(Photo “Supreme Court HDR” courtesy of user MitchellShapiroPhotography and Flickr).
Few things are accomplished within a few minutes. Rather, it is only when a period of time passes that one can look back and see how much has really taken place. This notion is especially true in regards to the sweeping reforms impacting not just exemplified within the United States, but throughout the world (notably in Europe and Canada). While vast changes seemingly occur in a single defining moment, rarely is that true. Instead, they are part of a process of slow transformations that have taken place over a long period of time.
While I was at a conference in Washington D.C. in 2006, Robert Goodwin spoke on the theme of literacy and education. Within this context he addressed the issue of how long it would take to right the path that was currently taking place and he said simply that we have to understand that we didn’t get this bad overnight and so we will not fix it overnight. Taking hold of that, I think it is a powerful principle that applies not just to (il)literacy or education, but to many realms. Included in this is the debate between pro-life and pro-choice.
The theme of abortion at one time was considered a grave sin. Why was it so? On moral grounds abortion was deplorable because it was understood to be the ending of a life. However, over time language was softened, general sin was minimized, and the result was tolerance of a very liberal agenda. Even the terminology of pro-life and pro-choice reflect the softening of tones. However, if we were truthful, abortion would be called murder and pro-choice would be termed anti-life . . . even more specific anti-child.
The tolerance of abortion became more acceptable when children started to be considered burdens. The notion has become generally acceptable that children are inconveniences to the American dream and thus are to be delayed only until the timing is appropriate to one’s own plans. It has become the task of the church then to proclaim anew the sanctity of human life (all life from zero to eternity). Pastors and biblical counselors are now tasked with instilling into people a view of children as God sees them. Thus inculcating a teaching that is derived from God’s Word alone in order to impact future generations.
Those who value God’s thoughts regarding life are pleased with developments this week across the country. In Ohio, Governor Kasich signed into law a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. From the nation’s capital the Senate Judiciary Republicans asked for the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate criminal activity from several Planned Parenthood clinics. Most recently Oklahoma has passed the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act that comes with several pro-life agenda items, including a requirement that signs be placed in certain funded entities that urge women to carry their child to term (this includes the necessity to be placed in many abortion clinics).
While these offer hope to a pro-life agenda, they come with some concerns as well. While Governor Kasich did sign one law, he vetoed another that would have made it illegal after a heartbeat is detected (around 6 weeks). The Oklahoma act still requires a final approval process and similar laws have been struck down in other places, such as Texas and Maryland. Even the urging of the Department of Justice and FBI to look into allegations of misconduct are unlikely to prompt any action.
In light of these events we find reasons to be both encouraged and discouraged.
- Encouragement – Current Progress: Solely based on the concerns that have pushed forward these new developments suggest that progress is being made. First that at a leadership level those who support the right to life for the most vulnerable of all populations are being heard. Second that the general support seems to be increasingly.
- Discouragement – Curbed Progress: The issue with the progress being made is that it never deals with the heart issue. True change and reform is not lasting if it does not affect the heart. However, that is the work of God through the confrontation of truth and until people are reconciled to God, they will reconcile nothing else. Thus, the heart issue remains to be addressed.
It is fascinating though, to see how much has taken place in one week to address this one major issue of morality within our culture. It will also be fascinating to see what takes place over the course of the next several months. Regardless of the encouragement or discouragement the fact of God’s sovereignty still remains, and thus our confidence is in this regardless.