Even tragic anniversaries need to be acknowledged.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. It's an anniversary for which we evangelicals mourn, while militant feminists gloat. During the past 40 years, tens of millions of murders have been committed in the one place God designed for life to be at its most nurtured: the womb.
After all this carnage, there's not much more that can be said or argued about - regarding either the court's ruling, or abortion in general - that hasn't already been said and argued.
Either you believe that all human life is worth protecting, whether it can walk, talk, and breathe on its own, or not. Or you believe that only human life that is convenient has value.
No matter what you personally believe about abortion, or how much wiggle room you like to think you have on this subject, these two options are what this debate boils down to.
Pro-life advocates may not be able to definitively pinpoint to a pro-choice advocate's satisfaction the point at which life actually begins, but science is increasingly proving that it begins a lot earlier than pro-choicers want to claim. And even if science can't currently convince skeptics that conception is the start of human life, the viability factor of a fetus' ability to survive outside of its mother's womb should by itself be enough to secure recognition as something worthy of greater dignity than murder.
Civil Liberty for Whom?
Yet for those who don't want to admit that their sexual activity has produced its biological intent, ignoring science under the guise of civil liberties becomes a convenient crutch, especially since women who can walk, talk, and breathe on their own have a far greater ability to advocate on their own misguided behalf, and cut off the dialog given by pro-lifers on behalf of those who can't yet walk, talk, and breathe on their own.
Killing those within a society who can't advocate on their own behalf is not new. World history is replete with infanticide and it's generational parallel, elder abuse. Contrasted with such barbarism, it's been relatively easy for pro-choicers to cloak their own murderous deceit in a charade of human rights for women. "Choice," after all, is liberalism's catch-word for liberty (except when it comes to education), and what's more American than liberty?
So we've de-criminalized murder in cases where a woman can claim she deserves a sexual do-over. While legalizing anything that's wrong doesn't make it right, many Americans have deluded themselves into hoping that there's enough rape, incest, and medical challenges to a pregnant woman's life to justify blanket amnesty for the vast majority of women who simply want to erase the product of a moment of passion they've reconsidered in the light of practicality.
Maybe this is what freedom has come to be redefined as: the ability to be released from responsibility, accountability, and authority. The liberty and equality pro-choicers claim is theirs through abortion is based on a worldview in which personal integrity is a relative concept, discernible more through a lens of satisfaction than sacrifice.
Can We Ignore the Pleasure Principle?
If that is indeed the case, however, then might it not just be abortion advocates who've stumbled into a myopic abyss of carnality? Fun and pleasure represent goals for America's evangelicals, too, only under the guise of enjoying God's vast creation. Increasingly, we Americans spend a lot of our resources on ourselves, while pegging our generosity towards others on stingy societal norms or ostensibly churchy percentages. The verse teaching us that "it's better to give than to receive" is treated more like an old wives' tale than a prescription for genuine "fun" and "pleasure" being found in joyful service to others.
After all, God indeed wants us to enjoy the things He's created for us. But might we have deluded ourselves into ascribing for ourselves permission to acquire a preponderance of ownership over God's creation at the expense of sharing those things with those less able to dominate the acquisition process? In other words, might we have bought into a worldly, hedonistic system where selfishness and hoarding is perfectly acceptable in terms of deriving enjoyment out of life?
"Wait a minute," you may be saying; "this is supposed to be about the evils of abortion, not the sins of God's people! What right do you have to go telling me I'm having too much fun?"
The thing about fun is this: statistics say that 95% of abortions are for convenience, which means the fetus being terminated is the product of unwise, irresponsible sexual activity. In other words, the parents were having too much fun to think about the parenthood they were on the brink of christening. With righteous anger, we evangelicals decry abortion as the taking of life, but before we spit out vitriol at those who participate in this court-sanctioned homicide, let's not forget Christ's warning about casting the first stone.
Or maybe I'm the only one with a warped interpretation of how we're to enjoy God's blessings to us.
Even if I am, I can console myself with the fact that even though I may waste God's blessings, and take them for granted, I still have the Holy Spirit living in me to help encourage, teach, support, cheer, and pacify me. How easy it becomes, then, to forget how utterly miserable those people must be who don't know Christ and who aren't indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Chasing after wealth, significance, happiness, pleasure, and fun through mortal means are all they can do to scratch any meaning and energy out of the life they think they can control.
Aren't Varying Degrees of Sexual Perversion All Still Sin?
Sex, of course, represents one of God's most misunderstood blessings. It's also one of the easiest ways for people whose morality is otherwise contrived to lunge at the mirage of fun. Since sex is a biological process, it's easily explained as something we're compelled to do. We can't penalize a woman for her sexual activity since she's the one biology has arbitrarily assigned with the birthing role. She has as much right to sexual pleasure as a man does. Abortion simply removes the double-standard nature has apparently left unresolved between the genders.
If morality is going to be the argument we evangelicals use to dissuade women from pursuing abortions, perhaps our argument would be more persuasive if we admitted the extent the pleasure principle plays not only in sexual activity, but in the pursuits of significance, fun, and contentment in which we all engage.
After all, the sin of murder by abortion carries the same penalty in God's eyes as our own wasteful mismanagement of the resources - including, yes, our sexuality - He's given each of us. It's just that the results of our sins can look quite a bit different in our eyes than the results of abortion.
Just because most of us evangelicals haven't had an abortion, or don't know of anybody who's had one, we tend to smugly demarcate this debate between upright pro-lifers and evil pro-choicers. And in the narrow view of the sin of murder, for all practical purposes, this is an accurate clarification.
However, to the extent that we find arguing over the issue and demonizing those of opposing views from ours as being easier, more gratifying, and more practical than anything else we can do about it, how do we honor God?
How much compassion do we have for the women who are being falsely instructed that they don't have a moral choice, but a practical one? How complicit are we in endorsing the pleasure principle in our society? How far do we go in allowing sexuality, sexual suggestion and imagery, lust, and adultery to enjoy dalliances - however fleeting - in our consciousness? It's not like unwanted pregnancies always come from out of the blue. Most of the time, there is a series of sexual perversions that come to pass before an abortion is contemplated.
Of course, those sexual perversions are perverse more often in God's eyes than ours, aren't they?
Writing In the Dirt
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that our own sexual sin makes us responsible for somebody else's. Or that our rates of adultery, teenaged pregnancy, and other sexual perversions within America's churched culture invalidate our collective stance against abortion.
To a certain degree, unfortunately, our own sins will discredit our testimony as being salt and light in our society. But we have been granted grace through Christ. The life we live in the flesh - including our advocacy for the unborn - we live by faith in Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is our hope, and the hope we should be demonstrating to the killers of unborn children all around us.
In a way, the battle over abortion isn't just between good and evil, but love and hate. Perhaps the legislation, agitation, and advocacy we've waged to protect unborn life for the past 40 years - some of which has been more successful than others - has been used by God in ways we haven't been able to see. But just as God sees our battle with perfect perspective, He also sees our individual hearts, and He knows whether we love our enemies or hate them. He knows whether we love our own private sexual immorality, or whether we hate it and grieve over it.
Some ardent pro-lifers, if abortion were ever made illegal again, would like to see women who still procure one tried and punished for murder, since that's what we're saying it is even today as it's legal. But Christ, when the crowd brought the woman accused of adultery and they wanted to stone her to death, simply bent over, wrote in the dirt, and forgave her when her accusers were shamed into silence.
As we continue to work to overthrow Roe v. Wade, let's not forget how Christ bent over and wrote in the dirt. We can't pardon those who advocate for abortion, but Christ can.
Just as He has pardoned us.