At Summit Ministries in Dayton, Tennessee a student raised his hand to ask Scott a question. “When did the idea for abortion first come up?” Later at lunch another young man was talking to me about the myth of “the good old days” and was explaining to me all the ways that the modern world is better than the past. Both of these young men were missing an important fact in understanding their faith and the people around them.
Humanity is not more evil today than we were 50 years ago or even 2,000 years ago. We are also not less evil than we were 50 years ago or 2,000 years ago. We are as we have always been and Ecclesiastes tells us that nothing under the sun is new to man. The Bible gives us ample illustrations of the selfish and evil nature of man even in the life of some of our greatest heros. It would be difficult to imagine a person doing something more selfish than King David did in taking the faithful and good Uriah's wife and then killing Uriah to try to make it all right again. And how is this selfish fear and desire not to face the consequences of our actions spiritually different from the root causes of abortion?
My answer to the first question is that people have sought to deal with their fear and desperation by eliminating other people, including their own children, for as long as fallen man has been in relationships with other fallen men. Which is to say that we have been capable of and attempting evils like abortion for as long as we have been mankind. Whether it was abandonment of children to exposure on a hill, infanticide, or even abortion (which prior to the mid 1800's was synonymous with suicide when attempted by the mother by taking poison or more often murder when men would beat the women carrying children they did not want in order to produce abortions) we have sought to sinfully serve our self interest from the beginning. Surgical abortion as we perform it today began as an idea about one second after we discovered we were capable of reaching into the womb and destroying the life of the child without necessarily taking the life of the mother. Abortion is not evil because it represents a new low for mankind, it is merely a new manifestation of the evil of man enhanced by our current medical and scientific capacities. It is not necessary for people to be bothered by the constant discovery of murdered newborns as 17th century France was. We now sanitize and hide our evil so that the shame we face as a society can be avoided.
As to the idea that we are better now than we once were, well that is the mistaken belief that time itself is working to improve mankind. As this young man pointed out to me that we are on the verge of a global community and that our elevated morality will spread throughout the world. I had to caution him not to make the opposite error of his counterpart. It is true that in many ways the American commitment to the principles of The Declaration of Independence has advanced our nation through the end of slavery, women's suffrage, and the civil right's movement. At our core was a basic assumption that all mankind is created equal and our rights are given to us by our Creator and not our government. But I explained to this young man that he could not possibly be aware at his age that the very power that once advanced this nation is now the target of disdain. We are on the verge of confirming a Supreme Court justice that cannot bring herself to recognize The Declaration of Independence and the rights central to that document as important to understanding America and as relevant to today. Only rights that can be rooted in the Constitution matter now and we are capable of discovering whatever rights we need through “penumbras and emanations” combined with some clever writing in order to pursue our modern agendas.
Though we have certainly improved in areas, our reproach of racial inequality and hatred for example, we have also lost something that was central to what we are as a people. The understanding of why we are a nation to begin with and our dedication to the principles that our rights are derived from our nature as men. The proper primary goal of government is to secure and protect those rights that are ours by our nature and not to justify our worst impulses with laws designed to empower us to act against that nature. Abortion provides a right to privacy through judicial decree that supersedes the fundamental human right to life. That is madness. It is not our core belief that we are all equal under God that is spreading through the new world order. It is the convoluted notions of government power that we rebelled against 234 years ago that are now holding sway in our country.
These high school and college students are dedicating their vacation time to becoming the generation that will try to hold the line and fight back against what Pope Benedict XVI called the tyranny of relativism. Abortion is the great evil that has fallen to them to face now as generations of Christians before them have faced the evils of slavery, fascism, communism, and a host of others. It is the duty of the eternal church to stand against the evil of this world in all of it reprehensible forms. They must do so knowing that all victories are victories of degrees and that total defeat of evil will only come when our Lord himself sets things to right. In the meantime, it is vital that we keep in mind from what source our fundamental rights are derived and that if our nation loses sight of that the 4th of July will have about as much meaning as Cinco de Mayo. It will be a day to take off from work, drink beer, and blow things up for reasons that are no longer clear to us.
It is an honor to participate in preparing them for this battle and we could not do so without your support.