My Biblical Conviction
As I was reading through my text for Sunday, Luke 1: 39-80, I was struck by verses 39-41.
“Afterward, Mary arose and hurried off to the hill country of Judea, to the village where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. Arriving at their home, Mary entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the moment she heard Mary’s voice, the baby within Elizabeth’s womb jumped and kicked. And suddenly, Elizabeth was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit!”
Luke 1:39-41 The Passion Translation
As I was meditating on this passage, a couple things stuck out to me:
1) Even before John and Jesus are conceived, they have names and destinies. John and Jesus, their lives and mission, existed in the mind of God well before they came to live in their mother’s wombs.
2) John, 6 months old and still on the inside, has the spiritual, emotional and physical capacity to recognize Jesus who is, at this point in time, little more than a zygote. Jesus, under 2 weeks old, is recognizable as the personal fulfillment of Divine prophecy.
If I take this text seriously, it means that at the moment of conception that fertilized ovum is now a person with a name and destiny. It also means that zygote is a fully intact personality with the capacity to think, feel and respond. That is wild.
It got me thinking about two friends of mine. Both of these women were raped which resulted in pregnancy and subsequent abortions. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but as I processed the most recent story with Dani we both decided that, had the mother been willing to carry full term, we would have adopted and raised that child as our own.
This isn’t meant to be a “hurray for the Daus” deal in any regard. It is simply my conviction that we can only be anti-abortion to the extent that we are pro-adoption and pro-compassionate care for women. I don’t fault my friends, or any woman for that matter, for the choice they made to have an abortion. It is an ugly reality in a broken world.
So where do we as the Church fit in?
First, we realize, teach and insist upon the personhood of each fetus from the moment of conception. This isn’t scientifically provable (yet), but it is a spiritual reality we see in Scripture.
Second, we realize that not everyone is going to understand, appreciate and believe our point of view. Arguing with people and/or demonizing their behavior isn’t going to help them. For every person that is bullied into not having an abortion there is another who becomes all the more resolute. In my experience, sin is like a nail and the Bible like a hammer. Whenever we hit sin head on we drive it deeper, but whenever we come up under it with mercy and grace we are able to pry it out of people’s hearts.
Third, regardless of the choice people made (and wether we agree with it or not), they are going to need our support. Some women (and their male counterparts) have an abortion and seem to suffer no ill effects. But it has more often been the case in my experience as a pastor that women (and their male counterparts) who have had abortions deal with tremendous amount of guilt and shame. What they do NOT need in that circumstance is a self-righteous Christian telling them “I told you so.” What they DO need is someone who is going to speak words of life, forgiveness and freedom over them. Trust me, if you’ve ever cared for someone processing at this level of repentance you don’t need to worry that they will ever do it again.
One of my most profound revelations of last year came from Isaiah 61, that Jesus came to set prisoners free. Prisoners are those who are suffering in the present for their past choices… and Jesus came to set them free. Jesus is our Jubliee, our cancellation of sin, our freedom and new lease on life.
Fourth, we need to be ready to adopt, foster or otherwise care for these women and children. To tell a woman it is sin to have an abortion and then leave her without support is like James 2:14-17, dead and worthless religion. Again, if we are going to be anti-abortion then we need to be even more pro-adoption and pro-compassionate care for women.
Not a political debate
This is not a partisan or political debate for me for I put no stock in man’s ability to legislate morality effectively. This is an issue of representing the heart of our King to every man, woman and child we meet. Even if we closed every abortion clinic in the U.S. women would still try to terminate their unwanted pregnancies because closing a clinic doesn’t deal with the root issue of fear – fear of the loss of freedom, fear of financial stress, fear of a child with issues/disorders, fear of an inability to parent. As Christians, we know the answer – perfect Love drives out fear.
If I were a betting man I’d bet that a church community committed to loving pregnant mothers would save more babies than any amount of legislation AND it would have the additional benefit of exposing the mother, father and child to the Good News of salvation that is found only in Jesus.
I realize that the issues of abortion, adoption and the correct Christian response are much grander than what I was able to touch on here. I also know that my knowledge of these subjects only goes so far. SO, I’d love to hear from you.
How do you and your communities care for pregnant women considering abortions?
How do you bring healing to women (and men) suffering from the physical/emotional/spiritual effects of having had an abortion?
What language do you use to talk about abortion? (I’ve found “pro-life” and “women’s rights” to be terms that make otherwise intelligent people into party line bullies.)
As always, thanks for reading.