Where is Telemachus when we need him?
Are you wondering just who is Telemachus? The following story that comes from the dark days of the ancient Roman uncivilization (emphasis intended) will introduce you to the greatest, most courageous pro-life advocate I have heard about—Telemachus.
Telemachus was a monk who lived in a 4th century, cloistered monastery—that means that the monk lived an isolated life until one day he travelled to Rome, in his own words, “… on business for the King.” The priest told those he left at the monastery that he was going to Rome on orders from God. With no more explanation than that, he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome.
But Telemachus was not prepared for what he would see in Rome.
When he arrived in the city, the monk found the citizens celebrating riotously in the streets of Rome. He asked about all the excitement and was told that “… today is the day of the games”—the gladiators would be fighting on that day and they would be killing each other in the Colosseum. And Rome was ecstatic. Telemachus thought to himself, “Four centuries after the death of Christ, people are still killing each other—for enjoyment!”
Telemachus ran to the Colosseum and heard the gladiators shouting, “Hail to Caesar! We die for Caesar!” With great conviction about the value of every human life, the monk jumped over the railing of the Colosseum, went into the middle of the field, positioned himself between two gladiators, held up his hands and said, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” The crowd began to shout, “Run him through! Run him through!” Immediately, one of the gladiators hit the monk in the stomach with the handle end of his sword. The blow sent Telemachus sprawling, but he got back up, again positioned himself between the gladiators, held up his hands and again he tried to stop the contest. He repeated, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” But again, the crowd began to chant—they wanted to goad the gladiators into taking one extra life. The crowd shouted “Run him through! Run him through!” And, one of the gladiators drew his sword and plunged it through the monk’s stomach. Telemachus fell to the ground. But as the sand beneath him began to turn crimson red with blood, one last time the priest gasped—in a whispered voice he said again, “In the name of Christ, forbear.” A hush came over the 80,000 people in the Colosseum. In a moment a man stood and quietly left the arena. Then another man stood and walked out. Then one more left. Within minutes the Colosseum was empty.
Legend says that was the last known gladiator contest in the history of Rome.
The ancient Romans held human life in low regard. Actually, that’s an understatement. Death—even death in unique and grotesque ways, was an ordinary part of ancient Roman culture. The citizens of ancient Rome were blood-thirsty people. They stood and watched people die for sport. What kind of immoral mindset would allow a person to watch with interest as the severed heads of fellow citizens were hung in the streets of the city as a reminder to others who would consider breaking the law? What kind of person would attend Nero’s garden parties under lights provided by the flames of burning bodies? What kind of society would consent to such a low regard for human life?
What kind of person or society could do that? The same sort of people who undergo or perform, and the same kind of society that tolerates, the killing of unborn babies through any kind of abortion. America, also, is a blood-thirsty nation. The citizens of our country are willing to stand by and watch children die for convenience. The gladiators of 21st century America look more like doctors than warriors.
Where is Telemachus when we really need him?
Because of the murder of abortion doctor, George Tiller, abortion is back in the news. Abortion is the genocide of our day. The fact is that George Tiller was himself a mass-murderer. Scott Roeder has been charged with aggravated assault and first degree murder in the homicide. Of course, in America, even those charged with heinous crimes are considered to be innocent until proven guilty. I am willing, therefore, to allow the legal system to work, trusting that justice will be done. But we have to note that murder—even the murder of evil people, is against the law of man and God. If Roeder is found guilty, he should be punished to the full extent of the law.
But there are other questions that emerge from this incident and those questions also should be answered. The following questions and answers are my own.
Is there ever a justification for murder? No. Most of us would agree that taking another life in a time of war or in self-defense is not murder. But we simply cannot justify murder.
Should America condemn or condone the actions of the murderer in this case? What does the New Testament teach us to do with our enemies? We are to love our enemies. Does the Bible teach us to kill those who persecute us? Of course not. We are to pray for those who perform every manner of evil against us. We cannot condone the actions of the murderer. We condemn all murder—including the murder of unborn children.
Will America be a better place without George Tiller? Without question, America will be a safer place for unborn children without George Tiller. By his own admission, the man who became known as “Tiller the Killer,” was personally responsible for the murder of more than 60,000 unborn children. America is not a better place because of the actions of Scott Roeder—but it is a safer place for unborn children without George Tiller.
But, back to the original question—where is Telemachus when we really need him? Rather than being willing to kill for the cause, what if pro-life activists were willing to die so that others could live? The murder of George Tiller cannot be justified—just as the murder of innocent children by George Tiller cannot be justified. The media’s contempt for Roeder is understandable. America rightly abhors the action of Scott Roeder. But where is the loathing for the actions of George Tiller? Why is the news media not talking about the murder of more than 60,000 unborn children by George Tiller? Where is the outcry over the dead children?
Where is Telemachus when we really need him? We need him … and hundreds more like him right now.