I don’t care to watch the news that often due to the stress it creates from hearing people argue with each other in order to rile up viewers and increase ratings. One piece of news that has been hard to avoid even when you’re avoiding news though, has been New York’s decision to pass the Reproductive Health Act. This law will allow not only doctors, but other medical professionals such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified midwives to perform an abortion when, “according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”
Twenty-four weeks. Six months. By the 24-week mark, the baby has finger and toe prints. He/she can respond to sounds and hiccup. If delivered at 24-weeks, the baby has a chance of survival. That seems a lot like a person. The question that this law raises is how does one determine “health?” Are we speaking strictly in physical terms? Or is mental health included? If it is not healthy for the mother’s economic well-being, is that appropriate grounds for termination?
As Christians this should make us feel uneasy, if not grieved. In our grief, we can be tempted to take to social media and dump our anger out onto a platform that makes us feel like we have a voice. We voice our displeasure and might even declare hell fire rain down upon the state of New York. But what does that do to help these babies and families besides give us the illusion that we’ve done something? Are we now free to wash our hands of the situation now that we’ve stated our disapproval?
As much as I’d like for that to be the case (it sure would be easier), I don’t think that it is. Our culture, probably largely due to the media, has created an Us vs. Them environment. If they’re on your side, they’re right, and if they’re not, they’re wrong, despite a section of our country that can’t even agree that there is a right and a wrong.
We’re in this life together. In the grand scheme of things, there’s no “us” and “them” … just us. Sure, God will separate those who have placed their faith in Him apart from those who haven’t, but until then, we are called to live with each other and share the love of Jesus with sinners far from God (just like we were), even those who would applaud a law that would allow the elimination of unborn babies.
My first instinct is not to love. I don’t want to show mercy. I want to sit under the shade looking over the city and, like Jonah, wait for God to destroy the ones that I’ve deemed unworthy (Jonah 4). But He is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” No place is it more apparent than the cross when Jesus cried out to the Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”
If, “Father, forgive them,” is the attitude of Christ, shouldn’t that be our attitude as well? Forgiveness doesn’t gloss over the wrong done. On the contrary, it recognizes that wrong, pulls it out into the light, and chooses to move past it for the good of those involved.
Until the hearts of those who support abortion change, they will continue to not just support it, but praise it as a good solution to many problems. While it is not possible for us to force an individual to change his/her heart, there are things that we can do to shift the culture.
1) Evangelize. How many people with whom do you share Jesus? Do you expect people who are not Christians to follow God’s law? If Jesus is the one who can change hearts, why aren’t we bringing more people to Him?
2) Foster, adopt, or support those who do. One of the criticisms of Christians is that we say that we’re pro-life until the baby is born. Then we offer little help for abandoned children and mothers struggling to feed and care for their children. While there is a lot that churches and ministries do to help these issues, we could do more and we could do better. Have you considered fostering or adopting locally? Or what about supporting friends and church family who do? Do we check in on those who are carrying the extra load to give children loving, safe spaces, and do we offer to lend a hand? Could you sacrifice some trips to the coffee shop, nights out, or even a few meals of your own to provide meals for impoverished children? How do we fully support life?
3) Seek to understand. What circumstances lead a person to choose to abort a baby? Most people don’t come to that decision lightly. There are some instances where the mother’s life is severely at risk. Other times, the family might not know how they are going to afford to feed the baby once it comes and might consider termination in order to avoid future suffering. If we can apply understanding and compassion to these situations, perhaps we can offer alternatives.
4) Pray. Confess our sin as a nation. We have turned away from God and defied his commands. Seek forgiveness. Ask God to work in the hearts of our lawmakers. Plead that people would know Christ as Lord and Savior. Pray for healing and forgiveness for those who have had abortions and pray for better solutions for the struggling mothers who are considering that choice.
Ancient Rome had a practice of abandoning infants who were not desirable, either because they were a financial burden to the family, had a defect, or had an uncertain paternity. Early Christians made efforts to save these children, and eventually, with the rise of the faith, exposure was made illegal. Through the power of Christ, we can make changes and reverse some of the attitudes of our culture. We must only be willing to value all life by doing the messy work of loving our fellow humans with the sacrificial love of Jesus.