A Depraved Mind, Darkened in Understanding

In these past few weeks as I’ve been reflecting on the 40th anniversary of legal infanticide, listening to arguments from both sides of the debate, I’ve often just become so exasperated by the rationalizations that are made in favor of keeping abortion legal. Euphemistically justifying murder as a “women’s rights” issue is at once disgusting and dumbfounding. Disgusting that anyone might use women for political posturing and sully their name by insisting that it’s a virtue for them to exercise murderous violence against their own children. Dumfounding because I can’t quite believe that these people are really convinced by their own arguments. As John Piper demonstrated clearly in this excellent blog post (which, if you haven’t already read, you should): We all know we’re killing children—human persons—and the most defenseless of human persons at that. We are just willing to sacrifice the innocent so we can give vent to our lust, immorality, and selfish ambition.And so I’ve been listening to the various “defenses” of this legalized murder, and I think to myself, “Can he really believe that something that grows, moves, consumes, is distinct from the mother, and has its own chromosomal makeup and its own unique DNA isn’t alive?” “Does it really satisfy her intellectual honesty to say that something with a heartbeat, functioning kidneys and liver, and that is responsive to pain is just a clump of cells? And, a ‘clump of cells’ when it’s not wanted, but a ‘baby’ when it is wanted?” “Don’t any red flags go up when we start talking about human beings not being human persons? (Can we say Slave Trade? Or Nazi Germany?) “How can that possibly be, when even on just a purely rational and even scientific level that reasoning is so weak?”How is it that the most radically pro-infanticide President this country has ever seen can chastise us for failing to do all we can do to protect all of our children, and speak about a society being judged by how well we care for our children? I listen to that and I think to myself, “Seriously? That just doesn’t compute for him?” And I’m going to be honest with you: that really aggravates me. Because this isn’t just a point of doctrine that is only spiritually discerned, like the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture, the reality of the existence of God, or the Deity of Christ. That abortion is nothing more than legalized murder is so obvious to any clear-thinking human being that it is unnerving to conceive of anyone in full control of their faculties trying to make any rational attempt to justify it.But as I’ve been reflecting, I’ve remembered what Paul said in Ephesians 4:17–19:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

What we learn from this text is that it is not only characteristic of the unsaved, but that a means of their moral bankruptcy is their “futility of mind,” that they have been “darkened in their understanding,” and are ignorant, hard-hearted, and callous. The effects of sin extend even to the mind and the faculties of reasoning. In the judgment of God, their minds have been rendered futile and their understanding has been darkened. And it is as a result of this inability to reason properly that such outrageous justifications and rationalizations are made for abortion.Paul also says in Romans 1 that, after He visits a society in judgment by giving them over first to sensuality (1:24) and then to homosexuality (1:26–27), the final experience of God’s judgment is a “depraved mind” (1:28). John MacArthur explains:

The word [depraved] literally means tested and found useless, disqualified for its intended purpose, a non-mind. Reasoning is so corrupted that it is crippled. The faculty, the intellectual faculty can no longer function. The moral law of God written in the heart has been literally stomped and replaced with cultural immorality. The conscience cannot function. And so, says verse 28, they do the things which are not proper, not moral.

It’s clear, then, that the practical effects of being given over to a depraved mind include the irrational and baseless rationalizations that are conjured up to defend engaging in what is “not proper.” One thing in the list of the results of a depraved mind is being “full of…murder” (1:29). And on Tuesday, millions of Americans just celebrated 40 years of being full of murder. Over the past generation, we have had front-row seats to witnessing God’s judgment by abandonment as precisely described in Romans 1.So what’s the point of this post? Am I just ranting? Well, no. Actually, I hope to be encouraging. Of course, we don’t get the warm-and-fuzzies when considering the extent of human depravity and God’s judgment. But I think there are many followers of Christ who, like me, are so disgusted and exasperated by the weak attempts of otherwise-very-intelligent-people to justify the murder of innocent children. We can be encouraged that God is not surprised by this. He is not defeated by this. And though it is grossly dishonoring to Him, such depraved rationalizations are the evidence of His own sovereign judgment against sin. When we understand that depravity extends even to the faculties of reasoning and the mind, it all makes a little more sense.But only a little. 

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