How to Avoid Despair at Our Crumbling Culture, by Sean McDowell

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By Sean McDowell, The Stream, March 16, 2019

Sean McDowellEver since the Senate rejected the “Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act,” which assures that babies who survive abortion are given medical attention, I have found myself uniquely in despair about our culture. The feelings run deep.

Our culture is at the point where we are failing to protect the most vulnerable among us. And we even celebrate their destruction. Are we really any morally superior to Roman-era paganism in which people practiced “infant exposure,” involving the abandonment of unwanted babies on a trash-heap for death or slavery?[1]

Michael Egnor is right: Darkness is overtaking our culture. The culture of death is fast upon us.

As the author of Ecclesiastes observed, there is a time for everything, and that includes weeping and mourning. It is certainly appropriate — and natural — to mourn our governmental failure to protect viable newborns outside of the womb. If you have not been struck by this dark tragedy, pause and let it sink in.

Yet how do we respond in a biblical fashion without despair? Please allow me to offer three insights that have personally helped me.

1. Pray.

Scripture says to pray about everything. The Apostle Paul commands us not to be anxious but to pray about all things, making our requests known to God. As a result, God will guard our hearts and give us peace.

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Pray for our leaders. Pray for newborn babies. Pray for the doctors. Pray for the mothers. Pray for wisdom and compassion. Our first response must be to look to God, realizing He is more concerned than we are, and trusting Him no matter how dark things appear to be.

2. Remember the Positive Impact.

When things seem dark, or discouragement knocks at my door, I remember the positive times God has used me to make a difference.

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Years ago, when I was teaching high school full-time, a former student came to visit me after school one day. She shared how a friend of hers had an unplanned pregnancy in high school, and she talked her friend out of having an abortion by using material she had learned in my class. She came by to share with me because the baby had just been born.

This was one of the most humbling and powerful things anyone has ever shared with me. And I will never forget it. When despair creeps in, remember the times God has used you to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

3. Commit to Making a Difference.

Whenever I hear disheartening news, such as the celebration of infanticide, I try to use it as motivation to increase my effort and commitment. The negative news can help remind us why we care so deeply about life.

There are ways all of us can make a difference. Read a pro-life book and share it with a friend. Blog in defense of the unborn. Share a powerful podcast about grace and redemption after abortion. Support your local pregnancy resource center. And so on.

We live in increasingly dark times. It is natural to feel despair. While there are many things we cannot control about the direction of our culture, we can control our response. Let us pray, remember the good, and commit to making a difference.

If so, then regardless of the results, God will be pleased.

Originally published at Reprinted with permission.

[1] See Larry Hurtado, Destroyer of the gods (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2016), 144-148.

Sean McDowell is an Assistant Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014.

Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks frequently at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He is the author, co-author or editor of over eighteen books including most recently The Fate of the Apostles(Ashgate, 2015), A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016) and Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014),

In April, 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.