Difficulty with Duplicity

I’ve delayed writing this post,  because it just isn’t normally the sort of post I write. So, the fact that Scott Roeder was convicted of murder for gunning down a physician who performed abortions is slightly beyond being yesterday’s news. So old, in fact, that most have likely forgotten the incident altogether, as we typically do after a few too many headlines in a given day. Be that as it may, however, I have a reaction that I feel needs to be said.

That reaction is: I have a difficult time with duplicity.

Roeder acted under what he apparently felt was a duty to protect children unable to defend themselves. In Roeder’s eyes, he was murdering to prevent murder. Somehow, that seemed okay to him…it seemed to work out in his mind. Add his name to the list of those who have murdered in the name of God.

I really don’t think that God is too happy about that.

This problem is symptomatic of (not only) American Christians who become zealously motivated toward a cause without stopping to think it through, without bothering to see problems of duplicity. The Christian Scriptures give a clear commandment…one of the Ten with which even most individuals not following the Christian faith are familiar: “You shall not murder.” Its in Exodus 20:13. Its rather self-explanatory in my mind. We’re not to take another’s life.

Now, different theologians debate the exact nuance of the Hebrew word, here. Some believe it means that taking another human life is always out of the question, others believe that only doing so preemptively is wrong, and that acting in self-defense is okay. That’s not honestly a debate I want to have here, because its not entirely applicable. Roeder took the life of Dr. Tiller,  apparently believing Dr. Tiller to be a mass murderer because of the late-term abortions he performed.

My issue: I missed the part where that makes killing him okay. And therein lies the duplicity: “you shall not murder,” an injunction that some recognize at Divine in origin, but certainly one that has became a societal norm whatever your belief, makes it wrong to kill. What the individual has done is not at issue in that phrase. If one has faith in God and follows the Christian Scriptures, there are other parts of the Scriptures indicating that God will take care of the wrongs of individuals. Nowhere does it become our responsibility to take someone’s life in order to expedite that process.

I am Christian by faith. My personal opinion is that the late-term abortion procedure Dr. Tiller performed in his medical practice is abhorrent and barbaric. The faith that leads me to believe this, however, tells me that Roeder’s murder of Tiller was just as abhorrent and barbaric. That same faith tells me that going to war with another country for vengeance and oil control is just as abhorrent and barbaric. This is all the same logic, that I derive from the same statement: “You shall not murder.”

Depending on who you ask, that makes me a pacifist, naive, short sighted, ideological, or any number of other things. I’m not into the labels. I just know that it is wrong to take the life of another human being. We don’t have that right. To assume that we, for any reason, are entitled to murder another human being is to play God.

It seems to me that we are extremely underqualified.

1 Comment

  1. Thoughtful point. I don’t find pejorative in “pacifist.” And I don’t find it a determinative attribute for friendship.

    I disagree only with the premise that any recent US war is over oil control. Even if Iraq were colonized, it’d account for a only fraction of our oil. That’s like saying we’re in Afghanistan for the opium.

    It wasn’t about oil when planes attacked on 9-11. It hasn’t been about oil, since 1948, when we and other Western Nations supported the reinstatement of a modern Hebrew state.

    The choice for our leaders–one that’s already graying Obama’s hair–is whether to allow the unstoppable terrorist attacks to occur on our soil to innocents or on their soil against our trained defenders.

    I wish that killing didn’t have to be a part of that–that we could just play bluff chess like we did in the Cold War. For the Bible to be true, and for his blessing to fall on us as a supporter of his chosen people, death will unfortunately be a constant we cannot avoid.

    The same God who commanded not to kill, told Hebrew leaders in the OT to practice theology-sorted genocide. It’s an enigma that can’t be fully solved this side of eternity’s omniscience. So, I can appreciate your thoughtful, erudite wrestling.

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