The God Who Sees the Unborn

"We can no longer settle for these middle-ground views, which come from comfort and complacency, and lead only to complicity."    

Read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

I wrote in my first post that I was "stunned into silence" after my decision to have an abortion. After sharing about my experience publicly, I couldn't wait to close out this series with a bang, and advocate with resounding joy for the Lord and for life.

I spent a lot of time preparing for this final piece by reading statistic after statistic after statistic after statistic. The result? A missed deadline, and a disoriented, overwhelmed and angry author.

Then I read about the #shoutyourabortion hashtag. It could have completely derailed this post, and me, once and for all. All I could think was: no. No, I will not.

Instead, I will shout His name.

Stir up our hearts

I can't stop hearing the song "Salvation" in my head, how our church worships and pleads:            
Salvation, spring up from the ground,
Lord, rend the heavens and come down,
Seek the lost and heal the lame,
Jesus, bring glory to Your name!
Let all the prodigals run home,
All of creation waits and groans,
Lord, we’ve heard of Your great fame,
Father, cause all to shout Your name!
Stir up our hearts, O God,
Open our spirits to awe who You are,
Put a cry in us,
So deep inside that we cannot find,
The words we need, We just weep and cry out to You!

It's time I (we) turn from statistics to Scripture. It is time to truly mourn. Not just my abortion, but all the ones that came before and after and are yet to come.

Does it really matter how many? Who is performing the abortions, who is having them, or why? All that matters is: is it right? Or is it wrong? Should abortions end, or should they continue in perpetuity, unhindered and deregulated?

We say: it's so gray, it's so murky, it's so complex, it's so controversial, it's so awkward, it's so political.

No, Christians. It's not. See what He says.

"The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:130)

We say: surely we can just agree we're all anti-abortion, some of us are just more pro-choice than others?

No, followers of Jesus, we are not. We can no longer settle for these middle-ground views, which come from comfort and complacency, and lead only to complicity. We are either for Him, or we are for death.

Shout His name.

"But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil...choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life…" (Deuteronomy 30:14-15, 19-20, emphasis added)

God sees abortion

No, God is not done here, and we are not either. What He reveals in His word is only confirmed by the statistics: abortion is divisive and explosive and suffocating. We may treat it like a flash in the pan when it blows up on social media every few months, but He sees it as an enduring affliction on all of humanity. We have to want it to end.

"Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Behold, we did not know this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)

There is no time for passivity here. We must stop treating abortion like a periodic common cold (as if rest and time will make it go away) and start treating it more like a pervasive cancer (as if it is, quite literally, killing us.)

The only treatment that might get us any closer to a cure involves being "doers of the Word" (James 1:22-24); loving, as He first loved us (1 John 4:17-20); and desperately praying, asking and praising (Isaiah 55:6-9, Isaiah 12:3-4).

More than listening

James cautions us that merely hearing God's Word without thoughtfully and faithfully obeying it is delusional. It's as crazy as a man who gazes intently at himself in the mirror, then walks away and immediately forgets what he looks like (James 1:22-24). We do this, too, when we quietly despair over abortion, then say nothing and do nothing and ignore it again, until next time.

God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27), and we are his handiwork, his "workmanship," his work of art (Ephesians 2:10). Anything that destroys His creation is definitively wrong. Paul reiterates this in Romans 13:9-10, when he says that the law (including "You shall not murder") is fulfilled when we love our neighbor, when we are unselfish and do no harm.

Though "do no harm" is not actually present in either the Hippocratic oath or the modernized version many doctors take upon entering the medical profession, the Christian Physician's Oath Ethics Statement is a beautiful example of doing God's word.

Another way we can do more than just hear is to practice nonconformity with this world: to be transformed by the constant renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2) by being readily informed. We need to arm ourselves to defend His creation.

Nearly every pro-choice argument assumes that the unborn are either not human (which science itself disputes) or that, at some point, they become human enough to have value (which is as ridiculous as it sounds.)

Christians must be unified in our answer to this question posed by Scott Klusendorf and others: “Are we valuable because of what we are, intrinsically, or only valuable for what we can do?"

Be ready to engage a hostile culture. Shore up your defenses and educate others by reading books like A Case for Life by Klusendorf, or Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul, or Why Pro:Life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers by Randy Alcorn.

Learn more about the fascinating, internally-directed maturation of embryos, about personhood, about brain activity, and even how to respond to the hard arguments involving abortion for the rare cases of rape or endangerment to the mother.

Share that there is no point in a pregnancy at which the fetus becomes more baby-like and therefore more worthy of protection. Tell others that science, not religion—leading embryology texts, NOT faith—says "from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless" (Klusendorf, A Case for Life).

Thank God our rights aren't determined by a sliding scale that assigns increasing or decreasing worth based on how big we are, how developed we are, how self-aware we are, how mature we are, how dependent we are, or where we are! We can only ever be as equal as we are human.

So when you think about or see the picture of the 9-week old fetus, let it make you squirm. See that it is not "potential for life," but that it is life. Let your heart be broken anew, over and over, for all the lives—younger and older, smaller and bigger, with or without a heart or a brain yet, all made up of the same uniquely human DNA, all rapidly developing from within because He wills it—thousands of them being quietly extinguished daily.

Shout His name.

Finally, we must see past and routinely resist using euphemisms for the lie that they are. Abortion is ugly. Let it be ugly. It is not a medical decision, it has nothing to do with family planning, and it is NOT a reproductive right (which, by definition, is no longer relevant once a person has already reproduced.)

None of this is to say that women who have suffered through abortion need to live on in guilt or embarrassment or fear. But if we are going to be pro-Jesus, we have to be countercultural and our language should reflect that. We cannot be silent in order to avoid this conflict any longer.

Jesus said, "I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house...they will be divided..." (Luke 12:49-53)

Love made complete

Even as someone who has had an abortion, I have struggled with self-righteousness, struggled to find compassion for others who share my experience. It is hard enough to embody, let alone maintain, a consistently humble posture. I almost have to chant to myself, "because of what He did for me...because of what He did for me..."
We must never forget that we have all sinned and "fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)

And what a gift that is. Shout His name.

Abortion is as forgivable as any other sin, one of the innumerable iniquities God laid upon His son for us all.

"...upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned -- every one -- to his own way…" (Isaiah 53:5-6.)

I have seen and been hurt by Christians uttering careless comments like "women who have had abortions should be sterilized," or "all those involved should spend life in prison." We cannot be so offended by this sin or any other that we become hard-hearted or hateful. Read more here and here on how we can better love the people affected by abortion.

Psalm 68:5 also tells us that God is "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows." While the aborted are certainly fatherless, we must also be sure to carefully consider the orphans left behind in the world right now who need our help.

In Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about this Countercultural Choice, Russell Moore says, "The protection of children isn't charity. It isn't part of a political's spiritual warfare. Protecting children means rolling back the curse of fatherlessness, inasmuch as it lies within our power to do so."

He adds, "Not every believer will stand praying outside an abortion clinic...not every believer is called to adopt children. But every believer is called to recognize Jesus in the face of his little brothers and sisters when he decides to show up in their lives, even if it interrupts everything else."

This is the inconvenient, sacrificial, uncontainable love of our Savior; there is none more perfect.

"This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." (1 John 4:17-20 NIV)

Pleading and proclaiming

The final and most critical piece of all this is to pray, regularly and desperately. Put the unborn on your list; include the mothers, fathers and families who are at risk. Fast for them. Do whatever you need to do to remember, at this very moment, another human life is being disposed of...and in two more minutes, another.

We must also pray for the next generation. The greatest percentage of abortions come from women in their 20's or younger. Not only have we neglected to pass on the truth to our children about God's sacred design for sex, we've neglected to hold onto it for ourselves. We have, as a whole, dismissed the impact of casual sex on the body and the brain.

Locally, there are groups like Reality Check, who can present sexual and relational health education to students, parents, small groups and more. Biblically, we would do well to cling to Isaiah 55:6-9, which says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

If we have been on the wrong side of this issue (as I was, both pre- and post-abortion, and even pre- and post-salvation) we need to ask for for His forgiveness, then praise His holy name that He is merciful enough to grant it!

"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: 'Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.'" (Isaiah 12:3-4)

Shout His name.

Though He doesn't need us to, let's advocate joyfully on behalf of the Lord, for His creation, for His glory, and for the unstoppable hope that we have in Him.

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Romans 8:22-25, emphasis added)

Let all the prodigals run home, All of creation waits and groans, Lord, we’ve heard of Your great fame, Father, cause all to shout Your name!