Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Cecil the Lion and Planned Parenthood Have in Common

Cecil the Lion has been all over the media. I've read a variety of responses most of which border on extremism one way or the other. Last week I saw a video that focused on only one aspect of the situation: how we all need forgiveness. 

This applies to the gamut of explosive media these past few weeks. What happened to Cecil is horrible. He was lured off a game preserve and killed in a cruel manner.  You can read about the hunt anywhere on the Internet. 

The public reaction has been cruel as well. The way we treat our fellow humans astounds me. Technology allows news to travel the world almost immediately and social media allows anyone to give his opinion on it, sometimes anonymously and without shame. The screens empower a mob mentality. 

Many despise this dentist. If someone were to kill him, few would protest. That is just as wrong as killing the lion was. I don't understand the appeal of trophy hunting but it is legal in many African countries. (I realize the way this one particular hunt was carried out was not.) But instead of desiring Walter Palmer's personal destruction, why not petition for these hunts for endangered animals to stop? 

Palmer's been in trouble for hunting animals outside the law before and he should answer for any crimes he has committed. Others are already being tried. We do have to answer for our actions. But hunting people down to condemn them for their actions and destroy them for our cause is wrong. Calling for Palmer's head on a platter doesn't help the situation. It won't even stop the hunts. Are we just looking for a fall guy or are we looking for change? Are you mad about one incident or are you angry that endangered animals are being killed? We are able to pursue justice and not wish for personal destruction because forgiveness does not remove consequences.

Someone tweeted that Cecil's killing made them hate humans even more. (Tweets are forever thanks to screenshots.) A lion will not die for you. There are people who would and One who already did. I said last week that the ground at the cross was level and it applies here too. Regardless of how good or bad we think we are or how good or bad we think our neighbor is, we all stand as sinners. 

We cannot measure up to Christ's standard of perfection and therefore we deserve condemnation. But God offers forgiveness. The consequences of sin weren't ignored by the forgiveness. Jesus took the consequences when He died on the cross. Today we can stand forgiven by God and others and still have to answer for what we do.

I have to extend this to areas that I don't want to. Planned Parenthood, for example. I'm not making a statement on the recently released videos. I haven't watched them because all I can picture is my baby's face when I consider it. But according to the CDC, over 730,000 REPORTED abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2011. (There is no requirement for reporting abortion numbers hence the emphasis.) 

Babies, precious babies. I despise abortion. I think that those doctors and counselors who encourage women to have abortions and who perform abortions ought to answer for their horrific actions. 

But Jesus loves them too. Jesus died for each of those people who have gleefully chuckled over the murder and dismemberment of infants. That chokes me to write but I don't get to decide truth based on my feelings. 

Legality does not equal morality. Abortion is legal but it's not right. I realize that making abortion illegal doesn't fix the problems. It doesn't fix the heart problems of women seeking abortions of convenience or men pushing them to have one. It doesn't fix the resource problems of women who feel they are or who really are incapable of caring for a child. It doesn't fix the problem of who is going to provide support while the mother is pregnant, help care for this child after he or she is born, or give anything besides condemning glares for her getting pregnant in an undesirable situation. 

We have lost the ability to do what's right regardless of the cost to ourselves. And I'm not talking about the women who have abortions. I mean us, the Christians who oppose abortion. What have you done? Not what have you talked about, ranted about, or thought about. What have you done to help a woman considering abortion? What have you done to encourage motherhood? What have you done to support a single mother or encourage a teenager considering placing her baby up for adoption? What have you done to encourage adopting couples? 

What is your attitude toward your own children? Or your neighbor's children? 

I've always been annoyed by people who complain but won't try to change. Don't whine to me that you're overweight when you're eating your daily Big Mac. Now it's time to turn that standard on myself. Am I going to complain about abortion or am I going to do something? If every person who opposed abortion did something, even just a small something, it would turn into something big. 

What something? Some will be able to do more than others. The season of life you are in may prevent you from doing as much as you would want. I'm not sure what it looks like in my own life to be honest, at least not in real, practical steps. But we can express gladness about each baby, regardless of the situation. We can offer help to the one struggling mom we do know. We can participate in adoption fundraisers. We can call community resources and see if we can do anything to help. 

If we are going to be pro-life we are going to have to help make lives for these children. Whether that's helping their mothers or inviting them into our own lives. I'm not saying that's easy. I have three small children, one with special medical needs, and I understand how challenging children are. But are we going to stand on the pro-life platform to make ourselves feel better or to make a difference in lives? We the church are often the least effective at loving in real practical ways. We are like the people that Jesus condemned for telling others to be warmed and filled while they did nothing.

It's easy to insist that if people just lived by Bible morality these problems wouldn't exist. We need to stop expecting unbelievers to live like they know Jesus (or believers to always obey). If we meet others where they are (where Jesus met each of us) we can make a difference in individual lives and we stand a much better chance of convincing the lost that Jesus cares for them. They must see it in us first.

You are smart, caring people. What are ways we can help? How do you help? How have you seen others make a difference? 

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