Off-the-cuff thoughts after reading comments on a Doug Wilson post on the Tiller murder

I’m in the middle of writing this response when I remember there is a character-count restriction… So I’ll just do it here:

A few observations:

  • A random murder of someone who makes a living killing children is not defense or protection unless that stops or at least has a chance of stopping the killing (leaving aside whether such an act is allowable). This wasn’t defense of anything; it was vengeance.
  • Romans doesn’t really have any chapter or verse breaks so:

    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

    So if defense and protection are not motives, then we are left with vengeance, which is addressed here by God.

  • In a war, one allows others to die all the time.  The enemy attacks your people somewhere and you have to decide whether this is where you should take a stand.  One never sends out soldiers to find bad guys wherever they want and shoot at them.  There is nothing about the “culture war” that makes what happened right.  It was insane.
  • A random killing of someone who ought to be executed does nothing to change (either as in improve or replace) the government that protects him and rules you.  So whether or not it is lawful to use force to do those things is a distraction.  This was just murder.  The American War for Independence is in a different catagory.
  • In many societies aspects of justice are/have been more of a private sector phenomenon.  But they always involved the cooperation or even participation of the wider society.  Has any society been changed for the better by a random act of violence?  Does society just fall into line with the lone gunman’s value system when he decides to innovate in the private sector?  If such an attempt is not covered in Romans 12-13 above, then what is?
  • Reading about colonial America leading up to the Revolutionary War, one finds a system where the able-bodied men who constituted the police force would protect the community by unified action, involving property damage and somewhat brutal tarring and feathering.  These actions were remarkably non-lethal.  They don’t seem anything like a rogue killer who decides to pick one guy because he happens to be notorious.
  • The entire legal culture of past resistance and pressure for independence is entirely missing: no unified culture, no identifiable geography, no established government systems that could independently govern.  There will never be any struggle for independence like before.  So not only is there no reason to bring such history up when discussing a vigilante killing, there is never any reason for anyone in North America to bring up such history for any strategic reason at all.  Won’t happen because it can’t happen.  Like you can’t wave your arms and fly to the moon.  The only thing to do will be to watch the system self-destruct and pray and work to survive the destruction.
  • As things get worse, there will be riots and other forms of civil disobedience.  Those things should come from the fringe.  They should never come from the Church.  We are the ones who should be patient and wait.

OK, these were random thoughts, most of them having little to do with what anyone actually said.  My mind spun off in all sorts of directions.

I completely agree with pastor Wilson.  Lawless people tend to fight and kill one another. Tiller chose to live by the sword and he showed that it can lead to dying by the sword.  This was one zealot attacking another.

Since Tiller was one among many who will continue to commit abortions against babies, there’s really no purpose at all served by his death besides providing fodder for the pro-life movement’s enemies.  We’d be better off if he were alive and practicing.  To the extent that this can be used to further marginalize pro-life efforts, it could easily lead to more dead babies rather than fewer.

3 thoughts on “Off-the-cuff thoughts after reading comments on a Doug Wilson post on the Tiller murder

  1. pentamom

    I agree with everything but the last paragraph. If there’s one child who will live because his death created an inconvenience to his being murdered which is not somehow overcome, I find it hard to stomach the idea that “we’d be better off,” although I understand what you mean and I can see how God would have used Tiller’s continued practicing for good. Big pictures are important, but so are individual persons. I’m not sure you can pit one against the other and come up with a “this is better,” at least if you’re not God or His prophet.

  2. Paul Baxter

    No disagreements here, although I would add that the two relevant things I find christians instructed to do by the scriptures are to speak the truth and to patiently endure suffering. Unless God has placed one of us in some Esther-like position, our role is not to fix things, but, like Jeremiah, to weep.


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