Evangelical Encouragement: What the Gosnell Groundswell Shows

Evangelical Encouragement: What the Gosnell Groundswell Shows April 13, 2013

I don’t know about you, but the groundswell of social media outrage at the lack of media attention to the trial of Kermit Gosnell is one of the most encouraging developments I’ve ever seen in the Internet 2.0 era.

If you missed it, the story is basically this: after months of complete inattention to the barbaric narrative of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, pro-life folks–including journalist Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Lifesite.com leaders, and Eric Metaxas–decided to do their part to raise a ruckus. Gosnell gives us a a window into the gruesome world of killing babies. He frequently induced pregnancies through his abortive methods, causing live births of potentially viable infants, only to (graphic content warning) slice their spines open to kill them. But he didn’t stop there–he cut their feet off and put them in jars as mementos.

The sheer evil of this case is enough to make you push away from your computer and wail and weep. “Rend the heavens,” the Old Testament writers implored the Lord, a sentiment appropriate to cases like this. If you’re reading this and you doubt the existence of evil, read up on Gosnell’s practice and reconsider.

But here’s the thing to note: even if these abortions had happened in the tidiest manner possible, with swarms of smiling, bright-eyed attendants working in crystal-clean conditions and a long-established doctor with a warm bedside manner, they would be no less barbaric. Abortion, we are reminded, is barbaric. Strong word, this–barbaric. Yet it fits our society perfectly. We’re drunk on the fumes of our supposedly morally advanced society, our technopoly with its modern advances, our bright and pampered 21st-century world which seems the apotheosis of social Darwinism. We are the ones human history has been waiting for. We’re brighter, living longer, avoiding cataclysmic world wars, spreading democracy through virtual platforms, humane, tolerant, happy, and whole.

It’s this narrative, you see, that the Gosnell murders destroy. The Gosnell murders reveal the evil heart that beats in the chest of our society. They’re unusually sordid, but the practice at their core–abortion–is pure evil, the perfect flowering of an unbridled narcissism. We’re patting ourselves on our backs, but our elegantly manicured hands have blood on them. We’re eating our young, dumping them in bins, and yet we scoff at ancient societies that–at the very least–trembled at child sacrifice.

We pat ourselves on the back for it.


Something happened. Something snapped in evangelicalism. I’ve personally never seen anything like it.

People who hate abortion but don’t really know what to do about it suddenly found themselves this past week with the rarest of chances to raise their voices in a concert of protest against wickedness. Many of us are unflinchingly pro-life, but a society seemingly powered by Unleaded Secularism causes many of us to either despair or hide our light. Well, the Lord did something new. Our conscience stirred. And so we spoke, and Tweeted, and blogged, and Tweeted some more about Gosnell. We did so because we love the little children, we love them, and we realized that if we were silent here, we might as well open the gates to Babylon. We spoke with conviction, and passion, and winsomeness.

We were heard. Some media outlets picked up the story. Some that are far from any evangelical identity noticed the genuine incongruity of inattention to this case. To their credit, they ran a story or two. #Gosnell was number one on Twitter for much of three days. Will all this cause our society to reverse course and suddenly become pro-life? Probably not. Did something unusual happen? Absolutely.

Let me close with this: if you previously believed the now-common narratives that evangelicals have lost their public voice, that we can’t actually, you know, clear our throat to speak, that we’re too focused on bridge-building to stand up courageously for unpopular but righteous causes, let me assure you that those theories were just proven bankrupt. Praise the Lord this is so. The evangelical conscience is yet uneasy, as it should be. The evangelical heart yet burns. We are not silent. We’re not outmoded. We may be outnumbered, but that’s no matter. However large or small we are, no one is going to silence us, because we love our neighbor, and we love the Lord who rewards the brave (Matthew 5:1-12).

If you’re a Christian who spoke up on this matter, do not let this be a one-time deal. This is your call in a secular society. You’ve got to do this over and over again with gracious bravery. If you previously believed that there is a dichotomy, a gap, between the gospel and ethics, leave that behind. The gospel breathes life into our ethics, remakes our conscience, empowers us to be salt and light.

We may as a movement have just rediscovered our voice. Let’s pray this is so. And let’s not stop with protesting the veil of media silence with Gosnell. Let’s end abortion in our generation.

That is a work so big, so impossible, so monstrously difficult, that only Christians would attempt it, and only God can do it.

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