One of my favorite short stories that I read in school was “The Lottery.” It tells the fictional story of a festival on June 27th in what seems to be a small, Middle America farming town. The story describes the townspeople gathering in the square while children play, women gossip, and the men talk about farming and the weather. Then, as is the annual custom, a lottery is performed where the heads of the families draw a slip of paper out of a black box. One husband draws a slip with a black spot on it. Then, slips are put back into the box for him and all of his family to draw one more time. On this occasion, Mrs. Hutchinson is the one who finally draws the slip with the mark on it. This story ends with a dreadful twist as the townspeople pick up stones and begin pelting Mrs. Hutchinson in the head until she dies.
This story kept my attention in school because of the striking end to it. The serene picture of a town festival in 20th century Middle America is shattered by a brutal and barbaric tradition. It is a shocking piece of fiction because the end reveals a fertility cult that practices human sacrifice in 20th century Middle America. Old Man Warner tells why they do this annually, “Lottery comes in June; corn will be heavy soon.” They do this to ensure the harvest will happen. They do this to ensure economic stability.
This barbaric practice is actually deep in human history. Ancient pagan fertility cults would sacrifice their children to the gods because they thought that would guarantee the harvest. In Leviticus 20, the Lord spoke through Moses to prohibit the Israelites from doing this sort of thing. They are forbidden to sacrifice their children to Molech the way that the peoples around them did. These people would plant the blood (seed) of their children in the ground to appease the gods so that rain would come and the crops would grow.
What is striking is that ancient, pagan fertility practices aren’t ancient at all. Miles from where I write this there are babies being brutally slaughtered so people can ensure economic stability (and a host of other stabilities). We in America are sacrificing our children by the millions to false gods like Molech (money, sex, comfort, career status, etc.). And, what is more shocking is that those who are pro-abortion are finally admitting that child sacrifice is taking place. In a scandalous article by Mary Elizabeth Williams entitled, “So What if Abortion Ends Life?” she says at the conclusion of her article, “She understands that [abortion] saves lives not just in the most medically literal way, but in the roads that women who have choice then get to go down, in the possibilities for them and for their families. And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing” (emphasis mine).
A friend of mine, Dean Inserra, who is the Pastor of City Church Tallahassee, tweeted the Williams article and called abortion the #1 social justice issue of our day, and I think he is right. Fighting the cause of social justice is all the rage among young people, especially young evangelicals. But, I fear that some young evangelicals love social justice issues that are seen as hip and cool in the mainstream and shy away from the social justice issue of abortion because it is so controversial. By the thousands we will raise our voice and wear a T-shirt for the 27 million slaves worldwide, and we should, but where are the T-shirts for the 42 million babies aborted every year worldwide?
The church needs to engage in this social justice issue, and that means more than voting records and bumper stickers. It means teaching our people that parenting is more important than self-fulfillment. It means sacrificing our time to volunteer in the nurseries and children’s ministries of our churches. It means Christians investing their time in tutoring programs and after school care. It means championing adoption and foster care. It means the community of faith adjusting our lifestyles even if we don’t have kids to help others adopt or to provide for single moms. It means fighting against poverty. It means recognizing that abortion is not just a women’s issue, but it is also a men’s issue. Many women would raise a child if they weren’t abandoned by the biological father. Churches need to train young men in how to man up. It means this and much more.
The Church also needs to minister to those who have had abortions. Fertility cults and child sacrifice may seem barbaric and distant, but they are not. According to Williams’ article, one in three women will have an abortion. That means this issue and the people affected by it are everywhere around us. They are in our homes, in our schools, in our workplace, and in our churches. Yes, we need to take up the cause of the most helpless of our society, but we also need to minister to the women who have chosen to abort (and the men who encouraged it). We don’t need to ostracize or demonize them. Instead, we need to share with them the story of a Father who sacrificed His Son on the cross to end death, end sin, end oppression, and end all that curses this world. We need to share that for those who believe in His sacrifice there is NO condemnation!