Joss Whedon’s films are cultural juggernauts. From Toy Story to The Avengers, he’s left an indelible mark on my generation. In his most recent release, however, he has moved from entertaining children, to teaming up with those who murder them. It’s a strategic move by Planned Parenthood, one of America’s largest abortion providers, to utilize the pop-culture icon to help them fund their assault on the preborn (instead of “unborn” this term allows babies in utero the dignity of personhood).
The silent film seeks not to educate the public on the mission of Planned Parenthood, but to appeal to emotions and mislead. In it, a bleak picture is painted of a world absent of Planned Parenthood where women have no access to life-saving operations, birth control, or sex education. Unmentioned is that these are tertiary services for Planned Parenthood — their main mission is to abort children.
The film is a propaganda piece; similar to those of Leni Riefenstahl’s during the Nazi holocaust. It is no overstatement to call abortion a holocaust, and curiously absent from the film is any sight of babies (inside or outside of the womb). To mobilize a group for the purpose of genocide, you must dehumanize the ones you want to eradicate.
By intentionally shifting our eyes away from the dirty work of destroying the lives of the defenseless, and highlighting the small percentage of non-abortive work they do, they seek to fund their holocaust. While this should grieve us Christians to the core, we are not without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Hope for the Desperate
Pregnancy, especially when it’s unplanned and undesired, can sometimes feel like a hopelessly desperate situation — it’s no surprise that women in desperation can be enticed by abortion services. But Planned Parenthood is no hero, even in the most desperate of circumstances. The thief comes to take life, but Jesus came to give it (John 10:10). The devil, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), would have desperate women believe he is a hero, but we must point them to the true hero with our words and actions.
Jesus, himself born to a young unwed mother, can relate to them in their temptation and desperation (Hebrews 4:15). As we follow after him, we must walk alongside women encountering unplanned pregnancies with love, grace, and compassion (Colossians 3:12). Regardless of the situation that got her there, the pregnancy itself is a display of God’s redemptive work: he makes beautiful things out of messy situations (Genesis 50:20). As ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20) and life, we should be willing to commit to the marathon race of helping women in desperate situations. Woe to us if we preach life and love but cease loving a child (and his mother) once he or she has been born.
Hope for the Regretful
There’s also no shortage of women within the church that have already had abortions. It’s inevitable that if you are in church community for any length of time, you will eventually encounter a woman with this in her past. Weep with them (Romans 12:15).
My fear in addressing this topic is adding additional shame or reopening existing wounds for those who have already made this irreversible decision — that is not my intent. If you or someone you know is in this category, no number of platitudes can heal the pain. We look forward to a future day when Jesus will wipe away the tears and there will be no more death (Revelation 21:4). That reality will surpass the well-meaning words of Christians trying to articulate it.
In ministering to those dealing with the aftermath of abortion a lesson from Job’s friends may be in order: may our comforting presence be great and our “comforting words” be careful (Job 2:13).
Hope for Our Enemies
Unlike the enemies of the Avengers, these precious babies are not malevolent creatures intent on destroying the future of the earth. Instead, they are the next generation that will inherit it and be charged with the momentous task of stewarding it. They will bear similarities in image to their parents, an image that Planned Parenthood is willing to extinguish.
“If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damned well sure we’ll avenge it!” This line, spoken by Whedon’s Iron Man is one of the most memorable. We may be tempted to seek vengeance like his fictitious heroes, if not with the sword, then with our words and rhetoric. But Scripture reminds us, “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19). Knowing the ultimate Judge of mankind will do what is right (Genesis 18:25), we need not fear; he will avenge the blood of the innocent (Revelation 6:10).
Even more, we’re commanded to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). I’ve tried to do this with a friend who began a career as an abortionist. It’s not easy. I look to Richard Wurmbrand and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as saintly models of how to love the agents of genocide. But ultimately I look to my Savior who cried out to God to forgive his murderers (Luke 23:34). In hope, I pray for an experience like that of Saul on the Damascus Road (Acts 9).
Those of us on the other side of this battle value life, even the life of those who slaughter the innocent. For this reason, our weapons must not resemble those of the abortionists. We need not resort to propaganda intent on manipulating others. Christians renounce “disgraceful, underhanded ways” (2 Corinthians 4:2). The truth of God’s word does not stand by manipulative presentations, but “by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Furthermore, we have the real-life testimonies of those who have found forgiveness and hope in Christ. We have truth, light, and love to shine against the lies, darkness, and hatred of those that prey on the weak and desperate. God may decide to glorify himself by claiming Whedon as his own. It wouldn’t be the first time. Perhaps he may surpass the Avengers by being a real-life hero for the next generation.