Smugness while swimming in blood...

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(Tim) Each of us should be on such intimate terms with the slaughter of children at the core of our cities and nation that we find the hypocrisy our national smugness is built upon to be unbearable. Not the smugness of President Obama whose leadership consists of assuring the world that, now that we've all joined together in the righteous act of dispatching that old white guy from the White House, peace and enlightenment and humility can happen. In our postmodern feminized world, though, it's the warrior who's truly humble--not the supercilious intellectual who tours Europe touting his own administration of humility.

No, not that smugness, but the smugness of Christians and cultural conservatives who reassure ourselves that we've a wonderful heritage of truth and justice in this nation, and other nations would do well to do the hard work necessary to share in the pristine virtue we now enjoy.

Yesterday, son Taylor told us at the dinner table of a movie his teacher had shown in his Film/Lit class. He couldn't remember its title, but he described how this movie--one of the most significant movies ever made, his teacher had said--restored the KKK to a position of respectability across the country. Of course that was awful. The teacher went on to assure her class that, in time, the movie received the just opprobrium (but grudging respect, technically) that it deserved. The class was an exercise in smugness--that we've come a long way, baby, and we must never go back to the days when black men were mocked and persecuted and lynched.


But what of the babies? What of the horrific disparity in numbers between blacks who were lynched and unborn children presently being massacred a couple miles from where I type and you sit, reading? What Film/Lit class is showing any one of the many, many movies being made today that defend abortion, turning those who purchase them and the doctors who commit them into noble heroes? What of the babies?

If we want to pass on a dream to our next generation, encouraging them to be courageous in standing for truth and justice and opposing the bloodshed of the innocents, there's an infinitely more helpful way of doing it than sitting them down to watch Birth of a Nation, then explaining racism's ugly past producing such evils as the KKK and thousands of black men lynched, leaving each tender mind with the impression that we have faced our civic demons, and won.

Any pro-abortion movie will do. Show it to the class, pointing out the subtle and not-so-subtle demonization of white fundamentalist and Roman Catholic Christians who want to take away a woman's right to choose. And the suffering of the woman who's put under such a guilt trip when she's already bearing so much insecurity and pain. And the painful dignity of the healthcare professional who is there ready to bear her pain with her, assuring her everything's going to be OK; she'll bleed for a few days, but then the bleeding will stop and she can resume her almost-interrupted life with freedom. And better protection, if she doesn't mind him saying that?

But no. Never, ever, ever, whether in public or Christian or classical Christian school, would we ask our children to bear the weight of the rivers of blood gushing down the storm sewers or into the sewage treatment plants of our fair cities--the ones where we go on picnics, take our children to the swimming pool and playgrouns in the park, drive to church, build church-homes with lots of Sunday school rooms, marry and are given in marriage, give birth and nurse our wanted covenant children, buy and sell and trade--until He returns.

But when He does, what then? Will he be pleased with us, getting rid of the KKK? Stopping Hitler? Opposing Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin? Crying about our latent or not-so-latent racism at a PromiseKeepers blowout? Voting a sort-of black man into the White House?

No, He will not. He will bring up out of the ground every last drop of the blood of the innocents--about fifty million of them in our nation, alone--and He will ask us what we did about the babies? What our children knew about the horrific bloodshed? Whether we ever showed up at the killing place to witness against the murderers, and to offer solace and medical care and adoption to the grieving mothers being marshalled into the abortuary by their grim, stentorian mothers who are set and determined to see their granddaughter dead within the hour?

When I was younger and no one from my congregation would ever protest and counsel outside our city's holocaust chambers, I felt the burden to be there myself. It seemed like the many Roman Catholics should have one or two Protestants among them, willing to do the nasty work. And more often than not, I would take one of my daughters with me. What a blessing they were, to me but also to the women standing across the sidewalk from us, ready to hide the shame of the mothers and their daughters arriving for the execution of their own flesh and blood. These willing helpers of the executioners are called escorts, and my daughters, of their own volition, would pepper them with questions: "How can you kill the babies? Why don't you care about the babies? Why won't you answer my question?"

Almost always, it was a variation on those themes. Imagine standing a few feet from a young girl of six to ten, trying to act like you can't hear her.

Men, the real work is the Gospel, but the Gospel comes through repentance. And what repentance is more pertinent, more helpful, more contextual to our wicked time than the bloodshed of the innocents? If we really care about preaching the Gospel, we'll go directly to the abortuary and start announcing the Kingdom of God in the midst of the blood. Some will preach at the abortuary, itself. Some will be there as they preach in Lord's Day morning worship, calling their sheep to repent of their own murder of their own unborn Covenant children, their own complicity in the slaughter of their nieces and nephews, their roommate's first child, their co-worker's fourth, their own granddaughter or granddson.

This much is clear: in a land where the babies are being slaughtered by the millions, year after year, God's prophets--true ones, that is--will not stop preaching, calling their own congregation to repent of their bloodguilt, and to stand publicly and painfully against the lynch mob down at the town square, hanging out under the old oak tree.

Reading an article on the rehabilitation in popular culture mass-murderer Josef Stalin is currently enjoying across Russia, I was struck by a moral declaration made by the author near the end of his piece. First, he described this discovery as the floorboards of the Orthodox church in Vologda were pried up during the church's renovation:

After ripping up floorboards to rebuild the foundation, they discovered a pit filled to the brim with skeletons of children. Who these children were, under what circumstances they died and their bodies were discarded, what their names, nationalities, races, families, and suffering were could only be speculated upon. They have been unknown, unacknowledged, unwept over, and unmourned since the 1930s. Numerous other such sites no doubt litter the barren places of Siberia.

Then this:

No until these children are properly mourned and put to rest can that confrontation (of its bloody past) President Medvedev speaks of take place or Russia fully enter a new period in its tortured history. ("Potemkin Prisons" by Jonathan Brent, New Criterion, May 2009, p. 23.)

Would to God our nation was filled with reformed pastors mourning the slaughter of the wee ones, crying out "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent of your evil deeds! Flee to God's grace before He returns! Flee the wrath to come which is about to revealed against all those who love oppression and the shedding of innocent blood!"

Then and only then would our churches grow. Would the Lord add to our number daily those who were being saved. Would our endless prattle about grace begin to have the slightest meaning. Would we be persecuted, starting with suffering at the hands of our own elders and their wives.

Then and only then would our Covenant children begin to learn and love the gift of discernment as they see God's Word as it truly is--a hammer and a fire.