Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:13-21
The number of abortions performed in our nation can be radically reduced in one of two ways. First, if parents are not tempted to destroy the child in the mother's womb because of fear or shame, they won't abort it. Second, even when they do desire to destroy the child in her womb, if just laws prevent it. Some say you can't legislate morality. However, that is exactly what legislation does. It is immoral to get mad at your neighbor, pull out a gun and shoot him. The laws in our nation intend to stop that from happening. And for those who go ahead and commit that immorality, it punishes that immorality. As necessary as this role of law is to provide justice to those whose rights are being trampled, it would be much better if people didn't want to get a gun and shoot their neighbor. We all understand that.
On the abortion front there is much work being done in the pro-life camp in hopes that just laws are passed to protect the powerless unborn child. This is necessary action to stem the tide of such a vast social injustice. That said, the goal that we must pursue long after any laws are made to protect these children is that parents have no desire to destroy their child. How can that goal be reached?
Something Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison may actually be quite pertinent to this issue. It is in a section addressing the subject of suicide, but it is no less pertinent to the subject of abortion.
It is not the right to life that can overcome this temptation to suicide, but only the grace that allows a man to continue to live in the knowledge of God's forgiveness. (Ethics, pg. 172)
Since the very next subject he takes on is reproduction and abortion, adapting this statement to abortion is not out of line. Adapted it would read: It is not the right to life that can overcome this temptation to abort, but only the grace that allows a woman to continue to live in the knowledge of God's forgiveness. Two great motivators toward abortion are fear and shame. The knowledge of God's forgiveness is essential to overcoming either.
Why did Cain kill Abel? Because he was attempting in some way to cover up his sin. Abel was living right; Cain was doing wrong. Somehow it seemed logical that if he could just do away with Abel, everything would be okay. (Genesis 4:3-10) Often, an unwed pregnant woman is ashamed of the situation she finds herself in. What she is really ashamed of is the immorality that got her pregnant. And it often seems that if she can just do away with the pregnancy (which involves doing away with the baby), everything goes back to normal. Most women who have an abortion learn that they now have to cope with a new normal—a whole new kind of hidden shame. She too will need the cure that only the Gospel can bring. It is the shame of sin that often tempts these new parents to destroy their child in hopes that the shame will go away.
Sometimes the pregnant mother or the father who pressures the mother into the abortion is motivated by fear—fear of how they are going to make it; fear of the radical changes this will bring about; fear of how others will respond. The list of fears can go on. It is this fear that creates the environment in which the temptation to abort the baby thrives.
Whether it is fear or shame that is feeding the temptation, it is the glorious news of the Gospel that takes the power away from the temptation. How so? The Gospel announces God's forgiveness for sinners. The shame is forgiven.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
The message of God's forgiveness—that God is not holding people's sins against them because of the work of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) is the means by which God calls people back to himself and reconciles them to Himself. To be reconciled means that those who were enemies are now friends. The unwed mother in her shame is now made right with God again. God accepts her fully in Jesus Christ. Jesus says to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) This message has been committed to the church! We must proclaim it.
It is this same message that frees us from fear for there is no fear in love, for perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). When the prospective parents realize that God's love is available to them in Christ, they can run to Him free from fear, knowing that He will care for them. They can cast their anxiety on God for God cares for them (1 Peter 5:7). What a promise.
Whether there are ever just laws that protect that unborn or not, the work of the Gospel will not cease. We must do that work now as it is our most powerful weapon. This work will be just as necessary if the laws were perfect. For while you can legislate morality—indeed you must—you can't transform a heart by legislation, but only by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. One vital way we can support the unborn child and the pro-life cause is sharing the message of Jesus Christ with the world.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,