An Unplanned Review

With some anticipation, I went to see Unplanned, the real-life story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director. Going in, I entered a skeptic, as I generally do when a film is billed as a “Christian”, faith-based film, particularly from the Pure Flix label. As a staunchly pro-life Christian pastor, I enter such films with a thick biblical lens that tends to color my opinion.

        Unplanned has received both critical acclaim and vitriolic panning, often based more on subject matter (abortion) than quality. The MPAA assigned an “R” rating to this film despite it containing no nudity, sexual content, or profanity, raising questions of bias. Without giving away spoiler details, rating was based on more than just the subject matter, as the gruesome opening series and multiple brutally honest (and bloody) depictions do beg some caution. This brutal honesty still does not justify the R rating, as many films receive a lower rating with far more blood and objectionable content.

The story unfolds from this opening scene and first-person narration, to a flashback to Abby’s Junior year at Texas A&M as a Psychology major and her first contact with Planned Parenthood at an on-campus event. The story progresses in a well-timed progression of her rising in the ranks of that organization, eventually becoming the director of the Bryan, Texas location.

The drama unfolds with scenes of her own “bad decisions”, as the main character puts in in her narration, and even has a brief scene of church attendance with the familary text of Psalm 139 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

THE GOOD:

         Unplanned takes a serious, brutally honest look at the realities of abortion, particularly in the most infamous of provider – Planned Parenthood. The movie depicts the corruption and evil nature of this profit-driven “non-profit” machine. This film also depicts Coalition For Life (now known as 40 Days For Life) in a positive light, in stark contrast to “other” groups (see below).

A major plus, particularly in comparison to the typical releases from Pure Flix: production quality.  This is likely one of the best produced films to come out of that company, with solid believable cast performances, quality camera work, and generally believable effects for the abortion scenes.

THE BAD:

While Unplanned does provide an honest look at Planned Parenthood, it also depicts those outside the primarily Catholic 40 Days For Life organization as brutal bullies who try to shame abortion “clients”. While this may be true in some cases, this is not an accurate portrayal of the majority of those trying to save lives, though not affiliated with Catholic organizations.

Also, while heavily promoted to churches and Christians across denominational lines, this film is not a “Christian film”. It is not a gospel film.  It is not a film that attempts to approach the eternally important themes of redemption, regeneration, or even saving faith.  While the main character’s parents are strongly pro-life, even their faith is not specified in the film, nor is the background of Johnson being raised (according to her biography) Southern Baptist, but having fled from that denomination because of the church’s pro-life stan. She and her husband joined the Episcopal Church where she received support in her job at Planned Parenthood (again, not depicted in the film).
What the film also fails to show is that Abby Johnson has directly opposed legislation that would abolish abortion altogether, stating that it risks previous less-restrictive victories. She has also, since converting to Roman Catholicism, strongly denounced groups that proclaim the gospel at abortion mills. This is particularly troubling as it is the gospel itself that changes hearts, it is the gospel that can provide the restoration to God that all the soft-talk and prayers alone can never bring.

Abby’s own “conversion” (on the subject of abortion itself) is followed by tears and the question how she could ever be forgiven and her husband simply says that God loves her and that “He is God”. No mention of repentance or faith. nothing about the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Indeed, while many articles (including one in Baptist Press) about Abby Johnson include the term “her Christian faith”, no mention in the film nor in any of those articles ever mention any form of spiritual conversion or even a description of what that means, and it certainly doesn’t fit the storyline of a believer who grew up “Southern Baptist” to become a Planned Parenthood clinic director. Neither the film, nor any other record of this story calls abortion “sin” or something that should be repented of. There is “sorrow” expressed, but no illustration of faith or repentance.

SHOULD YOU WATCH?

If one can go with the sole purpose of seeing a film that puts a serious face to the abortion industry, including the very real horrors and deception engaged in on a regular basis, then yes – go see the film.  But if you are looking for a film as gospel tool, or as a faith-building experience, this wouldn’t be the movie for you, as you will come away disappointed. I left the theater sensing the lack of the gospel mirrors the real story of Abby Johnson, and a desire to pray for her.

If this review hasn’t jaded you toward this film, and you simply want to see the change of heart of a woman from pro-choice to pro-life (mostly), and to gain a tiny peek into the real world of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry – see it. This film does deal a blow to the pro-choice position and could help change minds. Just don’t go looking for Jesus, because He is left out of the picture.Unknown.jpeg

A Nation that Hates God

I have waited to pen this post for my emotions and news to settle down.  Yet despite a couple of days passing and even allowing myself to vent a bit on social media via various memes and shot statements, my emotions and my burden have not diminished.

You see, just this week, on the 48th Anniversary of the most divisive and evil decisions the US Supreme Court has ever issued – the Roe v Wade decision that with the stroke of judge’s gavels, opened the door the toe slaughter of over 60 million babies in this nation. Sixty million children never given the opportunity to experience life (for better or worse). It was that date in 1973 that the official seal of the United States was affixed by the justices of that dark court on the condemnation papers of this nation – officially rejecting God and any possible claim to “Christian Nation”.

On January 21, 2019, the New York State Legislature celebrated that evil day by passing a bill that had failed many times going all the way back to 2006.  Touted as the “New York Reproductive Health Act” (Senate Bill 2796, now Act 1748, having been signed proudly into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on January 22), this piece of far-reaching legislation not only removes all criminal penalties and even the definition of a crime from the death of infants from conception to natural childbirth, it seals the “right” to abort a baby for any reason a woman deems justifies her act in the State Constitution. Some argue that this law requires the pregnancy to be danger to the mother’s health to terminate in the last weeks of gestation – yet this caveat has been proven ineffective in many previous cases and state laws. pregnancy, by its nature, is a “risk to a mother’s health”. Childbirth itself still holds some risk to a mother’s health, and women really have died in childbirth. Therefore, the state of New York took a 48 year-old decision that already proclaimed a nation’s hate for God, and built a cathedral to the pagan god Moloch and is now laying shredded unborn babies on the high altar.

In the early days of Israel, the people were often led astray – pursuing the pagan gods of their neighbors. Among those pagan false gods was Moloch, a demonic religion that is believed to originated with the Phoenicians who lived in the area now known as Israel between 1550 BC and 300BC. Moloch was symbolized by a giant medal statue of a man with a bull’s head. Each statue had a hole in the abdomen and had outstretched arms that made a ramp into that hole.  The leaders of this religion would light a fire in the statue and babies were placed in the statue’s arms and pushed into the hole. The greatest sacrifice was believed to be that of the firstborn, and by offering that firstborn, the couple beloved Moloch would promise them financial prosperity.

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Sadly, the Israelites failed to root out this pagan religion when they were led back to the Promised Land and they quickly began incorporating Moloch into their own traditions. God specifically forbade such practice (Leviticus 18:21), but remnants continued even through King Solomon, who set up high places for Moloch and other pagan idols (1 Kings 11:1-8). In fact, Moloch worship wasn’t truly eradicated from the Israelite practices until they were carried away in the Babylonian captivity. You see – it took repeated and incredible judgement befalling Israel before they finally turned from this evil practice.

While you won’t generally hear purveyors and supporters of abortion refer to Moloch – you do hear the mantra “my body” – self worship – lifting themselves up as their own god. You will hear “its just a mass of cells” – completely ignoring scientific fact, biology, and genetics proving that even the freshly-conceived is a unique human being. They definitely ignore Scripture that plainly says that God knows us in our mother’s womb, that He Himself knits us together with His Divine hand (Psalm 139:13-14).

Indeed, if you want to discover why racism and hatred doesn’t seem to ever really die out? It is the root disregard for human life that has been systematically sustained via the practice of abortion. A practice that has so radically affected the Black community as to be on -par with the most egregious genocides in history.  When in New York State, a Black baby more likely to be aborted than born! Between 2012 and 2016 black mothers in New York City terminated 136,426 pregnancies and gave birth to 118,127 babies (Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2018). Staggering – yet exactly the kind of outcome Margaret Sanger was looking for when she founded Planned Parenthood. She was a proud purveyor of eugenics, and an avowed racist.

But we cannot stop at pointing fingers at New York for this recent abominable legislation, for abortion is still legal in all 50 states. Yes, some states have passed, or are trying to pass legislation to restrict the practice by age of the unborn, and some have gone so far as to try to ban them from the moment a heartbeat can be discerned (a threshold just as nebulous and stretchable as “health of the mother”). At the same time, another state (Vermont) is actively trying to pass a bill that is very similar to New York’s law, also making abortion legal from conception through natural childbirth. But lets be honest – one major factor in the abomination we are seeing unfold is that many churches have failed to proclaim the value of human life, or have selectively chosen which lives have value. How many so-called Christians have decried the inhumanity of deporting immigrant children brought into this nation illegally, have fought to pass laws regarding the protection of children from a variety of ills – yet refuse to call abortion what it is: murder? Abortion has gone from dark secret and shameful sin, to today’s “SHOUT YOUR ABORTION!” gleeful and open rebellion against God. And many Christian leaders have sat idle by, many of which only feigning grief over the issue. Further, entire denominations within the (overly-broad) umbrella of “Christianity” have chosen to throw their proverbial hat to support so-called “choice”, among them are the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (according to the Pew Research Center). Even the traditionally “staunchly Pro-Life” Catholic Church is seeing major rifts.

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And when you combine what can only be accurately labeled as the American Holocaust of Abortion with the other paths our nation has chosen to run in direct opposition to God’s revealed will and design (not the least of which is the LGBTQetc… capitulations), and American has truly given the worst of Old Testament Israel and its neighbors a real run for the title of most ungodly and begging for judgement. Indeed, while I pray God withholds judgment on this nation, I cannot help but identify with the psalmists who wrote imprecatory psalms, crying out for God to judge the wicked, to squash the unrighteous and oppressors, for His namesake. And the sad truth is – just as happened in the Old Testament judgements, it isn’t’ just those practicing the worst of the unrighteous behavior that suffered.  Famine, pestilence, sieges, and captivity affected all, even those who were passionately pursing God.  Men, women, and children all suffered when judgement came. 

How much longer might God stay His hand of judgment on this nation? And with abortion becoming the #1 cause of death worldwide in 2018, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see God’s wrath poured out in a global sense.

And to those who still insist on calling the United States of America a “Christian Nation” – Please spare me the rhetoric. No nation has the right to call itself “Christian” when it kills 60 million of the most innocent of all humanity.

So – what is a genuine believer to do?  Should we just chew our nails and cry ourselves to sleep?  Far from it.  God calls His people to be watchmen on the wall – to cry out when danger is approaching. We are called to reveal the evil, to shine the Light on darkness.  And yes, to even share the Hope of Christ Jesus, even to the woman has has exercise “choice”. For the Grace of God is sufficient to redeem all who would believe (John 3:16) giving eternal life to all who come to genuine faith, who repent and believe the good news – and who experience the heart transplant only God can perform. And indeed, while we should be yelling from the rooftops, and in the hallways of capital buildings for real justice – we must also genuinely humble ourselves on our knees, repenting of our own sins, and begging God to send a revival across our land, beginning with US – those who profess to be His.  Because we cannot forget  1 Peter 4:17

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?