"Choice on Earth" proclaims the cover of Planned Parenthood's Christmas card in clear allusion to the biblical verse "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill to men." Planned Parenthood is the largest profiteer in the American abortion industry and a tireless advocate of the culture of death ideology. It's no accident that their paean to choice comes out during the season that celebrates a birth.
Secular moralists like Planned Parenthood often borrow the language of the Judeo/Christian moral tradition especially when their actions violate the precepts of the tradition. This borrowing is a clever but necessary ploy because the moral tradition still has authority in the larger culture. It blurs the difference between right and wrong and thereby creates the appearance that their prohibited activities are justified by the tradition they actually seek to displace.
Planned Parenthood wants to elevate "choice" above "thou shalt not kill" as the highest commandment involving any decision about the life and death of unborn children. This is why their card comes out at Christmas and why they replace the received narrative with a secular variant of their own creation.
At the same time, Christians and other religiously minded people can draw an important lesson from Planned Parenthood's self-justifying display. The card has power because people still perceive the contradiction between secular morality and the moral tradition. If it were otherwise, publishing the card would be pointless.
Planned Parenthood, like most culture of death ideologues, understands that religion is the wellspring of morality. If morality was solely a matter of private opinion, Planned Parenthood's rewrite would not be necessary. We could all be pragmatists and the abortionist could move on with the confidence that no blood stains his hands.
But questions about life and death necessarily reference a higher authority because they deal with the beginning and end of life. Obscure or obliterate the transcendent character of these questions and what remains is a relative morality where decisions about life and death become arbitrary. Who lives and who dies becomes subject to the person holding the gun -- or scalpel.
By the term "choice on earth," Planned Parenthood inserts a different value into the heart of the Christian narrative. The card strikes at their opposition by adulterating the well from which the moral tradition is drawn. They want to abort the narrative before it is heard.
This objection doesn't apply only to Christians. Devout Jews should take notice as well. The only reason Planned Parenthood lowered their sites on the Gospel narrative is that America is predominantly Christian. If they tried the same gambit in Israel, they could just as easily rewrite the Exodus narrative so that mother of Moses aborts him rather than releasing him in a basket on the Nile.
Next year Planned Parenthood could create a card that remains faithful to the moral tradition as well as their own social Darwinism by citing a section of scripture titled "The Slaughter of the Innocents." In the narrative Herod the king heard that a new king of Israel had been born. He ordered the killing of all children under two years old hoping to kill this new king to protect his usurpation of the throne.
It was a ruthless slaughter but certainly justifiable to someone who believed that "thou shalt not kill" was meant to be selectively applied. Herod exercised his "choice" with great certainty. Planned Parenthood could title their card "Herod Celebrates Choice." They could explain away Herod's actions by defining the infanticide as delayed partial-birth abortions.
The card reveals that Planned Parenthood understands that the moral tradition repudiates the culture of death that they represent and promote. Yet it also reveals that the precepts of the Judeo/Christian moral tradition still carry authority in the culture. Consider "Choice on Earth" an affirmation that the challenges to the merchants of death are more effective than they let on.
Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse is a Greek Orthodox priest and manages the website www.orthodoxytoday.org.