If someone had written an article in the London Times during its first year of publication, 1785, titled, “The End of the Slave Trade,” no reader would have taken it seriously. Britain had dominated the Atlantic slave trade for 200 years. Slavery was an entrenched institution.
In 1787, however, a tiny Quaker and Anglican abolitionist society began working to influence public opinion. They were eventually joined by a born-again politician named William Wilberforce, and in 1791 he introduced his first bill before Parliament to abolish England’s slave trade. That bill was soundly defeated.
Just about every year thereafter for the next 20 years, Wilberforce introduced a motion for abolition that was voted down, a drawn-out battle that is well dramatized in the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace. Wilberforce’s persistence was finally rewarded in 1807, when Parliament voted in favor of abolishing the slave trade. Slavery itself was not abolished by Parliament for another 26 years, in 1833.
It was a 46-year struggle. During the first 45 of those 46 years, the consciences of every British Parliamentarian sided with Wilberforce, but the majority clung to their justifications for slavery—all based on the various lies they employed to suppress the truth. In the end however, the truth, which had not changed in 46 years, prevailed.
Obviously, the abolition of slavery in England in 1833 morally condemned everyone who had opposed abolition during the previous 46 years. It marked them all as having been “on the wrong side of history” (to borrow a favorite phrase of President Obama).
In North America, slavery was legal in all Thirteen Colonies when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but soon after, abolitionist laws were passed in most of the Northern states. You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, legally freeing 4 million black slaves, and a civil war that cost 750,000 lives ended two-and-a-half years later.
The entire abolitionist struggle in the United States lasted about 85 years. All American citizens who stood against abolition during those 85 years suppressed the inward voice that continually instructs everyone to “treat others just as you want to be treated.” Today virtually every one of their descendants are embarrassed—and some horrified—that their ancestors “stood on the wrong side of history.” It boggles our minds to think that Americans once owned slaves.
Within a few years of America’s Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th constitutional amendments were passed, which formally ended slavery, gave former slaves citizenship, and offered men of African ancestry the right to vote. But laws written on papers don’t transform racist hearts, and discrimination and segregation still prevailed. It was during those same years that the Ku Klux Klan first reared its ugly, sheet-enshrouded head.
It could be said that the struggle for civil rights lasted for a minimum of 100 years, if one counts from the end of the Civil War to the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act (which obviously didn’t end discrimination or transform racist hearts). During those entire 100 years, all white racists suppressed truth that was just as self-evident to them as it is to us.
Can you imagine living during a time when the lynching of blacks was fairly commonplace and acceptable? When large crowds of white people would gather, often numbering in the thousands, including elected officials and prominent citizens, to witness pre-planned killings that sometimes featured prolonged torture, mutilation, dismemberment, or burning of black victims at carnival-like events, with vendors selling food, and people posing for commemorative photographs taken beside hanging corpses? (Don’t believe it? See www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/jan04.htm.)
Can you imagine living where the law required separate public bathrooms and water fountains for “whites” and “coloreds”? Where restaurants and theaters had separate seating areas for different skin colors? Where schools were segregated? Where public buses required blacks to sit in the back? Today we are shocked by what was once widely accepted in some parts of the U.S.
Again, the progress that has been made against racism stands as a testimony against those who resisted that progress. They’ve all found themselves “on the wrong side of history.” Any of them could have been on the right side had they simply followed their consciences.
What is so ironic about our horror over our nation’s racist past is that our nation today allows, by law, a horror that is even worse than the enslavement of 4 million people with dark skin or the lynching of 4,000 of that same race during an 86-year stretch of American history. I’m speaking, of course, of the murder of 60 million unborn American babies of all races since 1973, when abortion was legalized.
Currently, about 1.1 million unborn babies are aborted annually in the U.S. (3,000 per day, 125 per hour, 1 every 30 seconds…see numberofabortions.com for up-to-the-minute stats). Perhaps more ironic is that almost 1/3rd of those 60 million aborted babies were black, while blacks comprise just 13% of the total U.S. population.
And it gets worse. We’re not speaking of some humane attempt to end the lives of serial murderers, remembering that “cruel and unusual punishment” is prohibited by the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We’re speaking of the savage act of killing living babies by injecting Digoxin into their hearts, which induces a heart attack. We’re speaking of injecting saline solution into a mother’s uterus, which burns her baby’s skin and lungs as it breathes the solution, initiating the process of an agonizing death that can take an hour or more. We’re speaking of dismembering living babies piece by piece, literally slicing, ripping and crushing them to death in their mothers’ wombs. It is barbaric.
And EVERYONE knows that abortion is morally wrong. It is murder of a human being. That is precisely why both Federal Law and the law in 38 states declare that anyone who kills a pregnant mother is guilty of double homicide.
And that is precisely why fetal surgery treats the unborn as children and patients. High-risk pregnancy specialist Dr. Steve Calvin wrote, “There is inescapable schizophrenia in aborting a perfectly normal 22-week fetus while at the same hospital, performing intrauterine surgery on its cousin.” John Piper astutely comments, “When the unborn are wanted, they are treated as children and patients. When they are not wanted, they are not children.”
Yet, after 60 million children have been murdered in their mothers’ wombs, some pro-life advocates have grown “weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9). Many have even stopped voting for pro-life candidates. “There is little chance of winning the abortion battle, so my vote will be based on other life issues,” they say. “Think of how long we’ve waged this battle. We’ve elected plenty of pro-life candidates since Roe v. Wade in 1973, and abortion is still legal.”
Some Christians are even more pessimistic: The world is only becoming more wicked, and there is nothing we can do to slow or stop it. You are dreaming if you think that something so embedded in our evil culture could be eliminated.
Those hopeless sentiments among Christians seemed so strong prior to the last presidential election that I gave up working on this very article you are now reading. It seemed a foregone conclusion that the next president was going to appoint a pro-abortion supreme court justice whose addition to the court would soon make unconstitutional any laws restricting abortion. Similarly, the Hyde amendment, which restricted taxpayer-funded elective abortions for Medicaid recipients, would surely be repealed.
Thanks to moral people who voted, however, the political tide has begun to turn. There is renewed hope about the fight against abortion. So please allow me to encourage every pro-life advocate with an undeniable historical truth: Moral movements can take decades.
It took at least 46 years of struggle before slavery was abolished in England. In the U.S. it took almost twice as long. Significant progress for civil rights required a century. But it has been only 43 years since Roe v. Wade. Lots of progress restricting abortion has already been made. It is not time to throw in the towel. It is time to renew our resolve to eliminate the most evil scourge and shame of our society.
There isn’t any doubt that morality is on the side of the pro-life movement just as much as it was with the Anti-Slavery Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. And it is very possible that, 5, 10, 15 or 20 years from now, when the murder of the unborn is illegal, and when most unwanted pregnancies result in baby adoptions, our grandchildren will view documentaries and movies about our savage era that will horrify them, just as much as we are horrified when we view documentaries and movies that show past practices of slavery and segregation.
Just imagine your grandchildren looking at old news photos of crowds of women unashamedly marching in public for the “right” to continue murdering their unborn children. They may well be even more horrified than we are now when we see old photos of black lynchings. Surely they will be dumbfounded that our society tolerated such savagery on such a broad scale and swallowed such obvious lies to prop up its self-deception.
And when that day arrives, everyone who was pro-abortion during those barbaric decades (or who opted out of the political process “because Jesus never involved Himself in politics”), will be exposed as having been “on the wrong side of history.”
Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights violation of our time. It is going the way of slavery and segregation, sooner or later. Don’t be on the wrong side of history. — David
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well (Ps. 139:13-14).