Gosnell and Us: Reframing the Story
The world is finally hearing more about Kermit Gosnell, the man who was recently found guilty of 258 charges – including murder, infanticide, and racketeering, among other crimes – while his Philadelphia “house of horrors” (aka an abortion clinic) was in operation. Many of us have been horrified by the pictures and videos that the news media has released in the last couple of weeks since Gosnell’s conviction. This man was a murderer, a liar, and one of the greediest people who has captured nationwide attention in a long time.
Kermit Gosnell was a sinner, through and through. And why did he do what he did? Why did he kill children? Why did he routinely hide the fact that he had injured a patient while trying to deliver her baby to kill it, in order to avoid a lawsuit? Why did he care more about money than human life? Why?
The Bible has an answer to that question. James says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel (James 4.1-2a).” In a word, Gosnell was driven by his own desires, and it led to all manner of sin.
The Bible has a lot to say about his behavior itself, too… more than I can write in one post. Here’s a sampling, though: About murder, the Bible says, “You shall not murder (Exodus 20.13)”, and “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3.15).” About greed, the Bible says, “For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD (Psalm 10.3).” About caring more for oneself than others, the Bible says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2.3-4).”
And here’s the staggering thing about those verses: if we’re honest, we can see ourselves in these words. We all often find ourselves driven by our own passions, hating our brother, greedy for gain, and prideful, looking only to our own interests. Am I right? This is who Kermit Gosnell is, and this is who we are. Not only that, but we have a holy, holy, holy God who is unspeakably angry because of our sin. He can’t have it in His presence. He is horrified by our sin, infinitely moreso than we are horrified by what Gosnell did. And the Bible says that this holy God will judge us according to our deeds (1 Peter 1.17).
Kermit Gosnell recently stood trial for what he had done, and so, we have a small picture of what it will be like to stand before the judgment seat of our holy God someday.
Picture this: what if, just as the judge was about to slam his gavel and pronounce Gosnell’s sentence for everyone to hear, a man burst into the courtroom and shouted, “Stop! I’ll take his sentence! I’ll take life in prison! I’ll take the chains! I’ll take the guilt, and the pain, and the hopelessness! Give it all to me, and let this man go free!” What an utterly shocking display of love that would have been! One man, who had had nothing to do with the matter, allowing himself to be treated as Kermit Gosnell? Amazing! And yet, that is a picture of what has happened to those of us who were in Christ! “The LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53.6)”, and “gave us the right to become children of God (John 1.12)”! He has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1.3)”! “Through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2.18)”!
You see, the Bible says that Gosnell is really not very different from you and I. But it also says that we, like Gosnell, have a hope, and that hope is found in Jesus Christ alone. We ought not say, when we look at Gosnell, “Look! What a horrible sinner!”, as if we are any better than him. We ought to say, “Look! A sinner like me!”
But we shouldn’t stop there. The real point is this: we, not just Gosnell, need Jesus. Even if we’ve trusted Christ, we are still in need of His grace. And so, Gosnell’s story reminds us again that the only hope we have as sinners is to run to the One who “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7.25).”