In 1995 Pope John Paul II popularised the phrase “a culture of death” to characterise the West in its embracing of euthanasia and abortion on demand. No longer could it be assumed that the West valued life for, in fact, life was increasingly far more dangerous for the infirmed, the aged and the unborn.
Sadly, the mid 90s was only the tip of the iceberg, for the culture of death seems to be steadily on the march. Consider a recent story on the News24 website. The article was titled, “Aus hospital aborts wrong foetus.” The title itself points to the blasé acceptance of the culture of death.
This account is so disturbing that I feel obliged to give the disclaimer: “viewer discretion advised.” In relating the article I will insert the appropriate biblical terms in brackets. I do so for the purpose of drawing a clear distinction between the biblical culture of life and the satanic culture of death.
The article begins: “An Australian hospital was investigating on Thursday after a woman carrying 32-week old twins had the wrong foetus [child] terminated [murdered] in a botched attempted procedure [murder].” The article refers to this “botched attempted procedure” as “a terrible tragedy.”
This came about as the result of the mother being informed that one of the “boys” (here, they used the correct word) had “a congenital heart defect that would require years of operations, if he survived at all.” The article says that the mother “made the heart-breaking decision to abort [murder] the child on Tuesday. The mother then endured a lengthy caesarean section . . . during which the life [note again the correct word] of the sick foetus [baby] was also terminated [murdered].”
When they realised that they had murdered the “wrong” baby the Royal Women’s Hospital issued this statement, “[We] can confirm a distressing clinical accident [botched assassination] occurred on Tuesday. This is a terrible tragedy and the hospital is deeply sorry for the loss suffered by the patient [the willing accomplice to murder and manslaughter] and her family.” Of course, what they failed to mention was that all involved had just ended the lives of two of the family members.
I suppose what astounded me the most, and so highlighted the culture of death, was this statement issued by the hospital, “We are conducting a full investigation and continue to offer the family and affected staff every support.”
Can you imagine in any other context a confessed murderer, caught in the very act, being offered public sympathy and support?
Unsurprisingly, the article quoted a friend of the family who said that “the family was struggling to cope.” The friend went on to say of the mother: “She went to the hospital with two babies [note the correct terminology] and now she has none. And she had the heartache of giving birth to her sick baby. She’s traumatised.” No doubt!
The family later issued a statement that they understand the public interest but would have “preferred” that the journalist would have “respected our request that he not run this story. The significant media attention triggered by this article has added to our stress and has put our privacy at risk at what has been a very difficult time.” Again, no doubt!
This account highlights the reprobate nature of a world that has rejected God. And it highlights the consequential moral confusion as well. After all, in one breath, the twins are called babies and in the next are dismissed as mere foetuses that can be killed at will.
Again, where is there any semblance in this story of sympathy for these murdered children? How can the guilty mother expect to have sympathy for what she has done? How can the hospital speak of giving this family and hospital staff “support”? This was not a “clinical accident”; it was a planned assassination that was botched. The Premier of Victoria said later, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for anybody to draw any conclusions other than this is a horrible tragedy.” Really? On the authority of God’s Word, I choose to disagree. This was calculated murder by those who did not see it as murder. And therein lies the underlying tragedy: We are so inundated with a culture of death that a mother can undergo a procedure that will end the life of her baby and yet not see it as murder. In a culture dominated by such an evil worldview, is there any hope?
For the believer in Jesus Christ, yes there is. The gospel is a message that promises life to those who are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-5)—even for mothers who are guilty of killing their children. We can pray that this mother, the doctors and the hospital staff that were accomplices to this murder will repent and believe the gospel. There are many accounts of those guilty of such sin having done so. Though we can never minimise the evil of abortion, neither must we ever minimise the power of the gospel to forgive and transform sinners. In our indignation towards a culture of death, let us never lose our gospel-driven compassion—and hope.
We need to hang on to the hope that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ not only will give life to those who believe but that it also offers hope to the church living in the midst of a culture of death. As those who experience the life of Christ are transformed in their worldview by Christ, the culture of death will increasingly be confronted with those who value life—those who value it enough to speak out on behalf of the living.
We are grateful for Eva’s Hope, a prolife ministry of BBC. Though this ministry is in its infancy, it already is making its biblical voice to be heard in many ways. If you sense a burden to be more involved in this area then please get involved! In the new year, this ministry will take on some new initiatives and will require the prayers of our church. As a church we need to be praying much for this gospel-driven ministry. Put it on your prayer list and regularly visit the throne of grace on its behalf.
Yes, the culture of death seems to be (paradoxically) alive and well. And yet the culture of life through our risen Lord is far more alive—and far more potent. May the Spirit of God grant us grace to have such a glorious vision of the Lord through the gospel of Christ, that we will have effectual hope as we encounter the culture of death.