Sunday, February 15, 2009
For the past couple of weeks this 'Sunday Sermon' series (each entry can be read by clicking on the label at the bottom of this post) has been focusing on Proverbs 6:16-19 which covers the six things that the Lord hates, and a 7th which is an abomination. The 3rd item in this list would be "hands that shed innocent blood" which is sadly ironic considering Friday night's murder of Philadelphia police officer John Pawlowski. Whether or not John's killer will end up spending an eternity in hell, whether anyone who takes an innocent human life will suffer that fate, is not for us to say or know. But one thing that Proverbs makes undeniably clear is that this murder of innocents is particularly detestable to God Himself. On Friday night, John Pawlowski was an innocent man. Perhaps more than that, he was working actively to try and help keep peace and order in his community. He was a police officer in an increasingly violent major American city that is itself ironically nicknamed 'The City of Brotherly Love'. It is a moniker that is no longer appropriate. John and his partner exited their police vehicle after being flagged down to handle a disturbance on the highway. While handling this dispute, one of the individuals involved reached into his own pocket and shot right through his jacket, killing John Pawlowski there and then. Innocent blood once again shed in one of the acts that God hates. Each year, hundreds and hundreds of Philadelphians are murdered in cold blood by their fellow citizens. Webster defines 'murder' as "unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought." Sometimes as a legal definition it has been divided into 'degrees' of murder based on the intent of the killer as well as other accompanying actions. But it is not only murder which sheds innocent blood. The taking of another life is, as a legal matter, usually acceptable to the larger society when that action comes in self-defense or in a justifiable military or police action. A police officer who kills someone that is trying to kill that officer or someone else is justified. A member of the military fighting in a war in defense of the overall freedom and liberty of others is justified. A regular citizen taking the life of someone who is actively attempting to take the life of that person is justified. There are times in each of those actions when the taking of life is not justified. Any time that any of those actions is taken and innocent blood is shed, this God hates. A military or police action that results in the death of someone truly innocent, what is sometimes referred to as 'collateral damage', is no different to God just because the intent of the actor did not involve killing those innocents. That isn't to say that the person acting in what most would deem to be a just manner, and who in doing so takes the life of an innocent by mistake or happenstance, will answer to God for that life in eternity. But it is nonetheless something that God hates, and it is something that we should always take the time to evaluate within our own conscience. There is no one on earth more innocent than a tiny child, one that has had no opportunity to commit evil. Yet the fact is that over 11 million Americans have had their innocent blood shed in the womb just since the turn of the century in the act of abortion. Hundreds of millions of Americans have been murdered in the womb since the SCOTUS decision of Roe vs. Wade legalized this type of killing. God does not distinguish using human terms such as 'legal' or 'moral', He is concerned with 'innocence', and there is no one more innocent than a baby in the womb. To take such a life, one that has done nothing wrong, one that is rarely threatening the life of the mother, may indeed be the most selfish and immoral act someone can take. It most certainly is the shedding of innocent blood, no matter how we might try to justify it in our own minds and to our own conscience. Catholic and most Christian morality speaks to the taking of innocent blood in the topics of murder, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide as always wrong. Certainly God sees all of these situations as resulting in the shedding of innocent blood, which He hates. Be it that of an innocent police officer just doing his job of protecting and serving others, or an innocent baby in the womb, God hates the shedding of innocent blood as much as He hates anything. NOTE: This series from Proverbs will continue with the 4th item as next week's entry in the 'Sunday Sermon' series.