Despite the deliberate attempt to stifle and dismiss it, the new film Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer is currently in theaters around the country. I was able to see it last night along with my wife and a fairly sizable group of friends and I wanted to share some thoughts in the wake of it. I'm not going to focus on the plot of the film itself or the details of the case, but I highly recommend you watch the trailer below and also look into it for yourself here: gosnellmovie.com
At one point in the film, a young Millennial investigative blogger who has been covering the case says something that stuck with me. When asked why she has been so diligently covering a case that the overwhelming majority of the media completely ignored, she says, "I report the truth. If the truth doesn't match what I believe, I don't try to change the truth." The wisdom and urgency of this statement cannot possibly be overstated.
Our society is so plagued by relativist, reductionist thinking that we are starting to see its inevitable collapse. It shouldn't surprise us. A phrase frequently used by Bishop Robert Barron comes to mind, namely "spiritual physics." In this context, it means that when one persistently pursues a path that leads further and further away from the Source of truth, goodness, and beauty, one by definition will find only lies, suffering, and ugliness. Put another way, when we insist on rejecting the light, what could we possibly hope to find but darkness?
When it comes to the issue of abortion, I would like point out an uncomfortably telling fact. When we look to the biblical narrative, we eventually arrive at the horrifying reality of a place called Gehenna, or the "Valley of Hinnom." In the pre-Israelite Jerusalem, Gehenna was the focal point of Canaanite child sacrifice to the god Moloch. In other words, Gehenna was basically a vast abortuary that the Israelites, after utterly purging the gruesome Canaanite society from the land turned into their garbage dump. It is precisely this place that gentle, tolerant, nice Jesus used repeatedly as his primary image of Hell. If you don't believe me, look it up (see Matthew chapters 5, 10, 18, 23; Mark chapter 9; and Luke chapter 12 just to pick a few).
Hell is not some unimaginably cruel, make-believe prison dreamt up by radical religious zealots. It's a word. It's an English word that is used to describe an actual existential reality. "Hell" is nothing other than the eternal, self-chosen and eternally unrepentant rejection of truth, goodness, and beauty. God doesn't send anyone there - we have the freedom to send ourselves there, and it is very possible to do so.
God is utterly serious about the dignity of human life, because all life comes from and is sustained by him. Life is God's divine gift, a sharing with the creature of the creator's act of existence. The fact that God allows us to participate in the generation of a new human person through our sexuality is a great undeserved blessing and an even greater responsibility. But it is God himself who creates and sustains the human soul, the life principle of that little baby boy or girl. The fact that we have reached a point in which so many people frivolously banter about "choice" and "reproductive rights" when the true issue is the mass killing of untold millions of innocent human beings is absolutely astonishing. In a sane world, it would chill us to the very core of our being. But sin is our freely chosen rejection of the God who is love and logic itself.
"God is love," says Saint John in his first letter (see 1 John 4:8). Love always gives, it never takes. Love gives to the point of even suffering and death rather than inflicting harm on another. The Cross is the ultimate "crux point" of the human story, because it is the complete inversion of the selfishness of the fallen world. Abortion is the culmination in many ways of self-interest. The Cross is the culmination of self-gift.
My hope and prayer is that the Gosnell case, as hideous as it is, may very well go down in history as the moment where the rock was finally lifted and the bugs underneath scattered in the light. In Luke 8:17 Jesus said "nothing is hidden that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light." So be it. Our little brothers and sisters deserve justice and mercy. So do the countless women who have been lied to and manipulated into thinking that abortion is their only "choice." So do all men and women who have been told for generations that love is just a feeling and that sex is just an enjoyable activity. If more of us could be like that blogger in the film and follow the truth rather than our own impoverished desires, think of how beautiful this world could become.
I'll give Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta the last word. At the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, Mother famously asked:
"If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"
For some more information on abortion statistics check out this site: Abortion Facts