Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

On December 13, 2012, the liver of a male infant at 17 weeks gestation was mailed from San Jose, California, to Massachusetts. The baby’s brain was sent to Stanford, same day delivery.

On January 10, 2013, the liver of a baby at 16 weeks gestation was sent via FedEx from San Jose to Colorado. The same day, the liver of an 18-week male was overnighted from San Jose to Placerville. All of these packages had tracking numbers.

You’ve probably guessed, correctly, that these body parts were sent from Planned Parenthood clinics. While Planned Parenthood disputes the claim made by The Center for Medical Progress that its clinics sell body parts, it doesn’t deny that it’s mailed them all over the country.

We already knew that Planned Parenthood kills babies. The abortions that end lives are the true tragedies, not the disposal of body parts. Nevertheless, the shocking fact that clinicians dismember babies and mail their organs across the country has led to a national debate about abortion, even prompting self-doubt among some abortion supporters. This is not the first time that a needed wake-up call has been delivered by a gruesome mailing.

Israel’s Grisly Parcels

If I had to pick the most horrifying story in the Bible, Judges 19 would win my vote hands down. Brace yourself while I give a quick recap of the story.

A Levite man travels from Bethlehem to Ephraim and needs a place to spend the night. He chooses to stay in Gibeah, in the land of the Benjaminites, because he thinks he will be safest surrounded by other Israelites. He’s wrong. In the night, a gang of men start beating on his host’s door, demanding that he send the Levite out so they can rape him. To placate the lustful mob and save himself, the Levite sends out his concubine (a kind of common-law wife). The crowd beats and rapes the concubine all night long. When the Levite, who has apparently slept through the night, comes out in the morning, he finds her collapsed on the threshold of the door, dead. The Levite proceeds to cut up the body of the woman into 12 parts. He sends the parts to all the tribes of Israel. The people who receive them, shocked with revulsion, exclaim, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak”(Judges 19:30).

Difficult stuff. I know of a pastor who couldn’t find a volunteer to read Scripture the week that he preached on this text. Why was this story included in God’s Holy Word, and what bearing does it have for our day?

The refrain in the book of Judges is, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The result was that no one did right. Years of ignoring the law of God in favor of what felt good in the moment had resulted in cities that raped their guests rather than shelter them. A man would send his concubine out to a violent mob rather than protect her.

The tribes of Israel should have felt shock at their own depravity long before they received the Levite’s grisly packages, but they didn’t. It took body parts to make them realize what they had become. They finally realized they needed to consider the sins of their nation and speak.

Crimes of the Flesh

For decades, a woman’s “right to choose” has been an idea, a rallying cry, even the law in America. But what most Americans have failed to realize it that abortion is not an idea; it is flesh and blood upon a table, a heart that is beating one moment, then stopped the next. We’ve let each woman do what is right in her own eyes, and when she kills her own offspring, we say she has made a “courageous choice.” The men of Gibeah beat a helpless woman to death. Is that any worse than crushing a helpless baby in the womb?

The videos that showed the tiny hands, liver, and spine being sorted in a pie dish to determine which parts were suitable for mailing show us that the wages of doing what’s right in our own eyes is the dismemberment of the defenseless. Do not be deceived: your beliefs about abortion, your votes on politicians and policies, your choice to speak up or stay silent all have real consequences in flesh and blood.

Consider it. Take Counsel. Speak.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles