In a Marvel Universe or a DC Universe almost anything hoped for is possible. There are heroes in every direction (and anti-heroes too) so its easy to fall into the groove that reality is about living among heroes vs. villains…which is the problem of both the highs and lows of American politics…the problem of our angst and triumphs in our brand of politics. Politics has become less about the soundness of ideas and their implementation and so very much about heroes and anti-heroes. Evangelicals have slipped into this mode of thinking like comfy slippers on a Saturday night. I talk about this more in an earlier post – ‘Trump, Hillary & Nero.’
It is so ironic that Donald Trump’s name sounds “triumphal” and furthermore his public persona is no less. I heard Trump make a case for his election that he MUST win or conservatives will lose control of the Supreme Court for the next generation, could be “the next 60 years,” he said. Many others, especially Evangelical Pro-Life voters and leaders are seemingly in a panic at thought of Clinton winning on this SCOTUS issue alone. Yes, there is a much bigger issue under the surface as I intend to show. However, we are unwilling to address it or admit because of our tendency to look at Trump or a conservative Supreme Court as our heroes (and of course their opposites as anti-heroes).
There is no doubt that 60 plus million children who have been sacrificed on the altar of American convenience is a travesty. It is the Holocaust times 10 and growing. Doesn’t one of our treasured founding documents declare that “All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life…” Simply and profoundly it says, “all men” not all of a certain race or all of a certain region, but “all men” meaning mankind. Little people become big people. I recall in earlier days that memorable line from Dr. Seuss:
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Yet, there is a key piece of data which is either missed or ignored, There is something about the current state of the Pro-Life movement that rings hollow. The movement is not entirely driven by those cherished words from the Declaration of Independence that those babies in the womb are “endowed by their Creator.” Yes, abortion statistics show in recent years abortions have decreased. However, those raw numbers do not show the motivations behind this reduction.
The Pro-Life movement of the preceding generation learned how to use technology to an advantage. I have heard first hand from clinic workers and clinic directors how powerfully the ultrasound has been and is. The ultrasound has helped many young mothers see that what is growing inside of them is not a piece of tissue. They see, even though in black and white and in a rough, pixelated image that what is within them is indeed a human being. They can also hear the muffled pulsating of their young child’s heart. There are other ways the Pro-Life movement has used technology to persuade for its cause.
Therein is the problem or a part of problem. The Pro-Life movement has wisely used technology to lead mothers into a good situational choice, but the Pro-Life movement has not sufficiently changed minds and hearts. Slate.com recently surveyed this question of why abortion numbers have slowed. The SPL or Secular Pro-Life advocates – as they call themselves – are deliberately non-religions and often confessionally atheist. On their website they explain how they come to be Pro-Life: “…we start with the premise that human beings are valuable, and build our pro-life position off of that.” Their tone is commendable. Not defensive or unkind. They simple don’t understand why a Christian worldview is required to be authentically Pro-Life.
A Fluid Morality
We are grateful for groups such as Secular Pro-Life and PLAGAL (Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians) and fearless individuals like David Daleiden who sincerely defend the defenseless in the womb. Our concern is that the conviction to do right by other human beings, born or unborn, is rooted in God himself and not in our fluid states of mind from one generation to the next. The given Zeitgeist is a good thermometer for seeing the direction of a culture, but it is terrible and slippery ground upon which to build a moral society.
If you don’t believe in God, then of course you don’t believe in the Creator. So how you arrive at your morality is purely a horizontal machination. Out of the Christian worldview we acknowledge that such kind of morality is not bad per se. From a Reformed theological perspective we call this “common grace” or a residual goodness which God allows in this Fallen realm. The problem is that that sort of morality cannot sustain itself. If morality is simply self-referential, then what you give with one hand can easily be taken away from the other. All you need do so is simply come up with another “good and practical” reason within yourself (or your preferred community) to do reverse your previous moral commitment.
The history of humanity is littered with such equivocations. Leaders who possess too much power, mob rule, a sudden shift toward adverse economic conditions, a survivalist mindset in the wild or a natural disaster can quite easily dislodge the moral stand a person or people swore to in previous days. Their morals are self-referential and in reality that is not authentic morality at all. It is being good or doing “good for goodness sake” or for a preference that rises no higher than the men and women and children walking about. In reality, instead of holding to an authentically Pro-Life stance theirs is a pro-human one. There is a difference.
Ironically, this problem of a tangential way of assigning human worth goes back – at least in modern, Western thought – a few centuries. The fountain of the secularist self-referential mindset is not just a product of the Millennial generation. It flows out of the Enlightenment and without too much controversy we can say that the American experiment of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is a large fruit from that tree. Have you ever taken a look at an early draft of the Declaration of Independence? Some changes or strikes are incidental, but none is so profound as this.
We are accustomed to hearing,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
An earlier draft reads in the first sentence,
“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable self-evident; that all men are created equal…”
The word “sacred” is stricken and left out altogether. That is a cardinal omission. This is not to say our founders did not value human life, but they did not value “all men” in the same did they? Slavery was still an odious pile on the record of humanity even many decades after this precious experiment in liberty commenced. Life is sacred and that is what is means to be authentically Pro-Life.
The Imago Dei
This is why the Christian worldview is so vital to human flourishing. Our view of morality is ground in Yahweh God himself. Does Trump even know who that is? From Yahweh, the Creator God, is “endowed” to man the Imago Dei, the image of God. We are not to just being kind to one another for “goodness sake,” but we aim to be good one to another because we appeal to a much higher value, authority and measure of worth than ourselves. This worth is divinely grounded in the very first page of Holy Scripture:
And God said, “Let us make humankind in our image and according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every moving thing that moves upon the earth.” So, God created humankind in his image, in the likeness of God he created him, male and female he created them… (see Gen 1:26-27).
This is what is missing in the Millennial generation and younger generations coming up. The Supreme Court even if seated with 9 justices, all nominated by a soundly conservative President cannot and will not address the concerns which the Imago Dei of the Christian worldview stands upon. This same branch of government that plunged us into the abyss of legal abortion in 1971 has not shown that it has the fortitude to undo it – even when weighted toward a conservative pov over a prolonged period.
If Evangelicals are serious about the Imago Dei, the image of God in mankind, namely in unborn children, then throwing our voting influence in the direction of a real estate tycoon from NYC will not change the moral landscape. It may change a few statistics, but only Someone of much higher character can bring persons and a culture from being “pro-human” to being authentically “pro-life” as “endowed by their Creator.” Frankly, it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Creator King who sovereignly can re-set hearts and minds to value all mankind, including the unborn, as he values mankind. He made them and he died to save them. That is both an intrinsic created worth and immeasurable extrinsic value which we cannot assign to ourselves.. though secularists hope to do so. Such a high worth comes from him. In Christ alone with the Father and Spirit comes the regenerating life to make good from the inside out.
[header image credit: clipartkid.com]