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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What's the Scandal?

I've been thinking about why the undercover Planned Parenthood videos have caused such an outcry.  Certainly it's concerning that the officials in the videos seem to be trying to turn a profit from handing over body parts of aborted babies.  After all, if they were just charging for the expenses incurred in the donation process, why would there be any negotiation - why not just state their expenses?  Why make offhand comments about wanting luxury vehicles?  Why offer to illegally change the surgical procedures of the abortion to keep more baby organs intact?  (I am referring here to the second video, with Dr. Mary Gatter.)

So yes, these things are concerning.  But I don't think they fully explain the gut outrage many people seemed to feel when viewing these videos.  If we were just talking about the poor regulation of pricing for human tissue specimens, I don't think these videos would have caused such an uproar.  What's the real scandal here?

The scandal is this:

Abortion kills humans.  John Piper develops this idea in his article "We know they are killing children. All of us know."  Abortionists know it.  State laws know it (you can be charged with homicide for killing unborn babies in many states).  Expectant mothers know it.  You know it.

You can argue that abortion is the lesser of two evils; that it does kill a human but that the rights and health of the mother are higher priorities, but you cannot argue that abortion does not kill humans.

Descriptions and videos of abortion procedures have always been available if you want them, so the Planned Parenthood videos offer nothing new in the way of convincing us that abortion kills children.  But I think they are scandalous because they remind us that we are killing children, and they remind us in such a callous way that it's hard to ignore.  

Undercover abortion videos taken from the perspective of the mother seeking an abortion usually feature the clinic staff reassuring the mother, providing some basic education about what will happen, and helping her fill out the paperwork.  Clinic staff in those videos use terms like "terminate the pregnancy" - I remember seeing one where the staff awkwardly tried to say that if the "whole pregnancy wasn't removed," then they would have to go in and clean it out.  In our public discourse, we dance around words to help us forget we are killing babies.

But in the recent videos, we see powerful people frankly describing "less crunchy" methods of ending the lives of the tiny babies in the womb.  We see them remark about a "baby boy," not a "male fetus."  We hear their discussion of the head and the lungs and the liver, and suddenly we are reminded: these are humans, and they have value.  All of us know it.

The scandal is this:

Abortion hardens the heart.  Any sin does.  The greed and callousness that can go along with this industry were horrifyingly highlighted in the Kermit Gosnell case of 2013.  Remember him?  According to the grand jury report of his murder trial,
"This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors," it states. "The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels - and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths." (from the Atlantic article "Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should be a Front Page Story")
How do people get to this point?  Did the Planned Parenthood officials grow up dreaming that one day they could sit at a table and dispassionately discuss the monetary value of an unborn child's head?  Did little Kermit Gosnell plan that one day he would help to usher new lives into the world, only to end them with a scissors to the spinal cord?

Abortion is like any sin.  If you get your first abortion, or perform your first abortion, your conscience might cry out.  But if you do it often enough, your heart will become hard.  Maybe one day you reach the point where all you see are dollar signs and a comfortable retirement.  I don't know.

The scandal is this:

Everyone involved in the abortion industry has blood on their hands.  Everyone.  Providers, consumers, supporters, legislators -- they have blood on their hands.  We know we are killing children. Maybe some people's hearts have hardened, but somewhere along the way, I think we all knew it.

The scandal is this:

I have blood on my hands too.

Want to know one of the most scandalous things Jesus said?
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:53-54)
People were very put off by this gruesome statement; Jesus was a lot more appealing before He started talking about drinking blood. Many of His followers left Him then and there.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?' ... From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:60, 66)
My sins were paid by the blood of Christ. This is a hard teaching! Who can accept it?
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:14)
My conscience was cleansed from acts that lead to death. How? With the blood of Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:20 reminds me that I was "bought with a price."  My sins, no more and no less than even the most prolific abortionist, came with a cost.  The cost was the flesh and blood of my sinless Savior.  I have blood on my hands too.

The scandal is this:

I will worship next to former abortionists in heaven.  I will worship next to providers, consumers, supporters, and legislators who once had blood on their hands, but who have been washed as "white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).  Even now, in church, I worship next to women who have had abortions and who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Killing babies and bartering for their flesh?  Scandalous sin.  

The death of Jesus for my sins and yours?  Scandalous grace.

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