A Time to Mourn; A Time to Warn
For the last four months, my family has been trying to sell our house. There hasn't been a lot of interest. But last Friday afternoon, a rare showing was scheduled, which required us to vacate the premises for an hour. My wife took the kids with her in one car. I took our dog in the other. Somewhere between the UPS Store and Salvation Army, I heard reference to the Newtown shooting on a Chicago radio station. It was my first news of the tragedy.
After dropping off a bag of clothes at Salvation Army, Charlie and I passed the next hour in the parking lot, waiting for the green light to return home. I spent the time on my phone, reading all the news coming out of Connecticut, until it finally poured over into Friday's blog post, which was written almost entirely in our family van. I've learned over the years that Friday afternoon is the absolute worst time to post new content to the website. Almost all of our web traffic dries up over the weekend, but I went ahead and posted it anyway. I figured a couple people would see it, and that would be that.
As it turned out, that post quickly became the most read and "liked" in the history of the Abort73 blog. On Saturday, while Carrie and the kids were doing some Christmas shopping, I took the basic premise of Friday's blog and made it into a short video. The attention garnered by these two pieces has been remarkable, but it has not been all positive. I've heard both directly and indirectly that their release was in very poor taste. And for the most part, this criticism isn't coming from the outside. It's coming from those who agree with me on abortion, but question the wisdom of my timing. Here's a sampling:
- While I agree, save it for another day. Romans 12:15 ...weep with those who weep. This is a time to weep.
- I don't agree with abortion, but to put it in a post like this is heartless for the ones who lost their lives in the shooting.
- I can appreciate the need to save lives, but... THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WRONG TIME TO MAKE A POINT LIKE THIS! HOW CAN YOU SIT THERE AND PLAY UP A TRAGEDY IN ORDER TO BENEFIT YOUR CAUSE?! This is so self-serving and definitely the wrong way to go about ending abortion.
- I just lost all respect for this company. BOTH children killed by guns and abortion should be remembered. I could never imagine life without my little one. But this is not the time or the place to make a competition out of what is more deadly. Have some freaking' respect for those families that don't get to have Christmas with their children. Good lord. I'm disliking this page.
- At a time like this where people's hearts have been broken for these dear children, I don't think it is the right time to post something like this. I completely agree with the message in it. It's real. It's the truth, but we have been commanded from the Bible to weep with those who weep. Right now, it is our duty to mourn for this loss of precious life. And we can still mourn the loss of the unborn children, without trying to belittle the tragedy in CT… The majority of people who read this will get the image that your organization is heartless, disrespectful, and uncaring for what has just happened.
In light of these comments, I want to lay out the reasons why I did post the blog and video, even as I concede the possibility that my detractors are right. There's no handbook for this sort of thing. Ephesians 5:11 commands us to expose deeds of darkness, but doesn't give us a lot of specifics when it comes to actual implementation. One man's wisdom is another man's folly.
For starters, be assured that I did not approach this tragedy with the thought, "how can I spin this into an anti-abortion rant?" The primary reason I publicly connected Friday's gun violence with the nation's ongoing abortion violence is because of two quotes that were included in the first story I read on Friday. The first comes from James Alan Fox and was the inspiration for the title of my post: "If someone is interested in punishing society where it's most vulnerable, they know that a school is a place where lots of young, innocent children, our most cherished members of society, are congregated and under their gun -- literally." The second comes from President Obama: "They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Kids of their own."
Society is punished when young, innocent children are violently killed–children who had an unrealized lifetime ahead of them. That is the public rationale for why this crime is so egregious, and it is absolutely correct. The innocence and vulnerability of the children who were killed, and the fact that their entire future was stolen from them, makes this a crime beyond comprehension. And yet, these arguments are even more applicable to the context of abortion since unborn children are even more innocent and helpless than first graders and have even more of their future ahead of them. I don't point that out to belittle what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, but to connect the dots for people who are rightly outraged by gun violence but are indifferent to abortion violence.
Saying all that, I realize that for most of the complaints above, it's not so much the nature of the comparison that's being questioned. It's the timing of the comparison. That's what they find so off-putting. So why didn't I save these posts for another day? Two reasons. First, those who support abortion rights will never sympathize with the comparison, no matter how much time goes by. Abort73 takes continued heat for comparing abortion to slavery and the Holocaust, despite all the decades that have gone by since the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment and the end of World War II. The mere passage of time does nothing to make such comparisons more palatable to abortion supporters. Second, it is when the wound is the most raw that society is most primed for moral reflection. We will soon forget, just as we have so often in the past. For all but those who are directly affected, life goes on. Business as usual eventually carries the day. But this week, we all feel it. And if we don't point out the damnable hypocrisy of moral relativism right now, when the nation is searching its soul, the opportunity for meaningful action is lost.
Abort73 is not a political organization. Abort73 is a prophetic ministry. What is our prophetic message? Stop killing innocent children! Implied in most of the comments above is the assertion that mourning and warning are mutually exclusive things. You can't warn people about abortion while you mourn for the born children who were killed in Connecticut. But I am not convinced. Isn't it always the right time to do good? And if standing in the gap for abortion-vulnerable children is a good thing, then isn't this a good week to do it?
I've been reading through Matthew over the last week, and this morning found me in chapter fourteen. In verse 12, Jesus received news that John the Baptist had been executed by Herod. Jesus withdraws to be by himself so as to mourn the death of his cousin. But the crowds found him and surrounded him. His disciples urged him to send them away. This wasn't an appropriate time for ministry. This was a time for mourning. But Jesus had compassion on them. He healed them and fed them. And just two chapters prior, when the Pharisees again asserted that the Sabbath was not an appropriate time to do the work of ministry, Jesus reminds them that it is always a lawful time to do good (12:12).
On May 21, 1998, Kip Kinkel shot 24 students at his high school in Springfield, Oregon. He'd already killed both his parents. The nation mourned then much as it mourns now, and yet few people think about that tragedy on a regular basis. But I am one who does. It changed me. It changed my vocational future. In the heat of the moment, so to speak, I committed to do something radical about youth violence in America. I just didn't know what it would be. But during the course of that summer, my eyes were opened for the first time to the grievous injustice of abortion and its underlying ideology–namely that violence is a suitable way to solve difficult life problems. And so I left my job at the Nashville Business Journal to become a full-time advocate for abortion-vulnerable children. In other words, school shootings have always been personal to me. They reshaped my vocational future, but if I had just let the dust settle all those years ago, before doing anything rash or insensitive, I might still be working at a newspaper and happily ignoring the plight of the most innocent members of the human community.
America, as a nation, is not directly culpable for the violence that occurred in Newtown on Friday. But we are culpable for the violence of abortion. The blood cries out. There will never be an acceptable or convenient time to declare that message, but I would argue that it's better to error on the side of saying too much than saying too little. The abortion industry has not taken any time off to mourn for the children who were so brutally gunned down in Connecticut. And so neither will I.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.