Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What do we do about abortion?

At just the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
{Romans 5:1-11}

I have sat in many rooms, amidst many people of God, and heard many of the same messages preached over and over and over again, in so many different ways.  I have felt the blows of Truth pummel me with guilt and shame, in the name of righteousness’ sake.  And I have felt the waters of Truth wash over me, for the sake of love. 
Because of my story, I have been asked: how does a Christian, particularly one with a platform, address abortion?  For don’t we all yearn to see the end of abortion in our country?  Shouldn’t we?     

Roe v. Wade
After 40 years of this unrelenting Supreme Court decision, I have to ask – where have our angry slogans gotten us?  What about all those ugly words spewed from pulpits and the mouths of those who claim to have lives marked by Love?  And of those horrifying photos circulating social media and e-mail in-boxes; where have they gotten us?  Honestly, Christian, are we any closer to ending abortion?  Have our legislators budged on the policies our nation has so vocally requested?  Has the highest court in our land seen the reason or logic in our arguments?  Have congregations been moved, through our proclamations of fire and brimstone to storm the polls and vote for truth?  Has any of our name-calling, picket lines, or chanting saved any of the 1,600 babies aborted every day?    

            Have we saved the 54,000,000 lives lost to abortion?
The answer, beloved, is simply: NO.    

                Of course, the question that follows, is – why?
For that answer, I turn to Scripture and I look at life of the Incarnate Christ.  So that I can model my behavior after His, I ask: when, and with whom, was Jesus ever angry?  In the gospels do we see that He was furious with Zachaeus for stealing from the Jewish people while collecting their taxes?  Or was Christ livid with the money changers in the temple, the people who were a part of the religious order in that day?  Did Jesus rail against all adultery when a woman was brought directly from her tryst to his feet?  Or did he rebuke her accusers, the religious leaders?  Did Christ proclaim the thieves on the crosses next to him as deserving of their fates, or did he invite the one who believed into his kingdom that very day? 

The prevailing theme of Jesus’ life is so precisely summed up in Romans 5:8 ~ God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
Jesus didn’t loudly and crudely demand that the laws of taxation, or prostitution, or even Pater familias for that matter, be changed.  Rather, Jesus spoke truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:16). 

1.        We have to teach truth. 

Not the just the truth that abortion kills infants; or that life begins at conception.  Not only the truth that less than 1% of abortions occur as a result of rape or incest combined.  {I’ll say that again, because it’s a favorite of the proponents abortion – LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of abortions are a result of rape or incest COMBINED.}  But the truth that the mothers are left so psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually damaged that  were it any other medical ‘procedure,’ it would be banned by governing medical organizations.  The truth that abortions are so horrific for the mother, they experience post-traumatic stress remarkably similar to that of our veterans returning from war.  The truth that we’ve been wrong for 40 years – abortion is the opposite of caring for women.  It is a means of destroying them.    

2.        We have to know to whom we are speaking: The Women.

1 in 4 women between the ages of 15 and 60 has experienced one abortion. 50% of these have experienced multiple abortions.  Of this quarter of the female population, 70% are in our churches.  Right now.  They are your mothers, sisters, wives, friends.  We are pastor’s wives and daughters, youth leaders, women’s ministry leaders, children’s ministers, worship team members, pastors, and congregants.

3.        We have to know to whom we speak: The Men.

It takes two.  We must never assume that the women who choose abortion have done so all by themselves.  Nor can we presume that each was pressured to have one.  Let’s just be honest about the numbers for a moment.  If 1 in 4 women have experienced abortion, it stands that there at least as many men who have experienced it as well.  Statistically speaking, however, the number of fathers is likely higher; for of the women who have had an abortion, 50% have had multiple abortions.  These multiple abortions are rarely with the same father.  We can be certain that for every baby missing, there is a father carrying around a gaping wound in his soul, as well as a mother.    

4.       We are called to be ministers of reconciliation. 

I say this because every time you open your mouth to speak about abortion to a group of at least four people, statistically, you are addressing at least one person who has an abortion in their past.  And what you say can drive them further from the love and grace and forgiveness of Christ.  Ugly, hate-filled speech reinforces the lie that abortion is unforgivable; that post-abortive people are unlovable.  Or it can be full of truth, while driving them into the arms of Jesus.  We can be Pharisees, or we can be fishers of lost and broken people.  I have seen how Christ dealt with both – and I find as a redeemed sinner, it’s best if I recognize that I have no righteousness outside of Christ, and I extend his grace to those who are sinners, just like me.             

5.       To end abortion, we have to step up – not merely speak out.

We have to make it ok to show up at church pregnant and unwed.  We have to befriend and love and support single women who are pregnant.  And we have to continue to be their friend and support them after the baby arrives – whether they choose adoption or raising the child.  We have to teach our children, and their friends, and our friends the truth about embryonic development: that life begins at conception, and by the fifth week of pregnancy, a fetus can feel pain.  We have to financially support Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  We have to volunteer there as well.  We have to hound our nation’s leaders to change this horrific law; and not give a single vote to any legislator who supports – or won’t oppose – abortion. We have to fight the lie that is embedded in our culture that abortion is a right, and refute the falsehood that says abortion is a tool for women’s health care.  Every single day.  We have to pray that abortion will end.  And we have to love those in our midst who carry within them this deep and abiding hurt, so that they can receive the love and forgiveness and healing available to them only through Jesus Christ.     

6.       We have to be prayerful, winsome, truthful – but mostly loving.

I return to Romans 5:5[b]-11 ~

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  {emphasis mine}

Thus, who am I to condemn?  Through the grace of God and love of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, I am forgiven my sins.  I am set free to minister this grace to my fellow sinners, by speaking truth with love – knowing that for those who are still captive to their sins, Christ gave His life.  And I cannot purposefully thwart His work by spewing hate or cruelty or judgment, even if it is in the name of truth and righteousness.  Rather, I must extend the love and grace and forgiveness extended to me.    

For the glory of God and the coming of His Kingdom.


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