Cut flowers

Note: I wrote this article before the governor of New York signed a bill on Tuesday that legalized abortion up until birth in some cases. He also directed the One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit in pink to celebrate the passage of the “Reproductive Health Act.” How exactly the law will be interpreted and applied remains to be seen, but it seems like another step in the deeply discouraging direction of becoming a nation that delights in taking innocent life. May God help us.

When it comes to world events, we can err on either extreme. We might look at negative trends in our world and quickly assume the sky is falling; we’re on a downward trend from which there’s no hope of recovery. We might even act as if God himself has lost control.

On the other hand, we can blithely stick our proverbial heads in the sand and act as if everything’s fine . . . when it isn’t. I think the following ought to alarm us regardless of which direction we lean.

UK newspaper The Telegraph published an article with this title: “Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say.” The author, Stephen Adams, comments on an article that was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics that suggested newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life.”

The journal article was entitled, “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” The central argument was: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life in an individual.”

Their conclusion: “. . . what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.” Is your stomach turning yet?

The authors prefer the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus.” These ethicists have apparently been influenced by the thinking of Peter Singer, an Australian moral philosopher who believes that a fish or two-year-old chimpanzee has more moral standing than a human fetus.

I suppose we might have many responses: outrage, sadness, fear. Read this statement from E.D. Trueblood, written in 1944 but still incredibly relevant:

“The terrible danger of our time consists in the fact that ours is a cut-flower civilization. Beautiful as cut flowers may be, and much as we may use our ingenuity to keep them looking fresh for a while, they will eventually die, and they die because they are severed from their sustaining roots. We are trying to maintain the dignity of the individual apart from a deep faith that every man is made in God’s image and is therefore precious in God’s eyes” (The Predicament of Modern Man, 1944, pp. 59-60).

Depending on our leanings, we might be tempted to think that the so-called “after-birth abortions” are the theoretical musings of academicians across the Atlantic. But as one of my professors said, “The ideas of the academy slowly but surely find their way into mainstream thought.”

In so many ways, we live in scary times. Because we trust in a sovereign God, we never lose hope. We know that he’s in control, and we submit everything to his providential care. But at the same time, we ought to pray hard for our world and hope that what Trueblood wrote 75 years ago isn’t being realized in our own day.

Just as a flower that is cut from its roots will eventually wither and die, so a country that severs its connection to God will inevitably lose its respect for human life.

Please pray for our world and for our country and its leaders. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:1-3).


One day soon
Look ahead


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