Hannah Arendt famously described Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann by using the phrase “the banality of evil.” The man did not loom over his onlookers at his trial; he did not suggest by his carriage, his posture, that he was capable of preposterous acts of evil, and in fact had done them. He seemed like an ordinary person, so much so that one struggled to pay him mind.
Mary Gatter, a Planned Parenthood medical director in Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley (CA), fits this profile. Gatter is no low-lier in PP. According to LifeSiteNews, she is President of the Medical Directors’ Council, the central committee of all Planned Parenthood affiliate medical directors. In a recent video released by The Center for Medical Progress, she openly discusses the sale of fetal body parts obtained through abortion. At one point, she utters this immortal phrase: she hopes the doctor she works with will be open to “a less crunchy technique for more whole specimens” in his abortive work.
I have heard many awful things in my life. I think this may be the worst.
I have trouble seeing why the American conscience has slept for so long regarding abortion. Abortion is the pinnacle of evil. There is nothing more evil than targeting helpless babies in the womb. There is nothing worse than sucking their brains out of their heads. There is nothing more wicked than killing them in the bodily realm reserved for their care, sustenance, and health. Abortion is tear-your-hair-out evil. It is not a “complex issue.” It is not “tough for both sides.” It is not a “gray area.”
Abortion is so flamingly horrendous that the society that embraces it deserves–begs for–divine judgment. I am stunned that America, supposedly a civilized nation, is as stable as it is. We don’t deserve what stability we have. We call ourselves a “first-world” country, and we sniff at “third-world” nations, but in reality, we are the lowest of the low. We think we are elites, but we are barbarians.
All this is on display as Gatter discusses the use of “a less crunchy technique.” She says it without emotion. She herself does not look like a monster. If you walked past her on the sidewalk, you wouldn’t think she was involved in diabolical work. But she is. The banality of evil is real. Ordinary people do terrible things. They speak openly and without any shame of the bodies of little children. Their desire is not to protect and cherish these bodies, but to break as few bones and body parts as possible in order to get maximum bang for the buck.
Behold depravity. Behold original sin, bubbling to the surface. Behold the heart of darkness, which we all have. In grim moments like these, Christians possess the answer to the question that many conscionable people will ask: “How on earth could someone do this?” We know the answer because the answer is in us. It is sin. There is no other cause that will suffice to substantiate the presence of such shocking evil.
Christians sometimes think that we’re now in a country that’s really bad off. Things used to be so great; now they’re cratering. In truth, humanity is always a step away from barbarism. The early church had the same struggle that we do. They had to convince their “elite” friends that babies should be cared for, not exposed. The Clapham Sect had to persuade their fellow Britons that it was wrong to enslave people because of their skin color, and that it was morally abhorrent that dozens of Africans would die on slave ships during their journey.
No, we haven’t fallen off the ladder. Sinful mankind is always dipping his toe in the waters of evil. He wants to jump in. He wants to lose himself in depravity. He has the instinct. He won’t always do it, but we’re not surprised when he does. The church’s role over the ages has been to take his arm and speak wisdom and love to him. Sadly, at times, the church has joined him in his plunge into immorality.
So here we are: people who look just like you and me, who like fast cars (Gatter wants a “Lamborghini”), who have lunch meetings, are also those who discuss the dissection and dismemberment of babies as Coldplay plays softly in the background. This is a moment of decision for Americans who support abortion. The lid has come off. The work is exposed. Will they put a pillow over their conscience? Will they suffocate it? Or will they allow it to live, breathe, and function once more?
The church is waiting by their side. No, the church is not only waiting. It is moving against abortion. Like Wilberforce and Chuck Colson some years ago, it is moving toward life. It is holding out the gospel, because every exposure of public wickedness is a gospel opportunity. The same heart of darkness that beats in Mary Gatter’s body beats in all of us. There is one remedy, and one hope, for evil this maximal: Jesus Christ, slain because of sin, slain to overcome sin.
Outside of him, we are all sinners in search of the abyss, dipping our toe in the water, ready to plunge, seeking a less crunchy technique for more whole specimens.
For more on how to be a Christian witness in evil days like this, see my brand-new book The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World (Thomas Nelson, July 28).