Anyone remember the Ironside series with Raymond Burr as the disabled detective in the truly tasteless wheelchair? (It is one of the least enviable wheelchairs I ever saw- and I occasionally prone to a little wheelchair envy).
Anyway, before I digress too far into wheelchair design let me get back to Ironside. In one episode some years ago I remember him saying firmly, “Murder is murder.” I can’t remember which episode it was or even the context exactly, but the words stuck in my head. It might seem like a silly statement from a silly script, but there’s something about the blunt, plain talking detective that is very refreshing in a world saturated in psycho-babble and sheer misuse and fogging of language.
In the beginning words had power. God said “Let there be light,” And there was light. There was power even in names; names meant something. Every word spoken, oath taken, name given held meaning. Abusing language enables people to lie and look “clever” or even wise. If we have to redefine the meaning of words so that we can get something said, then it seems unlikely it is truthful.
I recently read an unplanned debate online between a pro-lifer and a pro-”choice” person. The pro-choicer kept insisting that any clarity of terms used was getting into semantics and he didn’t want to. No, of course not, clarity of language was the last thing he wanted.
There are many ways to legally commit murder these days. The world watched Terri Shiavo being starved and dehydrated to death even though her parents were willing to take her home and care for her. The media lied outright about her being on “life support” as a way of fudging the fact that she could and did breath without help and was a living human person. Dress it up as you like – she was murdered.
Herod sent the soldiers out to kill the baby boys of Bethlehem. Who cares about a few dead babies? So few cared that it barely gets a mention outside of Matthew’s Gospel. Herod’s motive was fear over loss of his power and probably all that came with it. Jesus spent a lot of His ministry telling us not to be afraid. It was not a mild suggestion. God’s word has power and when Jesus says “Do not be afraid,” He is not coming up with some platitude He is demanding that we stop being afraid and trust Him.
Herod murdered those children and no one took much notice. Not even enough notice for the contemporary historians to mention it. Herod’s more powerful and wealthier victims get a mention in history. It takes Matthew a Galilean tax collector to mention all those babies, so unimportant that we can turn a blind eye to them.
Today is the feast of St Thomas Becket. Henry II was a good king in many ways but as is too often the case, he was tempted by the power he already had, to grasp at even more power. He grasped at power and authority that was not legitimately his. Thomas, who had been a loyal friend of the king, stood firm against this attack on the Church by Henry. The Church must maintain her independence as it was this that helped curb and balance not only her own power but the secular powers of the day.
Over the medieval period plenty of men of power tried to ditch their faith and the Church with it so they could do whatever they pleased. Invariably this entailed war, power grabs and the death of innocents.
As we kill off quietly those we no longer want to waste our money on, we change the words for this killing to “the right to die” or “dignity” – horribly changing the meaning of that word. We call it “choice” when mothers are forced, heavily persuaded or simply shunted into abortion. We pretend abortion is not killing a baby at all. We talk about “terminating the pregnancy” rather than killing the baby. We say “products of conception” rather than baby and we call those going through the procedure all sorts of words but never “mother” which is what they are.
It doesn’t matter what Herod said of the babies in Bethlehem; it doesn’t matter what we call the babies in abortion mills; or the old people refused treatment or even water. We can dress up the starvation of seriously disabled people, or the refusal to treat the sick because they are too old, too disabled or life unworthy of life. But in the end as Ironside said – “Murder is murder.” and there if there is no asking for mercy, there will be justice.
Let us remember all the mothers who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth and sickness and the mothers who have lost children by abortion. I reckon most of us who have miscarried little ones still remember them, love them and miss them. We offer their souls to God’s enormous love and mercy.
For a mother cannot forget her baby and He will not forget us (rf Isa 49:15).