Joel Belz: Depravity and the human heart


MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, June 5th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD founder Joel Belz now on depravity and the human heart.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Long ago the prophet Isaiah wrote: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?”

For the second time in 25 years, within an hour’s drive of my office, a young mother had brutally proven Isaiah wrong.

Just 25 years ago, Susan Smith had stunned the nation when she deliberately drowned her two young sons. She strapped them in their car seats and rolled them into a lake.

Now, police said that Krista Madden did something similar. She’s a mother here in Asheville whose troubled background is not that different from Susan Smith’s. Police believe she wrapped her 7-week-old daughter in a thin blanket and pitched her down a steep ravine in a hard-to-access wooded area. There she was left to die.

“How could she?” we ask. But we flatter ourselves. Isaiah’s point was actually very different. We tend to truncate the quote from the prophet because we like to think better of ourselves than we ought to think.

It may be comforting to distance ourselves from the Susan Smiths of this world, but it’s ultimately dishonest to do so.

For Isaiah didn’t stop where I stopped. He issued a sobering reminder: “Though she may forget, I will not forget you.”

In other words, only God is faithful. The rest of us are untrustworthy Susans.

Too harsh, you say?

Not if you consider seriously what’s been happening day after day, month after month, and year after year throughout our grisly society. You just can’t help comparing these headline grabbers with the champions of abortion rights in—quote-unquote—“clinics” all over the nation.

No, this isn’t just another desperate attempt to discover some distant, dark, and theoretical linkage. The nexus is too real and the imagery too vivid for anyone to ignore.

Thousands of times every single day in North America, babies who enjoy the snug security of their mothers’ wombs are stunned to have that warm comfort interrupted by a violence even more repugnant than that inflicted on the three children I’ve already mentioned.

I’m not diminishing death by drowning or desertion. That’s terrifying. But how is it different from death by chemicals or dissection?

For the last couple of generations, we’ve bent over backwards to make it the norm rather than the exception for a mother to turn a chilly heart toward their own babies. When we do that, we’ve got no business acting surprised when we suddenly discover another Susan Smith.

But when she does come along, sometimes God is right there to prove that He will not be mocked. In the recent Asheville case, that 7-week-old baby girl was rescued before succumbing to the elements.

Whether the nation where she lives also gets caught up by God’s mercy is another matter.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.


(Photo/Creative Commons)

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