Volume 9, Issue 54: Disputatio
Life and Defending Life
A Long Letter From Paul Hill
Your Credenda/Agenda article "Moving Beyond 'Pro-Life'" (vol. 8, no. 5) broached issues upon which the life and death of untold millions depend. I agree with much of the article and appreciate your willingness to consider my efforts to clarify the issues in question.Your position was summarized succinctly:
Our duty in providing a faithful testimony has three parts. First, we must continue to preach the gospel of forgiveness. We provide faithful testimony as we preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15). Part of this includes the insistence that abortion is murder. In this way, every Christian must be consistently pro-life. Second, we must flee when we are persecuted, if flight is possible (Matt. 10:23). Third, we must take up arms to defend God's covenant children (Neh. 4:14). But we may not use violence until they come after our children. We ought not take up arms to overthrow the established authorities or to defend the lives of Molech worshippers and their children.
Your first point is well received. Abortion must be exposed as murder from God's law. And to be consistently believable we must also act as though abortion is murder by resisting it as God's law requires. The sixth commandment not only forbids murder but also requires using the means necessary to defend against murder - including lethal force.
It is well known that lethal force may be resisted with force. If a child has a right to life who will deny that those charged with the child's care have a right to defend him? You affirm this truth under your third point, "we must take up arms to defend God's covenant children." However, shouldn't this protection be extended beyond those in the covenant?
Surely, the whole point of the good Samaritan is that the duties of the second great commandment (not excluding the use of defensive force) apply to all our fellow men and not just those in covenant with us. The position that unbelievers should be protected from the elements by clothing them but not from assailants by defending them is inconsistent. If the commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, and if the Bible's definition of neighbor includes non-Christians, then you must love your non-Christian neighbor as yourself.
But not only must believers and unbelievers be defended similarly, this duty is inalienable and must be performed though men forbid it. The first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," requires that the obedience demanded by God, in this case the defense of children, be rendered in spite of human prohibition. Otherwise, men would be obeyed rather than God (Acts 5:29b). Thus, to neglect the protection of your unborn neighbor in deference to men is to enthrone vile men above God by prostrating yourself in the blood of the unborn.
The belief that God has endowed men with inalienable rights is also fundamental to all democratic governments. Such governments are based on individuals joining together to have their rights recognized (especially the right to defend life). Thus, if individuals deny they have a prior right to defend life, they have no basis for expecting the government to exercise this right on their behalf by making abortion illegal.
This leads to your third point.You rightly distinguish between using arms to defend individuals and using arms to overthrow a government. If someone defends his child contrary to the law it doesn't necessarily mean he is trying to overthrow the government. Overthrowing a government requires appointed leaders and an organized force, but defending your child doesn't.
Many who oppose individual defense confuse it with corporate defense and claim it requires the leadership needed in corporate defense; but official approval isn't needed for you to protect you child. When oppressive authorities require such a sinful omission the individual may not shirk his duty to God in the hope that eventually the government will change and he will be given permission to obey God. Rather, the imposition of any degree of any sin must be resisted utterly and at once.
This brings to view your point about fleeing when flight is possible. You rightly support this tactic from Matthew 10:23, "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another." In this instance, as well as after Pentecost, several things should be noted about the apostolic response to a prohibition to obey God's commands. First, they immediately asserted their rights and never stopped doing so. Some fled from city to city, but they continually obeyed God by saving others as they went. It is equally instructive to notice what they did not do. When forbidden to save people they didn't comply and hope that educational and legislative means would someday make it legal. Neither did they just save those in the covenant. Nor was their intent to overthrow the government; they just obeyed God by standing for the truth and saved as many people as possible. Their bold stand brought persecution; but this gave credence to their position and ultimately persuaded the government to legalize their efforts.
If they had responded to the prohibition to save souls as we have to the prohibition to save lives, they would have been as successful as we have been; but they saved others as they would have wanted to be saved and God blessed their efforts. And while many fled, many did not; nor did they flee from their duty in fear.
Leviticus 26:36-37 shows that the blindness of heart and fear that causes God's people to flee before their enemies is a curse God places on them for neglecting His commands. Therefore, our response to the prohibition to save lives should be similar to the fearless apostolic response to the prohibition to save souls.
The cutting edge of Satan's current attack is the abortionist's knife. To scorn the duty to repel this lethal force with force is to evade both the first and the second great commandments by not defending your neighbor as yourself in disobedience to God. Therefore, to disdain God's means for preventing murder is to cut the heart from the gospel by failing to join faith with good works. To persist in this neglect is to continually expose both Christ's name and those made in His image to defilement. The solution is to show your faith in God's word by repenting of this neglect.
The abortion plague is many times more horrible than the AIDS plague; however, the marvelous news is that God's cure is finally coming to light. The key to successfully making abortion illegal is for the people to assert their right to defend life so the government will do so on their behalf. News of the cure must be proclaimed throughout the world. Praise God for His deliverance and shout the good news.
Doug Wilson replies:
In ordinary circumstances, when a person is attacked he may defend himself, or a defender may step in on his behalf. When the magistrate is doing what God requires, acting as God's deacon of justice, that magistrate would be willing to deputize those citizens who are on the scene of an assault, those in a position to render assistance. This is the case whether or not the magistrate acknowledges Christ, or whether the intended victim acknowledges Christ. In such circumstances the pattern set in Christ's parable of the good Samaritan certainly applies. To stand idly by when the life or property of another is assaulted is a gross sin of omission.
However, we are not in an ordinary circumstance, as much as most Christians want to believe that we are. We live in a time when the bloodthirsty have captured the shell of what used to be a republic, and have established a throne of iniquity. They have done what all such devourers have done in that position, which is to frame mischief by a law. Far from deputizing those who would defend the unborn, they signal their rebellion by doing just the opposite. To assume the role of a deputy when the magistrate has denied it to you, is in principle an act of war.
"Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with Thee, which frames mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. But the Lord is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge. And He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yes, the Lord our God shall cut them off" (Ps. 94:20-23). The psalmist refers to the autonomous rebellion of magistrates who set up a throne of iniquity. We have that, as you know. They then make their impudence legal, and get the nation's court system to impose it. They begin to persecute the righteous, and they condemn innocent blood. Here again we see modern America. But the psalmist takes this fact in a different direction than you have. He not only announces his confidence that the Lord will be his shield, he also proclaims that God will visit their bloodthirstiness upon them; the living God will cut them off. The biblical response to such institutionalized wickedness is a curse from the godly - not armed intervention from the godly in a vain attempt to keep God from cutting them off. Pro-life advocates have too often spoken as though abortion will result in God's terrible judgment on our nation. Our position is that abortion-on-demand is God's judgment. If God has determined to strike these people with madness concerning their little ones, we must not step in to correct Him.
We know that idolaters are cursed to the third and fourth generations. This remains as true today as it was three thousand years ago. God in His wrath is currently visiting a suicidal frenzy upon those who hate Him. As Christians we are not without natural affection, as these people clearly are, and so what they are doing fills us with horror. But God is destroying His enemies in accordance with the psalms we sing. It is our duty to stand back, with fear and trembling, and watch His terrible judgments.