Yesterday I participated in The March for Life, an annual protest march held on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. If you weren’t there, you likely didn’t hear much about the event. Today I want to describe it to you, and then tell you why I have participated the last two years:
The march begins at the National Mall, then makes its way up past the Capitol Building to the steps of the Supreme Court. It is impossible to know how many people were marching, but it feelt like less than last year, which was owing to the fact it was VERY COLD, and DC was hit by its biggest snow of the year the day before the march. Even so, last year there were lots of people, although estimates of how many were all over the map. Some news papers said there were about 65,000 people, and some others said there were 650,000 people.Obviously those numbers aren’t reliable. Most people don’t care, because the march is hardly covered by the press at all (last year despite having over 500k people there, an anti-gun rally with 5k people drew bigger headlines in most papers).
Two things stand out about the marchers: they are very young, and very Catholic. This is pure guess work, but it looked like 75% of the crowd was under 25, and about 75% of the crowd was wearing something that designated them as Catholic (such as church scarves, friar robes, or giant banners of the Virgin). In fact, I ran into a friend at the march who said, “whoa, another protestant!”
The day began at a stage, where Matt Maher played, and he was followed by speakers—a Catholic Bishop, John Boehner, and others. Everyone then marched to the Supreme Court with a lot of chanting.
The whole affair is certainly conflicted. On the one hand, there were graphic pictures of dismembered and discarded babies. On the other hand, the marchers were often chanting as if they were at a high school football game (“We love babies, yes we do! We love babies, how bout you?”). Part of that is certainly the fruit of a generation raised in a culture of death. These students have always lived in a world where it is legal for mothers to kill their children. The statistic of 56 million Americans aborted in the last 40 years is just too horrific to comprehend, and has just become part-and-parcel of our culture.
So why did I march? If you look through American history, abortion is not the only social evil that has been institutionalized and legalized. Consider two other examples: the slave trade and segregation. Both of those were enshrined in our country’s culture, much like abortion is today. Both of those were eventually abolished, and the masses’ protests—specifically the religious masses—were instrumental in closing those chapters of our history. Our country’s history has taught us that this kind of social protest works.
I know that only the gospel can change a heart. And I know that you can make abortion illegal without advancing the kingdom of God one inch. Yet I am a citizen in two kingdoms. I don’t think that participating in The March for Life is advancing the gospel, but it is protesting a horrible evil enshrined in our culture. Citizens of a country have a duty to speak out when confronted with immorality. Because of common grace, God has allowed some truths to be in the reach of those who are outside of Christ—such as murder being evil, for example. And it is obvious that as a culture slides away from morality into depravity, that it is sliding further and further from common grace and into God’s judgment.
It is foolhardy to sit back and say, “I can’t do anything except watch.” That’s why I’m committed to writing about the evils of abortion (like here, or here), to preaching against the evils of abortion, and to using any means I have to expose people to the truth. If marching against legalized infanticide seems like such a small statement, I suppose I’m more comfortable with that small statement than with no statement at all.
Last year on the march I ran into a group of a dozen counter-protesters who were speaking out in favor of keeping infanticide legal (they actually confessed that they were not speaking out of conviction, but that they had been hired—money apparently being the only kind of conviction some people have). This year I saw only one person.
There are no real arguments to keep abortion legal. Unlike 40 years ago, there is no doubt about what is happening in the womb at 14 weeks (in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court said that there was). There is no shortage of families looking to adopt children, meaning that even in an unplanned pregnancy of a young mother, there is no need “to punish them with a baby.” The truth is that the only real reason to keep infanticide legal is that people hate God and all he stands for—even simple things like common grace.
The next few years should certainly be enlightening. As a generation that has grown up with legalized abortion gives way to a generation that has grown up with ultrasound machines and in-utero surgeries, the shadows of justification for abortion simply have to fade. The moral arc of the universe is long, but it tends towards justice, and in this case the days of society tolerating the slaughter of tens of millions of babies certainly has to be coming to a close. Even if it only gets closer one march at a time.