If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times:  We should never be surprised when the world behaves like the world. We can expect what the Bible calls “the world” – society in sin, without Christ, and in rebellion against God’s law – to behave accordingly. That’s old news. We know that. But the fact is, sometimes we are surprised. Sometimes the manifestations of original sin and depravity are so appalling and repugnant that civilized (not to mention, Christian) people wince, even stagger in disbelief. The Austrian social critic, Karl Kraus (1874-1936), summed it up well:  “The Devil is wildly optimistic if he thinks he can make human beings worse than they are.”

The recent revelations regarding Planned Parenthood provide new and indisputable evidence that he was right. We might wonder what kind of people is it that can kill human babies by the score. Worse, we might wonder what kind of people it is that can coldly speak of “a less crunchy technique for [harvesting] more whole specimens.” What kind of people is it that can calmly talk over dinner –without a tear, jovially even – of killing a human baby and harvesting and then selling its various organs and body parts? What kind of people can without blushing and with a straight face tell a woman that her body leaves her with her choice to do what she will with it, only then to ask her to sign a piece of paper that gives permission to sell someone else’s – her own baby’s – heart or lung or liver? Surely any civilized people have to say that somewhere before all this we have crossed the line to objective evil.

In fact, this is the more important question. What kind of society is it that would tolerate such barbarism? Perhaps some in the past could have pled ignorance, but now the dirty secret is out and there is no hiding it. The abortion industry of which Planned Parenthood is the most outstanding leader is barbaric and inhuman. There is no more pretending that it was just “her own body” that was in question. And there is no more hiding the barbarism of abortion.

It would seem that this moment will reveal as much about us as a society as it does about Planned Parenthood. Are we as a people so indifferent to helpless human babies that such evil does not matter?

This “new moral low,” tolerated, says something about us. We already knew that we no longer live in Christendom, but just how far will we go in our societal rebellion? And at what point are we warranted in applying the words of the prophet: “For three transgressions of [America] and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.”

Of course the root problem is not abortion and the harvesting and selling of human organs. The root problem lies in the evil of the human heart in its rebellion against God – a problem only the gospel can repair. These are just symptoms. But they are symptoms that demonstrate a new low. Surely, at some point a civilized society must say, “Enough!”

Fred Zaspel (Ph.D., Free University of Amsterdam) is pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA, and is the executive editor of Books At a Glance. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary  and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel.