In his classic work The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has his senior devil describe a young convert as a man who has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. Today the incompatible philosophies of our own society boogie down unencumbered on the dance floor of a people who have grown comfortable with contradiction. As we give up on God, we give up on coherence. Or, as G. K. Chesterton put it, when we ceased to believe in God, we didn’t believe in nothing; we believed in everything.
Consider two propositions on this November’s ballot. Proposition 2 argues that animals need to be treated well. To put it in sanguine terms, Proposition 2 requires that we let our chickens stretch their legs before we stretch them out on the BBQ. Proposition 4, on the other hand, requires a doctor to notify at least one adult family member before performing an abortion on an under-eighteen-year-old girl. Prop 2 asks that the populace treat God’s animal kingdom with a modicum of respect and decency. Prop 4 asks the abortionist to inform Mom or Dad of what he is going to do to their grandchild.
Right now your fifteen-year-old daughter, if you have one, needs your permission to go to a tanning salon, to get a cavity filled, to have her ear pierced, or even to get an aspirin dispensed by the school nurse for her headache. But she can go to Planned Parenthood and procure an abortion without your knowledge or consent.
The proponents of Prop 2 argue that it is a modest measure that ends the cruel and inhumane confinement of specified animals on factory farms, ending the practice of forcing them to spend their entire lives in spaces so small that they are physically unable to turn around, lie down, or fully extend their legs and/or wings. Fair enough. If we believe these animals are indeed created by God, then they deserve to be treated well, even as they are being raised to provide food for a hungry population. You will find no argument here against Proposition 2.
But whom does the Yes on Prop 2 website list as its supporters? The Sierra Club, the California Democratic Party, the Humane Society of the US, and the Green Party. Test Question: Other than supporting California’s Proposition 2, what do these groups have in common? Give up? Answer: They all support unrestricted access to abortion. These four organizations stand in opposition to Proposition 4. In other words, save Chicken Little—and forget the little children. These groups that are deeply concerned about trees and animals seem quite eager to promote abortion. (This is not an exaggeration: read the position paper of the Sierra Club on global population or the text of the Freedom of Choice Act, supported by all of these groups.) These organizations not only want unrestricted abortion, but they don’t want you to be informed if your daughter is going to abort her child. A dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together in their heads.
Proposition 4 is also known as Sarah’s Law. Fifteen-year-old Sarah had an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge. She came home with a fever because the abortion had torn her cervix. Sarah died of complications from the procedure.
What has happened to our collective conscience, both within our society at large and within the church, that we even need to debate such things? How can we say with a straight face, “Yes, let’s protect our animals” and “No, let’s not protect our children”? What has happened to our moral core that a candidate for the presidency of our nation can say with impunity that his first act as president will be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act?
What has happened to a church that can hear such things and seem not to care? Of course we should be concerned with the fuzzy thinking and moral contradictions espoused by the Sierra Club and the Humane Society. But we should be far more concerned about the same thinking within the church. Are not we the ones living with a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside our heads? It is a good thing, perhaps, for our animals to spread their wings and stretch their legs. But, on the other hand, one in four children conceived in America will be aborted, sacrificed on the altar of convenience.
Recently I found a frightening passage in the book of Leviticus. I’d read it dozens of times, but this time I saw something I hadn’t seen before. Leviticus 20 contains the familiar prohibition against sacrificing one’s children to the Canaanite god Molech. Such a deed was seen to be detestable and punishable by death, and the people were to execute the father who sacrificed his child. But then we read this:
And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech. (Leviticus 20:4)
Grammatically, there are two ways to read this verse. It is possible that God is saying to his people Israel, If you won’t do it, I will. If you won’t punish the man who offers his child to Molech, I will take his life.
But there is another way the verse can–and probably should–be read. The more likely interpretation of the passage is to understand it as saying that God will deal severely with the unconcerned observer of child sacrifice. Those who can stand by idly and do nothing in the presence of child-sacrifice will be cut off from their people. God will not be long mocked. He cares about children, and his children should do the same. But we seem to be overfed and unconcerned (Ezekiel 16:49). We see the taking of innocent life as one issue among many. Ho hum…Yes, abortion is one issue among many, but it is a singular issue insofar as the God of the Bible seems severely intolerant when it comes to the shedding of innocent life.
Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.(Deuteronomy 19:10)
You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you. (Deuteronomy 19:13)
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did [or didn’t do] for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did [or didn’t do] for me.“ (Matthew 25:40, 45)
May God’s justice be tempered with mercy when he considers his American church.