, believers misrepresent the King of kings as being an uninvolved and impotent deity. One reason, therefore, God is so terribly angry about our neglect of our duty to defend the unborn is because tolerating mass murder is a direct contradiction of His being and attributes.
The human party most directly injured by this neglect is the unborn. Their helplessness and total reliance on us to defend them from their assailants greatly aggravates our neglect of this duty. The more helpless the people being assaulted, the greater the duty to come to their aid, and the greater the sin if the defense needed to preserve them is not provided.
Don't forget that our Lord Jesus Christ, at one time, was an unborn “fetus.” We should show our love to Him by nurturing and protecting His little ones as we would the Lord Himself.
Our close relationship to the unborn aggravates our neglect of their defense. It is bad to neglect those in foreign and distant lands who are being slaughtered, but many have aggravated their guilt by failing to defend their own countrymen (men have stood by as children from their own community, and even their own household, have been put to death). The closer your relationship to those you neglect to defend, the greater your guilt for neglecting their defense.
The sin of neglecting the duty to defend the unborn is also greatly compounded by the heinous nature of the sin that is being tolerated. The more atrocious the sin being committed, the more heinous it is to tolerate that sin. It would be bad, for instance, to acquiesce to the legalization of rape, but it is much worse to tolerate the legalization of murder.
The circumstances of time, and the large number of people killed by abortion, also make allowing this sin to continue even more heinous. It is bad to allow a few people to be murdered on a given day, but it is much worse to allow many people to be murdered, not only day after day, but also decade after decade. If it is horrible to allow 60 people to be murdered, how much worse is it to allow 60,000 or 60,000,000 to be murdered?
Neglecting the defensive duties of the Sixth Commandment, in this instance, is made more heinous due to the consequences that result from this neglect. Denying, or neglecting, the duty to prevent the murder of the unborn sets a precedent of tolerating worse atrocities. Submission to this form of murder encourages submission to more offensive types of murder. Bowing to an injustice of this magnitude also encourages submission to a untold number of lesser atrocities. These aggravators, as well as many others, make neglecting the defense of the unborn an extremely heinous sin in the sight of God.
Moreover, the magnitude of this sin should be held in sharp contrast to the virtue of maintaining the defensive duties of the Moral Law. The Westminster Larger Catechism tells us that, “...some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others” (Answer 150). And not only are some sins more heinous than others, the opposite is also true. Some duties, in themselves, and by reason of several augmenters, are more meritorious in the sight or God than others.
Several factors serve to augment the virtue of defending the unborn. If it is virtuous to preserve someone's good name, property, or chastity, how much more honorable is it to preserve someone's life? If it is good to save someone's life with the government's approval, how much better is it to save someone's life when the government threatens its condemnation? If it is commendable to save one child, how much more laudable is it to directly save scores of children, and indirectly save thousands, or perhaps even tens of thousands?
Saving one person may result in that person's being able to perform many good deeds, and beget numerous children who may also become productive citizens. Saving many people's lives can be expected to bring enormously good results that will continue to transform the world throughout all generations. Not only, therefore, is it a gross sin to neglect someone as he is being murdered, and seek to justify this neglect by claiming you have more important duties, it is also a great virtue to postpone lesser duties in order to save someone from being murdered. The more heinous the murder being committed, and the greater the sacrifice needed to prevent the murder, the greater the virtue involved.
And just as neglecting the unborn enables the cycle of sin, misery, and death to continue and accelerate, so upholding the duty to defend the unborn breaks this cycle, and produces extraordinary results. Upholding this duty opens a whole new perspective on the abortion controversy to view and unleashes previously unharnessed potential. It opens people's eyes to the immediate relevance of God’s Law and their former complacency. It also provides a practical way of putting one's beliefs about abortion, and the Bible, into action. Maintaining this duty inspires people to make the sacrifices necessary to stop abortion, shuts the mouths of scoffers, and ultimately brings glory to God.
Therefore, considering the incalculable amount of sin and misery occasioned by neglecting the defense of the unborn, and the even greater amount of righteousness and reward occasioned by maintaining this obligation, there is an overwhelming responsibility to lay aside the many ordinary duties of life to promote the duty to defend the unborn.
Anti-Abortion Wall Building
Our current neglect of the unborn is a modern version of the indifference to injustice that was denounced by Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostles. People are standing by as a gross injustice is taking place, and lack the courage to uphold the duty to stop it.
Ezekiel’s bold example of exposing the false prophets of his day (Ezekiel 13), rebukes us for not taking a similar stand at the point of the enemy's current attack:
Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their
own spirit and have seen nothing. 0 Israel, your prophets have been like foxes
among ruins. You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall
around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord’ (vs. 3-5).
When Ezekiel declares, “You have not gone up into the breaches...” (vs. 5b), he is exposing the neglect of the false prophets. True prophets (as with true shepherds) identified themselves with the people, and stood with them—even at great personal peril. When an attacking army made a breach in the wall of a city, repairing that breach was an assignment of greatest danger. False prophets and false shepherds refused such dangerous duties.
Ezekiel ridicules the errant teachings of the false prophets, and their support of such errors, by portraying them as plastering over poorly made walls: “It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall behold, they plaster it over with whitewash...” (Ezekiel 13:10). Rather than applying God’s solution to the calamities of their day, the false prophets whitewashed the problems with ineffective remedies.
Many of today's pastors have responded similarly to legal abortion. Rather than following their example, and plastering over an incomplete approach to legal abortion, it is imperative that we clear the debris and base our repairs of this breach on a solidly biblical foundation. It is not enough to identify abortion as murder, we must declare the duty to resist murderous force with force. If we believe that abortion is murder, and that it is forbidden by the Sixth Commandment, we must also embrace the defensive duties required by this Commandment.
Our previous efforts to whitewash our inadequate and unbiblical response to legal abortion have at least demonstrated the futility of this approach. But this has wasted precious effort, and fostered a spirit of defeat. It’s discouraging to pour yourself into a project that is sure to crumble and collapse.
Those who have neglected the duty to defend the unborn bear a staggering weight of bloodguilt (much like the blame borne by the false prophets in Ezekiel’s day). Considering the magnitude of this bloodguilt, we must rend our hearts and prostrate ourselves before the Lord with deep and profound repentance. We must also bring forth deeds in keeping with our repentance.
Clearing ruins and building a solid wall in the midst of a battle is more difficult and dangerous than plastering over rubble, but it offers the promise of lasting success. And while few people are willing to expose themselves to such dangers, God can use even a few such men to fill this gap with a solid and biblical wall.
Faith, Prayer, and Defensive Action
The most urgent need of the hour is prayer: earnest, dependent, believing prayer. There is no question that ending the slaughter of the unborn is a matter of paramount concern to the Lord. This is certainly consistent with His revealed will. Our duty is to come to Him in total dependence, with deep and sincere humility, and to pray in faith, believing. And once we have thus prayed to end abortion, we must rise from our knees, and uphold the means necessary to stop it.
The struggle to end abortion is ultimately a spiritual battle between fear and faith. People naturally tend to fear for themselves and their families. We must learn to overcome our fears and proceed in faith, as David did when he killed Goliath. The army of Israel was afraid of Goliath because of spiritual negligence; rather than turning to God and His word in faithful and believing prayer, they focused on Goliath and fainted in fear. They were awestruck at the size and strength of the giant, and lost sight of the omnipresent, omnipotent God. If we are to defeat abortion's Goliath, we must similarly focus on God—not the problem of abortion. He is infinitely stronger than all those who support abortion combined. When God raises His voice, the earth melts (Psalm 46:6). He could wither all those who support abortion with a single blast of His breath (Isaiah 40:24). But before we can expect God to hear our prayers, we must humble ourselves and turn to Him in sincere repentance.
The primary sin of which we must repent, if we expect the Lord to hear our prayers on behalf of the unborn, is our failure to maintain the right of the unborn to be protected with the means necessary. God accomplishes His will through the use of means. He often uses weak human means to produce great and glorious results (so He will get the honor), but He virtually never accomplishes anything on earth without the use of means. The ordinary means for restoring the right of an oppressed minority is for people to assert the right that is being denied: in this case, the right of the unborn to be protected with the means necessary. We can no more expect to restore protection to the unborn, while denying their inalienable right to this protection, than we could have expected David to defeat Goliath if he had been in denial about the duty to defend Israel, and kill Goliath, with the means necessary.
The Lord does not want us to trust these means, but He does require us to be willing to use them. To neglect the means God has appointed for defending the unborn, and expect Him to work apart from them is to mock and tempt God.
It is certainly possible to pray in faith that God will end legal abortion, yet have no vision for the means He might use to accomplish this. But a biblical understanding of the means God ordinarily uses to prevent murder serves to invigorate faith and hope that He will use these means—one way or another—to abolish legal abortion.
However, it is doubtful that people will catch a vision for using these means until they become willing to make the sacrifices that these means require. Until you, by faith, become willing to sacrificially obey God’s will, there is a sense in which you cannot truly understand it (John 7:17). For instance, if David's faith had not been in God, or if he had been unwilling to fight Goliath, he would not have had confidence that Goliath could be killed with the feeble weapon he used. We must have a similar active and sacrificial faith if we are to believe that God will use our proclamation of this aspect of the Moral Law as a means to end legal abortion.
The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is of use to guide our prayers on behalf of the unborn. Our Father's name is hallowed when we manifest His attributes by defending the unborn as we would ourselves. He is also honored when we love and defend our neighbors in spite of men's laws that forbid it.
It is certainly God’s will that the unborn be defended with the means necessary. If we want God’s kingdom to come, and His will to be done, we must entreat the Lord to empower us to protect the unborn, as required by His revealed will.
It is not enough for us to pray for the hungry born children of the world; we must also pray for the protection of the unborn: that they may live and receive their daily bread.
We must pray that the Lord will forgive us for not maintaining the duty to defend these children with the means necessary, and deliver us from the temptation to persist in this neglect. We should pray these things in Christ's name, for His own glory and honor.
It is essential that we ask the Lord to raise up laborers who will uphold this aspect of the Moral Law, that people may be convicted and brought to faith in Jesus Christ. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. A large percentage of the world's population has been stained by the blood of the unborn—either by omission or commission. The need is for people with the conviction and courage to proclaim the defensive duties of the Sixth Commandment that repentance and revival may begin. There can be no true revival apart from people loving and defending the unborn as they would themselves, and praying to this end.
God is moved with compassion by the groanings of the afflicted. He is especially touched by tears shed on behalf of those who are in need. If He hears us when we cry to Him on our own behalf, how much more attentive is He to our tears for the unborn? Since the unborn cannot understand their plight, or plead that God will save them, we must do so on their behalf. If we don't, the rocks may soon burst into tears.
By crying to the Lord on behalf of the unborn, our shameful defeat can be turned into victory. This was the result when Hezekiah prayed to the Lord about the Assyrians who had invaded Judah and threatened Jerusalem:
But King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed about this and cried
out to heaven. And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander
and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned in shame to his own land
(II Chronicles 32:20-2la).
God’s power is not limited. He can provide similar protection for the unborn—if we will repent of neglecting our duties to the unborn, and seek His face in prayer.
God’s ultimate purpose in this battle is to manifest His attributes and glory. We will never stop this holocaust in our own wisdom and might. We must, therefore, rely on Him to save the unborn, through even the most feeble of instruments, for His own glory and honor. God can and will overcome legal abortion through us, but first He must make us willing to trust and obey Him. Nothing is impossible with God.
The most powerful weapon for overcoming the world's apathetic response to legal abortion is to advocate the means necessary for resisting this atrocity (as required by God’s Law). God uses the application of His law to the lives of both Christian and non-Christian alike to show people their duty and convict them of sin. God intends for us to examine ourselves in the light of His law so we can be convicted of our corruptions, humble ourselves before Him, and also understand the need we have for Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.
Untold millions of people throughout the world are suffering agonizing pain and guilt as a result of their involvement with abortion. Most of the remainder of the world are deeply stained with the guilt of not taking a consistent stand against this atrocity. What better way to convict those who have violated and neglected God’s law than for Christians to uphold the law in question at great personal cost? If believers will rise up and maintain the duty to defend the unborn, in spite of the opposition, God may use this as a means for bringing profound conviction and repentance to those stained with the blood of the unborn.
The tremendous power behind using force to defend the unborn does not lie in the particular explosive used, or the wits of those who use it. These are simply means that God has blessed, throughout history, to manifest His attributes and reveal His will. He often uses these means to cut to the heart of those suppressing His law—either hardening or softening them. When joined with the other dynamics of the gospel, God can use these means to transform entire cultures, much as He blessed the use of force in the book of Esther, and brought great revival:
And in each and every province, and in each and every city, wherever the king's commandment
and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many
among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them (8:17).
Many non-Christians are looking for practical answers to the issues that confront them in the daily news, including the abortion controversy. Taking a credible stand on defending the unborn with force (rather than denying this duty) can serve as a point of contact for presenting the truths of the gospel to these unbelievers. This position can open the door to asserting the demands of God’s law, the substitutionary death of Christ, and the necessity of submitting to Him in every aspect of life. This position also demonstrates the proper relation between faith and works, the high cost of discipleship, and can serve as a stepping stone to all the other principles of Christianity. Thus, a consistent stand on defending the unborn is essential for exposing the evil of abortion, and transforming men's hearts and lives. Without this, it is impossible to understand abortion in a biblical manner.
As Christians begin to use the means necessary to save the unborn, and suffer the resulting persecution, this will bear witness, not only to the humanity of the unborn, but also to the reality of these people's faith in Christ. This will cause more people to take Christianity seriously, and result in both increasing persecution, and converts who have counted the cost. This will also help people to distinguish between true converts and false professors.
Upholding these principles may soon cause more conviction and repentance than the exposure of those who murdered Christ. When men begin to trumpet forth these notes of truth, it should cause the walls of legal abortion to come crashing down. These truths may shake the earth's kingdoms to the core as the sword of God’s Spirit slays and revives millions.
In the years since abortion has been legalized, millions of people have developed deep and passionately held convictions that this bloodshed is an intolerable outrage. For several reasons, these convictions have seldom broken out in consistent action—thus far. But the dam containing the holy and righteous fury people feel about this injustice is now cracked. It is only a matter of time before it crumbles and the terrifying consequences of decades of legalized murder sweep through the nations of the world.
Of this we can be certain, God’s word does not return void; it accomplishes what He desires. “'Is not my word like fire?' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer which shatters a rock?'” (Jeremiah 23:2a). If we smite the rock of people's apathetic response to abortion with the hammer of God’s word, we can expect God to produce results.
God’s arm is not short. He is able to bless the application of this duty far beyond all we could ask or think. If only a few show the commitment required, He could turn the tide on legal abortion and begin a worldwide transformation. Victor Hugo has written, “One can resist an invasion of armies, but not an idea whose time has come.” Defending the unborn with force is considerably more than an idea whose time has come; it is a biblical duty whose time has come. If Christians will take a bold stand on this duty, regardless of the cost, the Lord will fight for us, and triumph through us for His own glory and honor.
From a pro-life perspective, it is self-evident that both born and unborn children should be defended with the means necessary. Nevertheless, people continue to suppress this truth in unrighteousness, and raise numerous objections to justify their neglect of the unborn. All of these objections appear absurd when applied to born people, and when they are viewed in the light of the Golden Rule. No other response actually needs to be given. However, I will reply to some of the most frequently used objections with pleasure; the truth is seen most clearly when its light shines on the contrasting error.
Some have tried to justify compliance with the government in this matter by objecting that the law does not require anyone to have an abortion. The assumption is, since the government is not forcing women to abort their children, that no one's rights, or will, are being violated, and no one is required to sin. But this simplistic understanding ignores several of the insufferable consequences of legalized abortion. Legalizing this abomination encourages women to have their children murdered; it also encourages abortion providers to kill for hire. In addition to this, by legalizing abortion, the government requires the police to protect paid murderers, and for the population to sinfully neglect the defense of their unborn relatives and neighbors. Husbands who do not want their children murdered must stand by, and not interfere, as their own flesh and blood are torn limb from limb. Forced abortion, thus, is more heinous than legalized abortion, but this does not mean that legalized murder does not require the police and the population to sinfully neglect the obligation to use the means necessary to save the unborn.
Another common response to my actions is to assert that Jesus would not have acted as I did. Although we have no reason to believe that Jesus personally used lethal defensive force while He was on earth, this does not mean that such actions are forbidden. On the contrary, Melchizedek, a type of Christ, blessed Abraham's use of lethal force, and declared that God had delivered his enemies into his hand (Genesis 14:20). It is obvious that Jesus did not engage in many various actions and callings while He was on earth that are, nonetheless, sanctioned by God’s word, and essential to the well-being of society. The relevant question, thus is not, “What would Jesus do?” but, “What would Jesus approve?”
Another possible objection is to question my use of Abraham's defense of Lot (Genesis 14) to support my position. It might be objected that Abraham was engaged in war in this incident—not individual defense. In response, rather than debating whether this incident is an example of individual defense, or just war, it is sufficient to assert that this passage demonstrates the inalienable nature of the defensive duties of the Moral Law. Abraham was not forced into battle by a government; rather, the individual duty to rescue Lot gave rise to Abraham's joining with others to accomplish this deliverance. Individuals are similarly obligated to defend the unborn, and join with others, if it is necessary to deliver the unborn.
My opponents might object that my position could result in people using force, not only against abortion providers, but also against the police and the government itself: many departments of the government are employed, either directly or indirectly, in upholding mass murder. They could assert that maintaining the inalienable duty to defend the unborn lays the basis, not only for individual action, but also for individuals joining together to use force against governments that sanction abortion. Some have charged that my actions lead to revolution and anarchy.
When a government legalizes mass murder, the population must be willing to go to war, if it is wise and necessary, to stop the bloodshed. As we have seen, the Sixth Commandment requires the means necessary for protecting the innocent. War is, at times, a necessary means for protecting the innocent. The Sixth Commandment, thus, requires the use of defensive war, when it is necessary for protecting innocent people (Jeremiah 48:10 & Deuteronomy 20). A population's willingness to take this sort of costly action is essential to the defense of those threatened, and to ending an injustice of this magnitude. But, as we have seen, not every duty is to be done at all times. Wisdom is needed to determine what should be done under the circumstances.
While it would be just to go to war to stop the murder of our unborn neighbors, I do not think it is wise to advocate this duty—under the circumstances. It is illegal to advocate the overthrow of the government, and since this is not currently a realistic option, I think it would be foolish to do so, and have your voice silenced. Besides, virtually everything that needs to be said can be said without advocating the overthrow of the government. We certainly have the freedom to discuss just war, and just revolutions, and consider when such actions would be morally justified. You may thus proclaim what the Bible says about the corporate defense of the unborn—so long as you don't step over the line, and advocate the overthrow of the U. S. government. (Those concerned are well advised to obtain informed and current legal counsel in this matter, and not rely on the legal advice I have received.)
As to the individual defense of the unborn, it is currently permissible to advocate this defense in a general manner. You may not incite a crowd to attack an abortion clinic, or an abortion provider, but you may, in a non-specific manner, uphold the duty to defend the innocent. It is illegal to threaten a specific person, or list of people, but it is permissible to maintain the duty to defend the unborn, in general terms. People, thus, should learn what the law allows, and stay within it—unless they are ready to face the consequences. Although I acted outside the law by shooting an abortionist, my strategy has been to keep my speech well within the laws of the land so my voice can be heard. Virtually everything I want to say can currently be said legally.
The crying need is for people with the courage to affirm that it would be just to go to war against, or otherwise overthrow, any government that legalizes abortion—even though war may not currently be wise. Since people should maintain duties like this under oppressive governments that do not tolerate such speech, how much more should such vitally important duties be asserted when there is freedom to do so? What is the use of having this liberty if no one has the courage to use it? Since, therefore, we should proclaim the duties of the Moral Law, even when the government forbids it (Acts 5:29), what excuse is there for remaining silent about these duties when the government sanctions their propagation?
The problem is not that those who apply the defensive duties of the Moral Law to the abortion holocaust are anarchists. The problem is that legalized murder is an atrocity of such magnitude that it demands the most absolute, courageous, and unequivocal resistance that can be mustered; yet, most people are afraid to even think consistently about this problem—much less take consistent action to stop it.
Those who claim that these principles lead to anarchy fail to distinguish between rebelling against men and rebelling against God. Those who legalize and commit murder are the anarchists in God’s eyes. Those who advocate submission to this atrocity may find favor from men, but they are rebelling against God.
It could also be objected that, to be consistent, if this aspect of the Moral Law should be enforced, the next step would be to insist that each of the other Ten Commandments also be upheld with force.
In reply, if the duty to keep this Commandment is not inalienable, then we have no king but Caesar, and regardless of the atrocity legalized, we must maintain the status quo. There is no neutrality on this or any other moral issue. Someone's concept of what is right will be enforced. The alternative to submitting to God’s law is bowing before men's lawlessness. It’s either God’s law or Satan's lawlessness.
In addition to the theoretical objections we have considered, some have objected that this approach will not work, but will rather harm the pro-life movement, and give it a bad name. They object that this sort of action gives our opponents an occasion for labeling us as radicals— well out of the accepted mainstream.
But anyone who thinks in biblical terms should expect an effective remedy to abortion to be extremely costly, unpopular, and what many people consider to be radical. True spirituality is not only demanding, it also stands in stark contrast to the common wisdom of the day. God’s law sets a lofty standard for obedience that puts us on a collision course with the compromised thinking of the culture that surrounds us.
There are, no doubt, at least a few prominent pro-life leaders who view my actions sympathetically, but who, nevertheless, have not publicly endorsed them. For instance, Hadley Arkes, the Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, in his contribution to the “First Things” symposium on killing abortionists (December, 1994) discusses the perils of setting forth “a truthful discussion of this issue.” He points out that any endorsement of my actions would be misunderstood by some as an endorsement for “lawless killing.” He fears that publishing a truthful consideration of this issue may sweep away many earnest people's inhibitions and lead to “further acts of violence.” And so, he writes, “...we bite our lips and hold back. . .”
Professor Arkes is quite correct: if the whole truth about the duty to defend the unborn were openly discussed, there would be widespread misunderstanding, and many sincere people would likely be moved to take defensive action. But his fear of “violence” against a relatively small number of abortion providers does not seem to be offset by a proportional concern for the ongoing violence against the unborn. He gives greater weight to maintaining the status quo, at the expense of the unborn, than to defending the unborn, in spite of the attending uncertainties and difficulties.
The apostles, in dealing with the Sanhedrin’s prohibition against teaching in the name of Jesus, had to similarly weigh the propriety of maintaining the status quo against the duty to obey God. From our perspective, it seems obvious that the apostles were wise to directly disobey the authorities. Some day, it should be equally obvious that we should similarly observe the aspect of the Moral Law that is being forbidden in our day. If they had failed to uphold the Moral Law, they would have been guilty of the blood of untold millions of souls—much as people today are guilty of the blood of the unborn.
We don't know all that the future holds, and cannot foresee all the possible consequences of defending the unborn with force. Our job is to test everything by the word of God, discern what is right, and act in dependence on the Lord. It is also our duty to trust God to use our obedience to His revealed will to bring great results.
In the final analysis, we must walk by faith and not by sight. When the authorities require a sin of omission—as they did of Daniel, Jesus, and the apostles—there is tremendous practical pressure to lose sight of the revealed will of God, and conform to the practice of the day. Under such circumstances, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can remain faithful to our Lord and His word.
Intentional Killing Forbidden?
The main objection raised to my killing Dr. Britton, used primarily by Catholics, is to claim that defensive killing is only justified when it is unintentional. For instance, John Cardinal O’Connor (Archbishop of New York) took this position in the symposium on killing abortionists published by First Things in December, 1994. On the basis of the Catechism of The Catholic Church, he maintained that lethal self-defense is only justified when it occurs unintentionally. His position is consistent with the Catechism:
The legitimate defense of persons or societies is not an exception to the prohibition against murder
of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the
preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressors. . . The one is intended, the other
is not” (2263)
It should be noted that this section of this Catechism forbids intentional killing in defense of both “. . . persons and societies...” This Catechism, thus, even forbids intentionally killing unjust aggressors if one is engaged in a legitimate defensive war. Under the heading “Avoiding War,” this Catechism states: “The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life” (2307). (It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church has a long-standing, and unbiblical, tradition of pacifism.)
While many of the teachings of this Catechism of the Catholic Church are scriptural, this prohibition against intentional defensive killing has no biblical basis. This Catechism does not and cannot provide scriptural proof for this position, since none exists. This teaching, along with many other teachings of this Catechism, is of human invention, and is in contradiction to the Scriptures. This teaching conflicts with Genesis 14:19-20, where Melchizedek blesses Abraham for his part in killings that were apparently intentional (Hebrews 7:1 refers to this incident as, “...the slaughter of the kings...” not the accidental slaying of the kings).
Are we to believe that these killings blessed by God in Genesis 14 (as well as the ones I carried out) were justified only so long as the lethal wounds were inflicted with a mental reservation that the intent was to wound but not to kill? How, in corporate or individual defense, do you intend to blow people's bodies to pieces, or intend to inflict a lethal wound, but not intend to kill? What practical difference would such a mental reservation make? If this means that neither the military nor the police may inflict a wound that they know will be lethal, since killing an assailant is often a necessary means of restraining him, would not this seriously impair their ability to defend the innocent (as required by the Moral Law)? If the Catechism of the Catholic Church is correct in this matter, would it not make those who use many of the practices currently employed by the police and the military, and who intentionally kill unjust assailants, to be murderers rather than justified defenders?
There are several texts that forbid intentional murder, e.g., Exodus 21:14 and Deuteronomy 19:11-13. While these passages forbid intentional murder, they do not speak to the issue of preventing murder with premeditation. The Scriptures justify lethal defensive force (Genesis 14) and nowhere forbid the intentional use of this force.
As we have seen, the Sixth Commandment requires the means necessary for defending the innocent—under the circumstances. Intending to inflict a lethal wound is, under some circumstances, a necessary means for defending the innocent. Therefore, intending to inflict a lethal wound is, under circumstances where it is necessary, required by the Sixth Commandment.
We should, when it is necessary, intend to use lethal force, much as we should intend to keep every other duty of the Moral Law. If it is good to do a thing, it is also good to do that thing intentionally. While the premeditation of evil deeds (such as murder) makes them more heinous, the premeditation of good deeds (like preventing murder) normally makes them more effective and free from sinful excess. (Ordinarily, spontaneous attacks on abortion clinics are not to be advised.) Failing to properly plan a lethal defense may amount to sinful negligence, as it may fail to effectively protect the innocent, or result in excessive or unjust injury.
When a sin is forbidden by the Bible, it is wrong to commit that sin in a premeditated manner. But when a particular duty is required by the Bible, it is good to perform that duty after premeditation. For instance, the principles of the Bible forbid premeditated adultery, because adultery is wrong. But premeditated marital sex is right, because marital sex is right. Similarly, premeditated murder is forbidden because murder is forbidden. But premeditated lethal defense is justified, because lethal defense is justified (when it is necessary). We should not be apologetic about either lethal defense, or marital sex, and believe they are only permissible when the occur spontaneously.
Most people recognize that there are circumstances under which it is justified to intentionally use lethal defensive force, but some mistakenly limit this type of defense to the armed services and the police. For instance, many recognize the need for police snipers (on occasion) to intend to inflict a mortal wound, but some deny this same defense to individuals. Under ordinary circumstances, citizens seldom need to premeditate a lethal defense of someone, as the police at times do. Under rare circumstances where a sniper is needed, the police normally perform this function on the people's behalf. But under the extraordinary circumstances where the police are not discharging this obligation for the people, but are rather using snipers to protect known and habitual murderers, the use of this means is not restricted to the government.
When the police intentionally use lethal defensive force, they do so on the people's behalf. It is not as though the citizens’ duty to intentionally use less than lethal force is inalienable, but intentional killing is only legitimate when it has the government's approval. Both of these types of defensive force are derived from the Moral Law. If the police cannot, or will not, use the means necessary to defend the people's children on their behalf, this duty necessarily reverts to the people.
Thus, it is possible to prove that the government may intentionally use lethal force, but it cannot be proven that the people may not use similar defensive force, when it is necessary. This objection cannot be proven from the Bible since it is wrong.
If abortion were to be returned to its illegal status, it would certainly be unreasonable for a police sniper to shoot and kill an abortionist as he was arriving for work. The offender could easily be arrested and restrained to ensure that he did not continue to murder in the future. It is, however, easy to unwittingly assume that the same non-lethal means the police would use to arrest an abortionist, if abortion were illegal, are also sufficient to restrain abortionists when police gunmen are defending them. It is doubtful that many abortionists, or their bodyguards, would allow pro-lifers to put them under citizen's arrest.
If Christians were to use the same means the police used prior to 1973, they would be charged with felony kidnapping (assuming that those who tried to apprehend the abortionist were not killed in the attempt). How long could such an abortionist be held in “custody” before the police freed him and restored him to his work, bolstered by all the protection necessary to make him secure in his grisly job? Under these circumstances, the use of lethal force is far from unreasonable.
Since the circumstances play an essential role in determining the appropriate means for protecting the innocent, a realistic evaluation of the circumstances in question is essential for determining when lethal force is appropriate. Yet those who object to the intentional killing of abortion providers commonly base their objections on analogies drawn from circumstances that are unlike those that actually exist under legalized abortion. They commonly compare killing abortion providers to killing a household intruder, rather than to killing those who are slaughtering people in state-protected killing centers (like those that existed in Nazi Germany). It is wrong, therefore, to assume that the force that may be excessive in defending one's own household from an intruder is necessarily excessive under circumstances where people are being brought to secure locations and murdered under police protection. For instance, it would have likely been wrong for Abraham to have pursued and killed a thief if he had only invaded his tent and stolen some of his property. But, under the very different circumstance described in Genesis 14, Abraham was blessed by God for pursuing Lot's abductors, attacking and killing them by night, and pursuing them as they fled.
We must also give due consideration to the large numbers of children that are killed at the hands of abortionists who have been wounded, but have subsequently returned to their bloody business. Many abortion clinics schedule their abortions for a particular day in the week, and have an out-of-town abortionist come in to perform between 20 to 35 abortions on that day. Depending on his diligence, an abortionist may serve three or four clinics in a week, and easily kill over a hundred children in that time.. But even if he only averaged 75 abortions a week, he could take six weeks of vacation each year, and still be expected to kill about 3,450 children in a year! (Dr. Joseph Randall, a repentant abortionist, estimated that he killed about 32,000 unborn children in the decade he performed abortions.) If you wound, or otherwise temporarily restrain, an abortionist who is killing a similar number of children each year, the odds are that you will only save a small fraction of the total number of people he will murder in his lifetime. But if you kill him, you can be sure that he will never kill again.
Under circumstances where it is likely that merely wounding an assailant, rather than killing him, will result in that person later returning to murder numerous people, lethal force is justified. If killing, rather than wounding, an abortionist kept him from dismembering even one child, it would justify his death. If a wounded abortionist later returns to work for even a single day, he can be expected to kill between 10 and 35 people (depending on the type of practice).
Some have suggested that killing abortionists is excessive since they could be prevented from performing abortions, on a particular day, by a number of less drastic non-lethal means. People commonly assert that anything beyond the least degree of force that could be used to save a particular child is excessive—as though a defender of the unborn must ignore all the children an abortionist will likely murder in the future if he is not killed.
But the Bible does not annul force that is reasonable, under very pressing circumstances, nor condemn anything but the absolute minimum force that can be conceived by someone in a distant armchair. Rather, the Bible justifies, and as in Abraham's case, blesses the use of lethal force in circumstances where lesser degrees of force could have conceivably been employed. We should not replace God’s standards with men's inventions.
To reject anything but the minimum degree of force that could conceivably be used places an unreasonable burden on the defender that may endanger both his own life, and the lives of those he is defending. If one fails to use the means necessary to defend the innocent, for fear of harming the attacker more than necessary, this may amount to culpable negligence, as it may result in the deaths of the innocent—even though the assailant's life may be spared. This is one reason why the police do not operate on this assumption.
When someone decides to kill people for a living, he thereby subordinates his right to be protected to the rights of his intended victims to be defended. When an innocent person's life is threatened, the primary goal should be to prevent the intended harm. Saving the life of a murderer should not be given priority over saving the lives of his intended victims.
If you condemn anything other than the least degree of force that could possibly be used, you condemn the overwhelming majority of defensive responses, whether personal or collective, that have taken place through the centuries, that have previously been considered justified. You also condemn God for justifying lethal defense in Exodus 22:2, and for blessing Abraham after the “slaughter of the kings” (Hebrews 7:1). (In both of these instances, a lesser degree of force could have possibly been used.)
Lethal force is justified against abortion providers since this is a means necessary for defending the unborn, and the Moral Law requires the use of these means. God wisely uses means in such a way as to accomplish His appointed ends; He requires us to do likewise in defending the unborn. The goal is to effectively protect them from being murdered—not to merely salve our consciences by offering a token defensive effort. Under the circumstances, killing abortion providers, and not merely restraining them temporarily, is an effective way of preventing them from ever killing again. (This also serves as a powerful deterrent to a diminishing number of abortion providers.)
Not only is this right, it also works (dead abortion providers don't continue to kill). Under these circumstances, lethal force is not right because it works, but since it is right, it works! Thankfully, God has not denied us the means necessary for our own, or our neighbor's defense; rather, He requires us to take the action necessary to save the unborn.
However, for the sake of argument, let us suppose that Archbishop O’Connor was correct in condemning my actions on the basis that defensive killing can only be justified when it is unintentional. This leaves open the option of intending to maim an abortionist; his death would, presumably, be justified if it were an unintended result.
It is reasonable to ask those who hold this position what degree of force may be used in defense of the unborn. If an abortionist should not be shot in the head, may he be shot in the hand? If it is wrong to in any way harm a murderer, in an effort to restrain him, may the property he uses to slaughter the innocent be destroyed? If individuals should not bomb abortion clinics, would it have also been wrong for individuals to have bombed the tracks that led to Auschwitz? If this is excessive, may a Christian overturn the tables in abortion clinics, and chase everyone from the premises—much as Christ cleansed the temple? If not, why not?
There are numerous direct means and methods that can be used to effectively prevent abortion providers from killing the unborn. Every abortion clinic in the country could be shut down with a relatively modest degree of force—if enough people were willing to employ this force. It’s not as though there is nothing we can do to protect the thousands of children that are being killed every day.
There is a direct correlation between the number of abortion providers and the number of abortions performed. The more readily available abortion is, the more frequently women elect to abort. If abortion is not available locally, many women will not travel outside their local community to abort, but will rather carry their baby to term. Thus, fewer abortion providers, and abortion clinics, result in fewer abortions.
Thus, in God’s amazing providence, under the current circumstances, not only is it right to intervene in defense of the unborn, this also produces extremely good results: it saves babies! Regardless of whether you approach this from a theoretical or a practical perspective, intervening in defense of the unborn, as we would defend ourselves, is both right and good.
Even if it were granted that someone used excessive force in defense of the unborn, this would not abolish the moral obligation to defend these children with appropriate force. While there is a danger of using excessive force, this does not justify using inadequate force, or neglecting defensive means altogether.
The outrage is not that some people are using excessive force, but that most people deny the duty to use any direct means to save the unborn. If you think killing abortionists is excessive, please tell us which means for defending the unborn are justified by the Sixth Commandment.
An essential aspect of the Moral Law is at stake. Untold millions of unborn children are being slaughtered with lethal force. It is imperative that the force needed to protect these children be upheld in no uncertain terms! If you think premeditated lethal force is excessive, this is no excuse for neglecting the numerous lesser degrees of defensive force. The lives of numerous unborn children are directly dependent on the assertion of these defensive means.
We have considered the danger to the unborn of using insufficient defensive force, but we should not ignore the perils of excessive force. Zeal for this righteous cause might result in someone casting aside all restraint, and recklessly endangering innocent bystanders. A certain amount of collateral damage is often the unintended result of defending the innocent, but reasonable effort must be made to minimize the possibility of this damage.
Every effort must also be made to avoid discrimination that gives greater weight to protecting born people than to protecting the unborn. Perhaps the greatest danger is to undervalue the necessity of protecting the unborn, and to give greater weight to protecting innocent bystanders than to protecting the unborn. (A comparison between the number of unborn people killed, and the number of innocent bystanders killed by people defending the unborn certainly supports this assumption.) We must avoid the temptation to so absolutize the life of born people as to negate the duty to defend the unborn. But regardless of whether the people being protected are born or unborn, their defense is not dependent on the approval of a civil magistrate.
The Lower Civil Magistrate
Some object to individuals using force to defend the unborn on the basis of what is known as the doctrine of the lower civil magistrate. This doctrine has been derived from the many Scriptural examples of God raising up civil magistrates to lead those oppressed in overthrowing a tyrannical government. The book of Judges, for instance, abounds with examples of the Israelites revolting against their oppressors under the leadership of a judge, who served as a military leader.
Those who offer this objection view individuals who forcefully defend the unborn as if they were trying to overthrow the government. They grant that individuals may join with others, under a lower civil magistrate, to overthrow an unjust government. But they view individual defensive force against abortion providers as a sort of personal war against the government, and condemn it on this basis. They have no place for individuals using force to resist any government-sanctioned injustice, unless that individual is under the authority of a duly established civil leader.
This position makes an important point: oppressed individuals should not, in a rash and disorganized fashion, try to overthrow a tyrannical government. Such opposition should be conducted in an orderly manner, and under proper leadership. But this should not be understood to contradict the biblical doctrine that individuals must obey God when the government requires a sin of omission (Acts 5:29). This is especially the case when submission to mass murder is being required.
The problem with this position is that it annuls the individual's duty to obey God rather than men when it comes to the defensive duties of the Sixth Commandment. They grant that individuals may illegally observe the other aspects of the Moral Law, without the permission of a lower civil magistrate, but they, without biblical warrant, deny the individual's duty to illegally defend his own or his neighbor's child.
It is important to distinguish between an individual defending himself, or his neighbors, and a group of individuals joining together under an appointed leader to overthrow the government. The former does not require a lower civil magistrate, the latter normally does. Individual defense may give rise to corporate defense, but those who illegally defend their neighbors are not necessarily trying to overthrow the government.
Those who raise this objection seek to annul individual defense by confusing it with corporate defense, and claiming it requires the corporate leadership needed in corporate defense. This obscures the inalienable nature of the individual's defensive duties, which is the basis upon which corporate defense rests. But the duty to defend the innocent, like the other duties of the Moral Law, is inalienable and does not depend on the approval of any human government. The right to defend children does not suddenly come upon citizens the day a leader who recognizes this right is inaugurated, or the day the highest court in the land allows it. Official approval, thus, is not required before you use the means necessary to protect your own or your neighbor's child.
The possible effects of this mistaken concept are far-reaching. Under this doctrine people could excuse inaction under even the worst of atrocities. No matter how many people were being robbed, raped, or murdered with the government's sanction, no one would be responsible to use defensive force—presumably even in self-defense—unless an opposing magistrate had been duly constituted. Thus, this teaching is not only unscriptural, it is also unreasonable. There are obviously many conceivable circumstances under which a powerful and oppressive government would not allow an opposing civil magistrate to be established, but under which defensive force would, nevertheless, be necessary.
Those who deny that citizens have an obligation to defend the innocent, unless a magistrate grants them permission, have put the cart before the horse. If the duty to defend the innocent is not inalienable, what would spur individuals to join together and appoint a lower civil magistrate who recognized this responsibility? If people deny they have a prior duty to defend their children, they would have no basis for asking the government to make abortion illegal, and exercise this duty on their behalf. How can we expect either the current government, or a possible future government, under a lower civil magistrate, to defend the unborn on our behalf if we deny our prior duty to do so?
We see, then, that the individual duty to defend the innocent gives rise to the government performing this duty on the people's behalf, and to corporate defense. But when the government cannot, or will not, perform this obligation on the people's behalf, it necessarily reverts to the people. It is not as though you need anyone's permission, other than God’s, before defending a needy child. This is an essential and inalienable duty of the Moral Law.
Southern Baptists Take A Stand
My killing Dr. Britton, 16 months after Dr. Gunn had also been killed in Pensacola, generated a considerable response from both pro-choice and pro-life proponents. For instance, Time magazine's August 15, 1994 issue carried an essay by Michael Kinsley titled, “Why Not Kill The Baby Killers?” In this piece, Kinsley asserted that killing abortionists is consistent with pro-life logic, and challenged the pro-life movement to own up to its own principles.
Perhaps the most noteworthy pro-life response to these types of assertions was offered by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. David Gushee drafted a position paper that was revised by a drafting committee in Nashville on September 17-18, 1994. This committee consisted of several leading Southern Baptist ethicists, including Mark T. Coppenger, Ph.D., David P. Gushee, Ph.D., Daniel R. Heimbach, Ph.D., Richard D. Land, D. Phil., C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. (Cand.), and R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Ph.D., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They issued “The Nashville Statement of Conscience: Why the Killing of Abortion Doctors Is Wrong.” Each of the six points in the “Abstract” of that document, together with my responses (in italics), follows.
"In July, 1994, abortion doctor John Britton and his escort James Barrett were shot and killed.
These vigilante murders have generated more rhetorical heat than light. The pro-choice and
pro-abortion forces claim that such actions are the natural fruit of the conviction that human life
begins at conception. The pro-life forces have objected strenuously, but have not fully justified
their intuitive rejection of these murders. We hope that this statement, written from a Christian
pro-life perspective, will help to clarify the grounds for this rejection."
It is certain that the innocent should be defended with the means necessary, and since the unborn are innocent, it is equally certain that they should be defended with the means necessary. Those who deny this are denying the obvious. The problem is not that we are unaware of this duty, the problem is, for various reasons, people suppress this obligation in unrighteousness.
This Commission's position is a radical departure from the word of God. It opposes well-known and historically orthodox positions taught by the Bible, and replaces them with man-made contradictions of the Scriptures that support today's status quo. Rather than exposing the sin of omission required by the government, this Commission has annulled an essential aspect of the Moral Law, and encouraged compliance with men rather than obedience to God. This negligence, as thousands are being slaughtered each day, has mocked God’s law, bloodied hands throughout much of the world, and seared people‘s consciences to the point where they are blind to this aspect of the Moral Law.
This Commission wrongfully asserts that the abortionist, John Britton, and his escort, were murdered. They were certainly shot and killed, but not all killings are murder. Since the Moral Law requires the means necessary for defending the innocent, including lethal force, and since the unborn are innocent, the Moral Law requires the means necessary for defending the unborn, including lethal force (Exodus 20:13 and Genesis 14). It is bad for this Commission to neglect the proclamation of this duty, but it is much worse for it to condemn those who uphold God’s law at this point.
"We maintain that:
1. The burden of proof is clearly upon those who would exercise deadly force. The Bible condemns murder in both the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 5:21) and designates government as the proper agent for maintaining order within society (Rom. 13:4)."
The Commission denies that it bears the burden of proof for a good reason: it cannot prove its assertion that the killing of abortion doctors is wrong. If these men could have proven their case, they would have done so. This Commission cannot even sustain its objections to killing abortionists, much less prove its position beyond a reasonable doubt. Since the Commission does not attempt to bear the burden of proving its position, but limits itself to unsubstantiated objections, its position remains unproved.
The Commission correctly understands the Sixth Commandment to forbid murder, but it has neglected to affirm the duty required by God under these circumstances. The Sixth Commandment requires the means necessary for defending the innocent, including lethal force (Exodus 20:13, Exodus 22:2, Genesis 14:13-20, Esther 9:1-10). If someone uses lethal force to protect children from a known murderer, he should be presumed to have acted honorably, unless it can be proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt. (When mass murder has been legalized, and thousands are being slain each day, there is an overwhelming obligation to use the means necessary to stop these murderers.) Unsubstantiated objections do not prove guilt under any circumstances, much less under these compelling conditions.
The Commission is correct in asserting that the government should maintain order in society. But when the government legalizes, rather than suppresses, the murder of children, the duty to defend these children necessarily reverts to the people—otherwise the innocent will be left undefended—contrary to the Moral Law.
2. “As appalling as the wanton taking of unborn human life may be, it is protected by recent court decisions in America, and so is currently legal. Thus, we must work to protect the unborn through the legal and democratic processes.”
It is appalling for the government to legalize mass murder, and forbid anyone to intervene to stop the bloodshed. But it is equally appalling, under these circumstances, for spokesmen in Christ's Church to neglect to uphold the duty to defend these children, in spite of the government‘s prohibition.
When a government legalizes murder, and thereby forbids the prevention of murder (as required by the Sixth Commandment), it requires a sin of omission. Under these circumstances, the people are not obliged to abide by the sin of omission being required by the government; rather, they must “...obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b). As in the apostles’ case, it is permissible to pursue legal remedies, but the primary duty is to put obedience to God before obedience to men.
3. “There are many praiseworthy and legal strategies to turn the tide of abortion, including abstinence-based sex education, ministry to women in crisis pregnancies, and a wide range of political and judicial efforts.”
The apostles did not respond to the sin of omission required in their day by praising the legal options available to believers, as this Commission has done. If they had, they may have avoided persecution, but it would have exposed them, and their beliefs, to ridicule.
One strategy that they fail to mention, which is both praiseworthy and legal, is to uphold the inalienable duty to defend the unborn. This is not only praiseworthy; it is also the key to returning protection to the unborn.
4. “We affirm those physicians who refuse to perform abortions, recognizing that the vast majority of health care professionals abstain from this practice.”
They commend the physicians who protect the unborn, but they fail to expose and reprove the government, and its agents, who protect murderers—rather than their victims. Not only must the police, who actually protect abortion providers, be unmasked, those who swear to uphold the murderous laws of our land—as many government employees are required to do—must similarly be exposed. Since the laws of our land sanction mass murder, it is sinful to swear to uphold the laws of our land. It is no less sinful to swear to uphold the law of our land, since the law sanctions mass murder, than it was to swear to uphold Roman law, when it sanctioned the murder of Christians. Far from swearing to obey the laws of the land, the apostles openly refused compliance, and declared their intent to obey God rather than men. We should similarly refuse compliance with the law in our day, since it sanctions mass murder, and declare the duty to resist this murderous force with force!
5. “Since human law may be in conflict with God’s law, non-violent civil disobedience may be morally permissible, so long as the citizen willingly submits to the consequent penalties.”
This Commission did not even declare that, by sanctioning murder, the government has contradicted God’s Law, or that non-violent intervention is permissible. These things are stated as mere possibilities (no one can accuse them of fomenting social unrest). But as heralds of God’s truth, they have a weighty responsibility to proclaim the whole counsel of God, especially when God’s Law is put in question by the legalization of murder.
Legal abortion requires a gross neglect of the defensive duties required in the Sixth Commandment as thousands are being murdered each day. Under these circumstances, the duty being forbidden by the government must be asserted. As was the case with the apostles, Christian leaders should uphold the duty to obey God rather than men. To neglect this duty, under these circumstances, and merely affirm that “...human law may be in conflict with God’s law..." is a sinful omission of immense proportions. Under these circumstances, to merely assert that “...non-violent civil disobedience may be morally permissible...” is to neglect to proclaim the whole counsel of God when millions of lives depend on it.
The statement that “...non-violent civil disobedience may be morally permissible so long as the citizen willingly submits to the consequent penalties” is also incorrect. While many believers have disobeyed unjust laws, and willingly submitted to the consequences, the Bible records many incidents where believers have obeyed God rather than men, and justly avoided the government's persecution (Acts 12:17-19, Exodus 1:15-22, I Kings 18:1-15).
Even if this statement by the Commission merely has the passive blocking of abortion clinics in view, it is still wrong. The permissibility of this form of civil disobedience is not dependent upon the citizen's willingness to submit to the consequent penalties. (A common strategy is for protesters to block entrance to an abortion clinic until they are about to be arrested. They then, on occasion, leave the area so they can block this or another entrance later, without suffering the delay, and deterrent, of being arrested)
6. “The unavoidable use of lethal force in an emergency to stop an assailant is quite different from the premeditated killing of enemies. Private citizens may be called upon to exercise the former, but not the latter. The premeditated use of deadly force is reserved to the government.”
These statements have in view the norms that exist when murder is forbidden by the government. Under these normal circumstances, it is usually sufficient for a citizen to protect himself from immediate harm; citizens can ordinarily leave it to the police to arrest and restrain known murderers. But these statements ignore the truly extraordinary circumstances that exist when murder is legal, and the police are protecting—rather than restraining—known killers. Abortionists currently enjoy overwhelming police protection, as they methodically murder large numbers of children in secure locations.
The appropriate degree of defensive force is determined by a realistic evaluation of the circumstances, not a denial of these circumstances. Force that is excessive under one set of circumstances may be necessary under conditions that are more demanding. Extreme circumstances normally call for extreme measures. Would you think that you had done your duty if you merely wounded someone who was trying to kill your family if, afterwards, you had to sit in jail as the murderer returned, week after week, until he had killed everyone in your family?
Under circumstances where it is likely that merely wounding someone, rather than killing him, will result in that person later returning to murder numerous people, the intentional use of lethal force may be necessary, and therefore justified. Genesis 14 records an incident in which Abraham, and his men, attacked and killed a group of men who had taken Abraham's nephew, Lot, captive. God later blessed this slaughter through Melchizedek (a type of Christ), who declared that God had delivered Abraham's enemies into his hand. Under these circumstances, the intentional use of lethal force was necessary. It certainly prevented those killed from later regrouping and returning to threaten Abraham's family. A similar use of force against abortion providers prevents them from returning to their bloody work.
The Commission offers no Scriptural proof for its assertion that "The premeditated use of deadly force is reserved to the government." This is because none exists. Their position is unsubstantiated because it is untrue.
Since this is a duty of the Moral Law that comes directly from God, it is inalienable. In most instances, the government performs this duty on the people's behalf, but when it cannot, or will not, do so, the duty necessarily reverts to the people; otherwise, the people will be left without a means necessary for their defense. It is thus false to assert that this particular means of defense is reserved for the government.
The Commission concludes its six-point summary of its position with these words:
“We contend that the killing of abortion doctors is not a morally justifiable or permissible Christian response to abortion. We completely reject such conduct and call upon all Christian people to join us in this rejection. We rebuke those who would seek to discredit the pro-life movement on the basis of the aberrant behavior of a handful of violent extremists.
"We reiterate our unshakable conviction that the life of each human being begins at conception, and we implore all Christians to oppose legalized abortion on demand and to work to reduce the number of abortions through legitimate means.”
Not only do these assertions lack biblical authority, they positively annul the moral obligation (summarized in the Sixth Commandment) to use the means necessary to protect the innocent (Exodus 20:13, Exodus 22:2, Genesis 14:13-20, Esther 9:1-10). By annulling this weighty and important Commandment, upon which the lives of so many depend, and replacing it with their own opinions, the proponents of this position expose themselves to the rebuke of Christ:
"...And thus you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 'This people
honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain
do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men'”
(I do not believe the men on this Commission are hard-hearted hypocrites, as the men Christ rebuked were, but I do believe they are “...teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” [vs. 9b].)
Of this we can be certain: if someone of the Apostle Peter's caliber could sinfully comply with the Judiazers, and withdraw from Gentile Christians (as described in Galatians 2), it is possible for today's leaders to similarly comply with the status quo, and neglect the defensive duties owed to the unborn. Paul characterized Peter, and those who joined with him, as having "...played the hypocrite...” (Galatians 2:13, NKJV). Could it be that those who have denounced the means necessary for defending the unborn have also unwittingly "...played the hypocrite... "?
With all due respect to these men, it is imperative that they repent, and that they do so publicly. They have, by annulling a vital aspect of the Moral Law, led people into ethical error. For the sake of the thousands that are aborted every day, and ultimately for Christ's sake, I urge them to consider whether they may be on the wrong side of this unspeakably important issue. Hopefully, they will not persist in this error.
The Commission asserts that only the government (presumably through its agents) may premeditate a lethal defense. The Commission did not, however, set forth a position on defensive force that provides consistent answers to the following relevant and pressing questions:
A. Most people (in accordance with the Moral Law) believe innocent people should be defended with the means necessary; does the Commission concur with this position? Historic orthodox Christianity teaches that the Sixth Commandment requires the means necessary for defending the innocent. Does the Commission, in essence, agree with this interpretation of the Sixth Commandment? If not, what is the Commission's position on the use of defensive force? If the intentional use of lethal force is unacceptable, are lesser degrees of force justified? Would it be justifable, for instance, for someone to overturn the tables in an abortion clinic, and chase everyone from the premises, much as Christ cleansed the temple?
B. Does the Commission believe that, by forbidding the defense of the unborn, the government has required a sin of omission (much as when Ahab and Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, and Obadiah was prohibited from protecting the remaining prophets)? Should believers obey God rather than men when the government requires a sin of omission?
C. Is the citizen's duty to defend his child inalienable, or can this duty be removed by the government? If this is an inalienable duty, should the people expect the government to perform it on their behalf if they deny that the duty exists?
D. Does this Commission agree that the Moral Law requires the means necessary for defending innocent people, and that the unborn are innocent people? This means that the unborn have a right to be defended with the means necessary. Since the unborn have this right, and since Proverbs 31:9b requires us to "...defend the rights of the afflicted and needy,” isn't this Commission guilty of neglecting to defend the rights of the unborn?
E. If we should passively submit to an atrocity as heinous as mass murder, should we similarly submit to lesser atrocities like mass rape or enslavement? If we should submit to legalized murder, is there any conceivable atrocity we should resist? If we are willing to tolerate the murder of over 4,000 people a day, day after day, haven't we taken a flying and irretrievable leap down the slippery slope of sinful negligence? If the line should not be drawn at the slaughter of over 4,000 children a day, where should it be drawn?
We see, then, that this Commission's response to abortion is unconscionable. There is no good reason for tolerating mass murder. Those who deny we should use the means necessary for defending the unborn, and encourage submission to this atrocity, are contradicting the Moral Law, and will give an account to God for annulling His commandments.
In addition to the objections raised by this Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, numerous other objections have also been offered by various authors and organizations. The biblical resolution to all these objections must begin with one putting oneself in the place of the unborn, and identifying oneself with them. View one of the unborn children who are murdered each day as you would view yourself, or your own born children. Then take whatever objection you may have to this position, and ask yourself: “Would this annul my duty to defend my born child with the immediate means necessary?” (Pro-lifers are well known for responding to difficult objections to the pro-life position by asking, “Would this objection be equally valid for both born and unborn children?” The same test should also be applied to defending the unborn with force.)
If someone is truly identified with a child (as most people are with their own children), no theoretical reason, apart from physical inability or calling, would keep most such people from taking the immediate action necessary to save that child (as required by the Moral Law). People will overcome, if possible, even the most formidable physical obstacles, and theoretical objections, in order to save the lives of their children. We should treat our unborn neighbors similarly.
You may legitimately excuse yourself from taking direct action to save the unborn on the basis of your calling or physical limitations. Apart from these considerations, however, if your objections to defending the unborn would not relieve you of your duty to defend your two-year old toddler, they should be reevaluated. Objections that cannot stand this test, or that of the Golden Rule, are likely nothing more than flimsy excuses, regardless of how lofty and convincing they may sound otherwise.
Let's face it, most people do not believe in defending the unborn as they would defend themselves because abortion does not threaten them the way it does the unborn. Those old enough to understand the threat posed by abortion also know that they will never be killed in this manner. If adults were being threatened, as the unborn are, they would overcome all reluctance, and virtually every possible objection to their defense. People would be busy defending themselves, not offering lame excuses for neglecting this defense. We must, therefore, lay aside our apathetic excuses, put ourselves in the place of the unborn, and defend them as we would defend ourselves.
Freedom from Abortion
Americans are generally agreed that our civic liberties are so essential to our well-being that we should be willing to fight and die, if necessary, to secure and preserve them. But one of the most glaring omissions of our Constitution is that it fails to establish a standard by which true liberty may be distinguished from sinful license. This opens the door to various understandings of liberty. Unbelievers hate God’s law, and want to be free from its constraints (Romans 8:7). They frequently portray the sins they want to have legalized as human rights. But true Christians hate and detest sin, and dearly prize their freedom from the very sins that non-Christians want to legalize as their “right.” In order to distinguish, thus, between right and wrong in civic life, it is vital that believers develop a biblical view of the civic rights and liberties.
The concepts of human rights and liberties are distinctly biblical, and should be viewed from a biblical perspective. The Bible repeatedly speaks of the rights of the afflicted and needy, and the importance of defending the rights of the poor: “Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). The Bible also has much to say about the Christian's liberty to obey God’s law: “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Thy precepts” (Psalm 119:45).
The concept of being free is also in the Scriptures to refer to being released from bondage to sin to serve God: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). From a biblical perspective, the concepts of rights, liberties, and freedom are all related to God’s law. Christians have the right, the liberty, and the freedom to keep God’s Moral Law as summarized by the Ten Commandments.
The connection between freedom and the Ten Commandments is clearly made in the preface to the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:1). The tyranny that existed in Egypt, under Pharaoh and his enslaving laws, is here contrasted with the glorious liberty of being ruled by the True God in all of life, as summarized in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, thus, should serve as a touchstone for distinguishing between liberty and slavery in civic life.
The primary function of the government is to uphold the Moral Law with the sword (Romans 13:3-4). Perhaps the government's most basic function is to protect and defend the lives of the people on their behalf. The individual's duty to defend himself and his neighbor (as required by the Sixth Commandment) is the basis for individuals joining together and appointing civil magistrates to perform this task on their behalf. The right of self-defense, thus, gives rise to the right of individuals to join together, form a government, and engage in defensive warfare. When necessary, such wars are required by the Scriptures (Jeremiah 48:10 & Deuteronomy 20).
If a government stops providing this corporate protection to a helpless minority, by sanctioning their murder, the upright citizens in the nation should uphold the right of those within this minority to defend themselves. They should also maintain their duty to come to the defense of this minority—as necessary to preserve their lives. This response serves several functions: it saves the innocent, and serves as a deterrent to those who are killing the oppressed; it bears testimony to the rights of the oppressed; it also bears witness to the people's refusal to submit to their neighbor's slaughter, and their determination to resist such an intolerable situation. The willingness of people to thus resist state-sanctioned murder (as required by the Moral Law) is a powerful incentive for the government to protect all the people, and not sanction the murder of any minority (as occurred in the book of Esther). But if the citizens in a nation fail to uphold the right of a threatened minority to be defended, the results could be catastrophic. Such negligence also brings bloodguilt on those who fail to uphold the rights of the oppressed.
Many Americans have the notion that as long as the people may freely elect their representatives (as in a democracy as opposed to a monarchy, or a dictatorship) that the nation will necessarily remain free from oppression. But the ability to elect one's representatives in a democratic nation does not ensure liberty. A majority can oppress a helpless minority much as a monarch or dictator can. While democratic governments are designed to prevent the abuses of a monarchical tyrant, this does not prevent a majority from becoming tyrannical.
If a majority in a democratic nation loses its moral bearings (as our nation has), and its respect for human life, this majority could elect representatives for the express purpose of cruelly oppressing and murdering a helpless minority—such as the unborn. Many pro-choice citizens vote with this very object in view. The more relativistic the people in a democracy become, and the further they drift from the Moral Law, the more they can be expected to elect leaders who will pass laws that permit them to indulge themselves at the expense of the helpless and needy. The form of government, thus, does not determine whether a government is oppressive or not: both democracies and monarchies can be either beneficent or oppressive. The degree of freedom or injustice experienced by any population is determined by the Moral Law, as summarized by the Ten Commandments, not by the particular form of government.
When any government, regardless of its form, requires people to sin, either by omission or commission, it becomes an instrument of evil and oppression. The degree of injustice is determined by the degree of sin being enforced. Since some sins are more heinous than others, the more heinous the sin, the more unjust it is to enforce that sin. For example, it is oppressive for a government to sanction slavery, or rape, but it is even more odious for a government to legalize murder. Since all the duties in life are dependent on being alive, the right to life is fundamental to all other rights, including the right to raise children and the right to preach the gospel. For citizens to be denied their right to life, thus, may be the worst form of physical oppression. Governments that sanction mass murder are grossly unjust; America's government has sanctioned mass murder; we must conclude, therefore, that America's government is grossly unjust.
Some object that threatening force in defense of the unborn is contrary to the democratic process, but the very opposite is true. The democratic process is based on people asserting their inalienable rights and duties—not denying that they exist. It is not as though people must decide between upholding the Moral Law at this point, and continuing to work within the law; the latter should be based on the former.
Some argue that individuals may not intervene in defense of their unborn neighbors so long as the government has popular support, and offers opportunities for legal reform. But this objection, and virtually all others, appears absurd when applied to a group of born people. When innocent people are being slaughtered, regardless of whether a majority supports the government or not, and regardless of whether the slaughter may eventually be stopped through legal means, there is an overwhelming moral obligation to use the means for stopping the bloodshed. The people's opposition to this atrocity, and the use of possible legal remedies, should be based on an assertion of this duty—not a denial of its existence.
Those who assert that legalized murder should not be resisted with force have abandoned the God-ordained means for resisting this atrocity. If we are limited to legal and peaceful responses, while millions are being slaughtered, we are enslaved to the government, and have thrown away the key to our shackles. The lives and liberties of the oppressed are not preserved by submission to governments that sanction murder.
True freedom for the Christian does not consist in neglecting God’s law in order to escape persecution, but in obedience to the Lord in spite of the opposition. The path of sacrificial service brings glorious liberty.
Men are naturally enslaved to the world's sinful way of thinking. This includes a carnal fear of men, especially towards those in positions of social or political power: “The fear of man brings a snare...” (Proverbs 29:25a). This enslaving fear of man can only be overcome by a greater, and truly liberating fear: the fear of God: “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
We should not fear persecution for defending the unborn; rather, we should fear submitting to unjust laws, quenching the Spirit, and provoking the chastening hand of God. Jesus did not bow in fearful obedience to men, and neglect the needs of those around Him; neither should we. We should joyfully accept any persecution that may come to us for defending the needy.
True freedom comes from denying your own fleshly advantage, dying to your own plans and projects, and following Christ in this world. For the child of God, freedom consists in sacrificially believing and obeying the whole counsel of God, especially at the point where men forbid it.
Like the apostles, we must prefer death to the defilement and misery of submitting to government-imposed sin. Such courage is requisite for casting off every type of fetter forged by tyrannical governments, including legalized murder.
It is not enough to be free from the threat of being murdered yourself. In accordance with the Second Great Commandment, true liberty consists in freeing your neighbors, and your posterity, from this threat—as you would yourself. James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), in the concluding two sections of his “Stanzas on Freedom” writes:
Is true freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! True freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!
They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.
Freedom from sinful oppression is so essential to God’s glory, and man's good, that He never permits anyone to be forced to sin and thereby forfeit his liberty of conscience. Under oppressive circumstances, you may be forced to choose between liberty or death, but no one may be made a slave to sin except by his own consent. When forced to neglect the defense of America's children, the free and the brave should reply: “Give me liberty to defend the unborn or give me death.” No land is free or its people brave if they lack the freedom or the courage to defend their children from a violent death.
Believers have been set free from those who require sin in either church or state in order to serve Christ alone. There is only one Lord of the conscience, and that Lord is not Caesar!
When the Supreme Court forbids the defense of the unborn, and Jesus Christ requires their defense, you must choose between oppression and liberty.
The price we pay in human blood for the peace and prosperity many Americans now enjoy is unconscionably high. What peace can there be as long as over 4,000 people are being murdered each day? The “peace” we currently experience is the result of tolerating mass murder, rather than resisting this atrocity as we would if our own lives were being similarly threatened.
You may not submit to murder and defend against it. You cannot serve Caesar by defending murderers, and serve Christ by defending their victims. Honesty requires the admission that allegiance to one is a repudiation of the other. If you believe you may neglect or reject the defense of the innocent, and remain true to Christ, you believe a lie.
People must stop groveling before the government in the blood of the unborn; this is a miserable price to pay for maintaining one's reputation in the world and one's current standard of living. Under these insufferable circumstances, it is no great honor to maintain the status quo.
It is, therefore, certain that when a government sanctions the murder of its people, that the people may do considerably more than continually petition the government for redress. Even the most indoctrinated people under communist dictators must surely know that when mass murder is sanctioned, and thousands are being slain every day, upholding the duty to defend these people, in both word and deed, is not only an option—it is a compelling duty.
The pro-life community has long been critical of the euphemistic language used by corrupt governments to whitewash both the Jewish and the abortion holocausts. What many fail to realize, however, is that such governments not only twist the truth about the murderers in question, and their victims, they also misrepresent the police who defend these butchers, as well as those who defend the innocent. The police who protect abortionists are currently called “peace keepers,” while those who intervene in defense of the unborn are labeled “violent extremists.” The defenders of murderers are styled as heroes, while those who defend the unborn are cast as crazed fanatics.
Those intent on eliminating weapons of mass destruction need not look beyond the borders of our own country. All one needs to do is to look in the yellow pages for the nearest abortion clinic to find instruments that cause mass destruction. The implements of destruction used in abortion clinics pose the greatest threat to America's population. Anyone genuinely interested in protecting America's people should begin by stopping the slaughter that is already underway—that continues each day.
It is also popular to call those who use force to stop abortion “terrorists.” Those who used force to resist Nazi atrocities were given similar labels by Nazi sympathizers. But abortion providers are actually state-protected terrorists, since they cause millions to fear for the lives of their unborn relatives and neighbors. The terror they cause is similar to the terror evoked by those who operated the Nazi death camps.
It is also common for people today to castigate those under Hitler's power who sang along with the government about submitting to the “powers that be”—as though they are not currently doing the same thing. But if we scorn the Germans who complied with the semantics used in their day to retain their positions in society, should we congratulate ourselves for responding similarly today? After all, they had a better excuse than we do. They could not challenge the euphemisms being used without fear of arrest.. We can. Considering the extreme violence that has currently been sanctioned, the government allows us an amazing degree of freedom to proclaim the very truths that it is suppressing—something the Germans who opposed the Jewish holocaust did not enjoy.
Since we have this freedom, it is imperative that we use it, and reject the semantic inversions employed by the government. Force to prevent abortion is not violence; it is the prevention of violence. Those who protect abortionists are protecting violence; those who protect the unborn are preventing violence. Weapons should be used to protect the unborn—not their assailants.
How much longer will people continue to use this obviously inconsistent rhetoric? If you condone those who defend born people from terrorists, you should not condemn those who similarly defend the unborn. Reasonable people should advocate the force necessary for restraining all murderers, not just those who murder born people.
It is insufficient to correct the twisted language about abortionists, and the lethal force they use against the unborn; we must also proclaim the truth about defending the unborn. If you believe abortion is lethal force, you should uphold the force needed to stop it. Force should be resisted with force!
IV. COURTROOM CONTROVERSY
Pre- Trial Proceedings
Soon after my arrest, the prosecution announced that they were seeking the death penalty. This forced me to decide whether I should try to resist their efforts to kill me. After some thought, I decided that it was my duty to do whatever I could to save the most people from being killed, and thereby bring the most glory to God. I didn't know for certain that my allowing them to kill me would result in fewer children being killed, but it seemed probable that this would be the result. I proceeded in the strength of this judgment.
About this time, I also decided to represent myself. I assumed that the courts would reject a defense based on the humanity of the unborn, and I did not want any well-meaning lawyer to offer a defense on any other basis. God, in His amazing providence, provided all the legal help I needed.
Michael Hirsh, a pro-life attorney formerly involved with Operation Rescue, presented a brief to the judge in my name. (Although, at that time, Mr. Hirsh was employed by the American Center for Law and Justice to represent me in another abortion-related case, his work on my homicide case was pro bono.) The brief Mr. Hirsh submitted was based on his 1993 Regent University thesis. This thesis had been modified into an argument defending Michael Griffin's killing of Dr. Gunn, and printed in the Regent University Law Review (it was withdrawn prior to circulation after I killed Dr. Britton). Mr. Hirsh then reworked the brief, using the particulars of my case, and submitted it in my name. The brief argued that my killing Dr. Britton was consistent with the Bible, and justifiable under Florida law. With the help of Vincent Heiser (another pro-life attorney who came to my aid), we reminded the judge that he might, one day, stand trial for upholding the abortion holocaust if he would not allow us to present the truth.
My trial was a classic example of judicial tyranny. It bore many similarities to the trials of those who protected the Jews from being murdered in Nazi Germany during World War II. It should be remembered, however, that soon after the war, many roles were reversed, and many who had condemned the defenders of the Jews were themselves condemned.
As anticipated, the judge rejected our brief, and would not allow me to either assume or prove that the unborn are human beings. The freedom to speak the truth, which every American should enjoy, was denied me during my trial. Even though my life depended on it, and 47 percent of the population believed that abortion is murder, my pro-life views were strictly excluded by the court. No words or concepts that would reveal the truth about abortion were tolerated; only the pro-death semantics approved by the court could be uttered (except during the penalty phase in which the judge allowed me some latitude). I was gagged by a court order that prevented me from speaking the truth. If I had begun to demonstrate that the unborn are human, or that the abortionist was employed in murdering them, the court would have used the force necessary to silence me.
If I had been allowed to tell the truth, it would have inevitably resulted in my putting the abortionist, and the government that protected him, on trial for participating in mass murder. I could have shown that not only the abortionist, but also the government, could have justifiably had force used against it. (Governments that sanction mass murder should be resisted, and those who are being victimized should be defended with the means necessary.)
The judge had a reason for not allowing the humanity of the unborn to be demonstrated. If the truth had been allowed, it would have turned the entire trial on end. I could have used the same tactics that the prosecutor used with equally good effect.
The prosecution displayed large, bloody, and revolting pictures of the people I killed. As the jury looked on, they pushed long metal pins through life-size mannequins to show how the shot had passed through their bodies. A medical examiner testified, at great length, about the cause of death. I was portrayed as a heartless murderer with no regard for human life.
A fireman who had been called to the scene, and a man who drove by the clinic soon after the shooting, were held up as heroes for trying to “rescue” the abortionist, and restrain me, the murderer. Those who had lost relatives wept on the stand and vented their anger. During the penalty phase, the prosecutor told the jury he had studied the world's major religions, and none of them justified violence. A gun store employee also told how he had sold me the shotgun that I used.
If I had been allowed the same opportunities afforded the prosecutor, I could have turned the stomachs, and the hearts, of the jurors against the abortionist, and his bloody trade, much as the prosecutor turned the jurors against me. I would have exposed the semantic inversions employed by the government to cast abortionists, and their protectors, in a favorable light. I would have shown that those who protect abortionists are protecting terror and violence, and that those who restrain them are preventing violence. I had used a lethal weapon for its intended purpose—to protect innocent people—not their assailants.
Distinguished theologians could have borne testimony to the biblical basis for defensive force. The necessity of defending innocent people, especially under circumstances where large numbers of people are being exterminated, could have also been presented to the jury.
Experts in civil law could have traced the well-established precedent for justifiable homicide through American jurisprudence, and English common law, back to the Bible. Examples of judicial systems that recognize this principle could have been drawn from both biblical and modern civilizations, including our own.
I could have also subpoenaed the people who had sold the instruments with which the abortionist dismembered the unborn. Medical experts could have described, in painstaking detail, how numerous unborn children would have been killed that day if the abortionist had not been stopped. Realistic models of developing unborn children could have been contrasted with shocking pictures of children that have been maimed and dismembered by abortion.
The abortionist's motive would have also been brought to light. The author of the GQ article who had investigated the abortionist, Tom Junod, could have been subpoenaed to testify to the grisly facts: the abortionist normally killed 32 children in a day, and was paid $50 per head.
Several relatives of the children Dr. Britton had previously murdered could have been summoned to the stand to testify of their deep personal loss. Attention could have been directed to the potentially long and productive lives that had lain before the many children the abortionist had killed.
Evidence could have been presented to prove, as with the wounding of George Tiller (an abortionist in Wichita, Kansas), that if John Britton had merely been wounded, he would have likely returned to killing the unborn under even tighter security. (The day after George Tiller was shot in each of his arms by Shelley Shannon, he made a pointed display of returning to “work.”) Various means could have been used to reveal the great lengths the police in Wichita have gone to, since Shannon shot Tiller, to prevent anyone from ever intervening between him and his intended victims again.
The records of the various clinics in which Dr. Britton had performed abortions could have been used to estimate the total number of children he had killed in his career. Consideration could have also been given to the number of unborn children he would have likely murdered after July 29, 1994, if he had not been killed on that date.
The deciding factor, however, would not have been the large number of people the abortionist had killed in the past, or would have likely killed in the future, but the injustice of allowing him to kill any innocent and helpless person, regardless of the number of victims involved. Justice demands that the lives of numerous murderers be taken if it is necessary to save the life of even one child. And if it is justified to kill several attackers to save a single child, how much better is it to kill one murderer, and his escort, to save numerous children. The scales of justice would have slammed down on the side of the unborn.
My trial raises some difficult questions for those who are pro-life. Based on pro-life assumptions, I should certainly have been allowed to demonstrate the humanity of the unborn to the jury. Since I obviously had a reasonable fear that John Britton was about the murder numerous people, I had a clear basis for arguing that my actions were justifiable homicide. The most reasonable objection to my actions is that they were excessive. But this objection could have been convincingly countered in court.
Suppose you had been the prosecutor in this trial. Many have dismissed what I did for trivial reasons, and have raised objections to my actions that can be easily resolved. But a court-appointed prosecutor must do more than this; he must formulate a specific charge and prove his claims beyond a reasonable doubt. What would you have charged me with? Could this charge have been proven from the Bible? Considering the numerous children I saved from this habitual murderer, it would have been especially difficult (should I say impossible?) to prove that I am a murderer, rather than a defender, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Not only could I have proven that I am a defender of the innocent, I could have done considerably more than raise reasonable doubt about a charge that I had used excessive force. I could have proven that I had a compelling reason to kill the abortionist: if I had not done so, he would, in all probability, have continued his practice of murdering unborn children—much as Dr. Josef Mengele tortured and killed the Jews—under police protection.
It is a gross injustice to even think in terms of accusing or prosecuting someone who acted as I did. You simply cannot put someone who kills a threatening murderer, at great personal cost, on the same moral plane with someone who murders people for selfish gain. The two are as different as day is from night, as right is from wrong. The problem is not that I defended innocent children, but that the government has legalized their murder. Those responsible for legalizing this atrocity should have been arrested and tried for murder—not me!
During the penalty phase, I addressed the jury for the first time, and made a short statement as my “closing argument”:
You have a responsibility to protect your neighbor's life, and to use force if necessary
to do so. In an effort to suppress this truth, you may mix my blood with the blood of the unborn,
and those who have fought to defend the oppressed. However, truth and righteousness will prevail.
May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.
Soon afterwards, I was escorted to Florida State Prison's death row.
The legal team that argued my mandatory appeal before the Florida Supreme Court consisted of Mr. Michael Hirsh and Mr. Roger Frechette. Mr. Hirsh, both in legal briefs and oral argument, presented the legal precedent for justifiable homicide, and applied it to my actions in defense of the unborn—breaking new ground in American jurisprudence. As soon as the court upheld my death sentence, I waived all future appeals.
The Golden Rule Defense
The most penetrating Scripture with which to conclude our examination of the duty to defend the unborn is the Second Great Commandment. Christ committed the unborn into your care when He commanded you to love your neighbor as yourself, and applied this teaching in the story of the Good Samaritan. This story teaches that the command to love your neighbor as yourself extends to all your fellow men, especially those in need.
If your limbs were about to be torn from your body, would you defend yourself? If you couldn't, would you want someone else to? The Golden Rule teaches us to put ourselves in the place of others, so as to experience their feelings, and then to act in their behalf. If you were scheduled to be aborted, who would you rather have between you and the abortionist: someone who would intervene with the means necessary to save your life, or someone who, for whatever reason, would not take the action necessary to protect you? If you would want someone to defend you with the immediate means necessary, Christ's teachings require that you do the same for the unborn (according to your abilities and calling in life).
Don't deceive yourself; these children are your responsibility. Christ committed them into your care in the Second Great Commandment. Open your heart to them, spread your blanket over them, and own them as your own. Most of these children have been rejected by their parents; won't you adopt them as your own? Surely there is room in your heart for them.
Will you suffer when they suffer? Will you recoil as they do from the instruments used to dismember them? Rather than standing by as they are put to death, shouldn't we fight and kick for their lives as they do for their own?
Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). If we truly love our unborn neighbors, shouldn't we at least be willing to assert the duty to defend them?
On July 29, 1994, Dr. Ronald E. Graeser, the County Medical Examiner in Fremont, Michigan heard, with the rest of the nation, of my shooting Dr. Britton and his two escorts in Pensacola. Later that day, and in the days that followed, many Christians scrambled to save their reputations and ministries by denouncing the shootings. But Dr. Graeser risked his reputation, and possibly his livelihood, by signing a statement justifying what I had done. Dr. Graeser was not independently wealthy; he had college-aged children and a public position as a medical examiner. Some might say he threw it all away by justifying my actions.
News cameramen soon appeared at his doorstep, and thousands of television viewers saw Dr. Graeser uphold the duty to defend the unborn. This eventually resulted in his finding a new and better job, and joy unspeakable. We don't know how his stand affected everyone, but we do know how it affected one expectant mother who was planning to abort. She changed her mind. Dr. Graeser lost it all, and in doing so, he found it.
No one else was in a position to do as he did. Neither is anyone else in a position to do as you can. But everyone with a reputation, job, or family has been given that life that he might lose it.
Will you lose your life for Christ's little ones? If so, on that day, you will hear Him say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father. . . Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Not everyone should take up arms, but if you believe that abortion is lethal force, you should uphold the force needed to stop it.
List of Appendices
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