Psalm 10. Out of the Silent Planet. Abort73 is ridiculous.
I read three things this morning, almost entirely unrelated, that have converged in a strange way (at least in my mind). Before breakfast, I read through Psalm 10. Before work, I read the conclusion of chapter 13 in the C.S. Lewis biography, Jack. Beginning work, I read the following website feedback:
[Abort73 is] ridiculous. Having an abortion is a woman's choice. Its her body, her decision. May I remind you that the bible is very old, and you cannot use it to back up your opinions.
One of the events that takes place in chapter 13 of Jack is the publication of Lewis' first novel, Out of the Silent Planet. Lewis' friend and biographer, George Sayer, tells us that this initial volume of Lewis' Space Trilogy was largely written in response to David Lindsay's Voyage to Arcturus. Lewis saw in it the immense potential for employing interplanetary travel as a stage for spiritual themes. Because he describes Lindsay's underlying philosophy as being, "on the borderline of the diabolical… almost Satanic," he set out to craft a book that made more redemptive use of the genre. He even enlisted his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, to join him in the pursuit. Tolkien authored the beginnings of a book on time-travel called, "The Lost Road." Lewis built his story around space-travel. Tolkien's book was rejected by his publisher. Lewis' was rejected by the first, but picked up by a second (he was still a little-known author at this point). What surprised Lewis immensely was that of the 60 or so literary reviews the book received, only a couple seemed to have any awareness of the book's Christian underpinnings. According to Sayer, this was a crucial revelation that would eventually pave the way for the Narnia series. He quotes Lewis as saying, "I think that this great ignorance might be a help to the evangelization of England; any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people's minds under cover of romance without their knowing it."
Lewis marveled that so many people could miss the theological symbolism of his books. Returning to the feedback above (which is a fairly common assertion), I marvel that so many people can miss the solid, biological science of Abort73. Lewis' readers missed the Bible. Our readers insert the Bible. I do not hide the fact that Abort73 is the product of a Christian ministry, but it should be noted that the first 35 pages in our Case Against Abortion make absolutely no reference to Scripture. Some wonder why we don't simply strip out all reference to the Bible. I can give at least four reasons. First, we're a Christian organization. Denying that fact would be dishonest. Second, though educating people about abortion is our primary objective, we also want to see people reconciled to God through Christ. Third, the United States, at least on paper, is still close to 78% Christian. If someone calls themselves a Christian, I'd like to demonstrate to them why Christians should care about abortion. Fourth, even if we removed all biblical reference, we would still be called Bible-thumpers. In many minds, opposition to abortion and religious fanaticism go hand in hand. I wonder how many people refuse to even consider the arguments against abortion because of the antagonism they harbor towards the Bible. The young woman quoted above tells us that just because the Bible is old, that doesn't mean it's reliable. I would counter that just because the Bible is old, that doesn't mean it's untrue. To the atheist or agnostic we could say, just because opposing abortion is biblical, that doesn't make the biological case against abortion any less valid.
And that brings me to Psalm 10. Whenever I read through the Psalms, I try to picture what is being described and find a modern equivalent. Today I found that particularly difficult. I couldn't seem to envision a contemporary example of the frustration and injustice the Psalmist was expressing. And then I found a connection; I should have seen it much sooner. But before going there, here's how Psalm 10 connects to the comments above. Since Abort73 is already being criticized for building our opposition to abortion on the Bible, I might as well take this opportunity to actually do that–by sharing the thematic overlaps found in the injustice described in Psalm 10 and the injustice of abortion today. Here goes.
Psalm 10 opens with an unanswered question: "Why , O Lord, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"
Verse two begins the narrative. "In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor… and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord." What I couldn't get my head around was why wicked men, greedy for gain, would be pursuing the poor. If they're greedy for gain wouldn't they be pursuing the rich? Certainly the poor are easier targets, more vulnerable and less protected, but they also have much less to offer the greedy thief. Today, there are "institutional" vices that target and plunder the poor, but corporate greed is rarely so openly contentious. The wicked men in the psalm are described as boastful, renouncing God, denying his existence, puffing at their foes, with mouths full of cursing. Such behavior may apply to pirates or street gangs, but why, again, would they target the poor to gain wealth? And what about verses 8-11?
[The wicked] sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, "God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it."
The wickedness doesn't end with just defrauding the poor. It includes seizing and murdering the innocent. Again, I'm confused. A wicked man, greedy for gain, lurks in the shadows waiting to seize and murder the poor and helpless. Why?! What's his angle? Where's the profit in "crushing" the helpless? What is the modern equivalent? Gang violence may land on the innocent, but it does not target the innocent. It does not specifically seek out the innocent, helpless, or poor, as described in the verses above.
I may never know what specific injustice the psalmist is lamenting in this passage. I'm 99.9% sure it's not abortion, but in America today, I can't think of another injustice that better fits the description found in Psalm 10. In verses 14 and 18, the Psalmist even refers to the victims as "the fatherless." He concludes the Psalm pleading with God to do justice for the "fatherless and the oppressed." The fathers of unborn children are often antagonistic to their existence, and even when they're not, they have no legal means tp prevent an abortion. Aborted children are as "fatherless" as they come. Furthermore, they are innocent, helpless, and oppressed, killed in the shadows by arrogant men who "puff" at their adversaries and deny that God will see or judge. Abortion is a violent business, largely out of sight, often fueled by greed, that targets the poorest among us. Say what you want about the Bible, but that's a despicable string of abuses, no matter how long ago the text was written.
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.