Perhaps you are wondering: "Stephen, what do you mean and why ask this question?" Allow me to explain.
About a week ago I read a news article about Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old man from Kansas City, Missouri. Roeder has publicly admitted to reporters and the court that he killed Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider. The facts are clear: Roeder got up from a pew as a Sunday morning service began and walked to the foyer where Tiller and a fellow usher were chatting. Roeder put the barrel of a .22 caliber handgun to Tiller's forehead and pulled the trigger.
However, instead of pleading guilty to a murder charge, Roeder's lawyers are attempting to build a defense on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. Roeder affirms that his extreme actions were justified in order to save unborn children.
So, back to our question: "Should we murder murderers?" Specifically, should Mr. Roeder have murdered Dr. Tiller since he was assisting mothers in murdering their unborn children? From a Biblical perspective, the facts are also clear. Aborting children is wrong, period. Proverbs 6:17 tells us that God hates "hands that shed innocent blood." What is more innocent than a baby? Certainly God despised Dr. Tiller's inexcusable actions. However, was it right for Mr. Roeder to murder a murderer? No.
Consider Romans 12:17-21:
"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Roeder had no right to repay Tiller's evil upon himself. It would have been good and proper for Roeder to picket the abortion clinic, speak out against Tiller's abominable acts, and even rebuke him to his face, but Roeder had no right to murder the murderer! Instead of seeking his own way, he should have let the Lord take care of it. The all-knowing God is aware of every despicable act done under the guise of "women's choice." Sadly, Roeder attempted to overcome evil with evil and now has become what he despises--a murderer.
"But Stephen, if he's saving lives isn't it right to take extreme measures?" No, it's never right for an individual to take on a role that God has explicitly delegated to civil government here on Earth; that is, punishing evil doers. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 13:3,4). What Roeder did that Sunday morning was wrong, but our civil government has also done wrong for many decades now in allowing abortions to take place in America. The government authorities who allow doctors to murder unborn babies at the mother's request are partly to blame. If the civil authorities had executed wrath on evil doers like Tiller then perhaps Roeder would still be a free man today. Regardless, Roeder has no Biblical defense. Although the government failed to do its job in punishing wicked men like Tiller, Roeder should have waited for God's justice and not taken matters into his own hands. Friends, God is just and will avenge evil. May we never forget this or exceed our proper place.