The Battle Hymn of Andrea Yates
 Her Spirit Marches On.

by Jonathan O’Toole

( Christian Gallery News Service, Mar 20, 2002 )  Revulsion…Horror… Shock … Disgust …These are only a few of the words used by American journalists to depict the public reaction to Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who drowned all five of her children at home in their bathtub on June 20, 2001.   

Andrea Yates Goes to Jail


According to the Associated Press, “The crime attracted widespread attention as a stunned public asked what could cause a mother to systematically kill her children.” Andrea Yates’ defense attorneys attempted to answer that question by calling attention to certain doctrinal conclusions she had adopted and incorporated into her Christian worldview; particularly one theological inference which (they argued) compelled her to methodically drown her little kids:


  “An expert for the defense told the jury that while Yates knew drowning her children was illegal, in her delusional mind she thought it was the only way to save her children from eternal damnation.”  (AP Wire).


But is this an aberrant theological construct?  Or is Andrea Yates’ paedicidal conclusion in synch with an existing American Christian consensus about life, death, and children?  If we briefly indulge Twain’s maxim “when we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear and life stands explained,” we might be startled by the twisted, cruel face we see peeking out from under the mask of the “stunned public.” 


Not Abortionists, But Christians Were Yates’s Role Model


No, I am not trying to compare Andrea Yates’ psychopathos to that of American abortionists or abortion advocates.  That  characterization is ungainly because Yates consistently granted the humanity of her children, which (at least in public) abortion advocates consistently deny to unborn children.  Instead she contended with her conscience that by her homicidal actions she was delivering her kids from Satan. 


Rather, it is craven American Christians who often use an identical theological construct to justify our present homicidal inactions.  Unborn children, to whom (in word) we are willing to grant total humanity, are slaughtered every day in our nation by the thousands.  Yet  we are not doing those difficult things which would be necessary to arrest this wicked desecration today.  It isn’t the highest priority, we say, because we know that these little ones are going straight up to heaven to be with the angels. 


There is a word for a man who fails to do everything he can reasonably be expected to do in order to save the life of that which he percieves to be a baby.  That man is legally referred to as an infanticide.  So it follows that every Christian who affirms the humanity of the unborn, yet is unwilling to place their defense at the top of his list of priorities is an accessory to their ongoing slaughter; a willing accomplice to infanticide. 


Shall we then rationalize our infanticidal inactions by appealing to the same twisted frame of reference that led Andrea Yates to commit her paedicidal actions?  Andrea Yates killed God’s children so they would go to heaven.  Shall we then fail to defend God’s children because they will go to heaven?  Apparently we shall, whether some of us like it or not. 


According to another defense testimony, Andrea Yates was “overwhelmed by the responsibility” associated with childrearing.  The weight of that burden was so heavy, we are asked to believe, that Yates developed a paradigm that would allow her to drown them without abandoning her theistic construction of reality. 


     “Those unborn babies,” say the actions of Christians, “do not demand my full attention as a Christian man because my priorities should reflect those of Christ, and Christ is more concerned with propagating the gospel than He is with saving babies who are being slaughtered.  After all, when they die prior to the age of their accountability, it is a sure-fire ticket straight to heaven for those little kids.  So I’ll defend them in principle, with moderation, saving my best efforts for the real work of the gospel, and spiritual warfare.  After all, they are God’s children, not mine!  Let Him deal with them.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”


In the wicked machinations of the heart, mankind is capable of almost unlimited spiritual synthesis.  I recall trying to convince my intellect that the word “fornication” referred only to sodomy, adultery, or prostitution; in order to have pre-marital sex without abandoning my biblical worldview.  Such counterfeit ethics are often referred to as “compartmentalization,” especially when referenced to the pornographic antics of our devoutly religious former President Clinton. 


As we go about reaching our conclusions about Andrea Yates, we would be wise to look at how many babies not much younger than the ones she killed will be legally slaughtered around us.  What will our reaction to the slaughter of those children today prove about our theology?  Will we sow the seeds of Andrea Yates’s deeds?

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