by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
I have personally stared into the crematorium at Auschwitz.
It’s a somber and sobering experience even to begin to try to digest the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis a little more than six decades ago. There are distinct connections and eerie similarities between the inhumanity of the Holocaust history and the ravages of abortion in our day. This is not an easy subject to share, but let me narrow it to three lessons that Auschwitz (and the other death camps like it) teaches us.
- The value of life must be championed in every arena. We must lift up the value of life in the family, community, government, academia and the market place. The obvious horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany upon “inferior” peoples didn’t spring up suddenly. The abominations took root over many years and in different environs.
Ever heard of the Tiergarten 4 program? It was a 1930’s Nazi program to “deal with” the physically handicapped, disabled and mentally ill. Nazi leadership determined that the resources necessary to maintain such life could be better used elsewhere to the betterment of the overall society. Sound familiar? (Google Tiergarten 4 for more understanding.) The outcomes of this relatively small program were instrumental in the implementation of the “Final Solution.”
- We need champions. We need individuals and groups who will stand for life in all the arenas of our society. We need people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This German pastor sounded the warning as his fellow countrymen slipped into an idolatrous cult of the Führer (leader) and as two highly popular Nazi “ideals” joined forces: a militarized state and the deluded vision of a utopia peopled by the Aryan "super race." These two popular forces led to the murder of millions of people, brought about vast devastation upon a continent, and carved a deep, wide scar in our collective history.
As Nazi Germany and imperialistic Japan gained power, champions in various disciplines also rose to oppose these regimes. Some stepped out willingly while others were thrust into leadership. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, Winston Churchill, and Douglas McArthur are but a few well-known names. But countless others – from the underground and resistance forces to those in the ranks of the liberation armies – joined with the efforts of homebound citizens of many nationalities to defeat this worldwide scourge.
- All are necessary to combat this evil. The confluence of social, politic, economic, legal, and militaristic forces precipitated the horrors of Auschwitz. Today only violence is, and should be, absent from the forces that we use to combat abortion. We need progress on every front – expanding a culture of life, creating political and legislative gains, addressing economic realities, and intervening where lives are endangered. We cannot abandon those who are in the valley of decision today and whose decision will not wait for the unfolding of big political and legal victories.
“Divide and conquer,” attributed to the great Roman general Julius Caesar, is a well-known battle strategy. The enemy of God has been using this tactic since the temptation in the Garden. Unfortunately, he still uses this tactic every day and every way to divide God’s people. This is an unfortunate reality in the pro-life movement as well.
Pro-life champions, whether on the stage, in public demonstrations or “in the trenches,” must recognize the necessity of standing together. We must resist divisions of denomination or method. We must walk with respect for how others are called to address this single greatest evil of our time. “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).
It’s also important to remember the Apostle Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” This man of God addressed paupers and princes, artists and academics, the weak and the wealthy, in his effort to advance the Gospel. Can we do any less in advancing the Gospel of Life?
As one of our champions, John Ensor says, “It’s our turn.” As other generations have arisen to combat the evil of their day, we do so against the evil of our generation – abortion. We, like Corrie Ten Boom in her day, are not alone. We have millions upon millions of like-minded, life-minded friends and partners worldwide dedicated to the advancing a culture of life. Most of all, we stand rightly on the side of the Giver of Life, also known as the Lord of Hosts! In this, we can draw comfort, strength and even peace. In this, we can truly take heart!