Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There's a big difference between dying for a cause and killing for a cause

Last week, an abortion doctor was killed while passing out bulletins in his Lutheran church when an anti-abortion activist shot him.

Today, a security guard at the Holocaust museum was killed on duty when a white supremacist shot him.

I find both murders appalling. They are different events, of course, but they seem related. According to Washington Post press coverage, a reporter also linked these two events, asking the White House if they are concerned about "political violence or domestic terrorism."

I was curious to see if anyone would pick up on the word terrorism to describe these murders. It's a loaded term, for sure, but I'm glad it isn't only reserved for Muslim foreigners or people of Middle-Eastern descent. Here's terrorism, as defined by that reliable source, wikipedia,

Terrorism is a policy or ideology of violence intended to intimidate or cause terror for the purpose of "exerting pressure on decision making by state bodies." The term "terror" is largely used to indicate clandestine, low-intensity violence that targets civilians and generates public fear.

Here's a different definition of a terrorist: a person willing to kill for a social or political ideal. This is decidedly anti-christian, because we are, by definition, people who claim a willingness to DIE for our beliefs, not kill for them. (If you're wondering when we do this, we do this when we pledge to follow Jesus, knowing that means we follow him to the cross.)

Of course, the waters muddy. One of our Lutheran heroes, Detrich Bonhoeffer, made a tortured decision to try to kill Hitler in order to stop him. He failed and he was killed in a concentration camp.

Ethics classes around the world analyze Bonhoeffer's decision and most (at least the ones I've been in) find him to be a saint and justify his actions as the best possible choice to stop the murders. Those communities also acknowledge that the holocaust was a real, evil, and horrendous chapter in history. I'm betting those folks in the world who deny the holocaust aren't making Bonhoeffer a hero.

I can't imagine the white supremacist can come up with any good way to convince any but the most hateful people that his murder was justified. But I can see the abortionist murderer using Bonhoeffer-esque logic to justify his actions. and if we all agreed that abortion was as horrendous as the Holocaust (and some people feel this way), would his action be justified? I don't think we can put abortion on par with the Holocaust, I'm just trying to point out that anytime you are called to kill for a cause, it gets thorny fast.

When my head starts to hurt about things like this, I look for simple answers. Do you think it would work to just get rid of all the guns????


  1. Alright, so I'm having a late lunch after being in conference. I decide to see the church website my of POP, and decide that it might be nice to check out the blog for giggles.

    Just for discussions sake, I would say that the murder at the Holocaust Museum was not justified. I would say the murder of the abortionist was not justified. However, there are different reasons for both not being justified.

    The murderer at the Holocaust Museum cannot really claim any moral, virtuous high ground and misuse that ground and therefore corrupt a legitimate, holy point of view. This murder was simple hate...hate of Jews, hate of Bush, hate of the state...etc. Just hate. As I understand it, he had no virtue upon which he was hanging his hat.

    The other murder is more problematic. It is a problem not in the sense that one cannot declare the murder of Dr. Tiller unjustified on its face. That murder should be called unjustified and has been by the pro-life community. The problem is that this murderer ends up bringing scandal upon a real good...the preserving of the sanctity of human life in all its stages of development, from conception to death. From a Christian perspective, that murder not only denies the sanctity of human life which is absolute; but it also denies the possibility of Redemption which Dr. Tiller desperately needed. It is not for anyone to decide the final judgment upon another. That is for God.

    The irony is that in Dr. Tiller's case, he who did not honor the sacredness of the temple of God found in the unborn was shot down by one who did not honor the temple of God that was Dr. Tiller. The law of the harvest was at work in that murder. Not so with the murder at the Holocaust Museum.

    Just some thought.

  2. You asked: "Do you think it would work to just get rid of all the guns????"

    I don't think it would. After all, what did Cain kill Abel with? There were no guns.

    Sadly, I think there will always be murderers in this world. Take away all guns and a murderer will find other means.

    A heart that follows Jesus is not full of violence and rage. Sadly, not everyone follows Jesus.

    Just my thoughts.


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