R.C. Sproul, Jr. writes of A Generation Lost:
It is not my intent to challenge the effectiveness of any organization, any strategy, or any party. I have, in one way or another, been deeply involved in them all. Rather my intent is to highlight the deep gap between how we think about abortion forty years later, and the reality. We think in terms of strategies, movements, parties, and avert our eyes from the body parts. Strategies, movements, parties are all abstractions. The babies are real, and they are really dead. The anniversary is just a date on the calendar. The babies are dead, not fifty million of them, but one of them, fifty million times.
In the political realm, abortion is debated as an abstract concept. It’s dehumanized. For many, the word evokes only a vague understanding that a “clump of cells” is being removed from a woman’s uterus. Even the word “abortion” is being abandoned in favor of euphemisms like “women’s reproductive rights”.
In this post, my goal is simply to present the various methods used to carry out abortions. I’ll be relying mostly on diagrams, testimonies, and excerpts from medical resources. I’ve intentionally avoided using gory photographs for shock value, but be forewarned that some content is, nonetheless, quite graphic.
If you believe there’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with abortion, then none of what follows should be troubling.
“We have killed fifty million babies,” says John Piper. “And what increases our guilt as a nation is that we know what we are doing.” You can read the evidence here. The aim of Piper’s post is threefold:
1. To make clear that we will not be able to defend ourselves with the claim of ignorance. We knew. All of us.
2. To solidify our conviction to resist this horrific evil.
3. To intensify our prayer and our preaching toward gospel-based soul-renovation in our land, because hardness of heart, not ignorance, is at the root of this carnage.
“In wartime, sinners often rise to remarkable levels of sacrifice for causes that cannot compare with Christ. The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure He is.
But oh, what bold risks and daring sacrifices these lesser causes have inspired! On February 19, 1945, the battle for Iwo Jima began. It was a barren, eight-mile-sqiare island six hundred miles south of Tokyo, guarded by 22,000 Japanese prepared to fight to the death (which they did). They were protecting two air strips that America needed in the strategic effort to contain Japanese aggression after Pearl Harbor and preserve the liberty that America cherished. It was a high cause, and the courageous sacrifice was stunning.
The hard statistics show the sacrifice made by Colonel Johnson’s 2nd Battalion: 1,400 boys [many still teenagers] landed on D-Day; 288 replacements were provided as the battle went on, a total of 1,688. Of these, 1,511 had been killed or wounded. Only 177 walked off the island. and of the final 177, 91 had been wounded at least once and returned to battle.
It had taken twenty-two crowded transports to bring the 5th Division to the island. The survivors fit comfortably into eight departing ships.
The american boys had killed about 21,000 Japanese, but suffered more than 26,000 casualties doing so. This would be the only battle in the Pacific where the invaders suffered higher causalities than the defenders. The Marines fought in World War II for forty-three months. Yet in one month on Iwo Jima, one third of their total deaths occurred. They left behind the Pacific’s largest cemeteries: nearly 6,800 graves in all; mounds with their crosses and stars. Thousands of families would not have the solace of a body to bid farewell: just the abstract information that the Marine had ‘died in the performance of his duty’ and was buried in a plot, aligned in a row with numbers on his grave. Mike lay in Plot 3, Row 5, Grave 694; Harlon in Plot 4, Row 6, Grave 912; Franklin in Plot 8, Row 7, Grave 2189.
When I think of Mike, Harlon, and Franklin there, I think of the message someone had chiseled outside the cemetery:
When you go home,
Tell them for us and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today
I am deeply moved by the courage and carnage on Iwo Jima. As I read the pages of this history, everything in me cries out, ‘O Lord, don’t let me waste my life!’ Let me come to the end – whether soon or late – and be able to say to a family, a church, and the unreached peoples of the earth, “For your tomorrow, I gave my today. Not just for your tomorrow on earth, but for the countless tomorrows of your ever-increasing gladness in God.” The closer I looked at the individual soldiers in this World War II history, the more I felt a passion that my life would count, and that I would be able to die well.
As a rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoops of Chatanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes – just for an instant – to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacist mate himself, struggled fanatically to save his friend. “I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grab the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pat me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died. (Bradley, Flags of Our Fathers, pp. 188, 123-125)
In this heart-breaking moment I want to be Hoopes and I want to be Kelly. I want to be able to say to suffering and perishing people, ‘I tried everything in the world… I was trying so hard.’ And then I want to be able to say to those around me when I die, ‘It’s all right. To live is Christ, and to die is gain.'”
~ John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Ch. 7, pp. 123-125)
Too often, we tend to pit thinking and feeling against each other – particularly when it comes to the Christian experience. But glorifying God with our hearts and minds is not either-or, but both-and. In his latest book Think, John Piper challenges the reader to “think about thinking” and consider how the heart and mind “glorify God together”.
In his introduction, Piper writes,
The ultimate goal of life is that God be displayed as glorious because of all that He is and all that He has made and done – especially the grace He has shown in the work of Christ. The way we glorify Him is by knowing Him truly, by treasuring Him above all things, and by living in a way that shows He is our supreme treasure (Phil. 1:20-21, 23; 3:8).
Therefore, the main reason God has given us minds is that we might seek out and find all the reasons that exist for treasuring Him in all things and above all things. He created the world so that through it and above it we might treasure Him. The more we see of His surpassing greatness and knowledge and wisdom and power and justice and wrath and mercy and patience and goodness and grace and love, the more we will treasure Him. And the more we treasure Him, the more He is consciously and joyfully glorified. The point of this book is that thinking is a God-given means to that end.
… I hope that this book will rescue the victims of evangelical pragmatism, Pentecostal short-cuts, pietistic anti-intellectualism, pluralistic conviction aversion, academic gamesmanship, therapeutic Bible evasion, journalistic bite-sizing, musical mesmerizing, YouTube craving, and postmodern Jell-O juggling. In other words, I believe thinking is good for the church in every way.
Think is a fairly short read – 200 pages or so – but the length does nothing to weaken the impact or importance of Piper’s message. Words are not wasted: each one feels carefully chosen, like it’s there for a reason, instead of merely taking up space on a page. This, coupled with Piper’s frank, humble, and conversational writing style, makes the book an eminently readable one.
This is not to say Think is easy fare: it does, after all, deal with “the life of the mind and the love of God” – a rather complex subject. It goes without saying that in order to really understand this book, you need to apply yourself and think about what is being said. Piper, however, tackles this complicated subject matter in a surprisingly understandable way. He takes what might have been an insufferably dry and academic read and turns it into something we mere mortals can grasp. *wink wink*
Think gets my unqualified recommendation – no two ways about it. Without elevating one over the other, Piper shows us how the mind and the heart must both be used in glorifying and loving God. It’s a fine balance, but he strikes it perfectly.
In his book Finally Alive (ch. 3, pp. 48-53), John Piper has a section on the nature and meaning of the New Birth. The excerpts below serve as a sobering reminder of man’s inadequacy, of the fact that we cannot do a single thing to bring about this transformation. From start to finish, God must do it all.
- Apart from the new birth, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-2). “Dead implies lifeless. Not physically or morally lifeless, but spiritually lifeless… we are not dead in the sense that we can’t sin. We are dead in the sense that we cannot see or savor the glory of Christ… we are unresponsive to God and Christ and this word.”
- Apart from the new birth, we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). “Apart from the new birth, I am my problem. You are not my main problem. My parents are not my main problem. My enemies are not my main problem. I am my main problem. Not my deeds, and not my circumstances, and not the people in my life, but my nature is my deepest personal problem.”
- Apart from the new birth, we love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19-20). “We are not neutral when spiritual light approaches. We resist it. And we are not neutral when darkness envelops us. We embrace us. Love and hate are active in the unregenerate heart. And they move in exactly the wrong directions – hating what should be loved and loving what should be hated.”
- Apart from the new birth, our hearts are hard like stone (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:18). “At the bottom of our problem is not ignorance. There is something deeper… our ignorance is a guilty ignorance, not innocent ignorance. It is rooted in hard and resistant hearts… we suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Ignorance is not our biggest problem. Hardness and resistance are.”
- Apart from the new birth, we are unable to submit to God or please God (Romans. 8:7-8). “… without the Holy Spirit, our mind’s are so resistant to God’s authority that we will not, and therefore cannot, submit to Him… and if we cannot submit to Him, we cannot please Him.”
- Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14). “The problem is not that the things of God are over [our] heads intellectually. The problem is that [we] see them as foolish… in fact, they are so foolish to [us] that [we] cannot grasp them… the heart is so resistant to receiving them that the mind justifies the rebellion of the heart by seeing them as foolish. This rebellion is so complete that the heart really cannot receive the things of the Spirit. This is real inability. But it is not coerced inability. The unregenerate person cannot because he will not. His preferences to sin are so strong that he cannot choose good. It is a real and terrible bondage. But it is not an innocent bondage.”
- Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace Him as Lord (John 6:44, 65; 1 Corinthians 12:3). “It is morally impossible for the dead, dark, hard, resistant heart to celebrate the Lordship of Jesus over his life without being born again… we so strongly prefer self-reliance that we cannot come. That is what has to be changed in the new birth. A new preference, a new ability, is given.”
- Apart from the new birth, we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17). “Until God awakens us from spiritual death and gives us life that finds joy in killing sin and being holy, we are slaves and cannot get free. That’s why the new birth is necessary.”
- Apart from the new birth, we are slaves of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:24-26) “Our deadness is not unresponsive to the devil. It is perfectly in tune with the devil… the mark of unregenerate persons is that their desires and choices ‘accord with’ the prince of the power of the air. The unregenerate may scoff at the very idea of a devil. And of course, nothing is more in line with the father of lies than the denial that he exists… until God does that that miracle of new birth, we stay in bondage to the father of lies because we love to tell ourselves whatever we please. We keep fondling smooth roaches and warm, fuzzy tarantulas in the dark.”
- Apart from the new birth, no good thing dwells in us (Romans 7:18). “Faith is good. The Holy Spirit is good. The new spiritual nature is good. Growing holiness is good. But in [our] flesh, that is, in the person [we] are by nature apart from the new birth, there is no good thing. All that was created good was ruined by being made the servant of man-centered concerns, not God-centered concerns.”