This post relies heavily on ideas expounded upon in a previous post, “The Government is Not the Church.” If you have not yet read that post, or if you need a refresher, click here before reading this post.
With the imminent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court of the United States, abortion has once again emerged as a topic of national conversations seemingly overnight. News outlets discussed the possibility of a new Supreme Court justice overturning Roe v. Wade, while several senators and representatives demanded a nominee who would uphold that ruling. Arguments from both sides of the aisle bellowed on all platforms, from social media, to television, to workplace water coolers. Despite the intense differences of opinion dividing this country, abortion should be an issue people of all backgrounds can agree is reprehensible, necessitating a cessation of its practice in this country.
As Christians, it can be easy to swing from one extreme to the other in our views on this controversial issue. For some of us, our hatred of abortion extends to our—to state mildly—strong disapproval of the women opting for the procedure. This extreme harbors self-righteousness and pride, looking down on women whose lives and circumstances culminated in what was inevitably an extremely difficult decision—a resentment that often extends to any who might dare to hold a different opinion on abortion than our “markedly superior viewpoint.”
For others, our determination to love—underscored by our desire to never judge or offend—members of our church bodies and surrounding communities leads us to fight for their right to make their own choices. We argue the government and the Church are two separate entities, and that the Church should mind its own business. This extreme harbors a similar self-righteousness and pride, belittling those standing against abortion as needlessly antagonistic; moreover, this extreme finds us fighting for the legality of the choice to terminate an unborn being imbued with the intrinsic worth of a human created in the image of God.
While discussing difficult questions with a Bible study, I proposed the following inquiry: “If the Church is a separate entity from the government, compelled by different objectives, required to preform two different tasks, should the Church long for abortion to be illegal?” As Christians, our first instinct when arguing against abortion is often to label the procedure “murder,” and to quote the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 NASB). While this argument works for those who hold the Bible in high regard, it is useless for those who do not subscribe to the inerrancy or validity of Scripture. As Christians, we cannot expect the world to agree with the ideas found in Scripture, nor should it be our aim to make them subscribe to our morality. We should desire to lift up the name of Jesus, praying and longing for the world to know Him—not simply hoping they will become moral denizens of earth. If our hope is to legislate morality, we are wasting our time.
With this in mind, I still firmly believe abortion should be illegal. While this seems like a major contradiction, it actually falls within the realm of God’s original design for government. I believe abortion should be illegal, not because God’s Word tells me it is a sin, but because ending an innocent human life before it sees its first ray of sunshine is a grave injustice. As explored in an earlier post, governments exist to promote justice. It is for this reason I support an organization like International Justice Mission, which seeks to end human trafficking and modern slavery by strengthening broken justice systems. Modern day slavery is unjust, and it is the responsibility of the government to defend the oppressed and prosecute the oppressors.
Similarly, the murder of an innocent, unborn child is inherently unjust. I believe life begins at conception, as God is intricately forming the being into the beautiful child he or she will grow to be, shaping its parts in a mesmerizing display of power and grace (Psalms 139:13-16). To cut this process short and deprive that child, who has done no wrong, the right to live is an abuse of power over a weaker, defenseless individual. Even if you believe life begins sometime after conception—at first breath, first heartbeat, or once the child is developed enough to survive outside the womb—a new category of “future life” would need to be created, and the rights of that creature that will almost certainly become a human being at a calculable point in the future would need to be explored, for the termination of the natural process that almost invariably ends in a living human being is equally unjust as the termination of a human life. The end result is the same in all of these scenarios: a human being was deprived of his or her right to life.
Our government was founded on the premise of promoting justice—a foundation upon which God intends all governments to base their actions. The murder of the innocent by those with greater power is a gross injustice, and I can think of no clearer wording to describe the process of abortion. Innocent, defenseless human beings are deprived of their right to life, and governments around the world, including the United States, preserve the legality of such injustice. I hate abortion because it is the epitome of injustice, and governments are failing to defend the oppressed from the oppressors.
Despite this belief, I must make abundantly clear to every Christian reading this post that the Church must unconditionally love those who make the difficult decision to have an abortion. With no judgement, no resentment, no self-righteous indignation towards their choices, no dirty looks, no whispers behind their backs, the Church must display to them the immeasurable, incalculable, unexplainable love of Christ. I cannot imagine the thoughts and circumstances that surround the choice to get an abortion—what the woman’s life looks like leading up to the procedure, the thoughts running through her mind, the emotions she feels after the procedure—but I do know she is loved regardless of the choices she has made. The same love that drove Jesus to freely give up His life for me on the cross abounds freely, unceasingly for her in the arms of the Savior. As broken people in a broken world who have been set free from sin and death by the Creator—not by anything we did, nor by any merit of our own—we will never have a claim over one another; we will only have the gentle encouragement to look at the cross and remember the One who set us free.
I hate abortion because I love every human being, even those who have yet to take their first breath, open their eyes to the colorful world in which we reside, and wrap their tiny hand around the finger of a mother or father. They deserve justice, and our government should strive to protect them. Moreover, as followers of Jesus, we must strive to make every child, every adult, every mother, every expectant mother, every woman who has ever had an abortion—every individual—know they are deeply loved by the Creator of the universe, imbued with immense value as a result, and no longer need to be weighed down by the brokenness around and within. A Savior died to set them free.