Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4: 9-10
A few days ago I became aware that my own birthdate, November 18, is also the anniversary of the beginning of the modern abortion holocaust. Exactly 100 years ago, on that date, the Soviet Union became the first nation to officially legalize the killing of children in the womb. Since then most of industrialized nations have followed the USSR's example, and for many decades now the leading cause of human death on planet earth has been parents murdering their own offspring.
Aside from the shock of realizing I share a birthday with such a tragic historic event, I am struck by the fact that this is the first I've ever heard about it. Here we are in the midst of the bloodiest genocide in the history of the world and no one even remembers how it began!
Some of this is to be expected. The world at large has no interest in memorializing its crimes.* According to our secular neighbors, abortion is nothing more than a medical procedure that, if anything, has liberated mankind from the slavery of caring for children and helped build our 'civilization'. As tiny bodies continue to stack up**, year after year, we can expect no tears from them.
Less understandable is the forgetfulness of the church and the pro-life movement.
Visible acts of mourning are not common amongst pro-lifers. Yes, we have the March for Life every January 22nd, but not much else. And for years now the March itself has taken on an atmosphere more reminiscent of a carnival than a funeral. There are gravesites for preborn babies scattered around the nation, but most of us don't know where they are. Indeed, it was only a few years ago that anyone thought to set aside a particular day (September 18) for visiting them, and attendance at such ceremonies is still quite low. Pro-life groups erect "cemeteries of the innocents", but these are temporary, and often desecrated by pro-aborts. There have been no songs written to grieve the victims of abortion, few works of art created, and almost no traditions established.
Abortion survives, in part, because even those who intellectually acknowledge it as evil remain emotionally detached
I sympathize. Who wants to remember abortion? Not me. Life would be far easier if I forgot it was even happening. If, like the world at large, I could pretend it was not a crime, or (like the majority of the Christian church) I could pretend it only one in a long list of problems that had always existed, probably always would exist and concerning which I possess no personal responsibility, I'd probably be happier.
But that's wrong. It's wrong to focus on my own happiness while my brother suffers unjustly! Not only is it an insult to his dignity, but it may be a key reason why he continues to suffer. Lack of weeping insulates us from the preborn, fictionalizing and abstracting their plight. Of course, working to end abortion takes precedence over remembering its victims. We should not emphasize the building of monuments over the establishment of justice (Luke 11:48). But abortion survives, in part, because even those who intellectually acknowledge it as evil remain emotionally detached. Our heads hate abortion but our hearts are indifferent.
In Scripture, God's blessing usually arrives after people express their repentance (for themselves and for their nation) with visible signs of sorrow. It's not all that's required, but it's an important part.
It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, "Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days"
1 Kings 21: 27-29
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not.
Jonah 4: 5-10
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel ... stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
Nehemiah 9: 1-2
For these reasons I've long advocated that we constantly commemorate the ongoing war on babies in visible, tangible ways: public mourning and acts of contrition. We should wear black clothing, fly our flags at half mast, fast, pray, weep and wail. We should set places at our dinner tables for the children who are missing, devoutly observe days of silence and yes, commemorate the tragic dates when their government sanctioned extermination began. I go further still: our lives as a whole should be categorized by the solemnity befitting a people at war. Indeed, so long as the worldwide genocide continues, perhaps we should even refrain from much of the innocent fun we currently enjoy. Perhaps the people of God in this age should be marked by our unwillingness to simply enjoy temporal life alongside the rest of society in their games and celebrations.
If such suggestions seem extreme to you, please remember that you live in extreme times. Never before the 20th Century has the entire world waged war against its own defenseless children. As the wickedness surrounding us is radical, so should be our response. As the inspired writer of Ecclesiastes tells us "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ... time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance." (Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4). I think the time for weeping has come, and it may last a long, long while.
Perhaps the people of God in this age should be marked by our unwillingness to simply enjoy temporal life alongside the rest of society in their games and celebrations
I tried to honor the victims of abortion this week through fasting and prayer. It was really all I could think of. Aside from some articles online, abortion's centennial anniversary seems completely overlooked by the world. Worse still, I fasted alone, for while my family is pro-life, they do not share my burning passion for change. This is yet another testament to the antagonistic relationship we all seem to have towards abortion's inconvenient victims.
There is no way to overstate the tragedy of this modern, and still ongoing, holocaust. Its body count is impossible to accurately determine, but even the lowest estimates are far over 2 billion. Unlike the communism that birthed it, abortion shows no sign of having run its historical course.
One day, however, it will end. To bring that day about, let us make time to fight, and let us finally make time to weep.
* True, some radical feminists are invested in honoring the Roe vs Wade decision as a triumph of women's rights. But they are a minority. That's why the average person on the street can't tell you what's special about January 22nd. Even in our debauched age, even pro-aborts would rather just tolerate abortion that celebrate it. Their consciences speak truth even if their minds reject it.
** Figuratively, that is. Usually, the bodies of aborted children are ingloriously disposed as medical waste.