Seldom has a dinner conversation so vividly exposed the moral drift of a culture in decline. Seldom has the troubled heart of a nation been put on display more clearly than in those now infamous videotapes of Planned Parenthood representatives casually discussing the selling of body parts. Over wine and salad they chatted about less “crunchy” procedures for killing these unborn human beings that would leave those organs more intact.
While many rushed to the defense of Planned Parenthood and insisted that all of this is done for noble purposes, many others were appalled by what seemed to them a barbaric display of utter disregard for human life and feeling.
But the question begs to be answered why anyone should be so shocked. After all, we twice elected, by a sizable majority, a President who supported partial birth abortion. If most Americans do not have a problem with their President supporting this “procedure,” why should we suddenly be shocked that mere doctors, nurses and medical administrators are practicing what has become an acceptable position at the highest levels of our government?
And really, is there anything more objectionable about the less crunchy procedure than the crunchy one that crushes those helpless unborn human beings and disposes of them as masses of tissue inconveniently growing in the wrong place? The fact that it is legal to crush human beings as they emerge from the womb, and dispose of them, should be more disturbing than selling their body parts.
Now let us think about another controversy that has recently generated a lot of strong reactions: the scandal surrounding the Duggar family and the cancellation of their popular TV show “19 Kids and Counting” after the revelation that Josh Duggar molested some young girls, mainly his own sisters, when he was fifteen years old.
To be sure, what Josh Duggar did was deeply wrong and hurtful, and cannot be excused or defended in any way. But here is the point. In our culture, there is more outrage in many circles over the adolescent sins of a teenaged boy who has acknowledged his wrong and repented of it than there is over the far more serious sins of adults who do not even acknowledge that their actions are wrong.
Indeed, the “righteous indignation” directed at the Duggars and how they handled this difficult matter is a glaring measure of our moral barometer when we compare the efforts by many to suppress the videotapes that exposed Planned Parenthood.
What is so morally bizarre about contemporary culture is that it is stridently tolerant of many things that violate traditional moral standards, but ruthlessly unforgiving of infractions involving contemporary trends and sensibilities. On the latter score, nothing less than absolute perfection is acceptable. One politically incorrect comment, for instance, can utterly destroy the career and reputation of anyone who slips up in his language. (Think of Nobel prize winning scientist Tim Hunt, who was forced to resign when he made comments that were considered sexist and insensitive.)
Again, what Josh Duggar did was not merely politically incorrect, or insensitive, but simply wrong. But the point I am stressing is the matter of proportion. His sins, RELATIVELY SPEAKING, are minor compared to many things that do not even register a blip on our moral radar.
His adolescent sins have been acknowledged as deeply wrong, and he has owned his failure and taken serious steps never to repeat what he did. By contrast, abortion doctors crush and crunch tiny unborn human beings, including many who are in the process of being born. And they do it as mature adults. And they are repeat offenders who do it over and over again. Moreover, they handsomely profit from it.
We are a culture desperately in need of genuine forgiveness and moral renewal. But the renewal we need will not come unless we recover a deep awareness of the ultimate source of right and wrong, of what needs forgiveness and why. And if we do, we will see that all of us are accountable to moral truth that is not of our making, and moreover, that all of us not only need forgiveness for the ways we have fallen short, but all of us can be forgiven.
Failing that, our culture will no doubt continue to erect its own moral standards and absolutes, and its own code for who can be forgiven, and who cannot. And by that code, it should not surprise us if relatively minor sins are labeled unforgiven, while gross evils do not even require an apology, let alone sincere repentance and forgiveness.