After Outrage, What?: From Outrage to Outreach
Recent effects of despotic decisions by the Supreme Court have properly produced outrage. But outrage can subside, and it can become all too easy for us to slide back to our everyday routines. In the midst of our outrage, then, it might be worth pondering the question, "After outrage, what?" The abortion issue rightly focuses on the senseless death of the baby. If we zoom out from that focus, however, we'll notice someone else in the picture as well. Taking a wider view of the situation can give the church an effective, gospel-driven, way to address this tragedy.
It was John Adams who said "Facts are stubborn things." If Adams lived in today's America, he would have to amend that statement to something like, "Facts are stubborn things, but their stubbornness pales into insignificance compared to the stubbornness of folly." As the recent Obergefell decision, as well as the less recent Roe vs. Wade decision, show, the intractable darkness of foolishness can suppress the stubbornness of facts in the blink of an eye. In Obergefell, foolishness suppresses the obvious facts of gender, substituting in its place a vacuous and intentionally undefined notion of "love." In Roe vs. Wade, foolishness suppresses the obvious facts of human life, and substitutes a penumbral notion of privacy. In each case, foolishness covers facts like a slimy, diseased blanket.
Washington, now thoroughly adept at causing and celebrating the destruction of a nation, will not solve the problems of folly that it has sanctioned. Instead, it will continue to feed itself by stoking its perpetual survival with whatever fuel is in vogue on a given day. The only solution in the midst of our inevitable decline is the gospel. It is the only good news that has the power to stand against the bad news that now overflows the airwaves like a clogged sewer pipe.
By now, people who are even minimally cognizant of the daily news know that Planned Parenthood is, yet again, exposed for their bloody and torturous trade. For any Christian, outrage is the first and proper response. But, then what? What can Christians do other than be sickened and saddened by the destruction of little, defenseless children, and the sale of their body parts?
This is where outrage can turn to outreach, and tragedy can turn to triumph. When I was in pastoral ministry in Texas, in the late 80s and early 90s, I and a few others determined that the way forward in the abortion disaster was to seek to minister to the mothers who were considering aborting their children. The first thing we had to accomplish was education. Many in the city were supporting Planned Parenthood, and it was thriving. In those days, there was no internet access, so no media clips, etc. But, we had something as powerful. The repentant abortion doctor, Bernard Nathanson, made a film of an abortion that was entitled, "The Silent Scream." It showed the beginning of an abortion as a sharp instrument was inserted into the mother's womb, and into the baby's head. What the film also showed is that the moment the instrument was plunged into the baby's head, his mouth opened -- a "silent scream." I remember showing the film to a group of influential people one evening. After the film was over, a woman raised her hand and asked, "Why didn't they arrest the doctor that did that?" When I said to her, "Because the Supreme Court said this was entirely legal," there was a collective gasp in the room. The reality was setting in.
After a while, the crisis pregnancy center began with full and enthusiastic support. It has been thriving ever since (see http://www.thehopechoice.com). Its mission is to help women who feel trapped, who may not want their own babies, or who have already had an abortion. Each and every one of the women who come to the center hear the good news of Jesus Christ. They are instructed, through the use of ultrasound and of counseling, about their own pregnancies. But they are also instructed about the Way of Life in Christ, the glory of forgiveness in Him, and the reality of real and lasting support in and among His people.
The way forward for the protection of human life is to significantly decrease the demand for Planned Parenthood and other abortionists. That can only happen when the church, in earnest and en masse, determines to spend the time and the money to minister to women who, for a variety of reasons, have been convinced that the destruction of their children is the best, or only, path for them. It's a slow process. It won't grab headlines. It takes a substantial amount of time and money. It takes organization and perseverance. It is a commitment for the long haul. But it is a commitment to the reality that the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, is the only, and glorious, solution to the carnage of 1.5 million babies a year.
Only a fool could ignore or suppress the cold, hard and brutal facts of the abortion industry. But fools abound presently. The one solution to folly is the wisdom and power of God, in the gospel of His Son. Will the church rise up in support of women who need another option? If not, we should expect that the fools who operate and support Planned Parenthood will continue to thrive, even as our momentary outrage, like the daily news, gives way to more folly.