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The Modern Day Calvary?

April 11, 2009
It is not uncommon for pro-lifers to refer to abortion clinics as the modern day Calvary, Golgotha…the place of the skull where Jesus was crucified. Day after day, the innocent are brought to “suffer terrible deaths for the sins of others,” describes David Bereit. Consequently, abortion clinics take on a special meaning during Good Friday.


While there may be surface parallels, the analogies can quickly go too far. The obvious difference is that Jesus is God; He was without sin, willingly laid down His life, and and by His death He purchased our ransom. Although babies can feel terrible pain during abortion, it cannot compare to the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering our Lord experienced when He bore the weight of our sin.

The innocence held by the unborn is of a different nature than Christ’s. While they have not had opportunity to willfully sin, they have a sin nature like all of us. As David proclaims in Psalm 51, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” We share a special bond with these precious infants in that we are all in need of a Savior.

There are other differences, especially regarding the cultural nature of crucifixion versus abortion. The practice of crucifixion in ancient Rome was all about death on display. The purpose was to cause the greatest amount of public suffering and degradation, and to deter bystanders from breaking the law. The punishment was usually reserved for the worse criminal offenders of the lowest social status. Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion except in cases of treason. It is difficult for us to imagine how a society can slip to such levels of hardness and brutality.

Now consider the abortion clinic. Sandwiched neatly in the heart of the city, paved sidewalks, manicured bushes, a gently sloping pathway up to the front door with a sign reading “Clinic Hours: Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm”. At the desk sits a pleasant young woman who takes your information and politely asks you to take a seat in the waiting room. This does not look like Calvary.

The Roman scene of crucifixion seemed to shout, “beware, or this could be your fate,” while the abortion clinic beckons, “welcome, relax, we are your friends.” Unlike Ancient Rome, the nature of this death is masked in a veneer of deception. As C.S. Lewis’ writes in Screwtape Letters:

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

Instead of proclaiming brutality, this modern
death lurks among words like “choice”, “terminate”,
“tissue”, “family planning,” and “reproductive health.” But terminology cannot obscure the fact that today’s abortion clinics are quite literally, the “places of the skulls”. Millions of skulls and limbs, toes and fingernails. There is no other place you can go in America today to witness the daily, routine and scheduled taking of lives.

The Romans had grown callous through exposure to this barbarism. Our culture maintains an outward appearance of civility by refusing to look at its victims. Women are deceived by promises of a quick fix, and the realities of post-abortion syndrome are denied. While the ancient Romans reserved crucifixion for the vilest of offenders, we use abortion against our own children for the crime of being unwanted.

The Romans would often leave bodies on the cross for days for all to witness the horrible decay. In contrast, the broken bodies of our victims are cloaked in the secrecy of an operating room and find their decay in sealed bags labeled “biohazard”. What would happen if our society witnessed this brutality? Would it leap to action, or grow calloused like the Romans?

The link that exists between Calvary and abortion clinics is that because of our sin, because of this culture of death, we needed a redeemer to die in our place.

Wretched people that we are! Who will set us free from this body of death? Thank God for Good Friday, and the promise of Easter.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” -Isaiah 53:5-6

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