Thursday 18th April 2013
Re-published with permission from Mike’s blog.
Yesterday I created a file on my computer marked “Infanticide.” I intend to start making notes, collecting articles, and finding materials about the subject. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while and I’m convinced that now is the time to start gathering info and getting ready to deal with the subject. Let me tell you why.
I’m no chess grand master. I’ve read a few chess books; I know a few opening moves, some risky gambits; I know enough to hold my own. One thing I’ve learned about chess is that you have to think ahead, usually, at least two moves ahead. As a Christian in an increasingly aggressive secular culture, I believe, much like a game of chess, that we have to start thinking two moves ahead of the game. We have to identify what’s on, what’s next, and what is after that.
In terms of “what’s on”, that is obviously the same sex marriage (SSM) debate. Now I am opposed to SSM for various reasons, most of which will not convince most people! At the end of the day, SSM is about the attempt to compel government and society to affirm a person’s emotional attachments and choice of lifestyle entirely apart from any kind of sexual ecology. I think I have a solution to that debate which would get religion out of civil unions and government out of marriage – but that’s a different story. In any case, it’s time to face up. While there are some remarkably resistant hold outs – including Australia much to my surprise – the game is pretty much over. I’m convinced that SSM is inevitable. Nearly every non-Christian under 30 that I know is in favor of it. Even rugged beer swilling rugby stars are coming out in support of it. The writing is on the wall. While there might be a few pockets that hold out for longer, the barbarians will breach the gates sooner rather than later.
In terms of, “what’s next”, it will be euthanasia. In Australia, the Greens are already aggressively campaigning for it. The situation is probably similar in the UK and USA. There are several societies that are committed to its promotion (e.g., The Hemlock Society). Europe and parts of Asia already have it in places and will legalize it further (I think Holland even has “mobile” euthanasia clinics). In light of western individualism and stories about horrible suffering, euthanasia too, is probably coming. I reckon it will be an easier win for secularists since it reflects the choice of the individual, alleviates suffering, and does not interfere with anyone else’s relationships. It too is probably inevitable. While I am genuinely sympathetic to euthanasia (who wants to see people suffer?), it will lead to a de-valuation of the elderly, will result in reduced funding for palliative care, and will be used to knock off senile parents by kids who want to cash in on their parent’s nest egg.
Then as regards to, “what’s after that”, I am convinced it will be infanticide. Already we have seen a vast array of philosophical arguments put forward for it by Peter Singer. Last year there was a big hoopla when two Melbourne academics advocated that new born infants are not persons and infants are not therefore not entitled to the protection that personhood conveys. More recently, the spate of “post-birth abortions” performed in Philadelphia has provoked outrage, though much of the media has deliberately muted their response. Added to that, Planned Parenthood has recently defended infanticide: If you pay money, you are owed a dead baby! I think infanticide is a logically consistent corollary of abortion. If you are going to terminate a child in-utero, then let’s be honest, going six inches down the birth canal can hardly change the infant’s legal rights or ontological status. So infanticide is just a logical outworking of abortion. But a cruel, bastardly, and barbaric logic is still cruel, bastardly, and barbaric regardless of how internally consistent it is.
Campaigners for infanticide will make their case in a gradual way. First, they won’t call it “infanticide” (killing infants) but “post-birth abortion”. The reasons are obvious. The word “infanticide” strikes horror into our hearts. But “post-birth abortion” makes it sound like the termination is simply an extension of abortion, which we are culturally adjusted to. Yet the terminology is grossly inaccurate. You can “abort” something in process like a pregnancy, but killing an infant is not an abortion, its an execution. Second, campaigners will advocate the infants born with terminal illnesses should be euthanised so as to prevent the infant’s suffering. That is the compassionate thing to do! Third, then the campaign will shift to children with chronic disabilities and all kinds of generative diseases and then move onto to any minor defect like cleft palates. Planned Parenthood will parade teary-eyed parents wishing they could have terminated their sick child either in-utero or soon after birth to prevent the child’s suffering and their own. Fourth, then radical feminists will tell us that women will never be truly liberated until they are given the right to terminate their own infants. Fifth, we will be told that the only reason for not believing in infanticide is that you are a religious whack job. Well you get the picture by now.
Some might think that I’m paranoid on this issue, but I think time will prove that I am more likely to be prophetic. The building blocks for the debate are already here and it is time to get our stuff together on this.
The introduction of SSM will be a confirmation that Christendom is truly over. The introduction of euthansia will mean that secular humanism is now the default philosophical setting. The advent of infanticide will mean that our culture has returned to paganism; returned to a time when ethics were simply a matter of power and aesthetics. Don’t believe me, consider this famous line from P.Oxy. 4.744, it’s a letter from a man to his wife about her pregnancy.
Hilarion to his sister Alis, many greetings, also to my lady Berous and Apollonarion. Know that I am still in Alexandria; and do not worry if they wholly set out, I am staying in Alexandria. I ask you and entreat you, take care of the child, and if I receive my pay soon, I will send it up to you. Above all, if you bear a child and it is male, let it be; if it is female, cast it out. You have told Aphrodisias, “Do not forget me.” But how can I forget you? Thus I’m asking you not to worry. The 29th year of Caesar, Pauni 23. (verso) Hilarion to Alis, deliver.
Pagans routinely killed infants by exposure, just dumped them out in the wilderness to die from the elements, to be eaten alive by wild beasts, or else to be picked up by slave traders. Modern infanticide is just a variation of an old theme. This is where some want to take us.
It is time to plan our response. When I was in the Army I worked in a military headquarters in the Intelligence Branch (S2). The S2 branch would work closely with Operations (S3) especially when it came to planning the future of the battle. The key to winning a battle was to get inside the opponent’s decision cycle by being able to identify and respond to events quicker than one’s adversary could. In military terms, this is what is called the OODA loop. That stands for Observe, Orientate, Decide, and Act. If you can do the OODA loop faster than your opponent then you can win the conflict.
In the coming battle, we need to do the OODA loop faster than advocates of infanticide. We need to observe cultural trends and public opinion on the subject, orientate ourselves to the debate by analyzing what might sway people for or against the subject, decide how to confront the issue and create a rhetoric that will induce prejudice against infanticide, and then act (God willing) will the full weight of moral authority and argumentative power to make sure that the pagans don’t win. Christians can respond a number of ways to this issue: establish an Infants Defence League, debate in the public square, books, articles in the popular press, through academia, church movements, public protest, and the like. I very much like Derek Rishmawy’s suggestion for how we might respond to this issue:
Our persuasive efforts in cultivating a culture of life must not be confined to the political or intellectual realm—it must be rooted in a persuasive practice of life in the Church itself. Contemporary post-birth abortion advocates want to take us back to the ancient pagan world where the practice of infant exposure of the weak and the inconvenient was sanctioned by law and advocated by philosophers as a means of proper state-craft. In response, Christians must find creative ways to imitate their forebears who made a practice of rescuing the discarded lives their pagan neighbors tossed to the trash. Either through greater support of adoption and foster-care agencies, communities that intentionally create space for and welcome young mothers in difficult situations, or efforts such as those of Korean pastor Lee Jon-Rak, who created a drop-box for unwanted (due to sex, defect, etc.) children to be left safely and cared for through the church; the Church must give a beautiful witness, in word and deed, to a gospel of life that captures the moral imagination of our culture as it did in those early Christian centuries.
I have written very emotively on the subject above, and I don’t apologize, for it is a subject that should prompt great emotion in us all. If infanticide ever becomes permissible it will mean the death of western culture as we know it. No longer a light in the darkness, but a greater part of the darkness. It will mean that we are ruled by Barbarians with Law degrees from Harvard. I believe that the one group with the resources and testicular fortitude to stand up for the defenceless, to be a voice for the voiceless, is the church of Jesus Christ. It’s what we do. Whether that was stopping gladiatorial contests in the arena or setting up hospices for the dying. In a world, like the Roman empire, that is often cold, brutal, and dark, where the weak are exploited or expendable, Christians are to be lights against darkness and a force against evil.
Mike Bird is a lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne. His blog is called Euangelion and he will be giving a public lecture on “What is evangelical about evangelical theology?” at Ridley next Tuesday, April 23 at 10AM.