Question: The papers have recently quoted several Christian leaders justifying from Scripture the murders of abortionists, such as those by John Salvi. They claim that taking a life in order to save innocent lives is a biblical principle. What do you think?
Response: Bible truth is not understood by isolating one verse, but by taking the Bible as a whole. For example, although the Bible commands us not to “bear false witness” (Ex 20:16; Mt 19:18, etc.), yet Rahab the harlot was commended for telling a lie that saved the lives of the two spies Joshua had sent (Jos:2:4-6). God blessed her for her faith in Him (Jos:6:17, etc.). This is not “situational ethics” but common sense and faithfulness on the side of righteousness established as a biblical principle.
Likewise, the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex 20:13), does not prohibit all taking of life. Christ explained that it means, “thou shalt do no murder” (Mt 19:18). The entire Old Testament indicates that taking up arms in self-defense or to possess the promised land and to protect the people of God does not violate the commandment not to kill because to do so is not murder.
As for today, Romans:13:1-4 reminds us that civil rulers in enforcing upon their citizens God’s moral laws (which are written in every conscience - Rom:2:14-15) are authorized of God to use the sword. Surely a policeman who is forced to shoot someone in order to save the lives of hostages being threatened with death is acting within the Scriptures. Likewise, a citizen could do the same as a de facto agent of the authorities acting in the interests of civil order and safety.
Then what about abortion foes killing a doctor to prevent him from murdering babies in the womb? The leaders of the pro-life movement do not believe such killings are justified by Scripture—and they are correct. Anyone joining Operation Rescue, for example, must pledge to be scrupulously nonviolent “in word and in deed.” There are a number of reasons why such killings are in fact murders and are thus prohibited by Scripture.
The obvious primary reason is that taking an abortionist’s life does not save any lives. Abortion, though wrong, is protected by civil law and there are always more doctors who will carry on this “legal procedure” in the place of those removed. It is therefore a senseless killing, and thus murder, to shoot an abortionist—and even more so to kill a receptionist and shoot indiscriminately at innocent bystanders as John Salvi did.
If an abortionist (or group of them) were aborting babies against the will of the pregnant mothers and the only way to stop the slaughter was to forcibly prevent him (or them), that action would be justified. Such, however, is not the case. The primary guilt for abortion does not lie with the doctors performing the operation but with the pregnant women demanding the murders in their wombs. The major accessory to the crime is the government which legalizes these murders.
Obviously, abortion cannot be stopped by violent means. Doctors are replaceable, and violence against the patient would kill the baby. Biblically, the only viable opposition is to preach against abortion, provide public information and warnings concerning the fact that abortion of one’s baby is murder and will be judged by God as such; and to offer biblical counsel and alternatives to pregnant women.