(This article was originally published at TimeofGrace.org.)
My generation, the millennial generation, tends to take a lot of flak for moral relativism, sense of entitlement, and an “everybody gets a trophy” hypersensitivity. Fair enough. I’m not crazy about that either and as a pastor am regularly addressing such issues.
But I’d encourage Christian leaders (and Christians in general) who’ve been disheartened by this generation’s less-than-spectacular Sunday morning church attendance to not write them off too quickly. There’s reason to be optimistic.
Specifically, there is legitimate, renewed hope for Christians that Roe v. Wade, which has made abortion legal in our nation for the past 40-plus years, might eventually be overturned. If so, millennials will have played a large role in it.
For starters, the abortion debate is changing due to the fact that young pro-choice enthusiasts are waning. Since millennials have lived their entire lives with abortion as legal; it’s not really considered by them to be a “right” worth fighting for anymore. On the other hand, pro-life youth are as active and adamant as ever.
Nancy Keenan, former president of NARAL, the country’s oldest abortion-rights group, even knows this. This is the reason she stepped down several years back. She recognized that the face of pro-choice today is a postmenopausal baby boomer. This contrasts the continuously fresh face of the pro-life movement. Keenan herself, commenting on a recent March for Life campaign in D.C., suggested, “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young. There are so many of them, and they are so young.”
Second, millennials are inherently sensitive and, therefore, inclusive. Since the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999, beginning with Georgia, every single U.S. state has adopted anti-bullying legislation. This generation has been taught from day 1 to be inclusive of all, sympathetic to those in need, and go out of their way to protect the oppressed. This is the reason why millennials were the ones who made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Yes, I understand there are no millennials on the Supreme Court. Make no mistake though; this generation’s overwhelming support for same-sex marriage, due to their inclusive and influential disposition, was largely responsible for this.
Here’s the catch: the same impulse that led millennials to protect homosexuals, whom they perceived to be legislatively marginalized, is moving that same group to recognize that aborted children are the ULTIMATE in bully victims. They are the minority with literally no voice. Right or wrong, millennials carry a lot of guilt from the unjust treatment of previous generations, and they’re consequently trying very hard to counteract that.
Third, if we make any attempt to eliminate our biases, the science is suggesting that the tissue being aborted absolutely constitutes human life. Bernard Nathanson, one of the cofounders of NARAL, had a change of heart later in life. What caused his shift in attitude about abortion? The invention of the ultrasound. Advanced technology made it undeniably evident that the cells growing in pregnant mothers were, in fact, fully a human person.
Millennials are inclined to trust the best technology available. They’re smart enough to recognize that if we found the exact same living cell cluster on Mars, NASA would be proclaiming, “We’ve found extraterrestrial LIFE!” So it cuts both ways. If you put those cells in a human woman, you have to call that life too.
Finally, and perhaps most important, we’ve now seen the seventh video released by David Daleiden, the project leader at the Center for Medical Progress. The most recent video shows Holly O’Donnell, a former Planned Parenthood technician, recounting the horror of being asked to cut open a baby’s face in order to harvest its brain. This is the same fetus from which, moments earlier, Holly’s colleague had shown her the still-beating heart. Never mind the “technology.” This woman’s own natural senses told her this was a human.
This video has come on the heels of numerous recorded statements by Planned Parenthood doctors that most have characterized as fairly callous. The most infamous of these comments was made by Dr. Mary Getter, who haggled prices for baby parts over a casual lunch, joking, “I want a lamborghini.” Most generations probably disliked that. Millennials, however, are uniquely calibrated to be disgusted by such a thought of profiting off the weak.
Furthermore, millennials are also conditioned to think that people lie to them. Marketers have been lying to them from birth. That’s the reason these videos are so important. Videos don’t lie. Technology doesn’t lie. There’s no “out of context” argument here. We’re not going to forget all this anytime soon, because its graphic content is available on YouTube, hits counting.
I do want to offer a word of caution here for Christians though, not to stifle enthusiasm that the tide appears to be turning against abortion. If this occurs, many of us would consider it to be the greatest thing that’s happened socially in this generation.
But my encouragement would be to stifle self-righteousness.
It’s very easy to fall into “I can’t believe THOSE people did THAT” type of thinking and speaking. So let’s not forget that Scripture is clear that every single one of us is responsible for the murder of God’s innocent Son, Jesus. This was, in a sense, the quintessential abortion, the greatest injustice against a truly blameless child.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23,24).
We all caused Jesus’ death. And the debt for all of our sins was paid in full by the blood from that death. At this point then thoughts like “better” or “worse” or words like them or us are not only not helpful; they’re not accurate. We’re all guilty and all saved exclusively by grace. Only when we realize that will we be able to boldly yet humbly share the truth about both the sanctity of human life and the beauty of life in Christ with the world.
Millennials are the generation that is criticized for getting everything they want. Well, as they’re getting older and their values are changing, they might actually now want something we, and the world, actually need—the defense of unprotected life. As our society seems to be moving in this direction, perhaps our hearts will beat more in rhythm with that of our God, who inspired the psalmist to say:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well (Psalm 139:13,14).
One last thing—if you’ve had an abortion, or know someone who has, I’d encourage you to read this post.