Forget toxic masculinity. Don’t even mention toxic femininity. Yesterday’s move by the New York legislature to enshrine abortion up to full term in New York State is a prime example of one thing: toxic humanity.
But more than that. The true toxicity is not in the signing of the legislation, but in the unadulterated celebrating of it.
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, ordered that One World Trade Center be lit up in pink. Just over seventeen years ago we thought we had seen the prime example of toxic humanity when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre were brought crashing down in an act of terrorism.
In light of that day many a New Yorker was hailed a hero for going beyond the call of duty to save lives. Now we have a legislature within sight of that location that actually broke into shouts of joy when the Reproductive Health Act was passed into law and switching on the anti-Christmas lights.
Toxic humanity continues to dismember innocents with tools as simple and chillingly direct as the box cutters used that day on the aircraft’s pilots.
I rarely write about abortion. I certainly don’t arc up about it when I do. Examples of where I have written about abortion in the past can be found here and here. Both are examples of cautious concern and a call for understanding, even amidst disagreement. If you disagree with my stand in this post, then do me the courtesy of reading those two first.
And if you do disagree with this post, and you want to respond on Facebook to it, then dignify yourself by attempting to be gracious in disagreement.
But today I do feel compelled to write about abortion in such a way that makes clear that we have entered a new phase. A phase in which no public argument against abortion whatsoever from anyone at any stage of a pregnancy will ever be viewed as anything but unreasonable, hateful, and perhaps soon, unlawful.
Think about it. The most progressive government in the most modern city in the most Western nation breaks into shouts of joy when a bill allowing the lethal injection or dismembering of near full term babies is signed into law.
Is this the full flowering of progressivism? Cuomo seems to think so. He said this is:
“a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values”
Rejoicing at something that at the very least should be considered soberly? Is New York presenting itself as the trailblazer for the rest of humanity as it rises to fulfil its progressive destiny?
Once again Cuomo seems to think so. He said he ordered the lights to…
“celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Cuomo wants this to be a bright light! A star in the (North) East for wise progressive men and women to follow; to worship and bow down before an empty manger. Bethlehem the house of bread to become the house of the dead.
Cuomo wants the rest of the USA to follow in New York’s footsteps. I would urge those Christian friends of mine who are progressives to ask themselves just where does their progressivism part ways with the pagan post-Christian progressivism of the likes of Cuomo who clearly has no belief or desire for belief in the Imago Dei.
Let me be clear. The idea of Imago Dei should soften the hearts – and open the vocal chords – of conservative Christians in the ongoing debate around refugees and “illegal” migrants. And I am sometimes ashamed of Christians who offer up brutal culture war language to describe the plight of those who arrive on our shores without permission.
But let me also be clear, The idea of Imago Dei should soften the hearts – and open the vocal chords – of progressive Christians in the abortion debate. And up until now it has not. And the reason it has not is clear: the issue of abortion lies at the heart of the progressive narrative.
No true, secular progressive will have a bar of a self-proclaimed progressive Christian who considers abortion anything other than the centrepiece to be celebrated. Progressive Christians are caught with one leg on the pier and one leg on the outgoing ferry. They’re going to have to shift their weight one way or the other or find themselves in deep water.
Seventeen years ago all the talk was that the World Trade Center was destroyed because it was a homage to Westerner’s commitment to Mammon. Well nothing much has changed, has it? One wonders what the sovereign Lord thinks of this new Babel-ish Tower and its rejection of the Imago Dei written into every human being? One wonders what would happen if He came down, as he did then, to sort it out.
By the way, I don’t say that in an outraged way. I say it with sadness, sobriety and almost a sense of wonder.
Why a sense of wonder? Because in the 46 years since Roe Vs Wade, the argument for abortion has shape-shifted so dramatically that it’s a sold gold example of a slippery slope.
I am old enough to remember sitting in sex education class in the 1970s – just three or four years after 1973’s Roe Vs Wade, in Palmyra Primary School hearing that abortion was just about removing a clump of cells from a woman’s body. Nothing less. And certainly nothing more. I’m pretty sure my sex education teacher never saw New York 2019 coming, that’s for sure.
In fact the “clump of cells” arguement is what the pregnant “Roe” herself – real name Norma McCorvey – was told by the lawyers in her case.
Incidentally, that was McCorvey’s third pregnancy and she did not abort her baby. She went on to give birth to a baby who was adopted out. Incidentally, McCorvey later became an activist in the pro-life movement. She died in 2017.
But the issue itself has never died. And despite how many babies die, will, it seems, never die.
What’s changed of course is the fact that many on both sides of the argument could once shake their heads and agree it was a sobering, painful matter, that, in the words of former US President Bill Clinton, should be safe, legal and rare.
That was the early nineties. Now? Now it’s about lighting up world landmarks to celebrate it. And don’t think that’s just in America, that’s exactly what the Queensland government did last year also, when it too signed into law late-term abortions.
The new phase we have entered simply means that no reasoned position against abortion, whenever it occurs, will ever be given credence by any pro-abortion legislature – ever.
No “image of God” argument, no secular “all humans have value”, no scientific reality or medical advancement for early viability. Nothing. No one truly believes a baby is a clump of cells that are inherently different to the make up of any post-natal human being. That’s so 1973.
What does 2019 look like, apart from pretty lights on top of buildings? It looks like pretty children’s book teaching our young that abortion is something not simply to be tolerated in a broken, messy world, but something to be celebrated.
I’m not one to join protest marches. It’s not me. And I won’t be one to join in the future, in all likelihood. But the days are certainly coming when the Christian community – the faithful one at least – will be viewed as an extreme oddity in the Western world for all sorts of reasons; for welcoming the stranger and the refugee, for giving hope – gospel hope – to the hopeless, and for valuing all life regardless of its convenience or otherwise.
In the words of the great Stanley Hauerwas:
I say that in a hundred years, if Christians are identified as people who do not kill their children or the elderly, we will have done well. Because that’s clearly coming.
Life in the West in 2119. 147 years after Roe Vs Wade. We vainly imagine that we will have done well as Christians if we’ve planted lots more churches. If we’ve evangelised 20 per cent of our city. If we’ve retaken the public square. Or whatever.
Perhaps it will be more simple – and more stark – than that. Perhaps we’ll be the only tribe who don’t take out their brain-damaged three month old babies and give them lethal injections. Perhaps we’ll be the only tribe that decides that a fifty five year old woman with early onset dementia doesn’t have to be euthanised against her befuddled will (it was a close call, but her sister cast the deciding vote in the affirmative).
Hauerwas says that’s clearly coming. Well it’s clearly already here in all its progressive, toxic humanity. The fact that it’s being celebrated by our brightest, richest, and best informed simply adds to the toxicity.