Late-term abortion is despicable. Except for extremely rare circumstances, a baby at this stage is fully viable (it can survive outside the mother’s womb). An unborn child at this stage is a precious member of the human community who deserves our protection. Some people deny an embryo full human status because they say it doesn’t look human (this ignores the fact that an embryo looks exactly as a human being is supposed to look like at that stage of development). But the same reasoning cannot be applied to a baby in late term. It is obviously human.
Every clear thinking American—and in particular, Christians—ought to condemn the actions of Dr. Tiller. Taking the life of 60,000 precious unborn human persons is a grave wrong that we cannot, and must not, ignore. If we don’t speak out on behalf of these people, who will?
Why should we be so outraged at late-term abortions and the actions of Dr. Tiller? Ultimately, the answer is quite simple: it treats a human functionally rather than as a being with intrinsic value. In other words, the unborn is treated as an object and thus discarded because it is a costly inconvenience to the mother. We should be outraged when people are treated as objects rather than persons with intrinsic value. People should be loved, not used.
But before we get self-righteous and start thinking that Tiller got what he deserved, I wonder what Jesus would have to say to this issue. Would Jesus turn the critique around and use it as an opportunity to get us to examine our own hearts rather than be so quick to judge others? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made some startling statements that directly apply.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…. ‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5, NKJV).
In other words, it’s not just the act of murder or adultery that makes one guilty but the lustful and/or angry thought itself. While you and I have (likely) not performed a late-term abortion, I wonder if we have treated people functionally in the same way. This would seem to make use just as guilty (in the eyes of Jesus) as those who have actually performed the procedure. Let me ask a few questions that may help clarify:
Have you ever made fun of someone else? If so, you treated that person functionally. Have you ever treated someone differently because he or she was popular or had more money? If so, you treated that person functionally. Have you ever looked at pornography? If so, you were treating that person functionally, as an object. While these are not the same acts as late-term abortion, and don’t have as powerful of a consequence, they are in the same spirit (just as lust is of the same spirit as adultery).
Rather than taking this opportunity to condemn Dr. Tiller, implying that he got what he deserved, I think we should take a minute to look inward and ask ourselves if we have ever treated people functionally (I know that I have). In fact, it seems to me that this is exactly what Jesus would do. Determining whether or not Dr. Tiller got what he deserved is up to God, not us. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19).
In fact, if I read my Bible right, it seems to imply that all of us are deserving of death because we have rebelled against our creator. Romans 3:23 says, “We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That includes YOU and ME. As a result, Paul says “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Christians ought to be outspoken against atrocities such as partial-birth abortion, but we must not forget that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. Our hearts should be broken at how profoundly sin has infiltrated our world and lead to the death of both Dr. Tiller, and the 60,000 unborn precious human persons he aborted. We are no better than Dr. Tiller. It’s only when we truly grasp our own sinfulness, and the incredibly grace of God, that we can rightfully condemn such actions without hypocrisy.