It happened during a meal. In between bites, Planned Parenthood executive Deborah Nucatola bragged that abortionists are “very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” All around her people are eating and drinking, waiters are taking orders. She lifts her fork to her mouth, talks about the best way to crush a baby so as to harvest the most commodities from his body, chews the food, swallows it. As my wife and I watched the video last night, despite all the horrific details, the thought that wouldn’t go away was this: it all happened around a table, during polite conversation, as if this were business as usual. Evil never has the face I want it to. I anticipate a gargoyle-like imp to skulk by but the girl next door fills the room with her smile. I’m scouting for a whispered huddle in darkness behind iron doors but instead three people sit around a restaurant table to dialogue publicly. Serial killers and child rapists and human traffickers look like they might show up at my family reunion as Uncle Charlie and no one would bat an eye. I don’t want evil to look that way. I don’t want it to look ordinary, neighborly, inconspicuous. In other words, I don’t want evil to look like me.
One of the most frightening truths to embrace is that we are complicit in the atrocities of this world. We decry the horrific selfishness of the murder of unborn infants. We oppose all manner of societal evils. And we are right, indeed, duty bound, to do so and to continue doing so. Yes, by every godly means possible, let us labor and fight with unflagging zeal, with truth, with love, against injustice of every kind.
And as we do, let us also recognize that if we go far enough back, we’ll discover that the Deborah Nucatolas of this world are our sister. According to the Bible, we all have the same father and mother. And in this world, east of Eden, that parentage oozes sin from our inmost selves, at times graphic, at times prosaic, but always evil nonetheless. The human population is a family gone wrong. And still going wrong. And none of us are innocent.
In some ways I understand, and in other ways too profound for me to grasp, I have fed the flames of the ongoing corruption of the world. The ripple effect of my callousness, my self-absorption, my demand for preferential treatment, my glory-lust, my pride, my selfish ambition, my perversion of sexuality—the ripple effect of all these extends to my family and friends and often to complete strangers.
Let me give you an example. Last week, a delivery driver for one of my customers zipped in behind me and cut me off when I was backing up to their dock. I lost my cool. I was pissed off. So I confronted him inside the dock area. I told him, in no uncertain terms, just what I thought of his stupid, unsafe action. Unbeknownst to me, his boss was standing nearby. He took me aside and asked me what had happened. So I told him. And he said that he would take care of it.
Now what if that other driver had lost his job because I, in my anger, confronted him the way I did? And what if he stormed home to his wife and children, furious because he was fired. And he and his wife got into a screaming match, the children cowered behind their bedroom doors, and he slammed the door behind him to head to the local bar. And suppose he got wasted that night, climbed behind the wheel, and didn’t see the red light, nor the semi coming from the other direction. And the next day, after a long chain of events begun by my loss of temper, a man wound up in the morgue, his wife a widow, and their little children left with the final memory of their father being an angry, unemployed, embittered man.
This is far from an unrealistic possibility. This stuff happens. And it is but one tiny example of a world in which the web of evil is entirely connected at every juncture. As my friend, William Cwirla, put it on my Facebook page, “We’d like to rid the world of evil. But then, we’d have to rid the world of ourselves.” As long as we continue to sin, we feed the monster of a creation curved inward.
That is why, when I watched the video of the executive talk about harvesting body parts from aborted children, I not only thought, “This is horrific. This must be stopped. This must be exposed.” I also thought, “What have I done to help create a world in which these things happen? What evils have I done that have contributed to such evils within my human family? How have I failed, in love and compassion, to help my brothers and sisters who offer, procure, and even profit from abortions?” No matter how loudly I decry an evil in society, let me even more loudly decry the evils in my own soul.
Dexter Morgan talks about the dark passenger whom he cannot flee. I wish he were right. But that darkness is not a passenger; he’s behind the wheel. He’s within us. He has infiltrated every part of who we are. So as much as we lament abortion, let us lament our lack of love for the neighbor, our hatred for those who do us wrong, for all our aborted attempts to do good. As much as we lament rape, let us lament our perverted fantasies, our lustful desires, our abuse of others for our selfish satisfaction. As much as we lament racism, let us lament our inflated opinions of our own moral superiority to others.
The longer I stare into the face of evil in the world, the more clearly do I see the reflection of my own face. And the more clearly do I do see my need for Jesus Christ, who is the only hope for us all. In him we have forgiveness and in him we have peace. We also have love for our neighbor, who is our brother and sister. It is a love that calls us to confront evil of every form, beginning with the evil inside us and extending outward to all.
What we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who welcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!