Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

14 Apr 2013

Why the Silence?


“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph 5:11). We live in a world where too often we hear about the unfruitful works of darkness—the nightly news seems to thrive on ghastly stories of murders, rapes, and violence. Frankly, it is why I don’t watch very much news. I’m not into ratings wars propelled by human suffering.

Yet, there is a place for the proper exposure of dark deeds so that the evil may be seen to be evil and our consciences and culture may be guarded against the numbness that comes along with moral decline. One would like to think that a news media which thrives on bringing to light every weird and wicked peccadillo would jump at the opportunity afforded them with the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor accused of murdering babies who survived late-term abortions. The details are genuinely disgusting, but that’s not my concern in this post.

My concern is over the virtual media blackout. Thankfully, it may be breaking due in large part to an editorial by Kirsten Powers that closes with these words, “The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.” She is spot on with the main point of her statement—”The deafening silence…is a disgrace.” Tucked inside of her words, though, is a key which may explain the silence.

Viewing the media as a force for justice may be where the problem lies, since justice cannot be conceived of apart from moral values. There is no doubt that the media have been on the side of just causes in the past, but it seems equally clear that they have also been on the side of unjust causes. Like all people, those in media make their assessments of what is justice based on their own morals. In times where there has been a moral consensus about an issue, then the media has often been a vocal and important tool in pursuing justice (e.g., civil rights). It seems pretty clear that we don’t live in a time where there is a moral consensus about much, especially abortion.

If the predominant forces within the media world do not believe that abortion is a moral ill, then they face a genuine conflict in reporting the gruesome details of the Gosnell murders. They might find themselves stirring up opposition to a practice which they have defended. It is quite possible that their morals put them on the opposite side of justice in this case. Well, not as persons–I’m sure they are disgusted by the butchering and barbarism–but as advocates for social justice. Collectively, they might not want to give aid to their moral enemies in the abortion fight. Their “pursuit of justice” still pushes them to protect the “right” to kill babies.

This is the challenge of our day, a day where the culture is split on large, important moral issues. The media does view itself as a force for justice, but it often defines justice very differently from significant numbers of Americans, especially those who look to the Bible for ethical and moral instruction. The justice the media pursues, just like the rest of us, is one which is based on moral values. It appears that the media’s moral values in this case are being exposed.

What Gosnell has done is evil and the lack of media coverage, given its normal propensity to exploit and explore evil, is a disgrace. People whose moral values are offended by both the barbarity and the silence should raise their voices, not only to stop such barbaric acts, but to fight against having a culture shaped by the morals of the media. Our consciences and culture need to be stung by the moral tragedy that Gosnell’s murders represent.

Let us speak up, but do so graciously, pointing people to the real answer for the moral mess that comes when life is treated as disposable. Humans are made in God’s image, and Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we could have real, spiritual life. Let’s pray for another Great Awakening and let’s pursue it with a gospel focus that doesn’t reduce the Church to the level of a political action group. The ugliness of the Gosnell murders has exposed the ugliness in the human heart and there is only one remedy for that–the new birth. Let’s express our outrage, but let’s not get fooled into thinking that getting the media or legislators on our side is the real answer to our problems. We need an outpouring of God’s grace that produces a genuine revival among His people and awakening in our land. SDG.