I have considered myself pro-life for pretty much my whole adult life. Ever since I was a teenager, I have believed that human life begins at conception; and also that those who are weak or vulnerable deserve to be protected.
I feel that abortion can only be justified when a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. I have never wavered in my belief on this point, though my views on how this plays out politically have changed over time (and continue to do so.)
As a young adult, I felt that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. The Roe vs. Wade decision, which made first and second-trimester abortions legal in all circumstances (and third-trimester abortions legal in a lot of cases) seemed to give far too much license to those who sought to end a life they had created. The unborn should be protected, I reasoned, and this law undermined that.
As I got older, I became more skeptical about the government’s ability (or even its interest in) protecting life. I came to see that the powers of government caused at least as much violence as they restrained; and I found the “back alley” argument for legal abortion (that making it illegal would only drive the practice underground, making it more dangerous for women) fairly convincing.
Thus I drifted toward more of a pro-choice position politically, holding that even if abortion was immoral (which I still believed it is in most cases), the government should stay out of it. We needed to find a way to reduce the number of abortions without putting too many legal restraints on it. I continued to hold this view for many years. I thought I had figured out a stance that worked for me, and also thought that I wouldn’t have to mention the subject much after this.
In February of 2016, however, something happened which once again challenged me with regard to abortion. I was at home watching a movie one night. The plot of this movie centered around a young woman whose boyfriend had gotten her pregnant, and who was trying to raise enough money to have an abortion.
As I was watching the movie, I felt a profound sense of anxiety that wouldn’t go away. Why am I so worked up? I wondered. There’s nothing for me to be anxious about. I’m just sitting at home, watching a movie. But the anxiety wouldn’t go away, even after I had prayed about it several times. (Usually my prayers of this sort are very effective).
Finally, the source of the anxiety became clear to me. “It’s the goddamn abortion!” I exclaimed aloud. “That’s why I’m all worked up!”
Thinking I had just taken the Lord’s name in vain, I immediately apologized to God and asked for forgiveness. You don’t have to apologize for anything, God said to me. You said it right! My judgment is on abortion! If there’s anything I condemn, it’s violence against those who are helpless!
In that moment, I felt Sophia (the Holy Spirit) wrapping her arms around me tightly; and Christina (my girlfriend in heaven, who during her earthly life was fiercely anti-abortion) seemed to be holding me as well. We were in solidarity in our opposition to abortion, and to a hedonistic, self-centered part of our culture that sees it as nothing more than a second-rate form of birth control.
Ever since that night, I have felt obliged to carry on Christina’s pro-life legacy (she was not just opposed to abortion, but also to capital punishment, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, persecution of LGBT people, poverty, and all forms of war; and she was an activist for many of these causes).
Thus I feel I must speak out, once again, on behalf of those who have no voice; and I am compelled to say some things that aren’t very popular or “politically correct.”
I will make my views very clear at this point. I think that the typical “conservative” approach to the issue of abortion (making it illegal, shutting down Planned Parenthood, etc) is doomed to fail, and won’t do a thing to reduce the number of abortions in this country. It will just drive them underground.
But I also think the typical “liberal” approach (easier access to birth control, better sex education programs, and so forth) is equally short-sighted. Most people know how babies are made; and the effectiveness of birth control is often over-rated. Furthermore, those who are determined not to have a child will make sure they don’t; and if the birth control fails, this often means abortion.
The number one reason people have abortions is because they have chosen to have sex, and are not prepared for the responsibilities that come with raising a child.
Now many women will say that as a man, I shouldn’t say much on this subject because I will never have to make that choice, and can never know what it’s like to be in a situation where abortion seems necessary.
They make a good point. For this reason, I won’t spend much time theorizing on what a woman should or shouldn’t do if she has an unwanted pregnancy. But I will speak to the men, and here I won’t mince any words.
Men, if you aren’t willing to help raise a child (should one be conceived), I don’t think you should be having intercourse with a woman! Either wait until you’re ready for that level of commitment, or find another way to give and receive pleasure. But please don’t go around spreading your seed wherever you want and then push it all off on the woman! If she gets pregnant because of something you’ve done, that’s just as much your responsibility as it is hers.
Yes, I know this isn’t easy; and I’m willing to admit I’ve made mistakes in this area of my life. But we can do better. It just comes down to loving people enough not to put them in a bad place.
I also feel that God is calling me to speak to the church; and my main message is this: We need to come together on issues of human life, and we need to be consistent. Otherwise, our witness will not be very effective.
With regard to abortion, we may not all agree on when it’s justified (if ever), or to what degree it should be legal. That’s fine. But we must stand together in our commitment to reducing the total number of abortions; and we must stand unified in our support of those who have no voice.
From a Christian perspective, abortion can never be simply a matter of “reproductive choice”; for as Jesus has said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).
This applies to how we treat women with unwanted pregnancies, too. If we are to speak out against abortion, we must do so lovingly; and we must also speak out against all the ways that women are harassed and belittled.
Thankfully, the church has been more or less unified through history in her opposition to abortion. Unfortunately, she hasn’t been as consistent with regard to other “sanctity of life” issues such as war, capital punishment, and various forms of bigotry (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc).
Those who are truly and consistently pro-life are fairly small in number; but these are the true church. These are the ones who have been “called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). By the grace of God, this is what we all can become.
(Coming Next: Consistently Pro-Life, Part Two: Who Would Jesus Bomb?)