January 22, 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade trial decision that made abortion legal in the United States. The topic of abortion has really been on my mind the last couple of months. I cannot tell you why, but it has. I know it’s a sensitive topic for most of us, and so I have been debating for the last month whether or not I should write about it. I’ve also seen a lot of editorials, news stories, and clips during this time, and I wasn’t sure if I would just be another “clanging cymbal” or if I would actually be adding something to the discussion to get people to think about why they believe what they believe, and what they should do in order to be a true change agent on this issue. As I’ve wrestled with this decision, it finally dawned on me that if I’m spending this much time mulling it over, then there is my answer. That, in a nutshell, is why this post didn’t come out two weeks ago.
To be completely upfront, let me begin by stating a couple things you should know about me and my own personal views. I am a Christ-follower, an adoptive father, and I believe that life begins at conception. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that man’s fallibility cannot overcome the inerrancy of the Bible. More simply put, I believe that God’s power to preserve his Word over thousands of years is a stronger force than man’s ability to make mistakes as the caretakers of the Gospel. So now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand.
The way that many of my fellow Christians and pro-life advocates have approached abortion is to push immensely hard to make abortion illegal. I have a hard time thinking we can just pass a law and assume that the problem will solve itself. We cannot simply legislate our way to morality. Forcing someone to do or not to do something against their will shouldn’t be the default approach for abortion, or many other issues we are facing today. Even if we legislate something, that doesn’t mean it will completely prevent it, otherwise, we would have no need for prisons or police, and we wouldn’t see stories of people going to other countries to get surgeries done that are illegal in the US. Think about this: when God created us, he gave us free will. He didn’t force us to love Him because that cannot be considered real love. So making abortions illegal, will that mean everyone will automatically believe abortion is morally wrong? Of course not. Now, should we automatically stop our efforts to limit abortions, or make them illegal? No. But we should think, and rethink our approach to it.
We need to stop our vilification of abortion doctors, clinics, pro-choice advocates, and those who have actually had an abortion. We come off like hate mongers a majority of the time. Go look up John 8 and read the story again of the adulteress woman that the Pharisees brought to Jesus to get him to agree she should be stoned. What was Jesus’ reaction? “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7, NIV). He didn’t ridicule this woman, he looked at her, and had sympathy for her. Even though she was deemed to be a worthless sinner by her fellow man, Jesus saw her as valuable and ultimately, worth dying for just like all mankind. Do we look at people who make mistakes, or make decisions to abort a child, for instance, as truly valuable? I think more often than not, we don’t.
You see, God knows that mankind’s nature is sinful, and that as much as we try to fight it, we make mistakes. He gave His life for us while we were still sinners who rejected Him, not when we had cleaned up our act enough to be presentable to Him (Romans 5:8). Our best efforts, no matter how good they seem to us, fall so incredibly short (Isaiah 64:6). He knows this, and that is why when we look at our fellow man, that we need to remind ourselves that we are all sinners, and that sin manifests itself differently in each of us. We struggle not against man, but against higher powers that are at work against God and all that is good (Ephesians 6:12). The ones we struggle against are deceptive, persuasive, manipulative, and cunning, and they use people in such a way that all of us have been deceived by them in many different ways. That doesn’t absolve us and allow us to do however we see fit (Romans 6:1), but it should give us hope that God is merciful and loves us in spite of ourselves.
But we also need to value life after it is out of the womb. We talk about people living in poverty as if they are worthless. We criticize government programs that are designed to provide children with food and healthcare. We also call their parents lazy, and a leach on society. I’m not sure how we can effectively care for children in need without also helping their parents. When exactly did God say that we should stop caring for children once they took their first breath? If we truly call ourselves pro-life, let’s be completely pro-life. Abortion is more about poverty and a lack of hope and support than it is about morality. Do a search of stats online and you’ll see that a large number of abortions are by mothers who live below the poverty line. We treat people so negatively sometimes that they would never turn to us for help for fear that they will be looked down upon, or that we’d look at them like the Pharisees did the adulteress, when in fact we should be looking at them like Jesus looked at her. I’m not saying that government programs are the most effective way to care for the poor, or that government should do it vs. the local church, but our message of damning the poor and government assistance programs comes off as arrogant, uncaring, and selfish, none of which can be used to described the One after whom we are to model our lives.
So while I have some issues with some of the tactics of the pro-life movement, the pro-choice side certainly needs to stop and look at themselves to understand for what they are truly fighting. I came across a video that has to be the most morally disgusting pro-choice video I have ever seen produced by the Center for Reproductive Rights (an odd name for an organization that works to eliminate the results of reproduction). To me, it conveys the message that abortion is sexy. Watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2QXzzBFlCc, or here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM9Y374l7-U, and then come back to continue reading. (FYI – I posted 2 links for it just in case one gets removed. The first link I had for it, the video got pulled…..maybe because they realized how tasteless it is.)
I’m sorry, but making it legal for over 50 million abortions in the last 40 years is not something we should celebrate, and it should not be something we put as a milestone of what we as a people are working hard to achieve. President Obama just hailed the work of NARAL, and actually used the word “celebrate” when describing Roe vs. Wade. This issue is not about woman’s health and it’s not about empowerment, it’s about the basic idea of whether or not the elimination of life at any point in time is justified, and whether we should be spending more time fighting to eliminate the need for abortion vs. the protection of the right to have one.
Here are some passages of Scripture that helped me to understand just how precious we are to God, well before our conception and throughout our lives:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” – Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV). Everyone ever conceived is known by God.
“You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139:13 (NIV). God uniquely designed each of us from conception.
“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” – Isaiah 64:16 (NIV). God writes our names on His hands.
Why do we spend so much energy in defending pro-choice and abortion and not enough on caring for orphans? Why is the elimination of a life whitewashed by calling it a “choice”, or discussed as part of “women’s health”, or worse yet referred to by the government as “reproductive health”? Isn’t it strange that abortions are allowed up to and beyond the point where the child could live on its own if it was actually born? And if that child were to be born prematurely, wouldn’t we go to heroic ends and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to help that child survive? I don’t say all these things to make anyone feel guilty. I say them honestly to make you consider that we should be striving to be better than this.
Regardless of what you believe to be the most effective way to reduce, and hopefully eliminate abortions (i.e. education vs. legal means), I would hope that your goal is to help solve this issue. I would hope that you expend more of your energy on caring for children and proving that the better choice is always life and that there are viable options for children that were unplanned. We must take better care of the children already here who are neglected and marginalized, but we also cannot turn our backs on defenseless children just because they are still in the womb. But we cannot fight for the rights of the unborn and then not do what we can to care for those already living and in desperate need of help. If we don’t, then I think we are holding on to a double standard. Let’s expend more energy on the care of children than on arguing pro-life vs. pro-choice. My guess is that people can more easily remember the last time they argued about abortion rights than the last time they did something to care for an orphan, or a single Mom, or a pregnant young girl who thinks she cannot do it alone.
One of my heroes is someone that I have never met. I have never seen her face, and I don’t know what she is like. In late 2006, as an unwed girl in her early 20’s, she found out she was pregnant. Even though prenatal care in rural Russia is not up to par, and abortions outnumber live births there, she made the brave choice to give birth to a child. On May 20, 2007, her little girl was born and she made another difficult choice to release her parental rights. She did all this not knowing that about 16 months later on September 10, 2008 that little girl would become our daughter. I thank God every day that this young woman chose the path that the world deems more difficult, because if she had not, my life would not look like it does today, and my heart would not be filled with love for my beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Alina. I also pray for God to look out for Alina’s birth mom and that He protects her and comforts her. My hope is that she has found faith in God and that she has been adopted into His family.