By Ken Hensley
On September 11, 2001, I was having coffee with the worship pastor at our church to plan our weekend services when the planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City. Like many of you, I spent the next several hours glued to our television, watching horrific scenes unfold.
As you probably remember, 3,000 people were killed that day.
Did you know that on Sept 12, 2001, 4,000 additional lives were lost? On September 13, 2001, another 4,000 lives ended. Again on September 14, 15, and every day since — nearly 4,000 lives are aborted every day.
Since Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land in 1973, 58 million abortions have been performed in the United States. Worldwide since 1980? 1.4 billion.
Abortion is not primarily a political issue. Nor is it primarily a social issue or a women’s issue. For the person of faith, abortion is primarily a God issue.
And that is why our country is divided over this issue. Not everyone starts at the same place when it comes to abortion.
It highlights what you might call the Tonto Principle of Christian Ethics.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by 20,000 Sioux Indians. Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, “What do you think we ought to do, Tonto?” Tonto replies, “What do you mean we, white man?”
Christians often think that when we address the issue of abortion and say “we” – that we are talking about anyone who is a good, decent American. The truth is, good decent Americans have different opinions.
It’s also true that many people carry their own scars related to abortion. Maybe you’ve had an abortion, encouraged an abortion, or paid for one.
Our task is not to be sensational or political but biblical.
Perhaps the best place to start is with the question, “When does life begin?” Five options emerge.
Option 1: when the baby is out of the womb. The idea is that life comes with breath. Due to scientific advances, we now know that babies breath inside womb.
Option 2: when the fetus has developed enough to live outside the womb. This option is also referred to as viability. But the problem with viability is that it represents a moving target.
Option 3: when a baby has a measurable brainwave. Just as end of life is determined by the ceasing of the brain function, then life begins when the brain is alive and is functional. Brainwaves are measurable six weeks after conception.
Option 4: when the heartbeat can be measured. Thus the answer would be life begins three to four weeks after conception.
Option 5: life begins at conception. When the male and female cells unite and something new and unique is created, that is when life begins.
If Jesus were invited into the conversation, what would he say about abortion and the value of life? One of the places he would most likely turn to would be to what we refer to as the Old Testament.
One passage that would have been familiar to Jesus would have been Psalm 139. It’s a great chapter about God’s providential care of King David.
It starts with David recognizing that God is always with him. You’ll find phrases such as …
- You know when I sit and when I rise
- You are familiar with all my ways.
- Where can I go from your Spirit?
- Where can I flee from your presence?
In other words, there was never a time when God had left David alone. Why does God know David so well? It started in the prenatal days …
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. — Psalm 139:13
David is describing a God who is hands-on, involved in the process. As creator, God also has ownership. Built into the word “created” is the idea of acquiring; in other words, as creator God is acquiring the rights to what he is creating.
If you have ever created a piece of art, you know how intensely personal it is. The same would be true for God.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. — Psalm 139:14
To be “fearfully” made is to be made with reverence. The creation of life is not simple a biological function, but also a sacred one.
We know that we have approximately 25,000 different genes. Those genes are like letters of a divine alphabet. They spell out the color of your eyes and hair, your body type – even your personality and intelligence are influenced by genes.
Even without a knowledge of DNA, David knew we are fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of God!
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. — Psalm 139:15
Throughout the Old Testament, the phrase “secret place” was used to describe a shelter or place of protection. David is saying that he was made in a place of shelter and protection — that is, in the womb.
While the womb might be a secret place, it’s also a very active place – God is weaving us together. It literally means “skillfully weaving.” To weave or knit is a very hands-on process.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. — Psalm 139:16
This is important to remember: What happens at conception has never happened before. What is produced at conception has never existed before.
Biologically, a unique DNA schedule is framed and formed when this new life is formed at conception.
Spiritually, we believe a new person has been created bearing the image of God and therefore has value regardless of their viability or capability.
This why for over 2,000 years the church has stood for not only the unborn but the newly born and the mentally handicapped and the elderly and infirm.
Being “pro-life” does not – and should not – end at birth.
How would Jesus have you respond to this issue?
Pray for the unborn and their mothers.
If we value life, then we will pray for those who have no voice and for the mothers who find themselves in difficult circumstances. Nearly half of all abortions are performed on women who live at or below the poverty line. For most of us who live in middle-to-upper class neighborhoods, it’s easy for us to say what we would or would not do in a similar circumstances. But the truth is, we don’t live in similar circumstances and need to take prayer seriously.
While it’s important to pray, it’s also important to take action and I’m not talking about protesting or carrying signs. I’m talking about very practical steps such as fostering or adopting. In some cases, it might even mean opening your home to a young girl who has no where else to go.
Another way to get involved is by serving with and donating to places such as crisis pregnancy centers.
Men, women don’t get pregnant without some male contribution. God has given you the power to love and to cherish and to treasure a woman and to bring life into the world. That’s an extreme honor, privilege, and responsibility. We need to be teaching our young men to be responsible with their bodies.
Confess your sin and accept God’s forgiveness.
Having an abortion, encouraging an abortion, or paying for an abortion – none of these actions are beyond God’s mercy. Unfortunately, the tone coming from the church sometimes conveys the idea that is — but it’s not.
My prayer is that people of faith will help create a culture that values life — all life.