November 24, 2008

The Language of Life & Death

Last night I watched a program called Tribal Life, seemingly a reality show about the daily life of a tribal community on an island off the coast of Australia. This was not a hide-behind-the-trees documentary, but the cameras were a part of the tribe's routine. In fact, at times this tribe spoke very good English. It was obvious that this remote society was influenced by western culture.

I was taken aback when the program featured a young family with 3 kids--a 4th on the way. But this 4th child was too great of a burden, so with the aid of some tree bark and some other plants known to induce an abortion, the husband and wife ended the life of their unborn child. They, like humans around the globe, spoke of the abortion as something less ominous, as if he didn't intentionally prepare the toxic drink to end the life of that child, as if she didn't intentionally drink the poison. For them, it was a miscarriage. Even the show narrator avoided calling it what it was. The term abortion was never used.

This smoke-and-mirrors approach is hardly new, nor is it limited to uncivilized parts of the world. In fact, the language of death in our society has had to be reframed such that the sting of guilt doesn't exist. That's why we see the pro-aborts refer to Plan B as contraception instead of the abortifacient that it is. "Let no one deceive you with empty words" (Eph 5:6).

Confusing people with language in biotechnology and the abortion arena is a problem that is not going away. So as the economy continues to nose dive, we need to be prepared to educate young women that when they sell their eggs, the eggs are being fertilized. A fertilized egg is an embryo. Recently a feminist organization put out a press release claiming that evangelicals believed eggs to be more valuable than human persons. Either a deliberate obfuscation, or they are severely uninformed. We are cautioning young women by telling them the truth and eliminating the confusion in terminology. Another word for a fertilized egg is "offspring." So as young women are offered thousands of dollars for what they perceive to be nothing more than an altruistic tissue donation, the truth is that they are being exploited.

So what does this have to do with the church and with women's ministry?? Everything! We are in a unique position to educate our congregations and communities on these and similar issues. The biotech and fertility industries have a conflict of interest--they make money off of egg donations. Oooops! Yet we find another misuse of language. This is hardly a donation--it's a sale.

“Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work."


Scott, Katie and Timmy said...

2 things:
1. obfuscation - great word!
2. Do you think this culture performed "miscarriages" prior to the invasion of western culture? If yes, this speaks to the fallenness of mankind. If no, this speaks to the fallenness of western culture.

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Anna M Blanch said...

I am interested in which Island this documentary was about - that will give me a better handle on what it was showing. I find your post persuasive - but i am intrigued as to the intent of the documentary. What you are observing does seem to relate both to the fallenness of mankind and to the overwhelming destruction of kinship structures as a consequence of european settlement.

Sarah J. Flashing said...

Hi Anna, I've done some googling and can't locate the program, should I find it I'll let you know. Thanks for stopping by!