Friday, June 29, 2007

From Douglas Wilson: Atheism, Beachballs, and the Special Olympics

Ok, that's my title.
Scripture teaches us that unbelievers suppress the truth in unrighteousness. But this language suggests that the operation is not effortless. In order to sin, and in order to persist in it, we have to fight against something that is true about ourselves. We are created in the image of God, and despite the fall into sin, we still retain that image. When God told Noah that the death penalty was to be applied in cases of murder, He did so because men still bear that image, however defaced by sin it may have been.

Therefore unbelievers who suppress the truth of God are expending a good deal of effort to hold a beach ball under water. Periodically it gets away from them, even though repentance has not occurred. When this happens, the results can be a bizarre flailing to get the ball back under. All such attempts to regain the calm but quivering respectability that existed before the ball got loose can be seen in various frantic civil legalisms.

Let us pretend that the illustration got away from us, just like the beach ball. What is all this supposed to mean? When the law of God is resisted and suppressed, the men who do this are objectively guilty, despite what they want to feel. This objective guilt results in subjective feelings of guilt – quivering arms holding that beach ball down. When the charade is revealed in some civil atrocity – genocide, rampant abortion, widespread sodomy – it is no longer possible to pretend that we are all decent folks just enjoying ourselves at the pool. Instead of admitting what we were doing, the response is to start splashing and yelling, pretending that we are saving someone from drowning.

In other words, when it becomes apparent that we as a people are disregarding God’s law in some flagrant way, the next thing to watch for is some kind of moral crusade that will help compensate for it. This is the meaning behind our yelling and splashing and imaginary heroics. In our nation today, a woman who is six months pregnant can go to a clinic and have the child terminated. Not only can she do this, she can receive considerable social support in doing so. The law of God is flagrantly insulted. But if that same woman stood on a busy street corner, visibly pregnant, and smoked herself a pack of cigarettes, she would be the brunt of a lot of cold, icy stares. How dare she risk a low birth weight? More than one social observer has noted the ethical incoherence of this.

But this is why unborn children can be killed for having birth defects, but if they navigate their way past our abortion laws and are successfully born, we will arrange special Olympics for them, handicapped parking spacing in every parking lot in town, and disability access into every building in the nation. We, in a fever pitch of moral do-goodism, are insisting that such handicapped individuals have a fundamental right to be able to access anything – except for their lives.


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