August 29, 2015
Our societies moral confusion became glaringly obvious this summer. While dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota was being shamed for killing Zimbabwe’s famous lion, Cecil; Planned Parenthood was being exposed for marketing baby parts for a price. Both stories garnered plenty of attention.
Palmer, an avid trophy hunter, is accused of luring Cecil from the safety of the wildlife reserve so that he could hunt him legally. He is said to have wounded Cecil with bow and arrow and then forced to pursue him for hours, before ending Cecil’s suffering with a fatal gunshot. Cecil was then decapitated, his head collected for a trophy.
Planned Parenthood doctor Deborah Nucatola was captured on video casually discussing, over lunch, with prospective buyers, the process of procuring undamaged body parts from aborted babies and making them available for sale. The videos have prompted calls for the withdrawal of all federal funding of planned parenthood in the US, (three individual states have already done so). Of course avid supporters of Planned Parenthood have vigilantly attempted to shift the attention away from the content of the videos, to the “villians,” who clandestinely captured them. In their morally confused opinion, it is a far greater violation to capture someone on video without their knowledge, than to sell human body parts.
Juxtaposed these two stories are a starling revelation of the untenable nature of moral relativism. Because people had feelings about Cecil (he had a name after all) he was more valuable than the hundreds of other trophy animals taken from the plains of Africa this year. Furthermore on the same day Cecil was killed, nearly 3000 abortions were performed in the US alone, and Cecil’s mourners were unfazed. The death of Cecil broke their hearts. The death of 3000 nameless babies left no impact. What a difference a name makes!
Since moral relativism does not ask whether something is objectively “right or wrong,” the only basis for evaluating the value of an activity is how it makes us feel. Since tourists had come to know the black maned lion, Cecil, by name, there was an emotional attachment to the animal. While hundreds of other animals were hunted in the same manner, average North Americans were unaffected, but when Cecil was terminated, they were outraged.
Similarly while Planned Parenthood has been performing thousands and thousands of abortions every year and selling the fetal tissue, few moral relativists have taken notice. But as soon as a videos revealed the nature of the practice, exposing that the tissue for sale is actually human body parts, parts which the Dr. describes the preservation of in great detail, there is public outrage. Why? Because the tissue has now been anthropomorphized, meaning the identification and naming of body parts humanized the abortion, the same way giving Cecil a name humanized a lion.
I was raised on a beef farm. Every year we sent livestock to be turned into steak and hamburger. As children we were given chores, which included feeding and caring for the cattle. When a new calf was born and was unable to nurse we fed them via a milk pail with a nipple attached, or would place milk soaked meal on our hands and let the young calves suck it through our fingers. It was easy to grow attached to the animals, and naturally to give them names. My dad understood the emotional attachment that could develop between man and beast, so to reinforce the reality of the calves’ destiny, he insisted any names attributed to the calves be reminders of their purpose. So it was that we had cattle called, “Spare Rib,” “BBQ” and “Hamburg.” I can feel the PETA activists anger surging as I write, however my childhood story is only disturbing if you make the mistake of equating animal life with human life. Since the Bible makes it clear that human life is sacred, created in His image, and all other forms of life are here for our management, believers are able to objectively say that while Cecil’s death was unnecessary and perhaps even criminal, it in no way can be compared to the immorality of the taking of human life through abortion. Our world’s slide into moral ambiguity is seen in that Cecil’s killers are being arrested, while Dr. Nucatola is not.