Rhetoric is a slippery device. Sometimes we use it to obfuscate, sometimes to clarify. Sometimes, however, our attempts to clarify betray us, and we end up obfuscating. For over forty years now Christians have entered into debate on the abortion issue. We brought the wisdom of God’s Word. We brought the latest information from genetics. We brought profound moral philosophers. We wrote learned journal articles, engaged in nuanced debates. We thought we were fighting for life, but is it just possible that the devil was successfully turning our labors into policy conundrums, political fodder, even armchair theologizing? Isn’t it possible that our calm, polite, reasoned discussions have actually hardened the consciences of our opponents, even while soothing our own? It’s true, as we have been saying, that life is sacred, that abortion stops a beating heart, that it creates two victims. But what if those truths don’t end up highlighting but instead cover for this clearer truth—that babies are murdered here.
To help us grasp this, consider this scenario. Imagine a country just like Nazi Germany, with a few differences. Suppose that a strong majority believes that the “final solution” isn’t the mass destruction of Jewish people, but the destruction of babies. Suppose there is no law that requires the murder of these babies, but rather there is an ideology, a religion that encourages the babies’ own mothers to volunteer to murder their babies. Now suppose that while the law of the land protects the “liberty” of these moms to murder their babies the land also has a long and cherished commitment to freedom of speech. The law forbids you from interfering with the murder of these babies, but it protects your right to speak the Word of God into the situation. It ensures that you are free to witness to the followers of this dark religion. What would you do?
Would you treat this as an academic exercise? Would you enter into a moderated debate with a proponent of these killings? Would you insist that the only thing we can do is pray for revival in the land? Would you lobby for more sterile killing places? Would you vote for men who vow to protect the killings, but will seek to reduce the numbers? Would you slap a bumper sticker on your car? Would you boycott companies that donate to the slaughter? Would you occasionally feel frustrated because you don’t know what to do, but then never get around to answering the question?
The answer is that you would do precisely what you are now doing. The scenario isn’t, of course, make believe. It is precisely our situation. My friends who first created the signs, and have recently released the documentary Babies Are Murdered Here have, by the grace of God, reminded us of the simple truth. They have adopted an anti-rhetoric that strips away everything but the truth—babies are murdered here.
My question is, can we take it all in? For forty years we have argued for Babies. That is, we have sought to persuade the world of what they always and everywhere already knew, that unborn babies are unborn babies. We in the pro-life movement are only now beginning to wake up to the equally obvious truth—these babies Are Murdered. Such can still, however, leave us in our abstract armchair context. It is one thing to be appalled, aghast at great evil that is far away. We get our high dudgeon up over Mugabe, Kim Jong Un, Kony, wicked and distant men. But babies are not just being murdered in distant and exotic lands. They are being murdered Here, in our neighborhoods, by our neighbors. May we love our neighbors enough to be Here, visiting widows and orphans in their trouble. Lord, have mercy.