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Abortion and the Death of Europe
Last weekend, Ireland voted overwhelmingly by referendum to repeal its constitutional ban on abortion. Once a country virtually synonymous with Christian faith and piety, Ireland has now become the first nation on the face of the planet to embrace by popular vote the murder of infants by their own mothers.
In a very real sense this vote was nothing other than a referendum on Christianity. The constitution of Ireland begins with the following words:
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred…
After Friday’s vote, it is clear that the Irish people no longer believe any such thing. After last Friday’s vote, the prophetic words of Dostoevsky have at last been fulfilled: Europe is a graveyard. The people of Ireland will bury Christian Europe alongside the ashes of their own murdered children.
But there will be no somber wake for Christian Europe, any more than for her murdered sons and daughters. On the contrary: the people cheer wildly in celebration, congratulating themselves on their victory over “tribalism and fear.” In the words of one Irish writer: “Today, Ireland dances on the graves of little children. It is a country where freedom means the right to do just about anything you please, without risk of consequences.”
It is right and necessary to mourn this tragedy, and to offer to God repentance for our own complicity in this culture of death which has overtaken the world. But repentance does not mean mere grief; it means to turn around, to make a change, to make straight our paths, and to return to the Lord God. And to do that, we must first ask ourselves how this happened, and then we must begin to find our way forward.
So how did this happen? One thing is sure and certain: this did not happen because Christians lost a debate about abortion. This happened because Christians lost a debate about Christianity. And they lost it a long time ago.
As John Daniel Davidson wrote: “There is nothing inherent to a wholly secular liberal order that can prevent the transformation of individual liberty into a license to kill the unborn.”
Because in a secular liberal order, who decides whether the unborn are people? Who decides whether the unborn have any rights? Who decides whether abortion is infanticide, or, as Kevin Williamson put it, something “no more morally significant than getting a tooth pulled”?
We decide. We decide everything now.
The entire theory of the “social contract,” the basis of all liberal democracy, is simply a statement that “we the people” are the ones who decide everything. Power is not granted by God, but derived from the consent of the governed. And so we will decide everything.
And make no mistake: if we can decide that it is perfectly moral to murder our own children in the course of a never-ending pursuit of sexual pleasure divorced from all consequence or responsibility, then we are capable of deciding to do anything at all.
All we need is the technology to do it.
There can be no reasonable argument against any of this. Because, ironically, the Enlightenment has bequeathed upon us a system of government which exalts reason to such an extent that it can no longer actually be reasoned with. Reason, after all, requires a set of shared premises. But secular liberalism has no inherent premises at all.
Or rather, its only inherent premise is that we decide what the premises are. We decide which truths are self-evident.
Ireland, like the rest of the modern world, has decided upon the premise and the self-evident “truth” that an unborn child is not a person and has no rights, and that he or she can therefore be freely destroyed by his or her own mother, should she so decide. And we cannot reason against such a premise, nor with the people who decide upon it. We can only convert them.
We have to understand this fundamental truth, otherwise all our efforts will be totally in vain. That’s why I write so often about modernity as a new religion, even as the religion of the Antichrist. That’s why I’m writing long-winded posts on political philosophy. I’m writing these things because we simply cannot afford the pleasant fiction that our political system is spiritually neutral. It is subtly yet intrinsically opposed to the Christian faith.
But in pointing out these things, I am not at all contradicting the things I wrote about earlier: Christians absolutely must stop relying on political struggle, rather than on personal repentance, in our efforts to save our cultures and our nations. I’m not pointing out these political realities in order to encourage a political solution. I’m trying to point out that there cannot possibly be any political solution. That ship went down a century ago, when “the one who restrains” was taken away. What we see around us is nothing other than “the mystery of lawlessness” being revealed.
And against the “spirit of the age” there can be no worldly victory. There can be no policy solution, nor even any perfect political candidate who will somehow manage to roll back the tide. There can be no reasoned debate, because we have no common principles. There can only be conversion between one religion and the other.
We need to wake up and realize that the only battleground that matters is the spiritual battleground: the human heart. The only weapon that we have is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. The only victory that we can ever hope to win is the salvation of the men and women whom each of us meet in our own lives. Everything else is a distraction and a dead end.
If we have the opportunity to vote for better laws, laws that actually protect the innocent rather than the pleasure of the privileged, then by all means let us do so. But let us not be seduced into believing that the political arena is the arena that really matters. Ireland lost the vote against abortion because it had already lost its Christianity. And it was only ever Christianity that Christ came to this earth to bring. His Kingdom truly is not from hence.
We cannot ever allow ourselves to forget that fact.