Loving and seeking justice for the unborn
In our media-saturated culture, you’ve probably heard about the undercover Planned Parenthood videos released over the last several weeks. The Center for Medical Progress has released four videos and counting of Planned Parenthood executives discussing and admitting to trafficking body parts of aborted preborn children. In the middle of our society’s culture war over elective abortion and the surrounding industry, these types of exposé videos are common place. However, these videos are unique because they’ve gone viral. As of today there were over 2.7 million views on the original video that included highlights of the Planned Parenthood leader casually discussing selling and marketing livers, lungs, and other body parts that she personally removed from preborn children during elective abortions.
While the topic was trending on social media, like many other headlines of horrific acts of violence, our culture and even some Christians were uncertain how to react. Even though self-identifying “pro-choice” activists who generally support Planned Parenthood were displaying moral disgust, many Christians were still unable to biblically respond to the phenomenal atrocities exposed. Now many Christians (along with our anti-Life neighbors) had a “gut reaction” to such an ugly story, but ultimately many were still not sure how to respond or even what to think about this injustice and repulsive practice. This discomfort disabled Christians from even trying discuss the topic with their neighbors, which always proves to be more difficult than sharing an article or video on social media.
Personally, I was surprised to see anti-Life activists who support legalized elective abortion and Planned Parenthood, disapprove of this secretive business of trafficking the body parts of aborted children. As a Christian and someone who is deeply committed to restoring justice for our preborn neighbors, my first reaction was to balk and point at the hypocrisy of others. I was looking down on these abortion activists who for some reason see something wrong with THIS atrocity, but not the legalized, intentional taking of an innocent preborn human’s Life. This immediate urge to condemn others is not just foolish because of Christ’s teaching on judging others (Matt. 7:1-5), but because I’m condemning those individuals for responding the way God designed them. The unavoidable “gut reaction” that we have to such unjust practices and humans rights abuses reveals our humanity—created in the image of God. We are designed to be moral agents with an active conscience. This moral capacity to weigh and approve or disapprove of what happens in the world is a common grace give to us by our Creator.
These types of abuses and injustice abound in our world because of the Fall. However, the Fall has not just corrupted nature but humans as well. This means that humans now willingly practice injustice like elective abortions and human tissue trafficking, but also, the Fall has marred our consciences. The compass that distinguishes between right and wrong is distorted although never destroyed. The hypocrisy of which I want to accuse those who support elective abortion is actually proof that we are moral beings practicing although imperfectly an important task that resembles our Creator.
Paul explains in Romans 2:14-16 that even unbelievers have “the works of the law written on their hearts” and “their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” However, Paul also makes clear that the human conscience is not incorruptible. Earlier in Romans 1:28 Paul explains that because of rebellion against the truth God gives unbelievers “up to a debased mind.” In short, yes our consciences can be misinformed or misdirected, but all humans have a basic yearning for justice in this unjust world. Believers and unbelievers alike are acutely aware that, at the very least, things are not as they should be and have an undeniable built-in moral yearning.
A THIRST FOR JUSTICE IN A MORAL DESERT
This thirst for justice in the moral dessert of a Post-Genesis 3 world is not a new human phenomenon. We see David himself was in the same position. In Psalm 10, David cries out to the Lord because he witnessed appalling human rights abuse, unethical practices, and the failed judicial systems of his country.
In Psalm 10:2, David describes how he saw the wicked hotly pursue the poor, trying to catch the helpless in wickedly devised schemes. David describes how the wicked sit in ambush in the villages and in hiding places they murder the innocent (v. 8). He mourns that in his land the wicked look for ways to take advantage of the poor. Some of these injustices we’re most sensitive to and broken over today are not just random crimes or accidents, but they have become systems that target certain demographics.
David then writes that the wicked “[lurk] like a lion so that he may seize the poor” (v. 9). Planned Parenthood and the entire abortion industry demonstrate this predatory mindset. These are business models built around selling a service that is deadly to the preborn and harmful to women. These newly released videos show Planned Parenthood acting like predators. Again, the image of verse 10 is appropriate when David writes, “The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.” The Psalmist is watching the wicked not only scheme and draw the helpless in his net, but violence always accompanies his schemes. Once the helpless are in his net, the wicked crushes them and they perish.
He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. 10 The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.
While there is room for Christians to discuss and work in other areas like environmental justice, the highest ethical concern in Scripture are attacks on the marginalized, who are made in God’s image.
These attacks are wrong and unjust. Injustice didn’t sit well with David and injustice shouldn’t sit well with us. The reason these systematic wrongdoings disturbed David so deeply and should affect us today is not just because God had commanded his people to do justice, but because our drive for justice comes from the very character of God in whose image we are created.
JUSTICE AS CENTRAL IN REDEMPTIVE HISTORY
In Psalm 10:12-18 David reaffirms that justice is a central attribute of God. Also at crucial junctures in redemptive history, the Lord over and over again reveals himself as the God who executes justice. For instance, Moses delivers the Law from God to the people of Israel and says,
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
In another Psalm, David simply proclaims: “The Lord loves justice” (Ps. 37:28). This simple premise is cosmically consequential since this is the very fuel of the gospel. The narrative of Scripture is driven by the fundamental premise that the Lord, the creator and redeemer, is a just God.
Accordingly, throughout the narrative of Scripture we see the Lord intervene in human history to restore social justice—in the Exodus when the Hebrews became a socially disenfranchised class in Egypt and in Judges the Lord reminds Israel, “I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land” (Jgs. 6:8-9).
The ultimate expression of God’s just character is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of God’s Justice. When Isaiah was telling of the Messiah, he prophesizes that Christ “will bring justice to the nations” (Is. 42:1-4; Matt 12:18). At the heart of the gospel, Christ voluntarily receives injustice in order to fulfill God’s just verdict as Philip explains in Acts 8:32:
Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.
Because our sin is against a holy and just God, we have earned eternal punishment. But God, being rich in mercy as well as justice, devised a plan before we even existed, not to set aside his justice but to fulfill justice by practicing his mercy. So in place of sinners, Jesus Christ became human to receive the wrath of God on the cross that we deserved as rebels. However, Christ rose again, conquered death, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father so that now through the Holy Spirit those who have faith in Christ’s victorious work and repent do not receive eternal punishment for their transgressions against a just God.
God has done something epic about injustice. He absorbed the injustice of sin and evil at the cross. All history is shaped around this narrative because God loves justice.
LOVING AND SEEKING JUSTICE IN LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL
In order to love and seek justice in light of the gospel, the people of God need to mature in several areas. First, we must not think about those we disagree with as our political adversaries but recognize them as God’s image bearers who although misinformed can act on their sense of right and wrong. Also, we must think the way David did and have the moral certitude he did about social injustice. Public figures and blogs shouldn’t be our first stop to inform our consciences on social injustice. We must weigh everything with revealed truth and our moral consciences. Our response to wickedness should signal that our God is the source of justice. We need to hold our informed convictions boldly. For instance, intentionally causing an innocent human’s death is a moral wrong—no matter who intentionally causes the death or whether our government has sanctioned the action. We should seek to understand the ethics of God revealed in Scripture to inform how we interpret our post-Fall world.
Second, like David we should look at injustice instead of averting our eyes from the ugly stories, the heartbroken victims, and the helpless. In order to do justice, we must be willing to endure the moral discomfort of looking into the brokenness.
Third, we need to fervently and genuinely pray for the injustice in our land to end. Psalm 10 is not just a song; this was a moment in which David was crying out to the Lord and pleading for God to protect the innocent and helpless in his land. Last, as we draw near to God, we must walk towards the victims. This walking must include a spatial nearness and also a prioritizing socially and politically. We should pray and work to end these atrocities and seek to restore justice in our land through the power of Jesus Christ our Righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).
John Seago (@JohnSeago) serves as the Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life. He leads the research, writing, and lobbying for state legislation on bioethical issues like abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and patients rights.
Note: this article was published by Gospel-Centered Discipleshipand was reprinted with the editor’s permission.
Tags: bioethics, culture, planned parenthood