Thirty-eight years of getting what we want

This weekend it will be 38 years since the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the United States.

It is true that the total number of abortions and the abortion rate in the United States have been declining from 1990 until the most recent statistics in 2008, when there was a slight increase in both.  But two recent stories indicate that the mindset towards abortion still has not changed.

Two weeks ago it was reported that 39% of all pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion.  Of 225,000 pregnancies, more than 87,000 were aborted.  Said the Archbishop of New York Catholic Church — “I re-affirm Cardinal John O’Connor’s promise of a quarter-century ago that every woman facing a difficult pregnancy will be provided with free, confidential help of the highest quality from the Archdiocese of New York.”

If help has been provided for 25 years and the abortion rate is still so high, it seems logical to assume that perhaps a different form of help may be needed.  Perhaps the problem is different than has been assumed.

In another story from Australia, the parents of twin boys had those children aborted because they already had three boys and they wanted another daughter to replace a previously born baby girl who had died shortly after birth.

As Albert Mohler noted, “The abortion of the twin boys precipitated an international outcry, with headlines carrying the news around the world. But, even as millions were morally troubled by the account, many were unable to muster a moral argument against the abortions. Why? Because the logic of abortion has been so widely accepted in the larger society.”

What’s happening?  Why were 1.2 million babies aborted and why are rates increasing and why is sexual selection used as a legitimate excuse for killing a pair of babies?

One reason that abortion rates are rising again is because the economy is down.  One political science professor has suggested, “Abortion numbers go down when the economy is good and go up when the economy is bad, so the stalling may be a function of a weaker economy.…If the economy does better, you’ll see numbers trending down again.”

In other words, individuals are willing to end a baby’s life if it means it will lessen their own personal economic stress.

But the real problem isn’t economics.  It’s desires and wants and wishes and lusts and idols.  Abortion is still a viable and accepted option to a pregnancy for both doctors and mothers and couples for the same reason that you and I have conflicts and arguments and anger:  “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder” (Js. 4:2).

We want something. We don’t have it.  So we will do anything — even kill — in order to get it.  So some couples want financial ease and stability more than a baby, and the baby is aborted.  Some couples want a child of a particular sex (in China, boys, for one couple in Australia, girls), so they abort a child of the opposite sex in order to hopefully have the child of their desires later.  And other doctors and families don’t want to be inconvenienced with caring for a terminally ill patient (a spouse, parent, or child), and so that life is terminated in some fashion and given the more appealing label euthanasia.

All this is to say that the real problem about abortions and euthanasia and all right-to-life issues is spiritual.  It’s an issue of covetousness and idolatry.  What will someone do to get what he wants?  What will he do when his desires are threatened?  What will he do to keep what he desires?  As John Piper noted a number of years ago,

We kill marriages and we kill unborn babies because they cut across our desires; they stand in the way of our unencumbered self-enhancement. And we live in a culture where self-enhancement and self-advancement is god. And if self-enhancement is god, then the One who is at work in the womb shaping a person in his own image is not God and the assault on his work is not sacrilegious, but obedience to the god of self.

Why has abortion on demand reached such awesome proportions in our land? Because beneath all the rhetoric it is the agenda of Satan, who, according to Jesus, has been a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). The apostle Paul said that when we love the world and follow its desires, we are following the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2–3).

Why do we have an abortion problem in American (and the world)?  Because people are idolaters and they love their sinful inclinations and desires more than they love God.  For 38 years, individuals have been getting what they want, not knowing that what they want is not only killing others, but also killing their own capacity to know and love God.

And that means that the ultimate solution to abortion and euthanasia is the gospel. The solution is to teach idolaters (of every kind, not just abortion-loving individuals) that loving God is more satisfying than any other desire.  When a heart is inflamed with a passion for Christ, all other lesser desires will diminish in their hearts and fade away.

Our message to idolaters is not condemnation but hope — that through Christ there is forgiveness for every form of idolatry and that the false, imitation gods can be replaced by the one, great God and He will give them all that they need and want — and more.  The solution to idolatry is to replace the imposter god with the true God.

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