Consider the heinous, gruesome crimes and atrocities of this past century: How can this human depravity and vile sin be explained? What would have caused the Germans in Hitler’s concentration camps to torture and slaughter millions of innocent Jewish civilians? Most of those involved were not depraved maniacs but ordinary, and often highly educated, people. Particularly puzzling is the action of physicians involved in vile human experimentation. What would cause doctors to torture and mutilate? Robert Lifton sought an answer to this question in his book, The Nazi Doctors. What Lifton found was a universal denial of guilt! The doctors whom he interviewed either refused to accept responsibility, denied wrongdoing, or blamed the situation in which they were trapped. According to Lifton,”… not a single former Nazi doctor I spoke to arrived at a clear, ethical evaluation of what he had done or what he had been a part of.”1
Such a clear window into human nature should serve as a warning beacon to each of us. We have an unquenchable desire to consider ourselves innocent. Yet, deep down, we all know that we are guilty. Abortion is ground zero for the ‘value of life’ discussion. Conception is the exact moment when a “foetus” becomes a baby. There is no easy cut off point when it is OK to dispose of the growing child. The Bible clearly speaks of unborn children as human beings2 and makes no distinction between the value of babies before or after they are born. To discard unborn children is equivalent to playing God.
Those closest to the abortion issue – the millions of women who have had abortions, the millions of men who have coerced women into having abortions, and the tens of millions who have a friend who has had an abortion, will find it very difficult to remain objective about this subject. We all seem to have the built-in ability to guard ourselves from the pain of responsibility by denial and justification. To acknowledge guilt is to admit that some payment for the wrongful act is required. Yet, what payment could provide adequate retribution for ending the life of an innocent child? The almost infinite ability of humanity to justify evil is part of the basic nature of sin which goes back to the foundation of humanity. Adam’s response to his sin was to hide the sin (denial); to blame Eve for the sin (rationalization), and to refuse to accept responsibility for the sin: “… the women YOU sent gave the fruit to me.”3 (Justification).
To confront abortion as an unbridled atrocity, results in a shutdown of communication. But to say nothing is not helpful to those who are already condemned by their own actions. Modern psychology has confirmed what the Bible has taught for thousands of years. Until guilt is admitted, no healing can take place. Modern man is increasingly trying to deal with guilt by denying that sin, or even guilt, exists. Other people are guilty… but never us. All religions, except Christianity, attempt to “pay off” guilt by some pious behavior. Neither of these strategies (denial or religious acts) dealing with the reality of guilt. Humans feel guilty because they live in the reality of a holy God’s existence. We are guilty. The very nature of a just God requires repentance before forgiveness can take place. Until we admit our sins, repent, and accept His sacrifice as payment, we can never be truly free.
As painful as it may be to admit wrongdoing, the benefit of knowing you are forgiven by the Creator of the universe is worth the pain of acknowledgment. After admission of guilt there must be more than regret. Admission of guilt is just the first step and regret is not the same as repentance. Repentance is a 180 degree turnaround. Only by turning away from the darkness can you see the light.
1.Lifton, Robert, The Nazi Doctors, New York: Basic Books, 1986.
2.Psalm 139:13-16, Isaiah 49:1, Jeremiah 1:5, Judges 13:3, 6-7, Job 3:3, Job 10:18-19, Ecclesiastes 11:5.
3. Genesis 3:10-13