“That which you mistake for madness is but an overacuteness of the senses.”― Edgar Allan Poe
What follows is probably going to be my most personal take on the 2012 General Assembly. In my title, I say “one of my darkest experiences” since I think those moments of sinning in secret (whether when no human is looking on or in my head) are truly the darkest moments in my life. Nevertheless, I speak of observing from the outside a frightening manifestation of what C. S. Lewis called human “bent-ness.”
Yesterday at noon, I attended the Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO), the official pro-choice caucus of the Presbyterian Church, USA. Their guest speaker was the Reverend Vincent Lachina, official chaplain to Planned Parenthood. About thirty people within and without the PC(USA) gathered to discuss and praise the cause of pro-abortion advocacy. The entire experience felt like a scene from Lewis’ That Hideous Strength.
Vincent Lachina sees himself as a champion for “reproductive justice and choice.” Raised in a Catholic home, he converted to evangelicalism, joining cause with the Southern Baptist Church. After a very successful career in the SBC, he eventually joined the American Baptist Church. Amongst chuckles, he described himself as a “recovering Southern Baptist.” Now he works as Planned Parenthood’s only hired chaplain where he finds himself in demand for his rare position.
Lachina garnered much more notoriety for debating his pro-choice views at an American Family Association (AFA) event. “Overnight, I became an object of derision in 35 states,” he opined to the soothing sighs of his small audience. Besides receiving hate mail and threats from professed Christians, Lachina reported that the AFA traced down his son and sent bullying emails to him. The chaplain told PARO, “I can say now, being with you, I’ve met my new best friends.”
Lachina used his own story as exhibit #1 of religious extremism stifling women’s choice. He recently participated in the international seminar entitled “Religious Extremism and its Effects on Reproductive Choice,” which took place in Indonesia. From the stories and analyses of the conference’s representatives, Lachina asserted, “In a vast majority of the world, religious extremism fights tirelessly against reproductive freedom and the right of women to make informed decisions.” These “informed decisions,” of course, include the killing of the unborn, not simply contraceptives or legal protections of women within marriage. “Governments and religions all over the world restrict women’s access to reproductive choice,” he believed, “There’s a confluence of extremism that’s been oppressing to women in general.” He made no distinction between various religions.
Lachina’s position was fueled by a radical individualism. “Women have the right to make their own important decisions individually….without prohibitions of church or government,” he contended. Later on, when describing how Planned Parenthood counselors advise women, Lachina proclaimed, “They try to make sure the woman’s choice isn’t affected by the family or a boyfriend.” In addition, he audaciously claimed, “By the time a woman has come to us [Planned Parenthood], she’s already worked through her decision.”
The Planned Parenthood staffer then discussed the church’s potential role in the abortion movement. He shared the pastoral technique of “all options counseling” for expecting mothers, which helps them explore the alternatives of carrying to term, adoption, and abortion. Turning to his PARO listeners, he declared, “I thank you for your work on reproductive justice…as you work for people who have felt abandoned by the church.” During the Q&A period, radical feminist theologian Sylvia Thorson-Smith stated, “I want to just plug for how religious Planned Parenthood counselors truly are.” Lachina announced, “What you all do and what I do is sacred work.”
The pro-choice extremism continued through the presentation. Lachina threw out the dubious figure that 95% of Roman Catholic women use contraception. He derided how conservatives believe that contraceptives encourage sexual profligacy. Amidst much laughter from his audience, he added only “the extreme far-right of the political spectrum” worries about cheap “consequence-free” birth control and its effects on immorality. A PARO board member made sure to remind guests of the organization’s lofty position: “it isn’t just on the flip side” of Presbyterians Pro-Life. It is an official body formed in response to General Assembly action. “Please remember us as we continue the work that is forever going to be a part of the denomination,” PARO co-moderator Brian Simons requested, “We need to make sure to preserve the pro-choice stance of our denomination and to avoid slipping back into the role and position from before that we aren’t anymore.” One audience member layered the icing on the cake. She believed it “a very insensitive thing” to have only one abortion clinic in her home state of Mississippi.
If this 220th General Assembly has told us anything, it is that the mask is off for theological revisionists. Flush from the 2010 victories, heterodox Presbyterians have spoken more freely than I have ever heard. This pro-abortion event merely proves to be a culmination of revisionism ranging from LGBT pep rallies to dissuading evangelism to cries for “marriage equality” to denials of orthodox Trinitarianism. Now pro-choice forces do not even pretend to try to reduce the pursuit and implementation of abortions. I implore my readers to see revisionist Reformed thought for what it is: to see its true face. For the PARO luncheon, I also ask that you see those proceedings from my eyes as a “Millennial.” My generation has suffered casualties reaching genocidal numbers from legalized abortion. While LGBT advocates complain that the church will not condone their desires, we the post-Roe v. Wade have to fear for our lives if we prove to be “inconvenient.” Unfortunately for us satisfaction-seeking humans, we come across “an insensitive thing” whenever righteousness meets the predicaments of life. Then again, from the standpoint of radical individualism, we are all “insensitive things.”