Thursday, August 18, 2022
It's Thursday, August 18th, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
It’s a Last Resort But They Save Precious Lives: Safe Haven Drop Boxes as a Parable of Our Age
Intense and immense pressure produces a certain kind of clarity. That's true in physics, it's true in politics, it's true in morality. Probably true in your own experience, just in terms of relationships and conversation, pressure often clarifies.
Under the current cultural pressure of a society, largely tearing itself apart at the most basic level of moral reality, we are looking at the fact that some stories erupt, some issues happen and they are incredibly clarifying.
Now, clarifying is not necessarily just a positive or a negative issue. Sometimes what is clarified is very haunting. Sometimes what is clarified is very encouraging. What is clarified under pressure may at times turn out to be a lie, other times a truth, but as we're thinking about it, it is the Christian responsibility to know the one from the other, and sometimes a hard truth is revealed.
A story coming out of Indiana, published in the New York Times turns out to be one of those clarifying opportunities. In this case, it has to do with the Safe Haven Baby Box, at a courthouse in Carmel, Indiana. Now, what are we talking about here? We're talking about a box, a box large enough to hold a living, breathing human baby. A box that exists to be a refuge for that baby. In the case that baby is unwanted or the mother may be unable to care for the baby.
The baby box is there as a refuge, and honestly, as I think about these boxes and I have seen one, the analogy that comes to mind, is the ark. As in, Noah and the ark, in which God saved humanity and others during the course of the flood. These baby boxes are intended to save babies under a similar context of grave danger.
These boxes are more numerous in the State of Indiana than elsewhere because of legislation, they're allowing them and facilitating them but as Dana Goldstein reports for the New York Times, quote, "The Safe Haven Baby Box at a firehouse in Carmel, Indiana looked like a library book drop. It had been available for three years for anyone who wanted to surrender a baby anonymously." The story continues, , "No one had ever used it, though until early April. When its alarm went off, Victor Andres, a firefighter, opened the box and found to his disbelief, a newborn baby boy wrapped in towels."
Now we're told the story, made the local TV news and the local TV news coverage praised the courage of the mother and referred to the discovery of the baby and a healthy baby whose life is now being entrusted to those who will care for the baby, a time for celebration. But then, it turns out that it happened a second time, and then in May a third time, and thus, we're talking about a headline news story in the New York Times.
So the entire program of Safe Haven Baby Boxes is intended to allow women in distress and opportunity anonymously, to deposit a baby. Well, you look at that and you could say, "Well, under what circumstances might a mother feel that she would need to abandon her baby into the care of others?" But think about the fact that the background of this, is of course, abortion.
The fact that had the baby been aborted prior to birth, the mother would not have a baby to surrender, instead under another kind of situation, under another kind of stress, she would've made the decision to end the life of her unborn baby. Now, you're talking about saving the life of this baby, by putting the baby in the Safe Haven Baby Box.
Now, what is clarified for us? Sadly enough, is the fact that when we are looking at the question of abortion, so many people say, "Look, it's about a woman's body. It's about a woman's reproductive health. It's about the population issue." It's about this, it's about that. Christians have to come back again and again and say, "It is about the sanctity of human life." It is about the fact that every single human life from the moment of fertilization until natural death, is a human being made in God's image and is a life to be respected and preserved.
Now, we understand that in a world of sin and brokenness, there is a lot of pain, there is a lot of travail and there are women. It is just a fact, that there are mothers who find themselves in a situation, with their baby born, they simply don't know how they will care for that baby. They may see themselves unable to care for the baby. They may be in a life circumstance, that means they really cannot care for that baby. What do they do with the baby? Well, in Indiana where these baby boxes are available, they can drop the baby and legally, they may leave that baby under the care of others.
The New York Times report explains the situation this way, "The baby boxes are a part of the safe haven movement, which has been closely tied to anti-abortion activism. Safe havens," according to the paper, "offer desperate mothers a way to surrender their newborns anonymously for adoption, and advocates say, avoid hurting, abandoning, or even killing them. The havens can be boxes, which allow parents to avoid speaking to anyone or even being seen when surrendering their babies. More traditionally, the havens are locations such as hospitals and fire stations, where staff members are trained to accept a face-to-face handoff from a parent in crisis."
Now, it is interesting to know that all 50 states, have Safe Haven laws. It's not just Indiana, frankly it's not just states that might be basically, more pro-life than pro-abortion. All 50 states have some form of Safe Haven laws. We are told that the first law was adopted in Texas in 1999, known as the Baby Moses law.
Well, just looking to history, I want to step back for a moment and say, this is not really so much of an innovation as may be described here, because we're looking at the history of the Christian Church and the history of Western civilization and we understand that there's a lot of precedent here, but that requires us to go back to the Roman Empire.
One of the big issues in the world of antiquity, is what to do with an unwanted child. Now, for the most part, abortion was simply not available, and that just reminds us of the fact that there's a certain technology of abortion, and that technology is required to get the numbers of abortions that are now routinely carried out in so many countries. Tragedy in itself, the technology being used to kill rather than to save.
But going back to the ancient world, those technologies generally did not exist. Different kinds of drugs, different kind of potions, different kinds of spells or incantations might be used to attempt an abortion, but the fact is abortion was something more theoretical than practical for most.
Tragically enough, unwanted children in much of antiquity and this would include Greece and Rome, but particularly throughout part of the history of Rome, unwanted children were dealt with by, infanticide, by abandoning the child, often outside the city. Somewhere in the wilderness where the child was almost assuredly to die and sometimes to die, not only by starvation or thirst, but sometimes by predation, by violence.
What is known as the Christianization of the Roman Empire that would go back to Constantine, the emperor and his declaration of Christianity, is the religion of the state, the increase in the numbers of Christians and Christianity been spreading by the way, through evangelism and congregationalizing and that's one of the reasons why Constantine turned to Christianity.
But as you're thinking about the Christian witness, it was for life and that's why even in Christian Rome, you had the development of orphanages and other kinds of ministries to help women in trouble and to save the lives, not only the unborn, but of infants and children and others. And that's why if you fast forward into the medieval era in Western Christianity, you find a great deal of impetus upon homes for unwed mothers and in particular orphanages, and places for the care of children.
And the Catholic Church, during the years of Catholic dominance, before the reformation, had an official policy known to just about all that meant that the Catholic Church would accept babies virtually without question, entrusted to them, by those who could not care for those babies. And the Christian church has basically continued that tradition, wherever the Christian church is faithful and wherever it is found.
The modern age brought a change in this pattern, because in the modern age, the secular state began to intentionally take on much of this responsibility in many of these powers. And so rather than having a baby brought to a Christian or a religious orphanage, instead you had children entrusted to the county family services department or something similar, juvenile courts, family courts were put into place.
A part of this is just what sociologists would call, the rationalization of society, coming up with rules in such a way, that government would establish rules that would be basically the same in New York or for that matter, and say, Andalusia, Alabama. The rule would say, this is what society does with children, from families in distress.
But then fast forward to the Roe v. Wade decision and to the advent of abortion, as we have known it for the last five decades. And what you see is the fact that the need for many orphanages in children's homes and other kinds of similar ministries for mothers, it didn't disappear, but it was significantly reduced because of the millions upon millions of aborted babies that simply took the issue and the need off the table.
But of course, this is where Christians were morally awakened during the same time period, to the fact that this really is a Christian responsibility. This really is a church responsibility. Even if the secular state has lost its mind about the sanctity and dignity of human life, the church must retain its knowledge and operate by its convictions on the sanctity of human life. But we still have to deal with law. We still have to deal with the power of the State.
So these Safe Haven Baby Boxes are only legally possible because in all 50 states, there is some kind of Safe Haven law. There is some way for a mother or for a parent in distress. It could be a child entrusted to a father. It could be a child just as a part of a family. That child can be entrusted to the state, and some agency of the state in order to prevent injury or neglect to that child.
Again, all 50 states, but the baby boxes, these Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana are a manifestation of at least one state's, serious determination to offer a service whereby mothers would say, "I will not harm my baby. I will not continue to hold custody, my baby, if I can't care for this baby, but rather I will entrust this baby to others who will be able to protect and preserve my baby's life." But the key of course, to this particular program to the Safe Haven Baby Box is the assurance of anonymity to the parent, and again, generally to the mother, in the case that anonymity is wanted.
Some mothers simply do not want to be known, because of all kinds of consequences that might follow. They instead love their baby. They want to entrust their baby to someone they know can care for the baby, but they do not want to do so face-to-face. That's why there is this anonymous opportunity, or at least even as is mentioned, in some context, a place where there can be a nameless passing off of the baby, into the care of someone who promises to take care of that baby.
It is interesting to see however that the New York Times report includes this, "But for many experts in adoption and women's health, safe havens are hardly a panacea." Now wait, just a minute. Panacea means perfection. We're not talking about perfection here, we're not talking about something utopian or optimal. We're talking about something, that in the context of distress where a baby's life is in danger, life would be chosen rather than death. We're not talking about panacea here. We're talking about life saving.
Killing the Baby is Less Heartless than a Mother Giving Her Child a Chance at Life? An Astonishing Argument From the Culture of Death
The New York Times article mentions controversy about these Safe Haven Baby Boxes, and it includes at least to some degree, both sides of the controversy as if you can, even in moral terms, speak meaningfully of both sides of this story, but we're also told that one of the women behind the Safe Haven Baby Box simply got to the moral bottom line very quickly when she said, "We can all agree, a baby should be placed in my box and not in a dumpster to die." Well, can we all agree on that? Certainly, all morally sane persons should agree on that.
But then again, we are living in a world in which moral sanity and basic principles of morality, are not universally found. And sometimes are not even commonly found, and sometimes right now are being fought out in some ways that simply demand our attention.
Now, I mentioned the article that was published in the New York Times. It ran online just a matter of a few days ago. Even more recently letters to the editor have been published in the New York Times, that's why we are talking about the story today. It's not just, the fact that there are these Safe Haven Baby Boxes, is not just that Indiana's kind of leading the other 50 states in developing this kind of program. It is also that there are people who definitely do not want women to have this option.
Now, listen to the argument here. For example, one writer writing from Gig Harbor in the State of Washington, ask this question, "Can pro-life proponents be so intent on preventing a loss of 'life.'" They put "life" in quotation marks. That's what's crucial here. "Can pro-life proponents be so intent on preventing a loss of 'life' by abortion, that they are blind to the damage caused to a woman who has been forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to then have her drop her baby into a receptacle, similar to a trash chute?" Now, again, just look at this.
The argument comes out, by the way, life as in human life, unborn life is put in quotation marks as if it's just an argument, it's not actually a thing. But now we are told that the primary consideration should be damage cause to a woman, who has been forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy.
Well, by the way, that is not always the case. That is by no means always the case when it comes to the babies who are surrendered in the Safe Haven Baby Box. But then we are told the big issue is then, "That she would drop her baby into a receptacle similar to a trash chute." Now, it is hard to imagine, frankly, an argument made in worse form than this. It's hard to imagine, a more deadly argument than what we confront here.
What we have here is the argument that it will be far better for this baby to have been aborted. In other words, for it to end up in a trash bag, rather than for its life to be saved, by being put into a box by sometimes lowering the baby into a chute. This is the kind of argument we simply have to look at with a straight face these days, see the horror of the argument and understand we're living in a country, in which a very significant portion of our fellow citizens buy into this argument.
This writer also says this, "During pregnancy, even an unwanted one, most women develop an attachment to and feelings for the fetus growing inside her." Number one, that's true. That's absolutely true. That is a very valid moral point, but where in the world with that moral point lead? Well, this writer says, "To part with that baby is unbearably painful to most women."
But notice the entire article here is in the context of basically saying the better option is abortion. Better not to abandon the baby, but to destroy it. But here you notice something else, in moral terms, in legal terms, this writer.... You just have to believe, the only way this makes any kind of sense, is that this writer draws some kind of line somewhere and says, before that the baby means nothing. After that the baby means so much that a mother surrendering the baby undergoes, intense emotional pain.
Well, where's that line? Well, you might say that for many people who argue for abortion, that line should be birth, and that means however, that before birth, even hours before birth, even moments before birth, the baby's not really even a baby. Just remember, this letter writer put the word life in quotation marks. But I think one of the things we have to recognize is that there are people today, there actually are, who would draw that line, not even at birth, but at some point after birth.
The one reality pointed to in this article that is of moral importance, Christian should consider, is that there is a natural, unspeakable, inexplicable relationship between a mother and a child. Even a mother and an unborn child, certainly a mother and a baby. And here's where you have to ask the question.
Where does that come from? Is there some kind of psychotherapeutic answer to that's going to be satisfactory? Does Darwin's understanding of evolution, give you an argument there that makes it satisfactory? By the way, those who would make an evolutionary argument who would take the creator out of the equation, basically have to say that evolution somehow favored the survival of babies whose mothers cared for them, over the survival of babies whose mothers did not care for them. Thus, the motherly instinct is something that is entirely natural.
That's one of the reasons I say by the way, that it's very hard to imagine, that anyone can be a consistent and honest evolutionist in the nursery or the delivery room. It's just very hard to imagine. And anyone can say what I feel right now, what a mother and a father feel right now, what everyone witnesses right now and wonder is just, well, it's just one massively interesting coincidence.
So where would this argument go? I'm just going to take you to the words by this letter writer in the New York Times, "I understand that it is a safer alternative to just dumping the newborn, but very few women do that, and to see this as a solution that is preferable to abortion is heartless and impractical."
I just want us to step back and realize, this letter is written with a straight face. There's no reason to believe that this person is posing in this letter. There's every reason to believe that not only this letter writer, but millions like this letter writer in this country who would actually argue, that killing an unborn baby is less heartless and impractical than a Safe Haven Baby Box and saving a baby's life. Yes, we have reached that point in this culture, and that's what we need to recognize.
We need to just step back and understand that there are consequences to every intellectual and moral direction. There's a consequence to coming to an ever greater understanding of life made in the image of God, and there are consequences evermore clarified, in believing that somehow life is just an accident and an unborn child means basically nothing.
Another letter writer from Idaho simply says, "Imagining that baby drop boxes would be the answer for women who are unable or unwilling to raise a child is naive at best, and will do nothing to improve the condition of these abandoned children. It will only add more children to an already broken system." Again, notice the implication here, and that is that it would be better have these children simply never been born.
China’s Communist Party Wants to Limit Abortion? It’s All About Demographics, Not About Human Dignity
But next we're going to turn to China. And again, the issue is abortion, but in China, the big news story is that abortion is increasingly now officially discouraged by the government of China and by the reigning communist party in China.
Now why? Why all of a sudden is abortion being discouraged? Well, it's because of a panic in China, it was a panic, too, few babies being born. And what's the reality behind that? Well, as many observers have noted, the big issue for China is that it is growing old before it is growing rich. Another way to put it is, there are not enough babies being born to sustain the economy, and there will be more older Chinese, even old and very old Chinese in the population than there will be babies.
Now, the other thing we need to note here is that there is no government on earth that bears more responsibility on its own for creating such a disaster, than the Communist Party's government there in China. It is China that afraid of overpopulation in the 1970s, actually turned to one of the most horrifying programs, policies, and laws in all of human history. It was known as the one-child only policy.
The Chinese government said to China's families, "You may have only one child. If you have a second child, you're going to be a criminal." Not only that, China gave way to abortions to infanticide, to the killing of live children and to forced sterilization and other kinds of measures. And the other thing we just simply have to leave as a footnote is that many progressives in the west, including in the United States, helped to formulate that one child only policy, out of what they stated was their concern about a population explosion, they bear responsibility too.
But over the course of the last couple of decades, the Chinese communist leaders that come to understand, "Now wait just a minute, our big problem is not too many babies. Our big problem is too few." Now here's where another huge issue comes into play.
It turns out, that once you start telling people not to have babies and they stop having so many babies, they start doing other things. They get busy with those other things. Children and the expectation of parenthood recede into the background. People fill their houses with stuff rather than with children. They fill their time with hobbies, rather than the care and discipline and nurture and education and raising of children. And that's what's happened in China. It's happened elsewhere too. It's not just a communist problem. It is now perhaps even more dramatic in Japan than in China, but China's a far larger nation and its crisis is a far larger problem for the world.
And here's what we need to note. Even as in the United States, most opposition to abortion is rooted in a pro-life worldview and in the belief that abortion is morally wrong. Well, the Chinese communists are in such a position. Having undermined all objective morality, having destroyed the Judeo-Christian witness, and also arguing that humanity, all human life is nothing more than an accident.
The official teaching of the Chinese Communist Party is dialectical materialism, arguing that there is no spirit, there is no soul, human beings are simply material, where atoms and molecules, nothing else. There are consequences to that worldview. And one of the consequences is that China turned to that one child only policy, and having defied God in that policy, it now finds out, it also ruined itself. It ruined its population.
And now China is all of a sudden seeking to discourage abortion. The word came from China's National Health Commission that announced that it would be taking steps to reduce the number of abortions in the country. And even the Washington Post notes, the reason is Beijing's latest attempt to quote, "Tackle low birth rates and stagnant population growth." End quote.
But as we come to an end today, I simply want to say in this article, and again, it's published at the Washington Post. This is not just something you might find out there on the internet. This is a major news story backed up, by the authority of something like the Washington Post. Is very liberal, but the point is it takes responsibility for its news coverage.
This is not something, that was just invented, written somewhere. This is not something you just read on a tweet. No, here you have an official report from the Washington Post, and that's what makes this so important, because the data points to some of the darkest realities I could ever mention or articulate on The Briefing.
Just get this. In China, 78% of unintended pregnancies, end in abortion. 78%, what does that tell you? That's an incredible number. Then we are told quote, "The global average of unintended pregnancies that end in abortion is 61%."
So you look at that first number, 78%, you say, "Well, that's China after all. Godless China. Communist China." But when you look at that number 61%, that includes the United States of America.
By the way, the article ends by saying that right now, there are more countries liberalizing their abortion laws than passing laws that would restrict abortion.
You look at that reality and you recognize, if there is any concrete sign of mass human insanity, as well as immorality in our day, this has to be it.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow, for The Briefing.