My father used to wonder how the German people could be swayed by the speeches of Hitler. He thought if he understood German, he could better understand the man's ability to garner such support and admiration. What would be missing, even if my father could understand German, are the conditions in Germany post World War I. Those terrible economic conditions contributed greatly to the willingness of people to find hope in any clear voice. Their defenses would be down.
We can almost understand how a desperate people, suffering under the terms of an oppressive postwar treaty that emasculated a proud people with a proud history, could be disheartened enough in their daily lives to be easily moved a positive, promising, affirming message. We do not relieve them of the responsibility of turning a blind eye to the fate of their Jewish (etc.) friends and neighbors that came with that message, but we must be careful not to assume we would act differently under the same conditions. Most of us have never lived in such desperate conditions. We are careful to not speak in absolutes. And, remember, they were lied to.
We cannot deny that in some ways life did improve in Germany under Hitler's policies. Again, that is no excuse for the acceptance of or cooperation with evil, but we can see, at least to some degree, how a desperate people, often concerned about the bleak future their children were facing, could refuse to acknowledge other things going on in their communities. This same reasoning (personal economic inconvenience) is still used as an excuse to accept evil even in our day.
Surely, some in Germany were predisposed to approving wickedness. There is no excuse or any degree of understanding for this group. There is no "trying to understand" the source of their selfishness and hate. The answer is found in the flesh (as it usually is). These walked according to the lusts of their flesh and the longer they walked in the flesh the deeper their wickedness grew and the greater their sense of self-righteousness. Evil often calls it self good as it calls good evil.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
My father wondered how so many could accept the wicked policies of Herr Hitler. As conditions improved (he had delivered on many of his promises) we can start to see their blindness even as we still question how it happened.
We may still wonder at the average German citizen's decisions. What we do not spend time trying to understand is the open hatred a section of that population had for what they deemed "inferior" people who were deemed a "hindrance" to their success or the cause of their failures. There is a legitimate reason to separate the Germans who were trying to balance many different emotions in a difficult time from those who gleefully embraced evil for their selfish desires.
Some of the NAZI policies were so wicked that even a megalomaniac like Mussolini showed apprehension. Some of the Fascists in Italy could not go as far as the National Socialists in Germany. It was when Hitler invited Mussolini to review the German military that Mussolini knew Italy was in no position to question its northern neighbor. But even in alliance with Germany, many Italians did what they could to protect at least some of their Jewish neighbors.
As horrible as it is to think of innocent men and women being put into labor camps, the more terrible it is to think of children facing that fate. I could only watch the film "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" (2008) once. This brings me to my sense of wonder at how some could, often militantly, promote, encourage, and even celebrate the torture and slaughter of the unborn in abortion.
Europe has historically had some of the most liberal abortion policies in the world (in terms of choice, outside of communist countries with forced abortions). Yet even European abortion policies acknowledge that there is a point at which slaughtering a baby is unfathomable and simply wrong.
The vast majority of European nations do not allow abortion after 12 weeks (30% into a pregnancy). The most liberal policy is in the UK which allows abortion up to 24 weeks (60% into a pregnancy). I am openly pro-Life and cannot imagine actively taking the life of my own child in the womb at any point (and we still mourn my wife's two early miscarriages), but I can almost understand how a single mother or young girl, scared of facing the future alone with a child to look after contemplating the act. I can almost understand how some could accept the ending of a life in the early stages in a culture that tells them these children are "not yet human." That sounds familiar. As with the German people just trying to survive, we are careful not to assume how we might act or what bad decisions our circumstances might engender if we found ourselves in the same straits. We can remember this level of empathy while simultaneously decrying the act as inherently wrong.
The loudest voices for abortion in our day, in our nation, have moved on from the "rare and safe" mantra and have moved on to "do it for your wallet and career." There is a celebration of abortion. Some women proudly brag of their many abortions. I cannot have any sympathy for these women or for their enablers. There is no room to understand a difficult decision they may have faced that led them to make a difficult decision if they are proud of that decision. Their consciences are seared and they glory in their deed.
We witnessed the abomination of Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of murdered babies. We watched them laugh with glee at the idea. When confronted with the evidence, they first denied it. They tried to blame "deceptive editing." But when the facts were clear, their true hearts were also made clear. They went from denial to the celebration of the "good" they were doing by selling baby body parts. As the German government sold the bones of murdered Jews, so too does Planned Parenthood sells the flesh and bones of the most defenseless among us.
And as we look back at the chart on European law, some American politicians are pushing for abortion up to the killing of babies in the birth canal! Horrible wickedness. Have these ever watched an abortion? The burning and dismembering of babies in earlier weeks is horrible enough to witness, but a fully developed child in the birth canal? Abominable wickedness.
And if you can believe it, there are some who are pushing for post-birth murder. Some have suggested up to one month old! Starving a baby for convenience sake! Even more horrible when there are so many waiting to adopt. This is where compromise with evil leads.
How have we come to this point, then?As my father wondered how the German people could hand over their neighbors to the state police, I used to wonder how those people in scripture could sacrifice their children to the fires of Moloch. But we're seeing what false gods can do to the unenlightened and/or unredeemed mind. God gives the the stubborn over to a depraved hearts.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1)
The followers of Moloch were "religious." In fact, they were fervently religious. The children of Israel who worshipped in the high places against God's will were devoutly religious. Those who built the golden calf did it to honor the God who brought them out of Egyptian slavery. They danced and sang with all their might. The prophets of Baal cried out all night. Religious fervor is not what he Lord desires, he desires faithfulness, selflessness, and righteousness according to our calling. All of these lead to a worship of that which is seen.
The principle is seen in Jude.
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
- Believers need to walk in the new nature from above, recommit to the finished work of the Savior alone, abandoning all hope in the flesh.
- Recommit to speaking for the most vulnerable among us.
For those interested in walking according to the new nature, I have a 6-part series on the topic starting here: