Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
One hundred fifty-five years ago today, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which said, “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
“All persons held as slaves… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Those words just sing the Gospel to me this afternoon. Can you imagine those words? We were a nation full of people who had been completely dehumanized simply because of the color of their skin. They were bought and sold, whipped and beaten, and the laws governing their lives and deaths were property laws rather than the proper homicide laws. Say what you may about Lincoln, and call him either a brilliant, prudential strategist or an opportunistic, compromising politician. But, on this day, when he said that these humans will finally be treated like humans, he was right. We rightly celebrate this day, because although we have miles to go to achieve complete racial reconciliation in our nation, on this day, 155 years ago, we finally called these people exactly what they are: People.
On this day, the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, I spoke with a young woman in front of Planned Parenthood in San Bernardino, CA. She told me that I should ‘respect women’s choices’ because God would want me to do that. I asked her what choices I should respect, and to name the choice she’s talking about. After a lot of pressing she finally said it, “Okay. Fine. It’s the choice to kill it.”
“A woman should have the choice to kill a baby?” I asked.
“Well, it is a tiny baby, and it won’t affect anyone else besides her if she kills it.”
When I attempted to continue speaking with her, she drove away, but here it is on full display. This is the logic of abortion, and whether you couch the language in “women’s rights” or “women’s health,” or, “bodily autonomy,” you are still left with the same, unshakable reality: The right to an abortion is the right to kill little people. Although this young woman did not have the courage to stand there and defend the idea, she had a lot more courage than many people I talk to. She was willing to name it.
Recently, a Federal judge named John Bush compared abortion to slavery. Huffington Post was horrified and pointed out how crazy ‘anti-choice’ people are to see the connection. The connection is obvious, whether it bothers the writers of opinion pieces at Huffington Post or not. Check out this comparison in the language of these Supreme Court Cases:
Dred Scott v. Sanford: “We think . . . [the people of the Negro race] . . . are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the words “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States.”
Roe v. Wade: “All this, together with our observation, supra, that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.”
“The people of the Negro race were not intended to be included under the words ‘citizens’ in the Constitution” and, “The word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.” The connection is so glaringly obvious that it is surprising the link between slavery and abortion isn’t made more often.
The problem with both of these wicked decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court is identical. Both of them introduce the idea of a ‘human, non-person.’ What that means is that we can have human beings who aren’t ‘persons’ as far as the Constitution is concerned, and therefore not worthy of protection. The criteria for this class of human, non-persons is always arbitrary and wicked. In Dred Scott it was skin color. In Roe it was whether a person is born or unborn. Both of these criteria are equally appalling.
Every generation has glaring blind spots. Only a few people are courageous enough to name the blind spots in the present moment. Usually, it is the great grandchildren who are detached enough from the appetites of the age who can see clearly enough to name the injustices committed for what they were. I read writings, sermons, and letters from the founding generations of our nation and I am edified greatly. I struggle deeply with the fact that many of these people who wrote so eloquently and prayed so fervently thought it was okay to own human beings because of the color of their skin. I pray to God that I would have eyes to see the injustice had I been living in that generation. I pray that God’s Spirit would have granted me enough discernment to to throw a fit when the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision came down.
I firmly believe that years from now, as we continue to tell the truth, learn more about the unborn, and, most importantly, turn back to Christ in repentance, that we will be completely appalled. Our grandchildren will see videos of abortion procedures and they will be horrified. I look for the day when my children or grandchildren sit on my lap and ask me how we could have ever stood for the violence that is enacted on unborn children every day in our country. I will say to him, “I don’t know how we ever justified this atrocity, but we fought tooth and nail. We never gave up. Some people taught others about the humanity of the unborn. Some people ran for office and enacted righteous decrees and defied that wicked court decision of Roe. Some people intentionally preached the Gospel and brought that Gospel into clear conflict with the evil of abortion. Some people stood in front of the places of death and begged parents to love their children. And we overcame. The Gospel overcame. And we stopped tearing our children into pieces, sacrificing them to the false idols of choice, freedom, promiscuity, and bodily autonomy.”
One day, sooner than later, our nation will repent and we will hate abortion just as much as we hate slavery. Be one of the few that open your eyes today, so that when our grandchildren ask us, you can join me in telling them that you fought.