Thursday, January 27, 2011

Abortion, Christianity, and Moral Schizophrenia

By now, most of you are aware of the infamous Philadelphia Women’s Clinic presided over by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Prosecutors blamed "a complete regulatory collapse" for allowing Gosnell's routine late-term abortions for poor women, mostly minorities. They described a "house of horrors," with discarded fetuses, bloody floors and furniture, dismembered baby parts stored in jars and staff with little or no training acting as doctors and nurses. [Mark Scolforo, AP] The article cites that two women died and seven murdered babies serve as the basis of Gosnell’s indictment. At his arraignment, Gosnell said that he did not understand why he was being charged with murder. I suppose most people who read his remarks probably shutter in total confusion at how an educated man could fail to understand why he is being charged with murder. But I completely understand his confusion. The truth is that there have been a lot more than just seven babies murdered here. Who knows how many have been murdered. The fact is that re-locating a baby from one place to another does not make killing it any less an act of murder. And that is where the confusion rests. Moving that baby from inside the mother to outside the mother does not make the taking of an infant’s life any less vile. And we fall into a trap when we respond with greater outrage in cases like this. It betrays a double standard that lies just beneath the surface of our convictions. You see, when we are more repulsed at this killing than we are at Gosnell’s daily killing via abortion, it reveals that perhaps we don’t see abortion as the same kind of murder as killing a child outside the womb. And that, my friends, is quite disturbing.

According to the grand jury report, Gosnell severed the spinal cords of living, breathing babies born outside their mother’s womb on multiple occasions. I will not go into the gruesome acts that Gosnell and his cohort of murders committed. If you want to see the raw truth simply follow the link to the grand jury report. What I find disturbing about the reaction of the media is the double standard. It is amazing that those of us in the reformed camp still have to debate with Arminians and Catholics about the noetic effects of sin on the human mind. Just read how people think and the evidence speaks for itself. Americans claim to be enlightened, sophisticated, and cultured. Yet, they can argue that it isn’t butchery when only a baby’s head is out of the vagina and scissors are jabbed into the back of the skull so it’s brains can be sucked out, but it is butchery if the entire baby is out of the womb. Only the doctrine of total depravity can account for such irrationality. No other theory I know of even comes close to having explanatory power in this situation. Abortion is murder. Doctors who practice abortion are murders. People who defend such practices and who support this philosophy of death are culpable. They are no different than people who aid any other kind of murderer. Until Christians really start to reveal the deep dark secrets of these practices and the real philosophies behind them, we will lose this battle. It isn’t unlike the homosexuality debate. There are multitudes of people who think that the homosexual debate isn’t about sex. They recoil at the accusation that promiscuity among homosexual men is off the charts. These people bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the facts. They don’t look at the data because they don’t care or they don’t really want to know truth. We have to find the courage to stand up for truth and expose the filthiness of sexual perversion and the vileness of murder.

People want morality without absolutes. They want to be able to step in at any given time and make exceptions to the standards. Send Gosnell to prison for killing babies outside the mothers womb, but defend the abortion doctor down the street who kills them only 25% out of the mothers womb. How convenient! We promote homosexuality at every turn, yet contend that sexual promiscuity is repulsive in the next breath. We want to contend that homosexuality is genetic and therefore should be normalized, but adultery somehow is not genetic. Go figure! If homosexuality is genetic, why isn’t pedophilia? Is homosexuality is normal, why do we send pedophiles to prison? They can’t help themselves. We convince ourselves that the man who engages with sex with another man is not a perverted individual but the one who raped our daughter is. We lecture in our universities and make “profound” statements at political town halls about the irrelevance of morals and character in our culture, but when facing the consequences of the deviant behavior that such abstract ideas produce, we do a proverbial about face. We like to have our cake and eat it too.

Ideas have consequences. We have passed the fifty million mark in babies murdered in this country since Roe v. Wade. In an article appearing in The Oklahoma Daily, Sarah Garrett refers to abortion as “reproductive freedom.” She says, “Reproductive freedom should include all factual information and access to resources that allow women and men to plan their families, rather than have the realities of parenthood thrust upon them for lack of education, access to contraception and impartial medical care.” What is “all the factual information” that people who engage in sex need in order to understand the risks of engaging in sex? Sexual behavior, as does any other adult behavior, carries with it certain elements of risk. Every time I get in my car, I run the risk of having someone kills me with their car. It is a risk I accept and am willing to take in order to enjoy the freedom of moving from A to B efficiently. When human beings engage in sex, they understand that a child could result from that behavior. If you are not willing to accept that responsibility and risk, then don’t engage in the behavior.

As I read through this article by Ms. Garrett, I was simply amazed at the incongruence in her argument. On the one hand she argues that “reproductive freedom should include all factual information and access to resources.” Okay, read that last sentence again really slowly before I tell you what she said in her very next paragraph. Are you ready for this? Ms. Garrett then wrote, “Oklahoma’s new Legislature also is continuing efforts to undermine federal security of this right for women by bringing up laws that try to limit access to legal abortion. These limits include the April 2010 law, which requires any woman seeking termination to undergo an unnecessary ultrasound procedure, in hopes that she will change her mind under psychological duress.” Is Ms. Garrett so naïve and biased that she could not see what she was doing here? So access to information and resources only includes information and resources that support the decision to kill the baby. Ms. Garrett argues out of one side of her mouth for information and resources to help parents make informed decisions regarding their reproductive freedom, and out of the other side of her mouth, she seemingly does not want any information included that may really help a parent see they are killing a human life. I wonder how many women would go through with murdering their babies if they had full disclosure of the event via video. If they could see what they are really doing before they do it, would they go through with it? The same is true for the homosexual community. If the world community could see first hand the real behavior that drives the homosexual lifestyle, up close and personal, would they still accept it as freely as they do? The late Jerry Falwell produced just such a video a few years back, and the homosexual community was outraged. All Dr. Falwell did was put the truth on display. Abortionists and homosexuals do not want you to know the real truth about what really goes on behind the scenes. And we allow them to bury it. And as we do, the practices become more and more accepted by a society who is willingly ignorant of the truth. That is, willingly ignorant until an abortion doctor murders babies outside of the mother’s womb.

All of the sudden, the waters get a little murky and what was at one time, conveniently out of sight, is now flashing its bright lights at us and the whistle is blowing. Yep, that is the train of absolute morality bearing down on a society that has dispensed with such morality, is suffering terribly from moral schizophrenia, and is beginning to feel the hangover brought on by too many shots of moral relativism. We have lost our footing because we have exchanged the solid footing of transcendent moral absolutes given to us through divine revelation in nature and in Scripture, and have exchanged it for relativistic, pragmatic morality anchored in the individual person who has become the measure of all things. The problem is that we still can’t decide which person is the right person, nor can we reach a consensus among us regarding a standard or a compelling reason for why we should bother. Well, that is until we are faced with a doctor who is murdering babies outside the mother’s womb and who can’t understand why he is being charged with murder himself. Then we struggle. Or least we struggle until the media stops talking about it and it fades back into the background, out of sight and out of mind once again.

And if you think it is any better in the church, you better put whatever it is your smoking in that pipe down. Now please, when I say church, I am speaking of the visible community of professing Christians. Yes, we sin and we fail, and make tons of mistakes. But the truth is that that is not all we do. We deliberately make conscious decisions to ignore the commands of Christ in those areas where we find those commands to be inconvenient. But we are never at a shortage of words for the injustice we see in the world. We are repulsed by abortion because it is murder. But we have people in the church that can rail against abortion with the best of them, and then turn around and head off to court and get our divorce without any biblical justification whatsoever and convince ourselves that God understands because we are unhappy with our situation. The way we are repulsed by abortion, God is repulsed by divorce. Just because we are not repulsed by an act, that does not mean God is not repulsed by it. Just because we feel a certain way, that does not mean God feels that way nor does it mean that God is less harsh about it for you as he is when someone else is doing it. We work up tears and have this feeling in our heart about God and we think that equals devotion and commitment and desire to please God. We convince ourselves that if we have that emotion going on, that God somehow excuses us or looks at us in some special way. That is Western psychology run wild in our thinking. Scripture nowhere condones this kind of worldly, selfish thinking.

What will it take for us to regain our footing? Simple: it will take God. If we do not recover that transcendent standard that is over us all, that shines to us in creation, conscience, and Christ, we will never regain our footing. God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We must find a way to collect the courage to say the right thing and do the right thing. The church is powerless to affect influence on society when she herself is engaging in the very things she claims to condemn. If you appeal to a standard outside of yourself to condemn a worldly practice, but at the same time you violate that very same standard with your pattern of living, how is it that you expect anyone to take you seriously? So the Bible condemns homosexuality and abortion. So what! It also condemns divorce! In fact, God never says I hate homosexuality, but He does say he hates divorce. The point is that you cannot appeal to a standard that you yourself are breaking to bring others to conviction because they are breaking the same standard you are. They will laugh at you as they should and you deserve it. We all deserve it when we adopt a pattern of living that deliberately ignores God’s instructions for how we are to live. Abortion and homosexuality are wrong and wicked because God says they are. They reflect behavior that runs contrary to the very nature of His being. People who do these things are condemned because they practice something God condemns. When people divorce against God’s command, they are also doing something God condemns. They are doing it consciously, deliberately, and in premeditated fashion. It is a lifestyle. God condemns it no less than he does abortion and homosexuality. God makes no distinction between them. And nor should we.

The only solution to this problem is for believers in the Christian community to stand up and do the right thing in their lives. Preach the gospel with your life, with your behavior, with what you do. When you sin, repent! When you fail, get back up. We someone needs forgiven, forgive! When they need love and understanding, give them love and empathy. Shine the light with our lives. Then when we speak, our words will mean something. The world does not expect us to be perfect, but it should expect us to have a different standard by which we conduct our lives. Obtaining a divorce and falling into a sin is not quite the same thing. The world knows this and so should we. Falling into a sexual sin and shacking up are not the same. We know this. If we fall, we get back up. That is what Christians do! But we do not shack up and fornicate day in and day out and contend that we are different from the world. Paul tells those who cannot restrain from sex to get married. He does not say they are lost. He says if you cannot refrain from sex, then get a wife or a husband. "But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn." (1 Cor. 7:9) This way, you can have all the sex you want. That is the command. And that is what Christians do. They obey Christ’s word. They do not dismiss it as some outdated, antiquated system of standards from a bunch of Jewish men who were simply a product of their culture, writing from prejudices that should have been abandoned long ago. We suffer from moral schizophrenia when we abandon God’s moral standards. It does not matter which culture you find yourselves in. The irrationality that exists in the moral standards of this world is glaring because the grounding for such morality is not anchored in God’s law. It shifts along with the tastes, preferences, and demands of the culture. But it is the duty and the privilege of the believing community to shine the light of the gospel that will itself provide the necessary foundation upon which every culture can build an existence that is meaningful, where all life is valued, and the love of God is experienced and enjoyed by all.

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