January 21, 2007
By Alan Dowd
Every January marks another grim anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that opened the door to abortion on demand in the United States. Since 1973, tens of millions of abortions have been performed in this land where all of us are “created equal” and endowed by God with the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We hit our high point—or perhaps more accurately, our low point—in 1990, when America aborted 1.4 million unborn children. After falling below a million in 1998, we seem to be plateauing in the 850,000 range. But at a rate of 2,300 abortions a day, it’s hard to characterize this as good news.
The loss of so many innocents saddens us. The indifference of so many of our countrymen angers us. And anniversaries like this have a way of numbing us and even validating our inertia. Like me, perhaps you wonder, “How can I stop something so big?”The answer is deflating, depressing and demoralizing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, it can’t be. Our country cannot limp along in this half-life forever.
Breath of Life
The first thing we have to do to end this scourge is believe that it can be ended. Roe will not die if people of faith believe in its permanency more than in God’s power. He has changed hearts and minds before, and He will do it again. But we must cry out to Him for help and believe in Him for an answer.
Consider the desperate plight of His people in Egypt, where baby boys were killed by order of Pharaoh. According to the Exodus account, God heard the groaning of His people, remembered His covenant with Abraham, rescued the innocent and ended the killing. Yet He did this in His own time.
We have the right to call upon heaven to help us—and the responsibility to intercede for our land. “The real business of your life as a saved soul,” as Oswald Chambers wrote a century ago, “is intercessory prayer.” As God promised many centuries earlier, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
No matter how long it takes, we should pray daily for the unborn and their families, for mothers on the edge, for selfish fathers, for embarrassed grandparents. We should ask God to change the hearts of lawmakers and judges, doctors and clinic workers. And we should pray for ourselves—for being alive, for hearts that have compassion, for opportunities to stand up for life, for lives that reflect what we believe.
Indeed, we Christians often talk about “the sanctity of life,” but do we really believe human life is something holy and sacred, something touched by the Divine? We should, and Scripture shows us why:
Because God created life
The explanations in Genesis and John are at once profound and simple. God decided to create man in His image, and to bless His greatest creation with a part of Himself—“the breath of life.” In other words, that most essential thing for human life—breath—comes from Him. “Through Him all things were made,” as John explains, “without Him nothing was made.”
David, Solomon and Paul add more detail to the picture. According to David, God actually knits us together in the womb. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” he concludes in almost-breathless words. Solomon explains that God puts eternity in our hearts. Paul points to the conscience as evidence that God’s law is written on every heart.
Because God entered into life
Not only did God breathe our first breath, He became Immanuel, “God with us.” He actually entered into our humanness. By becoming one of the created, He made an unequivocal statement about the sacredness of His greatest creation.
Because God is synonymous with life
Jesus equates Himself with life. “I am the way, the truth and the life,” He proclaims. Just as earthly life comes from God, so does eternal life. In fact, through Jesus, we are invited to be “born again”—born into the life Adam threw away.
One at a Time
Believing in God’s power, praying for His intervention and embracing the sacredness of life are only the first steps. As the Proverbs instruct, we also need to act when it is in our power to act. Our inability to pull the plug on Roe in a single day does not give us license to give up.
In a mysterious way, Jesus’ example is instructive here. During His time on earth, as in our own, terrible injustice reigned. And we know He didn’t put a stop to all of it. That was simply not His mission during His first coming. But we also know that He acted against darkness, selfishness and brokenness when He encountered them.
For instance, demons tormented people long before Jesus cast them out; the blind and mute stumbled about with their handicaps long before His path crossed theirs; Lazarus died before Jesus arrived; the masses were hungry before His mountainside miracle; the thirsty woman and her town needed water long before He told them about the abundant life; Pilate played with the truth like it was clay long before (and probably long after) his encounter with the Truth.
In a breathtaking and stunning expression of His humanity, Jesus pushed back against this darkness not with a sweep of His hand across time and space, but one person at a time. In the same way, the fact that we cannot end abortion tomorrow with a snap of our fingers, does not absolve us from pushing back against the darkness.
So what does this look like? It’s much more than simply voting for pro-life politicians or participating in right-to-life rallies. Although these have their place and purpose, they may not have the impact we pray for.
-For some of us, pushing back against the darkness might mean standing up at work. A man I know sells medical supplies. When he found out that his company was selling an instrument that had but one, awful purpose—to speed the work of abortionists—he told his boss he would not sell the instrument, and then he went a step further: He told his boss the company should no longer sell it. His boss agreed. But it wasn’t too long before the man was out of a job.
One can imagine people in many vocations—health professionals and pharmacists, accountants and bankers, judges and lawyers, fundraisers and foundation executives—taking a similar stand for life.
-Of course, it doesn’t always have to come down to an all-or-nothing showdown with a boss. Many of us work at places that allow a percentage of each paycheck to be donated to some designated charity. Check to see if that designated charitable organization gives any of its resources to Planned Parenthood or other groups that use euphemism to cloak what they do.
-While you’re at it, check out the growing number of organizations that intervene in crisis pregnancies and help young women make the right the decision. Crisis pregnancy groups in my area accept donations of money, diapers, baby food, clothes and especially time. They need people to listen to women in crisis. They need people to anonymously adopt families in crisis. And heaven knows America’s unborn children need these groups to rescue them from Roe.
A woman I know was part of such a rescue. She befriended an unwed mother who was planning to have an abortion. With no money, not much of a job, no real family, and no hope, the girl felt like she had no choice. But because someone cared and offered to help, she found that there was hope. She had her baby, and she kept her baby. It’s been almost twenty years since I last saw the happy mother and daughter, so I don’t know where they are today. I don’t know how hard or easy their lives have been, but something tells me they’re both thankful that they have known and lived life together.
-Of course, for some of us, pushing back against the darkness may mean adopting one of Roe’s would-be victims. Paul reminds us that adoption is the way God brings us into His family. In other words, it is a powerful expression of love. In our age, it is also a tangible blow against Roe, one that has incalculable consequences in the here-and-now and the hereafter.
A New Year
It’s easier and far less painful to focus our energies on something other than abortion. Don’t let that happen this year. Don’t succumb to the temptation to put this tragedy out of your head. Instead, mourn over it. Pray about it. And ask God what part you can play in ending it.