One of the most remarkable stories you’ll read is that of John Newton, author of the globally famous song Amazing Grace. Newton was a slave ship captain who repented of his sins, became a minister, and whose personal testimonies of the horrors of the slave trade were used effectively by the great William Wilberforce to prosecute the practice before Parliament.
But here’s what few people realize about Newton’s life: his
conversion to Christ did not lead to his immediate deliverance from the life of
a slave trader. In fact, he persisted in
that occupation for years after coming to faith in Jesus. He would actually study his Latin Bible in
his quarters while hundreds of slaves suffered just below him in the ship’s
hold. For the longest time, Newton
failed to even note that slavery was immoral and evil.
From our vantage point in 2019, that seems incredible. How can a civilized man, ingrained with the natural rights theory of the West, and whose soul had been converted to Christ, fail to see not only the glaring sin that continued to encompass his society, but continued to find sanctuary in his own mind? It makes you wonder what sins we abide that our posterity will one day look back on us with the same sense of sickening bewilderment and ask, “How did they not know that was wrong?”
Karen Swallow Prior offered her answer to that question in
an article that was printed, remarkably, in the left-wing publication Vox:
Nothing marks the progress of any society more than the expansion of human rights to those who formerly lacked them. I believe that if such progress is to continue, prenatal human beings will be included in this group, and we will consider elective abortion primitive and cruel in the future.
That’s right, Vox ran an opinion piece that suggested 50
years from now abortion – the great sacrament of the “progressive” left today –
will be considered unthinkable. Perhaps
that fact alone is reason to believe that Prior is on to something. Who would have thought the editors of Vox
would even allow such blasphemy to be published, after all?
And while the pessimist in me wants to point to the recent
efforts to expand the scope of abortions (even in the last trimester) as
evidence that this sick chapter in our history is far from concluding, Prior
sees it otherwise:
Recent attempts in several states to expand access to late-term abortions in anticipation of the possible overturning of Roe not only violate the view of the majority (who support greater restrictions after the first trimester) but will be seen by future generations as a last, desperate show of stubbornness in the face of human progress.
Every age has its blinders, constructed, usually, through a combination of ignorance and self-interest. Many things such as bloodletting and wet nurses that are seen as good or indispensable in one age are unthinkable in another.
She’s not wrong. In
the early days of legal abortion in America, there was a prevailing sense of
scientific mystery that surrounded pregnancy and human gestation that
necessarily clouded the issue. Human
development was not readily understood, and certainly nothing like 4D
ultrasound technology existed. This
offered convenient blinders to those who argued for the right to end the life
of the unborn.
Our modern era offers no such respite, and so there is an
emerging belligerence on the part of abortion apologists to either ignore the
fundamental question of when human life begins as Barack Obama did so notably
(“answering that question with any specificity is above my pay grade”), or to
acknowledge life in the womb but justify abortion regardless (think Joe Biden,
Tim Kaine, Pete Buttigieg). But how long
can these strategies truly persist?
Prior thinks not long, and she may just be right. And if she is?
[W]e will look back at elective abortion and wonder — as we do now with polluting and smoking — why we so wholeheartedly embraced it. We will look at those ultrasound images of 11-week old fetuses somersaulting in the waters of the womb and lack words to explain to our grandchildren why we ever defended their willful destruction in the name of personal choice and why we harmed so many women to do so.
It’s a convincing case, which is why I remain shocked that
Vox published it.