In a week of breaking news coming at us like a whirlwind, none is more important to me today than the verdict reached yesterday in the Kermit Gosnell trial. The jury did its duty, which was by no means a guarantee. Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter, and a couple hundred other counts dealing with the breaking of Pennsylvania laws regarding late-term abortions and other matters.
We now come to the sentencing portion. Will he get the death penalty? Keep in mind that those three counts of first-degree murder were only the ones that were formally prosecuted. Gosnell has operated his “clinic” since the 1970s. His horrific practices—killing children after they were born—is something that has been going on for years. Frankly, this makes him one of the greatest mass murderers in American history.
Christians who shy away from endorsing the death penalty have a misunderstanding of Biblical justice. The New Testament doesn’t change the principle established in the Old. The most sacred gift God has given is the gift of life. When another human being takes away that gift arbitrarily, without any good reason, he has broken a barrier that God Himself set up. Civil government, in its job of meting out civil justice, has an obligation to take the lives of those who have crossed that line. This is not contradictory; there is a clear distinction between the murderous acts of individuals and the responsibility of governments to bring someone to account for those acts.
So, yes, I favor the death penalty in this case. There are no genuine mitigating circumstances. This man is monstrous, and an example needs to be set.
Some commentators yesterday surmised that this might change the course of the abortion discussion in America and make people less accepting of it, after having witnessed the barbarity of Gosnell’s practices. I hope so, but I’m not yet convinced. The Gosnell case can serve a valuable public service if we are open to learning from it, but never underestimate the desire of people to simply avoid the issue and continue on as before.
This also points to the moral dichotomy that exists in the minds of our citizens. On the one hand, we are disgusted and sickened by the infanticide portrayed via Gosnell; on the other hand, if those babies’ lives had been terminated prior to leaving the womb, many would find no problem at all with it.
The only difference between the life of the baby in the womb and the life of the baby recently emerged from the womb is only a matter of inches. Both lives are equally sacred. Both are innocent. Both deserve the protection of society.
Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, more than 55 million American children have been slaughtered. This is truly one of the greatest holocausts in human history. War is horrible, but just compare the loss of American lives in all our wars with the number who have lost their lives through abortion. This pictorial illustration should make it clear:
So tell me, which one should concern us more?
If the jury decides on anything less than the death penalty for Gosnell, justice will have been short-circuited. Righteousness will have been diminished. What of mercy, you say? How merciful was Gosnell toward those innocent children? God extends mercy when man has a repentant heart. Gosnell is unbowed in his arrogance. He is a man with a seared conscience. He needs to serve as a testimony that this culture hasn’t turned its back completely on a clear understanding of good and evil.
I’m continually reminded of this short passage in the book of Isaiah:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. . . ; who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right.
Evil has been clearly identified here. Darkness has been exposed. May the rights of the unborn be restored in our day.