On January 22nd, the governor of New York passed the dubiously titled “Reproductive Health Act,” and in response, I found myself doing something I hate - I used social media to express my frustration.
For those unfamiliar, this law does little more than codify (write into law) a woman’s legal right to an abortion after 24 weeks, if her health is threatened or the fetus isn’t viable.
As with any new development in the legal status of abortion, this law caused a simultaneous cacophony of outrage and celebration, revealing the deep division within the United States on this issue.
Like so many “Pro-Lifers”, I turned to Facebook to share my feelings. Why did I do this? I guess I didn’t know what else to do.
My convictions are not fueled by religious fanaticism, nor a desire to limit the rights and choices of women, but by the fact that at eight weeks, a fetus smiles, recoils from pain, and has fully functioning organs.
I just can’t believe the affirmation that a fetus at any stage is merely a non-human clump of cells. And without denying modern embryology (the study of embryos), I’m not sure how anyone can.
In 2014, famed atheist Richard Dawkins, in regards to a fetus which had tested positive for Down syndrome, tweeted, “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."
Notice how this assumes that this child is not already in this world.
No one would dare suggest the right to terminate a toddler’s life because of economic pressure or inconvenience. Still, this is the sort of argumentation used continuously by those who support abortion because they assume the unborn are not human.
I cannot do this. Science will not allow me to.
The more honest pro-choice advocates will agree that what is being terminated is, in fact, a human life.
Take, for example, the words of writer and pro-choice advocate Mary Elizabeth Williams, who asserts:
Here's the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That's a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby stormtroopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She's the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
Statements like this prove that what we are dealing with is an entrenched evil that is so completely detached from reality that we cannot approach it rationally.
So what do we do?
In wrestling with how I ought to respond, God led me to three prayers:
1) God, awaken me from my apathy.
Of the many things I lamented in the wake of the passing of this recent bill, one of them was my apathy. I hate the fact that my passion for justice in this area rises for brief moments, only to fade and remain dormant for months, sometimes years.
I can’t help but wonder what 45 million Protestant Christians were doing in Germany in the ’30s as Hitler rose to power.
I think about how my grandkids will view my response to the abortion crisis of our day. Did I stand by and doing nothing, or did I use my life to make a difference?
Apathy on this issue is not acceptable.
2) God, bring me to my knees in desperate prayer.
An obvious place to start in combating the evil of abortion is to pray.
Prayer can feel like a passive response to a dire situation, but as the late missionary Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Prayer is the weapon that the unseen power dreads most.”
We need God to produce in us deep anguish over the daily loss of innocent life. Moreover, we need Him to call more of His followers into a life devoted to ending abortion in this country and our world.
We need to pray that as a Church we do more than judge, criticize, and post on social media. It is on all of us to show great love and mercy to the men and women who believe abortion to be their only option.
Mostly, we need God to move in great power, and He does when we pray.
3) God, help me to serve more and talk less.
Finally, we need to get involved. It’s not enough to be angry. It’s not enough to spew cliches on Facebook. There are practical ways that we can make a difference, and it’s time the secular world sees a Church that does more, and talks less. “More serving, less debating” would be a good motto for us.
Ultimately, opinions are cheap, but it is loving self-sacrifice that changes hearts and minds.
There are thousands of pregnancy crisis centers that need Christians to do more than get angry. They need our time, they need our money, and they need our talents.
Perhaps God would call you to adopt, use your life to support women in need, or start a brand new initiative that works to end abortion.
In any case, it’s time to get to work.
The Cross of Christ is more powerful than any sin. Paul, the author of two-thirds of our New Testament and arguably the greatest missionary in Christian history, called himself the “chief of sinners.”
There is no room in the Church for self-righteousness. None. For some of you, the abortion topic is deeply personal, and it is critical for you to understand that there is no sin too great for Jesus to forgive.
He desperately loves you and wants to restore and redeem even the darkest stories.
That said, God invites all of us to think deeply about the tragic consequences of abortion. This is no mere political issue, but a matter of life and death.