One Hell of a War
by: Michael Hichborn
The shortest sermon I ever heard was given on the hottest day of summer. After the gospel, the priest wiped his brow with a cloth, stood at the podium for a moment, and said, “It’s hot out. But hell is damned hot!” At the start of every summer, as I engage in the annual thermostat war with my family, I think about the reality of how much worse hell is than the discomfort of summer humidity.
The phrase “culture war” was reinvigorated sometime in the 1990s as a way to describe the fight between two clear sides over abortion, homosexuality, drug use, and euthanasia. But in a war, there aren’t just opposing sides; there are battlegrounds, there are weapons, there are soldiers, there are victories, and there are losses. So, as we look at the war we are waging in defense of preborn babies, the elderly, and the infirm, how do we know the parameters? For me, the answer came about in the least expected manner.
Ever since I was a young child, my life has been touched by the war between the culture of life and the culture of death. My mother worked as a counselor for San Diego Right to Life until I was about five. My great-aunt Marie Dietz was the founder of the Center for Pro-Life Studies, and worked closely with Judie Brown over many years. A cousin of mine worked for American Life League before I even knew of its existence. Even the first car I ever bought, a 1951 Chrysler, turned out to be a donation to American Life League. As a teenager, I remember debating people in school, people at work, and even perfect strangers about the sanctity of human life. In my youth, I knew about the war and I understood the need to defend the defenseless, but there was always something missing. No matter how many arguments I won, no matter how many solid points I made, and no matter how thoroughly I tore through my opponent’s position, I never seemed to be able to win them over.
Through my work at American Life League, I came to realize that my focus on this war was almost entirely misplaced. I was constantly focusing on political battlegrounds, legal scrums, winning debate points, and stirring up the fervor of activists to witness to the truth. And then, one hot Sunday morning, it all changed. I had just come home from Mass and sat at my computer to read the news when I saw the headline, “George Tiller Killed: Abortion Doctor Shot at Church.” The blood drained from my face, my heart raced, and I immediately dropped to my knees in prayer. Knowing that Tiller was responsible for the deaths of over 60,000 preborn babies, I suddenly realized how wrong my focus on our war really was.
The fact of the matter is that there is a devil and there is a hell; upon learning of George Tiller’s death, I saw the full horror of that reality. I hope and pray that George Tiller was given even a moment of Divine Mercy—just enough to save his soul from those eternal fires—but upon reading that headline I saw the incomprehensible terror of judgment for a practitioner of his dark arts. George Tiller was not the enemy; he was the battleground. Saving his soul, the souls of his employees, and the souls of the mothers he victimized is just as much the focus of our fight as the babies’ lives we hope to protect.
So, if the souls of abortionists, pro-abortion politicians, pro-abortion activists, and expectant mothers are the battleground, then the enemy is obvious. We are fighting against powers and principalities led by Satan himself.
While my personal realization about the war we fight isn’t a new one, it is often good to remind ourselves that this war really and truly is about saving souls. This means that we must START with prayer and fasting for doctors, politicians, activists, and expectant mothers so that we can bring God to the fight in the courtrooms, clinics, and streets.