This past weekend Planned Parenthood turned 100. As several politicians and pro-choice supporters publicly celebrated the milestone, many Christians and others committed to defending life and human dignity mourned.
While supporters see a century of Planned Parenthood as an era of choice and physical autonomy, many of us see it as an era of death, both of unborn humans and of the consciences of millions of women and men. Many Americans cannot hear the words “Planned Parenthood” without remembering a series of videos that revealed leaders of the organization having cavalier lunch conversations about the best prices for infant body parts. And we also remember the explicit social Darwinism of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and her vision to create a society with fewer
“undesirables”—including minorities and the disabled.
Every human person naturally ought to recoil from such ideas. But for a Christian, especially, such language ought to trigger in us thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth, who identified himself with human nature, taking on flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). He was an “embryo.” He was a “fetus.” He was a nursing infant. He was a child. He is an adult.
An attack on vulnerable humanity is an attack on the image of God. And that image is not abstract. The image of God has a name and a blood type. The image of God is Christ Jesus Himself (Colossians 1:15). Every human image-bearer is patterned after the Alpha and Omega image of the invisible God.
And at the cross, Jesus stood with and for humanity in suffering. We are often told that abortion is ethical because the “products of conception” aren’t “viable,” that is, they cannot live outside the womb. This suggests that the value of a human life consists in its autonomous power. But Jesus was conceived in the most vulnerable situation possible in the ancient world—as a fatherless orphan. He lived as a migrant refugee outrunning with his family the Planned Parenthood of his day, King Herod, into a land hostile to His own. He died helplessly convulsing on a cross, dependent on others even for hydration. Even in death, Jesus counted Himself with thieves and was buried in a borrowed grave. In His humanity, Jesus wasn’t “viable,” either.
Moreover, like the dead orphans of Planned Parenthood, Jesus was seen as valuable only in terms of His “parts.” The soldiers cast lots for his clothing (Mark 15:23). With the very King of Israel standing before them, the Roman soldiers could see His value only in terms of how much money they could fetch from His garments. That should shock the conscience.
The cross should remind us that Jesus hears the cries of the suffering, even those whose cries are unable to be heard. But the cross should also remind us that Jesus saves sinners. The 100-year legacy of Planned Parenthood is horrendous, both in terms of social injustice and in terms of personal sin against God. What can wash away such sin? Nothing. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
As we lament and protest Planned Parenthood, it may be tempting to despair, thinking we are powerless in the face of such well-funded and well-protected evil. But we cannot forget Jesus. All the royal rage and blood-thirst in the world could not stop God from accomplishing His purposes through the Messiah child.
God used a young virgin and a quiet carpenter to preserve the life of the Savior. Let’s follow their example of obedience and fight the spiritual powers that seek to kill, steal and destroy, by carrying the Gospel of the baby who came to give life, and life abundantly. As we stand against the abortion industry, and the culture of death behind it, let’s point to Christ. He was here long before Planned Parenthood, and His Kingdom will be here long after Planned Parenthood has been utterly forgotten.
Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. This column first appeared on his website at www.russellmoore.com.