The Original Lie Behind Abortion
Rev. Frank A. Pavone
To say that only Christ in and through His Church can
ultimately conquer abortion is not merely a pious platitude, nor is it a fancy
way of saying, "Jesus, help us fight abortion." Rather, it is to say
something about the very nature of Christ and the Church, and about the reasons
why abortions continue at the alarming rate of 4000 a day in the United States
Christ Undoes Satan's Works
There are many ways to express the purpose of Christ's
mission in the world. St. John in his first letter sums it up by saying,
"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the
devil" (I John 3:8). What "works of the devil" does Christ
destroy? Christ Himself tells us that the devil "was a murderer from the
beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he
tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of
lies" (John 8:44). In one and the same breath, Our Lord calls the devil a
liar and a murderer. Lies and murder go together. The only way abortion can
continue on such a horrible scale is for it to be covered in lies, sugarcoated
with denials and distortions of truth. Christ has come to destroy the works of
the devil. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). He is
the way to salvation precisely because He is the Truth, shattering the devil's
lies, and because He is the Life, undoing the devil's work of death.
A Liar and Murderer From the Beginning
We see the devil act in in character with lies and murder from
the first pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve had been told they could eat of any
tree in the garden except "the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil." "In the day that you eat of it," God warned them,
"you shall die" (Gen 2:17). What is wrong with knowing good from evil?
Aren't we supposed to know the difference between good and evil? Isn't that
part of our religious and moral education? Don't so many problems come about
when people do not know good from evil? Why, then, is this the one tree of which
our first parents were not to eat?
The answer lies in the fact that the "knowledge of good
and evil" here does not simply mean "knowing." It means that Adam
and Eve would think they could decide the difference between good and
evil, that they would be the ones to determine what was right and wrong, that
they would be the norm of morality. This is the original temptation. "What's
right and wrong for me is up to me... What's right and wrong for you is up to
you... Do not impose your morality on me. . . I will create my own values... I
am accountable to nobody but myself." In other words, it's all up to my
own personal choice. The original sin is to put choice above goodness and
truth, to abuse freedom by trying to create what is right rather than submit to
it. In his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth, August
6, 1993), Pope John Paul II comments on Genesis 2:16-17. "With this image,
revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does
not belong to man, but to God alone. The man is certainly free... But his
freedom is not unlimited: It must halt before the "tree of the knowledge of
good and evil," for it is called to accept the moral law given by God"
By rebelling against the truth of the moral law, we die. God
had warned Adam and Eve they would die if they disobeyed. The devil had to lie
to them to introduce death into the world. So the original liar approached the
original woman and offered the original lie: "You certainly will not die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be
like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:4-5). Eve bought the lie, as did
Adam, and they committed the original sin. Death then entered the world, on the
heels of a lie.
Babel: The Lie Continues
The original lie continued at the tower of Babel, in Babylon.
It is noteworthy that "bab-ili" means "gate of the gods."
Here again, humans tried to exalt themselves to the status of God. "Come,
let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let
us make a name for ourselves" (Gen. 11:4). "Let us make," they
said, forgetting that God is the one who said, "Let us make man" (Gen.
Seeing their forgetfulness and pride, God said, "This is
only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do
will now be impossible for them" (Gen. 11:6). God was not saying here that
He felt threatened. He was saying that people who have bought the lie that they
themselves are the norm of truth and goodness will think they can do anything,
and in trying to do so, will only destroy themselves. The original lie
perpetuated will only perpetuate death. It is His infinite mercy and love that
move Him to say, "Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language,
that they may not understand one another's speech" (Gen. 11:17). Better
for them to be scattered by God's intervention than dashed on the rocks of
their own pride! God confused the language only after the people had confused it
first by speaking the lie that they could make a name for themselves, rather
than submitting to the name (the truth) of God.
Babel Revisited in 1992
This lie continues in our day and, in fact, has become the
official policy of America, according to the Supreme Court. In this decision on
abortion, in which the error of Roe v. Wade was upheld, the Court stated,
"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of
existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
(Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992, [505 U.S.833,851]) This line is
incredible! We cannot even decide the weather, and yet we are expected to define
existence itself! We live in a universe we did not create, and yet we are
declared to be the creators of that universe's meaning! We did not call
ourselves into life, yet we have the liberty to define the meaning of life! Not
only is this absurd, but it is frightfully familiar: "You shall be like
God, knowing good and evil." "Let us make a name for ourselves."
"The gate of the gods." Perhaps the Court's decision should be
re-named "Eden and Babel Revisited."
Abortion Cloaked in Lies
The original lie leads to the ongoing slaughter of babies by
abortion. The mother is told, "It's your choice. It's your freedom. It's
your body. Nobody can impose their morality on you." It is the lie that
choice prevails over life itself.
Abortion continues thanks to many other lies as well. Women
are lied to about the nature of the developing baby and about the effects of the
abortion procedure. Carol Everett, herself a victim of abortion and once an
abortion provider, wrote, "Like many others, I bought the big lie: 'It is
only a glob of tissue not a baby.' I was a victim of all the other lies:
Abortion is all right. After all, I do them all the time. It will be so simple.
It's only a glob of tissue. There's really nothing to the procedure; it will
only take a little while and then everything will be fine. You can have the
abortion on Friday morning and be back to work on Monday." (The Scarlet
Lady, p.101 ). The workers at the abortion center were trained to give as little
information as possible, so that women would not know the truth.
The Elliot Institute in Springfield, Illinois, does research
on the effects of abortion on women, and collects case studies in which women
describe what led them to abortion and what consequences followed. Case after
case shows how they were victimized by lies and half-truths. The efforts made to
initiate wide-spread abortion in America were marked by lies, as Dr. Bernard
Nathanson, former abortionist and co-founder of the National Abortion Rights
Action League, readily admits. Now a strong advocate for the right to life, he
writes, "How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was
illegal?... It was always "5,000 to 10,000 a year." I confess that I knew
the figures were totally false" (Aborting America, p.193). A growing
number of former abortion providers in our country are coming forward to tell
how they lied to women before abortions and covered up the tracks of botched
abortions by falsifying medical records.
The lies continue and murder continues.
The Splendor of Truth
The solution demands that we lift high the truth. Truth is on
the side of life. Truth and life go together. Let us proclaim the truth that the
preborn child is a human person from the moment of conception; that love for the
woman demands love for her child; that there are concrete, life-giving
alternatives to abortion; that there are negative physical, psychological, and
spiritual consequences of abortion; that choice never takes priority over life
itself; and that freedom is found by submitting to the moral truth that comes
from God rather than by trying to be God ourselves. Our Holy Father has provided
the Church and the world with the bedrock foundation of moral sanity and
salvation in documents such as The Splendor of Truth and The Gospel of
Life. Christ provides us the only way of salvation namely, Himself, for He
is truth and life.
Ultimately we save the world from the bondage of abortion and
every other sin by lifting Christ high. "If you continue in my Word, you
are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you
free" (John 8:31-32).
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