It seems almost ironic to me.
On Tuesday, we were in mourning as a nation for the horrific slaughter of human life that occurred on the Virginia Tech campus. On Wednesday, when the Supreme Court made a monumental decision for life, upholding the law against partial-birth abortion, it was met with howling and derision.
Sometimes our culture baffles me.
Maybe it is because we can see the horror of young students being shot, but we can’t see the horror of a healthy baby’s skull being collapsed to successfully complete a partial-birth abortion, a procedure for which a full description would be sickening to chronicle. In one case, the media gives us full coverage of as much as they can, including the blood and carnage and faces filled with tears. In the other case, we see nothing—we want to see nothing.
Robert Barnes, writing for the Washington Post today in what I suppose is deemed an unbiased journalistic take at reporting the Supreme Court decision, describes most abortions as simply “vacuuming out embryonic tissue.” Every case of “vacuuming” that I am familiar with is for the purpose of getting rid of dirt, dust, trash, and other unwanted refuge. Is that how we describe the destruction of human life? Well, I suppose it is when we would rather hide our eyes from what is really going on. Barnes goes on to state this about those who oppose the horrific slaughter of partial-birth abortion: “Opponents say it is a form of infanticide because the fetus could be alive at the time.” Huh? The baby “could” be alive? We are dealing with a fully formed baby here, brimming with life! Why describe it as just some remote possibility? Because we just aren’t interested in honestly dealing with this kind of slaughter, so we would rather use terms that describe abortion as some sort of garbage pick-up service.
Anyway, the U. S. Supreme Court got it right and affirmed the longstanding belief in this nation that life is sacred and to be protected. We may not have it all right, but this certainly is a step in the right direction.
Something in me hopes that God will see this as an act for righteousness by our national authorities and that He will therefore bless us because of it.
Oh, how desperately we need His blessing!
Although man is deeply complex, that doesn’t preclude the reality that certain absolute statements can be made about him. The biblical Christian worldview understands that man’s heart is “desperately wicked” (Gen 6:5, Jer 17:9). Without the direct constraint of civil law and order or the indirect constraint of cultural pressures or a few other more complicated reasons, man left to himself with no constraints or negative consequences, will act out those sinful desires.
When a culture no longer believes this simple truth claim about man and accepts the notion that his heart is basically good, outbreaks of evil bring forth a rush to find something else to blame, for it certainly couldn’t have its genesis in the individual heart of man.
So it happened with Monday’s tragic slaughter of Virginia Tech professors and students. I listened to a number of broadcasts and read a number of articles and almost all of them are in the mode of finding blame outside of the one who pulled the trigger. This is the natural tendency when one believes that the murderer acted, not because of an inherently sinful nature let loose, but because something external to him brought sufficient cause to tip the goodness of the individual into doing something wrong. We are hearing an earful of this sort of thing. Not that we would deny the impact of secondary causes, but those secondary causes should be viewed in light of how they fail to restrain or bring about internal restraint of those natural tendencies.
There is another belief system at work as well and that springs from the Hegelian and Marxist perspective. This notion holds that all progress results from a crisis. In its classical form, Hegel used the conflict of the “thesis” and the “antithesis” as the necessary catalyst for giving rise to the higher and more desired “synthesis”—a new truth. In its modern, socialistic form, this perspective views any crisis or conflict as not just a necessity for progressive change, but it provides the “opportunity” for progressive change. That is why every tragedy or crisis in our culture today breeds an immediate feeding frenzy for those who seek to capitalize on it. Sometimes, when a natural one is lacking, a false “crisis” will be crafted to achieve the same results. We have some of those in process as we speak. So, we should not be surprised to see the VT tragedy used to gain ground in various political and personal agendas. Monday night I heard it used as evidence in the debate regarding illegal aliens. Yesterday, it was lack of gun control and a myriad of other things. Believe me, the blame game will continue until it has pointed the finger at everything and everyone in whom someone wants radical change.
It is very easy for our culture, once it buys a contrary view of man and life, to use a horrible and tragic situation like what occurred Monday as just the evidence needed to prove one’s point, whatever that point may be. Single acts are rarely sufficient to prove a truth claim and never sufficient to prove a trend. Christians should not use them in that manner either.
However, from a biblical worldview perspective, single acts do provide continued evidence of that which is already established as absolute truth. Although all of the tragic details have not yet been uncovered, let us not lose sight of the simple reality of it all. Evil lurks in the heart of man and it will erupt when it is allowed to act unconstrained.
When it does, that eruption can be breathtaking in its cruelty and leave, in its wake, not only physical destruction, but emotional devastation. As you know from Monday's blog, I am dealing with the loss of a very dear friend at the moment and I sympathize deeply with those who are struggling to cope with this senseless and heartbreaking tragedy. You are the object of my sincere prayers that God will bring His peace to you in the midst of your sorrow.
(I am sending this blog out to the subscriber’s of the Truth Project E-newsletter. If you are one, forgive the redundancy, I just felt it was an important topic that I wanted to address with them as well.)
I didn’t want to open it. As soon as I saw it in my inbox, I got up and walked around saying, “No…please, Lord, no.” I sat back down and stared at it, although it was starting to swim around. I think it was an automatic movement that finally clicked on the email and then I began to read the words…
"It is with great sadness for our human hearts that I tell you that Sheryl DeWitt went home to be with the Lord on Sunday afternoon (April 15).”
I don’t remember anything else, though I am sure I read the rest of it and it is so very hard to type right now. I am interrupted by moments of sobbing and so thankful that my sweet wife is on this trip with me. It helps to hold each other when you weep deeply.
Sheryl was a dear friend whose physical body gave way to a cancer that was so quick in its deathly work. Only a few months ago, she was delighting us all with her ever-present smile and infectious joy…her comforting hugs and words of kindness and encouragement. How is it possible that she is now gone?
Sheryl was one of four classroom professors with me at Focus on the Family’s Institute. Our students loved her fiercely. It was impossible not to love Sheryl. She was as selfless an individual as I have ever met. You just wanted to be around her. Sheryl was a wife, a mother, a teacher, a counselor, a bouquet of yellow daisies, a bubbling brook and a fountain that brought forth an ever-fresh spring of joy to everyone that came in contact with her.
Enoch walked with God, the Scriptures say, and he was not, because God took him. I have always thought that was because God loved being with Enoch so much that one day He just took him home.
I think that is exactly why Jesus came and got Sheryl yesterday.
I don’t blame Him at all.
Okay, a few more “founders” to listen to as we try to get a feel for the consistent view that the foundations of religion and morality were critical to the republic they had established.
Samuel Adams (he didn't invent beer!)
“The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor…and this alone, that renders us invincible.”
If education in the early life of America was so clearly Christian-based and the founders seemed to believe that education was critical to the well-being of the republic, then we are now led to ask the question: “Why?”
I hinted at that yesterday, and so let’s view a few statements from that era that will help us understand the answer to that question. Let’s begin with our first two presidents: George Washington and John Adams. That will be all we can handle in today’s blog. We’ll take some other founders later. Not that I want to drag this out, but the principles we are going to examine here are extremely critical for understanding the foundations of this nation and, I believe, the foundations that we should be interested in rebuilding.
So, let’s first look at George Washington’s final address to the nation. One would expect the Father of America to take his last opportunity to point us to the fundamentals, and he did not disappoint. Here is an excerpt that I recall hearing for the first time as our family was attending a re-enactment of Washington’s Farewell Address at the Lyceum in Old Alexandria in 1992. Note how he highlights the essential pillars of religion and morality:
These are remarkable statements in light of our culture today, yet they reflect what they believed was critical and help us understand why early American education sought to teach those foundations to its youth.
Tomorrow, I want to look at a few other founders so that we get the feel for how much this was ingrained in their thinking—the notion that the form of government that they had built and their hope for a lasting freedom and liberty was resting upon these two vital foundations.