I don’t usually touch the social issues in my preaching and writing. I think the battle lines are drawn pretty clearly and it is so divisive. What else needs to be said, right? However, with the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion on the Texas abortion case I think it’s important to say a few words.
First, let me admit that I haven’t always been pro-life.
Before delving deeply into my Christian faith, I was one of those people who was personally pro-life but felt other people should be able to make their own decisions and was more libertarian about keeping the government out of such decisions. Not my job to make your decisions on that.
Then I saw an exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industries.
On the wall they had 36 weeks of fetuses – actual freaking fetuses – showing the growth stages of a baby. HOLY you-know-what! That not only freaked me out that these fetuses were actually real and not just some kind of mannequins but I was stunned that you could clearly tell they were babies not just some lump of tissue.
I was shaken.
Again, I already was personally pro-life. I also have to admit that I had had pre-marital sex and that it was very much understood that if we (and I use WE purposely) got pregnant we would be responsible, get married, and have the baby! But this exhibit changed my mind about others choosing to have an abortion – it was clearly killing a child which no matter how you explain it is wrong.
This episode happened long before God called me to a life of ministry – or I should say long before I heeded God’s call to a life of ministry; He had been calling me since I was 10 years old, and I pretty much ignored Him until I was 39 years old. Even though I claimed to be a Christian I certainly was not living out my life as a devout follower. So, my decision to go all in on my pro-life stance wasn’t a religious decision so much as an intellectual one – abortion kills kids and there’s not enough lipstick in the world to dress up that pig! It is what it is, and we should just be honest about it.
I have to digress a bit here to explain the next part. I was working as an intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency. My career was actually screaming along! It was my dream job and I was heading toward senior management. My plan was to work at the Pentagon for the next 20 years and retire.
Then God spoke.
I was praying one night as usual, and God busted in: “Now that I’ve let you do everything you’ve wanted to do are you ready to do something for Me?”
Reflected on those words I realized that I had not really been following Jesus just claiming Him as my Lord and Savior. I was seriously convicted so I asked what Jesus wanted of me. The answer was one of the most difficult things He’s asked: “Quit your job and follow me!”
There it was – the rubber was finally meeting the road. Quit my dream job – the one I had waited decades to have – and give up my life for Jesus. I gave my notice the next day and Lisa and I headed back to Oregon in complete faith, trust, and no little trepidation as to what God would do next.
Of course, next was seminary, getting back into the church after being out of it for 25 years, and beginning a ministry journey I’ve been on for the past 17 years! Best decision I ever made was heeding Jesus’ call even though, to be completely honest, there are times I REALLY miss DIA and the work I did there.
Why is this important? Well, this is the point where I actually read my Bible to see what God says about my life and the world! I had read through the Bible before but not like this. For the first time the Holy Spirit was actually revealing it to me instead of me reading it like it was just a book with great stories. This was God’s living Word, and it was impacting me powerfully. Instead of making moral decisions based on my intellectual understanding of the world, I now was seeing the beauty of God’s absolute truths and how when applied it makes an incredible world of love, harmony, and peace.
Why am I pro-life now?
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I sanctified you; and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
While speaking directly to Jeremiah, here God tells us that He knows us before HE formed us in our mother’s womb (and no, men cannot have babies – Geez!). We are planned; we have purpose; and we are not an accident!
But there is more.
David writes in Psalm 139:13-14
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
You see, from the Christian perspective it is GOD who creates us not some act by our parents. That changes the game.
But there is more!
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Again, God created us, has a plan for us, and knew about this long before we were “conceived” by our parents.
If you’re a professing Christian and are not pro-life you simply are disregarding God’s absolute truths. And I know you’re out there – I’ve seen you just this morning on Facebook posting memes and comments about a women’s right to choose; her body her choice; no uterus no opinion. With all due respect in the spirit of truth in love and 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 – you’re wrong and if you actually support abortion, you really need to rethink your faith.
Now I’ll really put on my pastor’s hat!! Let me address some of the arguments bandied about in an attempt to justify killing a child.
My Body My Choice
This is the battle cry but as we’ve seen God creates us so it’s not your body your choice it’s God’s choice!
But let’s say you don’t buy that. Okay, scientifically a fetus is not your body; it is a combination of the parents DNA creating its own DNA and thus is a separate living being. Sure, it’s in your body but it’s not you! It’s a separate living entity.
The whole My Body My Choice is really about using abortion as birth control. Rape, incest, and life of the mother account for about 2 percent of all abortions meaning 98% are for birth control due to making a bad decision – having sex when you weren’t ready to have a child. There is a very simple way not to get pregnant – don’t have sex or at least use birth control (yeah, I know the arguments that birth control isn’t 100 percent effective blah blah blah – don’t have sex until you’re ready to have a kid!) Don’t claim your body your choice because you were irresponsible and had sex when you weren’t ready for the consequences of sex! Abortion should never be used as a means of birth control!
No Uterus No Opinion
Geez – like a woman can get pregnant by herself. Having sex is a choice between two people. If you’re super irresponsible and having sex with strangers, you get what you get. Chances are good; however, you’re having sex with a known partner and that partner has a right in that decision because he was 50 percent of the equation.
Society rightly is outraged by men who father children and do not take responsibility for them. But how do you think society got to a place where that happens? Certainly, there are evil men that walk away from women whom they’ve impregnated. But the culture has embraced the idea that women don’t need men, single motherhood is a badge of honor, and that men have no say in a woman’s pregnancy. We’ve created a culture in which men are completely cut out of the pregnancy conversation. You can’t really have it both ways; you can’t say no uterus no opinion and then say men need to be more responsible. I would say fathers absolutely need to be responsible financially, physically and emotionally whether they stay or not and that women need to hold men accountable by having them engaged in their pregnancies instead of writing them off and honestly letting them off the hook.
What if a man said, “No Testicles No Opinion!” There would be outrage! Men basically would be saying, “What we do sexually is not a women’s business.” Wow, I can’t even imagine. Such a comment is outrageous and shouldn’t stand! I feel the same way about no uterus no opinion. When you can get pregnant by yourself then you can say that but until then it takes two to tango and both parties have a say.
Abortion is Healthcare
Certainly, life of the mother is, indeed, healthcare. A doctor along with the parents have to make an incredibly difficult decision as to who lives. I am incredibly sensitive to that. Rape and incest also have their healthcare facets in that there is a mental health toll a child from rape and incest cause on both the mother and the child should they learn they were conceived that way. Very difficult choices here.
That said, however, abortion as birth control is not healthcare. It’s not even elective surgery! It’s you made a dumb mistake and now don’t want to be responsible for it. Again, people can euphemize it all they want but it is what it is. There is a life that God created and because it’s inconvenient the “choice” is to kill it so it doesn’t complicate your life. Wow.
Remember the hypocritic oath that ancient Greek text doctors used to swear by in their care of the sick? I don’t think docs actually recite it anymore but here it is:
I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation—to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!
Now you can see why they don’t recite this anymore – you’d have to be able to attend medical school for free!
Polytheism aside, notice the two bolded section (my editing): No assisted suicide or abortion and basically Do No Harm (which isn’t the explicit language that we all use).
From the earliest times (c 400 BC) doctors understood that you don’t kill the living. Even the pagans understood this!
Now let me get a little political on you.
As many of you know I spent a career working in partisan politics. I helped elected many pro-life legislators (and a few pro-choice ones along the way). I worked in legislative offices of both fiscal and social conservatives, as well as legislators who didn’t care one way or another on those issues. And I saw how the pro-life lobby works up close and personal as many of my candidates were endorsed by Right to Life while our opponents were endorsed by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.
Here’s my beef: The vase majority of those on the pro-life side are really just pro-birth. Enormous amounts of money are spent nationally to elect pro-life legislators (and presidents) in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade (which is the argument being held today!) That’s fine and dandy, the issue has a lot more nuance than just that!
What if every woman who carried a child went to term? What resources are available to them for prenatal care, healthcare in general, post-birth care, daycare, education, job training, housing, food insecurity issues, and more? Don’t tell me WIC covers it all – it barely scratches the surface of the need and putting new mothers on welfare is an abysmal moral choice!
Since Roe v. Wade the stats I’ve seen say 63 million children have been aborted. What would we do if they all were born? While millions of dollars are being spent on politicians where is the money for helping women bring a child to term?
Yes, there are a number of non-profits out there that help to some degree but there is no continuum of care that I know of. In my mind you have to help a new mother from the time she learns of her pregnancy and for the next five years until that child begins school!! There has to be a system in place to care for people to help them be successful parents not just laws in place to ensure they have the child.
Honestly, I’m a bit of a critic of the pro-life movement because it’s not collectively spent its money and political clout to create a system in which a pregnant woman would feel supported and confident in having the child. Instead, the system has become divisive and you’re either pro-life or pro-choice. What a sad culture we’ve created.
And don’t get me started on adoption! How many American couples who can’t have kids or want to adopt for other reasons end up going to China, Romania, Russia, and other places around the globe because it’s so difficult to do adoptions in America? Streamline that system folks!
Okay, I’ll get of my political soapbox. But I do have strong feelings about the rhetoric versus the reality of being “pro-life.” It cannot be just about bringing a child to term. There must be a continuum of care that truly supports, nurtures, and actively engages new mothers in need!
So, yeah, I’m pro-life. I believe that life begins when God says it does which is even before conception! So, one more story.
Some of you know that my mother had Multiple Sclerosis. I was her fourth child, but I understand she had several miscarriages between my eldest sister and I which was a span of about 14 years. When she got pregnant with me her doctors were concerned. They were unsure in 1964 how this pregnancy would affect her MS. As the story goes, they told her she should consider an abortion to ensure her own health.
Well, my mother was raised as a Catholic, she wanted kids, and wasn’t about to abort me. I tell my three older sisters that mom kept trying until she got it right and had a boy!
Truth is, though, mom was willing to sacrifice her life for mine. And that is pretty much what happened. After I was born my mom’s MS ravaged her. She never really walked again and spent the next 20 years paralyzed in a hospital bed mostly in nursing homes. She gave up everything for me.
Certainly, God knew this was the plan and that is a whole other story. But what I can say here is had mom not had me I obviously would not be in the ministry, I would not be sharing the gospel, I would not be mentoring and counseling people, and I would not be making a difference for the Kingdom of God. Her sacrifice has resulted in others accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and having eternal life with God!
You just never know.
Last thought: Those of you who have had abortions and/or are pro-choice. God loves you! And as Christians we do, too! And to those Christians who don’t love these folks you need to re-examine your faith or just stop calling yourself a Christian. Abortion is not an issue on which we should take sides and fight to be “right” about. It is an extremely complicated and emotional issue that takes all of us to create a caring and loving environment so that we can honor God in a way that preserves life AND supports moms and dads.
End of sermon!