“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.””
(Romans 12:19 ESV)
I remember it like it was yesterday: a dark snowy day darkened when the officer seated in his car, scouring the sidewalk for someone to make an example of, took action. Without a word, he got out his car, approached David H., a friend of mine, and arrested him. And what crime afforded David a ride downtown and a series of legal battles that has spanned the last several years? Well, the answer differs depending on who you ask.
The official report of the incident has been summarized in a recent new article, stating that David, “a former semi-pro basketball player” (doubtlessly a necessary detail to slant the story), pushed a clinic escort, leaving a pair of bruises on her arm. Yet, the story makes clear that the only reason that David could do such a terrible thing is because of his relentless determination to “confront a woman before she entered [the abortion clinic].” All the clinic escort was guilty of was showing compassion to the client by standing in his line of fire. If it were not for the escort, the story intimates, that violence could very well have belonged to the woman walking in for the abortion. In the end, the abortion clinic escort is a hero of sorts, or so we are told. But is that how the story really goes?
I have known David for a number of years, and the thought of him getting violent flies in the face of everything I’ve ever known about him. I’ll never forget the kind of things he would say to women walking in the abortion clinic, describing the depth of his concern and care for them. Words like, “We care about you,” or, “We are here for you,” resounded from David week after week. Relentless? Indeed. But his resilience was to display the love of Christ in restraining evil, and making the gospel known to those in need. What was clear that morning was that the police officer came to the clinic for one reason, and one reason alone: to make an example of a pro-life protester, showing that any degree of public disturbance would not be tolerated. I watched him as he sat in his car, eagerly looking for the first one to slip. Unfortunately, that was David.
I can tell you as one standing right there, these charges always have been, and still are, bogus. But, in our system of “justice,” that is increasingly hostile to obedience to the law of Christ, the ground for righteous living is slowly shrinking beneath our feet. Speaking out for the weak and helpless in our society is a criminal offense. Standing on biblical principles is damnable. Freedom of religion is fine as long as your freedom does not make a moral judgment on another. We are told to “coexist” with all. But that is not how biblical Christianity began, and certainly not how the gospel has spread. There are volumes in libraries that recount the persecution of those entrusted with the gospel, many of whom gave their lives to further its reaches. In the eyes of the world, these fools gave their lives for an even more foolish cause. But God would care to disagree with their assessment.
The Bible makes clear that there will be trials for Christians in this life (John 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12), but these troubles are not the final word. Rather, God has said that there is day a judgment, where all the wrongs in this life will be made right; all injustice will be met with recompense. Though David is required to pay the wicked to bring an end to this trial, there is a day coming where God himself will be the one to pay everyone according to their works. And for the unrepentant who stand against his redeemed people, that day will be a day of wrath, and ultimately, of the true justice of God.