It was as predictable as the whole case was tragic. Scott Roeder walked up to late-term abortionist George Tiller in church and executed him. All Roeder could do was try to get convicted of a lesser charge. All it took the jury was 37 minutes to conclude the obvious: Roeder acted in a premeditated and cold-blooded fashion.
True, Tiller was a murderer. He made a comfortable living murdering babies during late term abortions. But did that give Roeder moral authority to act unilaterally to save the lives of babies from Tiller’s abortuary? Are there parallels between Nazi state-sponsored killing and state-approved abortions? Is Roeder a modern day John Brown?
Probably yes to both.
But murder is not the answer. Nazism and slavery were ended when nations had enough and resorted to the morally lawful use of military force. Vigilantism is not the way. Executing Roeder before an entire congregation inflicted untold trauma on all who were there.
Then there is the question of God’s salvific plan for Tiller. Where was Tiller on the spiritual road? In the quiet of the night did his conscience prick him? Had he begun to weary of the tide of innocent blood rising around him? Might he have converted and become an ardent defender of life? Might such a conversion have accelerated Roe’s demise? Did Roeder short-circuit a grander plan, ultimately condemning far more babies to death in the final analysis?
We’ll never know this side of eternity.
But God loved George Tiller too. Jesus died for his sins as much as for Roeder’s and mine. God desired Tiller’s salvation as ardently as any other. That’s why we must always bear in mind that the end never justifies the means. We must employ just means toward just ends.
Roeder made the same mistake that Tiller made. He deconstructed the human identity and status of another in order to take his life.
Today nobody won in Kansas. Tiller’s family is without a husband and father. Babies continue to die. A misguided man will never see another day of freedom with his family. A congregation that witnessed a murder will never shake the experience. And an abortionist who might otherwise have converted, as so many have, was cut down before we’ll ever know.
It’s all so very, very sad.