As I have been reading through a plethora of books (research for a book I’m writing) concerning the early Christian church, I stumbled upon something unexpected: did you know that abortion was an enormous problem in the Roman Empire when the Christian church first started to form? I wasn’t really surprised as to how the Christians responded…but rather the fact that they had to respond to this phenomenon. We sometimes think that present issues are unique and unprecedented…this is false. Honestly, every social issue dealt with back in 100 A.D. is almost exactly what we deal with today. I was inspired to remind us of the importance of a measured and correct response as Christians.
When I was younger and enrolled in college, I tailor-made my own curriculum. At the time, what stood out to me and grabbed my attention were two things: the explosion of science in all areas but especially in the field of genetics, and the social climate of an escalating social tension that centered around abortion and euthanasia. Dr. Kevorkian was in the news constantly and abortion clinics were being blown up and tensions were high. I began to weave together biology and philosophy and one of my professors suggested we rightly name it Bio-Medical Ethics.
As a believer in God, this proved to be a very, very deep and dark well. I was amazed at the absolute magnificence of creation; from the design of the atom, to the incomprehensibility of the universe, to the unbelievable dance that is bio-chemistry, and also the development of human understanding and evolution of thought. Philosophy is a myriad of swirling questions that never get answered…and even people who think they have found an answer get thwarted by their contemporaries. So the destiny of a philosopher is to be forever trapped in a whirlwind of arguments, never to be set on solid ground. No life for a Christian I tell you. But the questions my first two years of college brought to my mind were these: just when does life begin, should we let someone suffer, when should we unplug the life-support system, where is the mercy? Is it more merciful to help someone escape pain, or let nature take its course? Where on earth do we draw the line?
I really hate to admit this, but I must confess so that my testimony is true. I pondered on these issues so intensely that it became my consuming thought. It was at one point joyously rewarding and in another point acutely painful. In hindsight, I see why I took this path and I also understand now why God chose to move me out of this valley of confusion: because the Spirit of God is not the author of confusion, and we all know who is that crafty author. I had a time when I was so maddened that I didn’t leave my apartment for three days. I don’t even remember whether I used the bathroom, but surely I did…right? That is my point; I was consumed in a darkness: a “look into my eyes” kind of darkness. I did not like what I saw. The stark reality is that these questions cannot be answered…rightly or wrongly. Period. However, I can offer this as a resting place, if you will…regardless of which side of the fence you stand on concerning the issue…it is a peaceful, hopeful place to stand.
God will take care of the unborn in a way only He can.
God cannot help the mothers without our hands and hearts.
So at the point where life is lost in a clinic, the innocent is saved, but the guilty is not.
We are Christ’s “body” here on earth and are told to love.
That love has no boundaries, because the Lord’s love knows no boundary.
We cannot love our convictions more than our God.
If we want to stop injustice, then we must use our hands and hearts.
Words are of little value, but the Word is all-powerful.
Love in action changes things, not opinions and arguments.
If one has a conviction, they are required to move into action with love.
We cannot point our fingers at Rome and accuse it of being Rome,
We cannot point to America and accuse it of being America.
And we can’t look at the world and accuse it of being itself.
We want “Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
And forget that “the kingdom of God is inside of you”.
We fashion our own kingdoms and try to make them acceptable to God.
But we forget that His kingdom starts from within each of us as living stones.
We put the cart before the horse, witnessed by our testimony of failure.
Failure to love, failure of our earthly kingdoms, failure of our laws, failure of our nations…
There is only one kingdom that lasts, and all others will fail.
So as Christians, true followers of Christ, we must find a way to stop talking and start doing. There is nothing worse and nothing more pitiful than an “armchair Christian”. We become “hearers of the Word”, but not “doers of the Word”. Truth tells us that belief without action is doomed to failure. Because when the storms of life roll through, if the foundation is not in action in love…the “destruction of that house is great”.
The love in action required to lift these heavy burdens left in the wake of abortion is all about the mothers, the abandoned woman, the lonely and confused woman, the woman on a path of destruction: not only a person trapped in a dark life of guilt and shame but a person trapped in isolation and loneliness. As a man, I cannot empathize with the soul of one who has chosen to abort; but, I have seen its devastating effect in an afflicted soul. It must be addressed, or it can destroy a woman…I’ve seen it too many times. So if you really feel strongly about abortion (or any other cause!) and it eats at you all the time, then start a counseling program, an outreach program, a way to rebuild a life: seek out the women before, during and after, extend a hand of friendship instead of judgment, don’t tell someone you care…show them you care. Do not trumpet yourself; whisper into ears that need to hear our Lord’s message of love. Do not push your opinions on others; pull them into Christ’s love. The kingdom of God is by nature organic: it spreads by fellowship, spending time with each other, showing the love of Christ that we are called to show to not only our friends but our enemies as well. If you cannot or will not do this, then be quiet for you are taking the Lord’s name for your own vanity…to solidify a position you feel is right…if not founded in love, then it is in vain. Let us stop for just a moment and listen…listen to what the Spirit says. Do not think yourself able to declare the kingdom of God in word, but rather declare the kingdom of God in deed. This pleases our Lord and the blessing goes out to both: the one helping and the one helped, the one who reaches out and the one who accepts a helping, healing hand. Remember who the victim really is…the one who could be lost. If there are women out there who have had an abortion and been reconciled and healed by love, then it is incumbent upon the healed to reach out to others who are walking on a path that they have tread. We must all heal, and Isaiah 58 tells us that in order to heal our own wounds, we must heal the wounds of others. Then our healing will break forth like the morning sun! This is not an impossible dream, this is the hope of Christ and “hope does not disappoint”.
If we debate the political and social travesty that is abortion, we must do it in love. If not, then the Bible tells us that we are just making useless noise (1 Corinthians 13). It is painful for God to hear! In a world of great injustice, we are called to be children of light. We know that God takes care of the innocent, so we should focus on the woman who God loves. God is a jealous God; He wants us all! So we should not stand in awe of the loss to the world of one soul, but should stand in humility and realize that it is two souls! He’s got one of them; you need to retrieve the second.
Do we then not concern ourselves with the debate and the larger problem? Quite the contrary, we should concern ourselves and have a say in the matter on all levels (personally, communally, institutionally, and nationally, and maybe even on a global scale)…But the impetus for change does not start from the top down, but rather from the bottom up. It doesn’t start with our “policies”; it starts with the one that you see in the mirror. What is your capacity for love? If you feel strongly about issues, then by all means…do something about it. God will give you the strength and the vision; you must take the first step. It is simply a choice.
May the call to love and forgiveness not catch us off-guard. God grant you all peace, hope, and love,