“I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or broiled.” Those words came–not from a supporter of Planned Parenthood–but from the “savage and merciless satirist” of the eighteenth century, Jonathan Swift. Nevertheless, his dark satire bears an eerie if not almost prophetic resemblance to contemporary society.
For those unfamiliar with Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” it’s generally regarded as one of the greatest pieces of satire ever written. It was penned during the industrial age of the eighteenth-century. During this time the Irish were living in terrible conditions fraught with poverty and starvation. In 1720 Swift wrote an essay titled: “A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture,” that called for the boycott of all things English. Subsequently, it was condemned and Swift was severely censured. Failing to get the support he wanted to answer to the economic and social trouble of the day, in 1729 he wrote “A Modest Proposal.” In it he suggested that the only viable solution to relieve the Irish of their hardships was to sell their babies as gourmet entrees. In that day the political economy lived by the maxim “People are the riches of a nation,” and Swift, in his dark satire and biting sarcasm, drew that out to its most literal end–child cannibalism. Swift reasoned that there would be many advantages to eating children, not the least of which was the improvement of the economy and standard of living. He concluded by writing, “I profess, in sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich.”
Of course, to the original readers the concept of stewing, roasting, baking, broiling, or any other -ing of children was repellant and barbaric. The devouring of children wouldn’t accomplish the societal good Swift suggested. The only thing that makes Swift’s “modest” proposal tolerable (and readable in most high schools I suppose) is that it was meant to be satire–very dark satire, but satire nonetheless. But, what happens when satire becomes serious? When exaggeration becomes truth? When hyperbole becomes reality? Just look around and you’ll see! Many of us have watched in horror as not only one but now two videos have surfaced that show doctors of the pro-abortion organization Planned Parenthood engaged in haggling over body parts and organs–carefully selected, preserved, and priced–of murdered children. We are again reminded of the horror of abortion that has made our children the “riches of a nation.” Not because we treasure them as little persons with the right to life–but because they can be so easily slaughtered and their bodies can be used as commodities to help economic and social troubles of our time. It’s absolutely barbaric! Our society has become the satire. As a Christian parent I’ve struggled to know how to respond.
The social commentary, political outcry, and public interest this has produced is great and, it seems to me, has no foreseeable end in sight. And it shouldn’t! This issue needs to be forced again and again into the social and political spotlight where laws must be legislated and carried out to protect the lives of millions of little boys and little girls. But if we simply leave it at commentary, or if we think we’ve done our part when we’ve called our Representative or Senator to express our platform, if we think it’s enough to “like” the latest article on our Facebook newsfeed, if we think it’s sufficient to weep for the unborn, we’re seriously mistaken. As Christians our response must be more than that–our response needs to begin with our children in our own homes and churches.
I don’t mean to mitigate the great horror of abortion. Yet, I fear that one of the greater tragedies of our day is that many who weep for the aborted (and we should!) are spiritually aborting their own children. In Malachi 2:15 we read, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.” God desires godly offspring! He wants our sons to be godly and he wants our daughters to be godly. And the womb–if I can put it that way–where they are to be spiritually cared for, nurtured, and guarded is the home and church. But not unlike Swift’s proposal, too many parents are treating children like spiritual commodities and serving them up on silver platters to the world. In one of the most graphic chapters in all the Bible (and without satire) the LORD cries against his faithless bride, “And you took your sons and daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured” (Ezekiel 16:20). The gods of this world are feasting on our children–the gods of entertainment, pleasure, reputation, influence, sports, education, safety, security, etc.–and too many of us are making them plump for the eating. We have become Swift’s satire and it’s intolerable.