I Just Can’t.
Unless it is rather convenient for you not to have seen them, odds are you’ve seen one (or many) of the undercover sting videos released by a pro-life organization, and boy do they sting.
I’ve watched the videos and been moved to grief, anger and tears. I’ve thought back to hearing my baby girl’s heartbeat at 6 weeks pregnant, the same heart that beats and sustains her life as she sleeps soundly in her crib tonight. I’ve thought about the tiny hand that waved around during those early ultrasounds–the same hand that finally wrapped around my finger after a few moments of dreadful agony when she came out of the womb blue and completely silent.
The little hand that now forcefully grabs mine and leads me up the stairs to play is in my mind as I see a clinic worker pick up a severed arm to show a potential buyer.
A severed, human, baby arm that had a beating heart and working organs.
I just can’t.
That’s my main reaction to the videos, to the ugly truth that they point to. I can hardly bear it, make it through a video, think about the reality of what’s been happening the last several decades, what happens every day.
But in the moments where I’m able to put the “I can’t” aside for a bit more rational reflection, I have thought more about what these videos tell us about our culture, and specifically what we worship.
It started brewing when I noticed the deafening media silence (or changing the subject through various means) in response to the first video’s release, even with social media blowing up and investigations being opened. I couldn’t help but think that our society was putting its collective head in the sand and saying “La la la la la la la la la.” Because when you have championed and even celebrated this for so long, what else can you do?
A Haunting Correlation
Roe vs. Wade happened in 1973. Which is interesting, because 1973 didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened in a time and place with changing values, about a decade after a little something we call the Sexual Revolution started.
I looked up the Wikipedia page (because we all know we can trust that), and found an interesting first paragraph.
Those last few words are haunting, aren’t they?
Western culture adopts the value that the way to the good life is through uninhibited sexual expression–with whomever you want, wherever you want and no consequences. That will bring you the joy you’ve been looking for. It’ll fix the numbing ache inside of you.
And when a culture starts to chase after uninhibited sexual expression with abandon, the next sentence is going to require the word “abortion.” This is what people mean when they call abortion a “necessary evil”–not that it’s actually necessary in and of itself–but that if you orient your life around uninhibited sexual expression it will likely feel necessary.
The god of Sexual Freedom
It’s hard to believe it boils down to something quite this simple, but abortion has to exist in our culture–it has to be framed as a valiant and fundamental human right–because we are a culture that worships sexual freedom.
Now we are modern, rational people so no one would ever say that, but worship does not require a sacred text or creed, only unbridled love and devotion that takes precedence over all else.
Sexual freedom is one of our dearest gods, and we will make great sacrifices for what we worship. That’s what the horrors in the Planned Parenthood videos tell us. That’s what the convenient turning away and the deafening silence and the heads in the sand tell us.
“La la la la la…I can’t hear you…I won’t hear you, because you are threatening what I worship.”
Make no mistake–the 50 million babies that we have aborted in these past decades–they are nothing less than child sacrifices to the god of Sexual Freedom.
I know that sounds harsh, but it is true. Lighting them on proverbial fire and watching their smoke rise, even if it makes our stomachs turn, is what is required by our god for it’s continued prominence in our lives. Every god requires a sacrifice. And however sick it makes us feel, it’s a sacrifice that feels worth it, one that will get you pats on the back, because when you worship any false god the sacrifice always seems worth it. “Products of conception” are simply casualties of a much deeper love.
I know sometimes rape and incest happen, and those are complicated situations that should be discussed levelheadedly. But please don’t frame that story as the majority of babies who are aborted, because it’s a minuscule percentage. That’s totally not the story here, as much as some would like it to be.
I know that Christians and conservatives (they are not the same!) should do a better job of caring for people after they are alive, but please, FOR THE LOVE, save that talking point for later when you see babies crushed to pieces in a petri dish, because there are more central and damning questions of responsibility to discuss first (see the most popular comments on this article for a glaring and ironic example of looking away from abortion).
Sexual freedom is one of our dearest gods, and we will evidently do anything to protect it.
Even something that very well may cause future generations to (rightfully) look back on our age as utter barbarians. Even something like turn our heads and hearts away from disturbing, damning truths.
That is what the Planned Parenthood videos tell us about us.
The god of Self-Sovereignty
Sexual Freedom, as central as I believe it to be to this issue, is still just the surface issue. The latest strategy on the self-help and magazine aisles.
The even deeper issue is just straight up self-idolatry. It’s crowning yourself as god and putting the power of life or death in your created hands. It’s “I want my life to turn out the way I want it to turn out, and if something undesirable happens I will do whatever I can to ensure that.” It’s why people steal and kill and destroy–their personal comfort and control over their lives takes a front seat over any other person or concern.
We are a nation who loves the story of standing up for the oppressed, the marginalized, the voiceless and weak and mistreated. We throw our whole weight into advocating for those who need to be spoken for. Unless, of course, standing up for that voiceless minority threatens something that we love much, much more–our own Self-Sovereignty. Then you will hear nothing but silence or lumps being swallowed or the grating sound of cognitive dissonance. Because no matter how bad abortion is, we have to grin awkwardly and point our thumbs up to keep self-determination at the center of our lives.
Because every god requires a sacrifice.
In the entire history of the human race, a strong group determining the personhood and right to life of a weaker group has never, ever gone well. Never. But just like other examples from history, it’s hard to see that when you are the powerful ones who are benefitting from the legal subjugation of the weak.
The powerful have always legalized their subjugation of the less powerful.
And in the modern world, there is nothing less powerful than life in the womb.
America, we have chosen our gods and the vomit-inducing Planned Parenthood videos are the spiritual fruit of that worship. Those tiny, dismembered hands and feet are raised in a gruesome protest of our profoundly disordered loves. We made our bed, so we should have the courage to lay down in it and watch the horror movie we have created.
A Better God
In response to all this, I wouldn’t be much of a Christian if I didn’t state the central truth of Christianity–that by God’s grace false gods can be forsaken for the true God, that repentance and reordered love are possible through the unnerving grace displayed by Jesus.
The gods of Sexual Freedom and Self-Sovereignty will do nothing but punish you with the fruit of your worship, but there is a God who forsakes deserved punishment for forgiveness and redemption–adoption, even! That’s a scandalous grace where those who celebrate the removal of life through abortion can be adopted into God’s very own family, forever.
Those who cut up baby humans made in the image of God deserve the same fate they dish out, but God sent His Son to be slashed to shreds of flesh and killed for those very same people, so they could be pardoned and given an undeserved destiny. A gospel that does not offer grace to those who have aborted or encouraged abortion is no gospel of Jesus.
Even as the crowds pushed in and yelled “Crucify Him!” (read: “Kill him for my benefit!”), spitting on a bloody and beaten Jesus tortured on behalf of sinners, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness even as He hung there.
His exact words were, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
But after the Planned Parenthood videos?
I’m afraid we cannot say the same.