Four Ways to Honor Life amid the Abortion Crisis
From my recent sermon on “The Gospel and Abortion” (Psalm 10):
How do we respond to the abortion crisis? More than anything else, we must hold onto and hold out the life-changing truth of the gospel. If God’s response to abortion (and all brokenness and sin) is to send his Son to live, die, and rise in our place, then our response is to cling to Christ, and offer his mercy and grace to everyone else. Abortion is not the unforgiveable sin. There is hope and healing in the cross of Christ. “Only the innocent blood of Christ, proclaimed and believed, can cleanse away the bloodguilt of abortion.”
But are there specific, practical things we can do in response to the abortion crisis, as the gospel fuels and directs us? Absolutely. And I’d like to suggest four:
Honor life personally.
Commit, right now before God, that whatever the circumstance or situation in your life, abortion is not an option. Not for you, not for your spouse, not for your teenage daughter. If churchgoers stopped receiving abortions, the rate would drop by 65% next year. Decide now, as a family, that grace is going to reign in your relationships with your kids.
Do your children know, that if they were to come to you and tell you that they or their girlfriend were pregnant, that though you would be sad and disappointed, you would love them and come alongside them? That, yes, there are consequences for sin, but God’s grace is sufficient. If they don’t know that, tell them! For the sake of these children, your grandchildren, tell them! Commit to honoring life personally.
Honor life persuasively.
Understand the issue and be able to talk about it with friends and colleagues in a compelling way. You don’t have to be a jerk about it. But equip yourself to advocate for life.
One of the simplest ways to do that is remember the acronym, SLED. At the heart of the abortion debate is the question of whether an unborn child is human. Everything hangs on that determination. SLED helps us reason persuasively with others that there is no logical reason to view a baby in the womb as less human:
- Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? . . .
- Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four-year-old girls are less developed than fourteen-year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? . . .
- Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from nonhuman to human? . . .
- Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them.
We need to honor life persuasively.
Honor life practically.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Love your neighbors, single moms, couples or women in crisis pregnancies, in tangible ways. Be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Provide clothing, childcare, friendship, support. The church must be known not just for being pro-birth, but pro-life. That means that Christians should be setting the pace in supporting crisis pregnancy works. It means that Christians should be setting the pace in adoption and foster care. It means that we can no longer move to the other side of the road as we see someone in crisis, but like Jesus, we must be willing to make their crisis our crisis, loving others at great cost to self. Who can you come alongside in love?
Honor life politically.
Politics will not save the world. And yet, as long as we have a voice, we must use it on behalf of the vulnerable and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Whether from a posture of political marginalization, like Martin Luther King Jr., whose passion for Christ drove him to stand against institutionalized racism in America. Or from a posture of political power, like William Wilberforce in England, who labored for 42 years in Parliament to abolish slavery.
Wilberforce’s passion and resolve set a pace and a pattern that we should take up in this issue today:
Never, never will we desist till we . . . extinguish every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonor to this country.
That’s my prayer for us in this day and this issue, that when I sit down with my grandkids, they’ll say, ‘Did people really believe that back then, Grandpa?’ Would God change hearts so much that abortion becomes a memory, a page in the history books, in this generation.
May we honor life in reverence to God, holding onto and holding out the gospel of life. “The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more” (Ps. 10:16-18).
 John Ensor, Answering the Call. Updated Ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendricksen, 2012), 29.
 37% of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant, and 28% as Catholic. See “Induced Abortions in the United States,” Guttmacher Institute, July 2014. Available at: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html.
 This summary of the SLED argument developed by Scott Klusendorf is found in Ensor, 49-50.
 As cited in Ensor, 104.