There is little doubt that we are living in uncertain times. Recent political events are challenging the neo-liberal, progressive and internationalist political order to which we have become accustomed. Whether Scotland will remain part of the UK or become an independent country is an open question. Faced with such events, it is easy to become unnerved and to look for security in political and economic structures.
Christians should have a different perspective. The Biblical narrative tells us that God overrules the affairs of nations and intervenes in human history to achieve His purpose. This was most clearly demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we remember at Easter.
This decisive divine intervention in our world brought both the promise of new life and judgement upon sin. Christ is described as the “ruler over the kings of the earth” (Rev 1:5). When a political society sets itself up in opposition to the authority of Christ and prioritises the worship of money and materialism, God will eventually intervene to frustrate its ambitions.
In the secular West we have largely abandoned any serious attempt to apply Christian values to social policy. Instead, we have set up idols of the secular state, globalisation, materialism and individual autonomy. The poor, those who are inarticulate, and the most vulnerable, are often neglected and exploited within this system. We should not be surprised, therefore, if those idols are being shaken and proving unable to deliver our aspirations.
The worship of personal autonomy is seen perhaps most clearly in the current debate over abortion. Advocates of abortion claim that it is a woman’s right to choose. Astonishingly, pro-choice campaigners are calling for the law to be liberalised so that abortions can occur up to birth in any circumstances.
Fortunately, most of our politicians are unlikely to support this proposal, which borders on infanticide, but they are also unwilling to recognise that a human life is taken every time an abortion occurs. Every year, around 12,000 lives in Scotland, 200,000 in the UK, and at least 40 million worldwide are ended by abortion. It is the most prolific human rights abuse in the world today.
In 2004, the then First Minister, Jack McConnell, expressed concern about Scotland’s falling population, stating that we had a shortfall of 500,000 people which was holding us back economically. Although our population has increased slightly since then, more than 500,000 abortions have occurred in Scotland since 1967. We have a demographic crisis with an aging population and not enough people of working age to pay future pensions. A similar trend is observable throughout the Western world.
Not content on limiting this demographic timebomb to ourselves, Western governments, the EU and the UN are prioritising the funding of abortions and population control policies in developing countries. The new US administration recently reintroduced the Mexico City Policy, which bans Federal Government money from being used to fund foreign NGOs which conduct abortions. European governments are leading the attempt to make up the shortfall in the funding of abortion providers.
Already this has received pledges of $49 million. The UK declined to contribute additional money, but this should be seen within the context of the Department for International Development (DFID) being one of the largest financial supporters of abortion. In 2016/17, DFID contributed £334.9m to population control programmes, abortion and reproductive health. Marie Stopes International, which has conducted more than 5 million abortions in developing countries, was given £44.5m by DFID in 2016.
Women are also victims of abortion, many finding themselves with little real choice owing to financial, family and social pressures. Regret and feelings of guilt are not uncommon. We should be providing alternative options for women by ensuring that there is sufficient financial and social support for those experiencing crisis pregnancies. Often, informed choice is more a slogan than a reality. The Christian understanding is that human life is a gift from God and should be cherished. The good news of Easter is that the death of Jesus overcame the sin of the world. That includes every single innocent life taken as a result of abortion. God’s offer of forgiveness, restoration and new life is available to every person if we turn away from sin and put our faith in Jesus Christ.
Governments and nations can experience the mercy of God, but also, ultimately, will be subject to His judgement if they practice unjust laws.
Dr Gordon Macdonald is Parliamentary Officer of CARE for Scotland.