The Restoration of Fatherhood
6 March 2006
The Restoration of Fatherhood
(Or Some Fresh Ideas for Promise Keepers)
INTRODUCTION AND DEDICATION
Ensconced in this small Christian town in southwestern Ohio, we have been enjoying a change in pace. Our annual March for Life, advertised on the courthouse lawn, drew about 50 people; absolutely no opposition. Shifting my efforts over to some prison ministry, I have been preaching repentance and holy living to the inmates. Indeed, what does a convict do when he is of a mind to repent and live an honorable and glorious life? And what works of repentance and justice might he perform during a holocaust? Hmm. (I am pleased to share the Gospel with any people group with no particular target group in mind, yet I find myself subconsciously drawn toward arsonists and demolitionists. But I digress.)
Anyway, I was distracted, just the other day, by another letter from Planned Parenthood about yet another deposition. Seems another Roe-worshiping judge has decided that I am not allowed to invoke the Fifth in the collection process as PP tries to get its $800,000 or so (reduced by the Ninth Circuit recently from $8 million) from me. Paul Weiss, Rifkin, and Wharton, the New York City firm doing PP’s legal work, want a deposition ASAP. (And this within two seeks of our filing with the Supreme Court of certiorari on this whole obscene case!) Well, here I am diverted from my prison work for the moment to dedicate some more sound thinking to our present national moral quagmire. (My! how the Lord does bring good out of evil.) Inspired by the harassment of PP’s esquires, I dedicate this essay to this decadent law firm with thanks to our Lord who brings about good according to his unfathomable wisdom.
A FATHER’S RIGHT: THE EXECUTION OF ABORTIONISTS
When justice for womb children is re-established and abortion is re-criminalized, the penalty thereafter for those who murder womb children will be the punishment of death. In the meantime, we have argued in defense of the use of lethal force to protect a womb child from death at the hands of an abortionist (see A Time to Kill, by Michael Bray, 1993, published by Advocates for Life Advocate Ministries, available at www.streetpreach.com). In a society so morally debased as ours has become, severed from its ties to Christian/common law, defenders of womb children have found themselves ostracized, criminalized and persecuted when they exercise the protective actions one would normally afford any innocent victim.
The replies to this simple thesis from ecclesiastical leadership, theologians, and anti-abortion politicians and activists have been shamefully absent, weak, or simply wrong.
We press on with dismay and yet with a touch of alacrity as we set forth another ethical principle responsive to the continuing Holocaust. The appalling dearth of apologists for defensive action (including justifiable homicide) brings discouragement but with this disappointment comes the opportunity to shine light in the darkness. For this privilege, we take a certain pleasure in shining forth bright truth in the midst of deep darkness.
The first time I spoke publicly on the matter of lethal force in defense of womb children was at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans in 1990. It was at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society where I delivered a paper entitled, “The Ethics of Operation Rescue.” Convenient for those attending the session, was the presentation of a paper by another theologian, Paul Feinberg, opposing the actions of Operation Rescue as lawless and inappropriate “civil disobedience.” My point was that the action of OR activists was higher than simple protest tactics. It was the true rescue of innocent people inasmuch as blockades served to directly postpone and even prevent the imminent deaths of womb children.
One member of the audience, following my application of defensive action principles to “anti-abortion activism,” logically asked whether, therefore, I must not necessarily permit maiming or killing the assailants of the womb child. To this question, I publicly gave my asseveration. The normal principles of defensive action apply in the case of the womb children because they are true children, true human beings. There were no further comments or questions. The abnormality is only an accident of our times when the abnormal toleration of abortion is regarded as normal.
Three years later following the first case of lethal defensive action performed by Michael Griffin in Pensacola when he shot Abortionist David Gunn, I was asked by Advocates for Life publisher Andrew Burnett to write a book examining the issue which had caused much discussion among activists who had been practicing “non-violent” sit-ins or blockades of abortuaries. Consequent interviews and much public attention drew pro-abortion FACE legislation and lawsuits along with debate among some activists and churches. On the other hand, many continued in their silence.
To date, I have spoken only of the legitimacy of the use of force for defensive (as distinguished from punitive) action. In summary, defensive action is permitted any citizen when he appropriates such in immediate defense of an innocent person as he is being assailed or under imminent threat by an aggressor. Now, in 2006, I want to address the use of lethal force not in defense of the innocent but for the punishment of the murderer. What role, if any, does the private citizen have in the execution of vengeance upon the murderer?
JUSTICE AND RETRIBUTION
In the particular capital crime of murder, God has required the death of the murderer. The very principle, the “image of God” in man, both prohibits murder and commands that the murderer be executed. Just as men are required to refrain from murder, they are required to execute those who commit murder.
As with all forms of injustice in the world, God, who loves justice, will bring judgment in due time and right all wrongs. Those wrongs of which we have knowledge but are unable to prove in court will not go unnoticed or un-addressed by God. Vengeance is His and He will repay and He delegates to human authorities the task of executing vengeance (Romans 13:4). That which escapes His earthly courts will not escape His Final Judgment Day. In this we can find some comfort and hope whenever we see wicked deeds go unpunished before our eyes. But this sad delay in justice does not leave us indifferent to it. We are to love and to seek justice.
Temperance of justice may be afforded the offender by the injured party in the case of civil wrongs; e.g., one may forgive a personal debt and thus extend godly grace. But the case of first degree murder is another matter. There is to be no mercy shown. No judge has the right to reduce the sentence to prison time or flogging or fine. Because human beings are created in the image of God, those who murder them must forfeit their lives (Gen. 9:6). There is no alternative for execution; no substitute for the blood of the murderer (Ex. 21:12,14; Deut. 19:4-13; Josh. 20; Num. 35:27-30). “You shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death” (Num. 35:31).
The question of duty arises. Who is responsible to see that the guilty one is executed? In civilizations with developed legal systems, the answer may seem to require no thought: police, prosecutors, jails, courts, prisons, and electric chairs all compose modern justice systems so that responsibility never is in question. But in ruder or simpler societies, the question of duty might be less obvious. Tribal Israel was informed by the Law of Moses that the “avenger of blood” (goel ha-dam) was responsible for administering the justice. In a murder case this “avenger” is traditionally understood to be the nearest male kinsman of the victim though some scholars have argued that he may be a representative of the elders of the city, an official of government.
On the assumption that the duty of executing murderers resides with civil authorities whenever they are functioning legitimately as just authorities, what happens when such authorities flagrantly fail to carry out justice? When is “vigilante justice” tolerable?
This theme is popular in literature and the cinema. Gresham’s A Time to Kill featured the drama of a father sitting by as a court was poised to slap the wrists of two men who had raped and murdered his daughter. No reader or movie watcher reacted against the execution of the two men by the father when he grabbed the rifle from the sheriff on duty and blew away the two murderer rapists in the court room. Justice was served; it was only for the court to bless it after the fact when the jury acquitted the avenger of blood. One could find countless examples in popular literature from Homer to Shakespeare to Dirty Harry. And even in those instances of popularly accepted vigilante justice, it is not even so grievous a crime as murder for which retribution is countenanced. Ulysses executed the suitors of Portia for insolence: hardly a capital offense. And Hamlet took vengeance on his uncle on the basis of quite crude evidence: the testimony of a nocturnal visit from a shade.
So what if, in such a matter of murder, surviving kinsmen took it as their responsibility to see that just vengeance was executed upon the murderer of their relative regardless of the hand by whom the death blow should be rendered? And upon the failure of the authorities to execute the murderer, what if the obliged kinsmen believed it their duty to do what the civil authorities were derelict in performance?
A PERSONAL CHOICE
I shall personalize the matter. I am the husband of one wife and the father of two sons and nine daughters. I live in a society of state and federal governments which permits the murder of womb children. Moreover this society appropriates public funds to promote murder and even to pay murderers to murder these children. This federal government has deployed its FBI and federal marshals to protect the practice of this form of murder. It has prosecuted and jailed those who have acted to protect the innocent children. It has passed laws which facilitate litigation by abortion practitioners against those who speak out for and protect the womb children. Under these conditions, should my wife’s moral and sensibilities and mental faculties fail to the point that she would ever seek an abortion, I cannot count on this government to protect my child or to punish those who would kill him. The same would be the case were my daughters to fall into such moral failure. My children and grand children would not be protected by this government; nor would justice be served upon those guilty of the crime.
Therefore I declare as follows: I would not allow the murder of my children or grandchildren to go unpunished. As this government would not bring just vengeance against the murderers of my children, I would assume this duty, the right of a kinsman, and personally execute them.
It is, of course, highly improbable that such a situation should arise. My wife and children all know right from wrong as defined by the Scriptures. They know the difference between a baby and puppy. They understand that God abominates murder. But it as also true that all human beings are capable of being deceived and committing great evil. Should any of my children, by human frailty and confusion, ever commit such an atrocity, I would personally opt not to assume any obligation to execute them, but judge them to have suffered a type of “temporary insanity.” I would limit my obligation as an “avenger of blood” solely to bringing about the execution of the hired murderer of my child or grandchild.
At present I have a wife and, among our eleven children, three sub debutante daughters in Wilmington, Ohio with me along with one adult daughter recently graduated from college, another daughter in D.C and an adult son in Georgia. (Yes, there are yet sub-teenagers who will enter that danger zone in due time.) It has occurred to me that I ought, somehow as fair warning, to publicize to practicing abortionists my intent to take vengeance upon them should they in the course of their ill-chosen profession up happen on the misfortune of choosing to murder one of my children or grandchildren. However, in the present irrational legal climate such a fair, philanthropic warning would more likely be taken as a criminal threat!
It seems best, then, to simply make this essay available for interested and concerned readers and for Providence to use as a kind warning to some, an education for others, and a defense for myself. Perhaps, from time to time, I shall update the locations of my children as they scatter, seeking their fortunes, to cities throughout the world.
HOPING ALWAYS FOR REVIVAL
The last word from the Old Testament is one of great expectation of messianic intrusion into the affairs of mankind. It contemplates the comings of the messiah, both his first and his second advent, “that great and terrible day of the Lord,” and, perhaps any other “comings’ in between. His “comings” are manifested in revival of his people from time to time. In our own national history, the two Great Awakenings come to mind, each preceding and providing the energy needed to conduct the great wars (the Revolutionary and the War Between the States). The very last verse speaks of the spirit of Elijah, the same spirit which energized John the Baptist. That “spirit” comes to “restore the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” to the end that God does not bring severe judgment.
May fathers rise to the task of loving and protecting their children and thus turn our nation from the calamity and destruction it is facing. May they make and keep the promise to love and protect their children.