Death penalizes us all

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

By Rev. Chris Surber

The sanctioned death of even one innocent life enslaves us all. Every society-sanctioned murder is a dagger to the soul of that society. When we as a people sanction the taking of human life, we commit individual murder and social suicide. This is always true in every case.

It is always true of abortion. I am very pleased that former abortionist Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of murder for his heinous crimes against innocent babies.


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But what about an abortion clinic up the street? Are they less guilty just because they follow legal practices more closely and less vilely? Is there a clean way to murder a baby and desecrate the womb? What about the mothers and the people who supported their decision to destroy the life in their womb?

Are they not all complicit in the murder of these children? If I hire someone to kill another human being and I am found out, I will be charged as an accessory to murder and go to jail.

As a society that supports and allows legal abortion, we are all complicit in the murder of these innocent children ripped from their mothers’ wombs. We are no less complicit in the murder of even this despicable man who has committed such ugliness if we support and applaud a sentence of death for him.

It is always true of the death penalty. Putting Gosnell to death will not end abortion or even make its practice more palatable. It will merely continue feeding a culture with a Romanesque bloodlust.

Our societal love affair with death should concern Christian believers and nonbelievers alike. Death rules like a shadow regime in our culture, manipulating our choices and poisoning our souls.

Particularly for Christians though, if we believe in redemption, should we not greatly prefer to see Gosnell in prison, rather than in the grave? Should we not pray that a chaplain or another inmate may have the opportunity to lead him to saving faith in Jesus Christ?

Or have we become like the Pharisees, convinced that the sins of others are far worse than our own, since we are keepers of the law?

While some sins, like those of Gosnell, seem particularly atrocious to us, the degree of sinfulness of any act is not measured in contrast to other sins. It is measured in contrast to the beauty and holiness of God.

Compared to the holiness of God, all of our sins are equally filthy and denigrating to the worth of the One who created us to reflect His beauty. (James 2:10)

We all deserve the death penalty because of sin, but Jesus came to offer eternal life beyond this life and super-abundant life now. Apart from Jesus’ love, we are all enemies of God.

“For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.” (Romans 5:10 NLT)

I’m praying that Gosnell may find life in Jesus Christ, who took the death penalty for us. (Matthew 11:28, John 3:16-17) God is the author of life. If you follow Him, life is a book that you must learn to love to read. Death penalizes us all.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at