A couple of months ago when I first heard the outrage over an article published in The Journal of Medical Ethics, defending the possibility of “post-birth abortion” (infanticide) I was taken aback and disgusted, though not surprised. Since the days of Voltaire and Locke, “The Enlightenment”, there has come into being a humanistic philosophy that we as a human race are ever improving. The people that boast in how far mankind has come in its pursuit of common goodwill and equality are pleased to show in the record of history how the western world has forsaken the slave trade, ended the traditionalist repression of women, desegregated society, and so forth. This historical record appears to them as a sign of the progress of the human race and the innate goodness within man that need only to be taped into by overcoming ignorance and prejudice.
However, if we view history through the lens of Scripture we find how deep, clear, and startling the Bible’s truth is in interpreting history. In Romans 8:20 we find out that since the fall of man “the creation was subject to futility”. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” Roman 1:21. When we understand this the light comes on and the facade of human progress fades into futility. It is a cyclical futility, for with each step forward that man believes in his darkened, debased mind that he is taking he is really remaining in the same place. Man believes he is improving, but instead he exchanges one dark deed and practice for another that is acceptable by his sin-driven, futility-bound society. So to take it back to the original reference we see that the same progressive mankind that has forsaken the evil of slavery has in fact exchanged it for the evil of abortion, which is infanticide. This is not the first time this has happened and it is why understanding the scriptures sheds so much light on our history and our present state as a fallen human race.
Understanding this is key to having a proper world-view and a proper view of history, but it is not all-together bleak. Because though this explains our now and our past as mankind, it does not apply to the ultimate future that God has ordained. We know this because that passage in Romans 8 goes on to tell us that God subjected creation to futility “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Cyclical futility is the state that mankind finds itself in now, but the definitive work of breaking that chain has been accomplished by Christ’s death and resurrection. So we place all of our hope for ourselves and mankind in him; not in humanistic social reform, not in politics, not in any concept of innate goodness of man, but in Jesus Christ our God and his glorious Gospel.