No, that’s not a typo.
It’s a play on the title of a very intense movie starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. But I wanted to grab your attention, because our topic today is truly a matter of life and death.
I write, first of all, as a confession that my voice on behalf of those without a voice has become very passive. Almost a half century has passed since Roe vs. Wade opened the door for legalized abortion in America. Back in the 70s and 80s, the issue of abortion was front burner in the Christian media and in many churches. Every January on the anniversary of that Supreme Court decision (at least in Christian periodicals), the issue of abortion is still revisited. Otherwise, with the exception of a few protests near Planned Parenthood facilities, there is little discussion about abortion in Evangelical churches.
In some cases, this silence may reflect surrender to a perceived lost cause, but I fear that more often it is a desire to be politically correct—or simple acquiescence to a corrupt status quo. One thing seems certain: the issue isn’t going away, and may very well have arrived at a tipping point.
First, the positive news: The number of reported abortions in America has been dropping consistently since 1996 when 1,225,937 abortions were reported. Today there are almost 25 percent fewer abortions being reported. I believe this significant drop is to the credit of those who have consistently and carefully stood in the gap defending those who have no voice. Pregnancy Resource Centers and the use of ultrasound have helped turn the tide by changing public awareness to the fact that fetus in the womb is not simply a mass of tissue. Everybody agrees that something alive will die in every abortion. And I would say someone, not “something.”
Even with a more conservative lineup in the current Supreme Court, we are witnessing a surge in efforts to preserve or even advance a woman’s “right to choose” if and when to abort. The line dividing those who recognize the life of the unborn as human, deserving protection, and those who display little or no concern for the innocent is becoming wider than ever before.
On January 22, 2019 (the 46th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade) New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act, allowing for late-term abortions, in specially defined situations, even up to the child’s birth. There are discrepancies over the details of what the law permits. It seems the national debate is now entirely about a woman’s right to choose to end a life. Where, I ask, is the debate over an innocent child’s right to live?
Regretfully (no, rather shamefully) Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, not only endorsed the bill but celebrated its passage by directing One World Trade Center to be lit in pink the day the bill passed!
Meanwhile, illustrating the chasm over abortion, conservative States such as Louisiana have passed laws severely restricting abortion only to have the laws struck down. The volume and the vitriolic spirit of the debate over a woman’s right to abort will only increase. Many are shouting at each other; few are listening. Even fewer are speaking compassionately for the unborn.
We don’t need people screaming at each other while angrily waving signs. We don’t need divisive words like “murder” to win the debate. It is, after all, a simple question of justice. Everybody should want justice for the vulnerable, whether they have a voice or not. We value those like Martin Luther King Jr. who cried out against the injustice of segregation, even losing his life in the struggle. We write books and make movies of men like William Wilberforce who fought for justice on behalf of men and women trapped in the chains of slavery.
The dispute over abortion should not be a debate between liberal and conservative, or Christian and secularist. It really shouldn’t be a struggle between Democrat and Republican—but here I tread lightly because one party has made abortion part of its platform. Abortion is a struggle between justice and injustice.
The challenge today is this: Who is crying out for justice on behalf of the innocent? Why this silence for the lambs in many of our churches?
I regret my silence. While it’s true that I no longer serve on the board of our local Pregnancy Resource Center, and no longer have a Sunday morning platform, I can still write and speak out in defense of the defenseless.
Let’s stop shouting at each other over the abortion crevasse. Perhaps our voices will be stronger and more effective when we gently but firmly pursue justice for those without a voice. Let us speak with integrity, compassion, and courage while offering support for the woman struggling with an unwanted pregnancy. Let every local church, like Foundry Church in Bend, have an adoption ministry that supports families seeking to adopt a child.
The truth is, no child is unwanted. Let’s volunteer to support efforts to place foster children in Christian homes. While seeking justice for the unborn, let’s continue to offer God’s grace and mercy for men and women who struggle with residual guilt and pain from an abortion.
It’s time to break out of our passivity, demonstrating through our deeds and words that we believe all human life bears God’s image. In place of silence, let’s use our voices to speak on behalf of the innocent, the silent lambs among us.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart.”
(Jeremiah 1:5, nlt)
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What I am reading: The Essential Jonathan Edwards