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The Christian and Abortion

February 7, 2012 2 Comments

by Richard Juritsch

Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, is working to introduce a private member’s bill to reopen public debate on abortion. Linda Gibbons, who has served eight cumulative years in prison for the crime of peacefully protesting near abortion clinics is having her case heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. After many years of seeming silence, abortion is once again in the public eye.

So what do we as Christians do? Speak up and speak with. “Speak up” about abortion. For God tells us: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8). And “speak with” those affected by abortion, meeting them where they are with the grace of Christ. Walk in the footsteps of Paul—who walked in the steps of Christ—and meet the broken in their brokenness: “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them… To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23).

What is abortion?

Let’s be clear on what it is we are discussing. Defined clinically, abortion is “the expulsion of a fetus (naturally, or especially by medical induction) from the womb before it is able to survive independently.” Sometimes abortions happen naturally—without medical intervention. For whatever reason, not all babies live long enough to experience birth. We call it a miscarriage. Such an “abortion” is within the purview of God who says, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). Miscarriage hurts. But we know that the God who loved us enough to die in our place, also loves the child who is never born.

God makes alive. He is at work in the miracle of the mystery of the womb. We confess with the Psalmist: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). What is involved in that knitting? Twenty-one days after conception—after sperm and ova unite—the heart beats. Forty days after conception, the baby experiences its first reflex movements. Forty-four days after the conception of this little human comes the earliest brain activity science is capable thus far of detecting. Eight weeks into its existence, the baby is about the size of an adult thumb, but well-proportioned with all its organs present and bones beginning to develop. By eleven weeks, the baby practices breathing, urinates, and can even smile. All this happens before the first trimester is over, a time during which—in any country where abortion is legal—that baby’s life can be ended with a medical abortion. What is worse, under current law, an abortion is legal at any time in Canada during pregnancy—so long as the baby’s umbilical cord is still attached or some part of its body is still in the birth canal. In fact, Canada is the only country in the world to not place limitations of any kind on abortion.

How do I “speak up?”

Scripture is clear that our humanity predates our birth. From conception on, we are human beings. From conception on, our souls are human souls. From the moment our father’s seed unites with our mother’s egg, our DNA is human DNA. And just as God does not permit the taking of adult human life without reason, He has not authorized anyone take to the life of a baby within the womb.

So, as those called by God to open our mouths for the mute, what do we do?

1. Pray. It is hypocrisy if those who speak against governments for allowing and funding abortions do not themselves listen to God. And God says: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We need to pray for those in government, “speaking up” to God and asking Him to bless and guide our leaders. We also need to pray for all those considering abortion as a solution to a pregnancy not wanted by the mother or those close to her.

2. Teach. Help tell others about the truth of abortion. Groups like Lutherans for Life Canada exist to teach Lutherans about life issues, and equip them to share what they have learned with others. If you need information on abortion and other life issues, visit their website: www.lutheransforlife-canada.ca. Even more information, including numerous books and pamphlets, is available from their sister organization in the United States at www.lutheransforlife.org.

3. Speak out. This does not require you to hold a poster in front of your local hospital or abortion clinic—though there’s nothing wrong with doing so if you feel so moved. “Speaking out” can be something as simple as explaining the truth about abortion when it comes up in conversation. It can be supporting the work of others who calmly—if passionately—speak out against abortion, such as Stephen Woodworth or Linda Gibbons. It can be signing petitions, sending letters to the editor, writing a blog, making a comment on Facebook, or any other number of ways. But whatever you do, don’t just speak out.

We need to “speak with.”

Abortion is not an abstract, philosophical concept. Real people turn to abortion in desperation, ignorance, and weakness. They turn to it because they are sinners—just as you and I are sinners. Jesus died for those who have had abortions, just as He died for you and me; we all of us, like St. Paul, should believe “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Even if abortion were outlawed, the tragedy of past abortions does not simply disappear. Years after an abortion takes place, hurt can still linger. It can rear its head after years of suppression. But God does not leave us to suffer in guilt. Abortion is not the unforgivable sin.

Guilt and pain over abortion can be as great as that Jeremiah describes: “Thus says the Lord: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD and your children shall come back to their own country’” (Jeremiah 31:15-17).

There was hope for Rachel. There is also hope for the mother who wrestles with the guilt of abortion. God is merciful toward her and her baby. We pray that she finds comfort in the forgiveness won her by Christ. We entrust to His mercy the child whose life was taken.

We must, as Scripture guides us to, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). We need to love those affected by abortion—the mother, of course, but also the father, grandparents, and, yes, even brothers and sisters. When you find your own words fail, point them to additional help: that might be your pastor, or it might be a group like Word of Hope Ministry (www.word-of-hope.org) which provides free counselling by trained workers for anyone affected by an abortion.

Final thoughts

The issue of abortion is a difficult one, and it is impossible to do more than scratch its surface in an article of this length. But there are two things all of us can do: we can “speak up” in defense of the unborn; and we can “speak with” those hurting from abortion, proclaiming to them God’s mercy and love. May God give us the courage to do both, with passion and compassion for child, mother, and all those concerned.

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Rev. Richard Juritsch is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church (St. Catharines, Ontario) and sits on the Board of Governors for Lutherans for Life Canada.