How about we address some gaps in the conversation about Planned Parenthood’s selling the body parts of unborn babies?1 The main gap I’ve seen has been the failure to prime Christian hearts in the gospel as the context for our response. The second is offering solutions which confront our ridiculous demand for one-dimensional quick fixes to long-term, massively complex problems, plus the fact that the average American’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish (eight seconds).2
So far, horror, outrage, and disgust are the main motives I’ve observed in the various secular and Christian cries to respond to the Planned Parenthood exposé. While these emotions have their place in the human experience, I have a hard time finding God extolling them as good human motives for Christian action. Instead, what I find exalted in the Bible as a supreme human motive for Christian action is a robust combination of reverence and gratitude for God, particularly as He’s experienced by those who believe in the gospel. Out of respect for our eight-second attention span, I’ll cite only five of the many instances where this takes place in the Bible.
We must pause to reconnect with the gospel before and as we respond to the Planned Parenthood debacle. Gospel-captivation, and the beautiful responses it elicits, are gifts from God that are only appreciated with time and attention. I urge us to embrace this idea, encourage us to ask God’s Spirit to do this work in our hearts, and offer a sample prayer to get us started.
Lord, please help me quiet my heart so I can reconnect with Your gospel. As I do that, I admit that I sell You out for much less than Planned Parenthood’s offer of $50 for a baby’s liver. I do it for free! All the time! Nobody pays me even one thin dime to disbelieve, mistrust, and forget You, and then run headlong into sins like gossip, slander, lust, deceit, (inward) murder, manipulation, grumbling, coveting, and more. In the light of Your holiness, I realize that my performance merits nothing but Your righteous wrath for all eternity. I confess my own sin and ask You to forgive and cleanse me by the blood of Jesus.
God, thank You for guaranteeing forgiveness when I confess my sins to You and trust in Christ as my Savior. Thank You, Jesus, for living, dying, and rising to make this possible. Thank You for the grace by which You cast my sins into the sea forever. I am so grateful for Your unfailing kindness to me, O Lord! Please continue to captivate me with You and Your gospel as I offer myself to You today and respond to the challenges You set before me. Amen.
Reconnecting with the gospel changes us from the inside-out and prepares us for “Gospel Application.” As those freshly aware that we are saved sinners, we spontaneously drop the rocks (fiery Facebook posts, emails, etc.) we intended to fling at “those evil people.” We, after all, deserved to be stoned by God because of our sin! Christ took our “stoning” so that we could receive God’s mercy! So, as gospel-captivated people, we humbly and energetically apply the gospel by living-out God’s truth in love. Responding in this way brings glory to God and points to Christ as we quite naturally gush His grace and truth.
As we move toward application, our compulsion to “actrightnowtoendtheprobleminonefellswoopdarnit!” comes into full view. As long as we’re gospel-captivated, I say, “Go ahead and act now, just do it as one who’s gospel-captivated and don’t think that one letter, email, or prayer is going to do the job.” I’ll address sustained action in a moment, but for now, here are a few ways you and others can live out your gospel-captivation in response to Planned Parenthood’s evil both now and later.
1 I was on sabbatical when this story first broke. To catch you up, starting in July, 2015, the Center for Medical Progress [CMP] released several undercover videos which show top Planned Parenthood officials negotiating to sell the body parts of aborted babies. The evil exposed by these videos consists in both the content (selling body parts) and context (casual lunches) for these conversations. The videos garnered national news coverage along with a media frenzy which included many from the religious world. See all videos and read their transcripts here.
2 For more on this figure, click here. It’s also based on extensive, non-scientific research and my own personal experience over the last ten yea- Oops! I’m receiving an incoming text. Gotta go. Bye!
3 What compelled Isaiah to raise his hand to serve God among his own sinful people (they made Planned Parenthood look like amateurs in evil) in Isaiah 6? It was his radical and personal experience of God’s saving grace! Before confessing others’ sins, Isaiah lamented his own sin and his consequent peril before a holy God, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (v. 5a, emphasis added). Then, he experienced the gracious, saving mercy of God despite his sin, “And he (a seraphim of God) touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (v. 7). Isaiah’s hand shot up to serve to God as an outflow of these experiences, “Here am I! Send me!” (v. 8b).