Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I once saw some footage, taken shortly after World War II had ended, of a group of townspeople from Weimar, Germany who were being marched through the nearby Buchenwald concentration camp by Allied armed forces. The group of nicely dressed men and women, both young and old, began their trek with smirks on their faces as they casually strolled down the path to where unthinkable nightmares took place not months before. One by one the smiles disappeared as they were confronted with a table of human skin, harvested from the bodies of murdered Jews (horrifically used to create a grotesque lampshade and canvases for painting). They were then taken through the prisoners' “living quarters” (if we can call them that), and many of them staggered or fainted at the stench. Finally they were shown stacks of emaciated corpses, haphazardly piled up here and there, as if their murderers only took the time to shove them aside, making a path to carry on their sadistic work. When confronted with the handiwork of their complicity, many of the women screamed and looked away. How easy it is to judge them. How could they not have known? If I had lived during that time—if I saw my neighbors disappearing—I would have said something. I would have taken a stand, I tell myself. And yet I live in one of the darkest times in human history, where a finely tuned murderous machine of infanticidal industry dispassionately butchers over a million ill-timed unborn babies a year. Don't get me wrong, I am adamantly against the practice of abortion. If I am to be honest, though, I have become resigned to the permanence and the frequency of this heinous practice. Jaded, defeated, and outnumbered, I have gradually accepted things as they are.

More than 50 million babies have been killed since Roe vs. Wade—human sacrifices on the alter of the American Dream (Moloch is an amateur in comparison). As I sat at my computer watching one of the recent undercover videos starring Planned Parenthood, I couldn't help but think, “Dear God, what have we done?!” How have we let this happen for so long, to so many? Those of us in the Church may think of the recently released videos as a much needed “wake up call” for the multitude of naive abortion supporters (and that they are). But I found that I desperately needed to see them, as well. I needed to be graphically reminded of what goes on everyday all across America. I needed to repent of my slow-setting stupor of full-fledged apathy.

There are so many tragedies simultaneously occurring within our broken world (most are brought to our living rooms in real-time via 24-hour cable news) that I think we become calloused as a seemingly necessary defense mechanism. How am I to properly mourn the persecuted Church, with the frequent news of beheadings at the hands of ISIS, the injustice regularly perpetrated by global human trafficking rings, orphans and widows exploited in the world's poorest corners, and still have room in my heart to weep for the murdered unborn within my community and throughout my country, and all before breakfast? “No, I'll just let my heart become hardened,” we tell ourselves perhaps at some unconscious level. The conservative right's public shaming (via witty memes and indignant tweets) of those who mourned the recently slain lion seemed to fit into this line of thought. “We have a finite amount of empathy, and God forbid we waste it on an animal.” This approach does not sit well with me. My personal prayer is that God will enlarge my heart to look more like His. He seems to have an immense emotional spectrum that is nuanced enough to mourn the loss of a single fallen sparrow while simultaneously grieving over human genocidal massacres. Recognizing this tenderness of God, however, should not be seen as a challenge to Jesus' clear affirmation that we are “worth more” to Him than sparrows. I'm currently reading a collection of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's letters from prison in which he laments the loss of a bird that had nested near his window (if I remember correctly, or maybe it was in the prison yard). It struck me that he would have any compassion left for such a seemingly insignificant life in light of the mass-turmoil of his time, not to mention his own unfortunate predicament. I want a heart like that—a heart that feels more, not less.

It seems to me, however, that the murder of infants (with monumental indifference, no less) is of a particularly heinous variety of human depravity. It is fitting to note this. I am often frustrated by a large contingent of the Christian right that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the importance of issues that are close to the heart of God like racial reconciliation and hospitality to immigrants (both documented and undocumented alike), but on the topic of abortion it is often the Christians on the left who remain shamefully silent. I would argue that there is no justice issue before us of greater importance. If a human being can ever be considered “innocent,” there is certainly none so innocent as an unborn baby. And of all who are vulnerable and voiceless, there are none more so than the unborn. The people of God are commanded to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” and to “ensure justice for those being crushed” (Proverbs 31:8). Throughout the pages of Holy Scripture, God consistently, explicitly, and redundantly reveals His heart for the marginalized, exploited, and oppressed of human societies (orphans, widows, the poor, immigrants, outcasts, and—undoubtedly—helpless, unborn human beings). It is truly tragic to me that I would have to spend words explaining this to a professing Christ-follower.

So I'm ready to fight again. I'm ashamed that I had pretty much given up. I admit that I don't know very much about politics, and I feel like abortion has become little more than a talking point, a dangling carrot, wielded by manipulative politicians (on both the left and the right). Those who are skilled in political and legal means of combating this great evil should, of course, pursue them to the fullest. I confess that I don't know how best to resist this darkness, but I refuse to be numbered with the silent, the indecisive, the apathetic, the passively culpable, the townspeople of Weimar.

We are commanded to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Some fighters that I admire have made a point to avoid giving their money to companies that financially contribute to the murder of babies. This may be as simple as switching from Pepsi to Coke (a modest “cross to bear”). I'm usually against boycotts, and I'm pretty pessimistic about whether they can actually sway the targeted company. On this issue, however, I greatly respect the individual who says, “I will not be a passive participant to mass murder.” My wife pointed out to me that you should be sure to send a letter or email respectfully letting the company know why you are discontinuing their service (be sure to “speak up,” and make your voice heard). While you're at it, send letters and emails to local, state, and national politicians. They're supposed to work for us, right? Remind them that we find the current situation unjust and intolerable. These suggestions encompass the least of what we can do. I would propose that the Gospel ultimately requires more of us than stern letters and catchy memes plastered across our Facebook page.

Other fighters, who really inspire me to overcome evil with good, are welcoming previously unwanted or displaced children into their homes. Considering the shear number of professing Christ-followers in our country, there should never be a child left without a family. This is not something I suggest flippantly. This is definitely the long haul, put your money where your mouth is, loving out loud approach, and perhaps the purest form of a Gospel presentation I can think of. My own family has beautifully modeled this for me, and my wife and I are eagerly looking forward to the day when we can follow in their footsteps.

Most of all, we can cry out to God to shake us out of our apathy. We can align our hearts with His, and regularly beg Him to rescue and redeem (both the oppressor and the oppressed). I know a group of believers in my city that gathers daily to pray for our community and country. They faithfully confess sin and cry out to God to intervene. As American Christians, heirs to a proud legacy of rugged individualism, we have a difficult time identifying with collective guilt. The truth is, we collectively have an ocean of innocent blood on our hands. May we feel the weight of it. May the people of God lead the call to repentance. And by God's grace, may He keep our current outrage from drifting back into apathy.

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