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Jesus Loves the (Unborn) Children

Within the past couple of months, the conversation over abortion in America has changed forever with the scandal surrounding Planned Parenthood and their use of fetal tissue and handling of aborted babies. Through several scathing videos, both sides of the political aisle and much of the culture was left stunned by what they saw and hear. Several state and federal agencies investigated Planned Parenthood resulting in several states removing  funding. Most recently, the House of Representatives has attempted to defund Planned Parenthood which the Senate chose to block. Many companies—such as Coke, Xerox, and Ford—instructed Planned Parenthood to remove their names from the list of company donors, while other major companies—such as Avon, March of Dimes, Macy’s, and the American Cancer Society—have made it clear that they have no direct involvement in giving financial support to Planned Parenthood. Even StemExpress, the company featured on these videos, has chosen to cut ties with the company. Regardless of the national outcome, we can now say along with William Wilberforce, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.

Margaret Sanger in Woman and the New Race writes,

[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.[1]

Furthermore, in the Birth Control Review in 1932, she wrote “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”[2] In Woman, Morality, and Birth Control, Sanger absurdly writes,

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.[3]

This is sad, evil, and heartbreaking. It is certainly evidence of a Western cultural narrative that has no place for God, only radical individualism, a incurvatus in se, a life oriented towards the self rather than towards God or in service to others. It’s a revelation of how American consumerism funnels into our view of life, where lives are expendable and meaningless if they don’t somehow benefit us. This is the world we live in. So how can churches respond to this culture of death? How can we faithful live out the gospel in our communities?

1. Know the Science

For example, Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth, associate professor of medicine at Harvard University Medical School says, “[It] is scientifically correct to say that an individual life begins at conception.”[4] Furthmore, Dr. Alfred M. Bongiovanni, professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania says, “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. . . . [H]uman life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood. . . . [Any] interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”[5] Lastly, Randy Alcorn writes,

At eighteen days after conception the heart is forming and eyes start to develop. By twenty-one days the heart pumps blood throughout the body. By twenty-eight days the unborn has budding arms and legs. By thirty days [the baby] has a brain and has multiplied in size ten thousand times.

By thirty-five days her mouth, ears, and nose are taking shape. At forty days the preborn child’s brain waves can be recorded, and her heartbeat, which began three weeks earlier, can be detected by an ultrasonic stethoscope. By forty-two days [the baby’s] skeleton is formed and [their] brain is controlling the movement of muscles and organs.[6]

Science is clear—abortion ends a human life, created in the image of God. Alcorn again is helpful, arguing that as you look through Scripture, what you see is that personhood was never predicated upon “age, stage of development, or mental, physical, or social skills. Personhood is endowed by God…at the moment of conception.”[7] In Scripture, such as Lev. 18:21, Deut. 19:10, 2 Kgs. 24:3-4, Ps. 72:12-14, and Prov. 6: 16-17, we learn that God hates the shedding of innocent blood. Also, the grand narrative of Scripture shows us how God loves children and that his people should care for the orphans (Lk. 18:16, Ex 22:22; Ps 146:9; Isa 1:17; Jam 1:27). We cannot ignore or be silent about abortion.

2. Encourage Adoption

As John Piper writes, “The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. . . . It is at the heart of the gospel.” He goes on to say,

There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!

Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish [as a church]. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.

Aside from marriage, what better way to live out the gospel story? Foster a culture where adopting children is encouraged, whether orphans, from broken homes, or unexpected pregnancies. Welcome these children into a new family, with a new name, and give them unconditional love and full acceptance. Adoption is a way to display the better story of life, one under the reign of Jesus, one in which there’s no “unwanted” children. Ask God to raise up men and women who would adopt children and raise them in families who love the Lord.

3. Drive Home Hope

As children of God, we have the undeserved privilege of calling God “Father” and this God who adopted us, to paraphrase John Piper, hasn’t just brought us into his family, but has brought us into his arms. Abortion can cause shame that has lasting effects on the women. It can also cause guilt for men who stood idly by instead of taking responsibility for the life they helped create. Listen to their stories. Be slow to speak and slow to spout off stock answers. As rapper Trip Lee says, “Keep all your anecdotes and cute quotes / I’ll pass on clichés for true hopes.” When men and women who are reeling from the effects of abortion feel like they have no place to go, the church should be a place where they are welcomed with open arms.

The gospel should be a reality that changes the culture of our churches. People won’t see the gospel as good news if we don’t actually live like it really is. If Christ welcomed all sorts of sinners into his midst and welcomed prodigals and Pharisees into his family, what does that say about how our church should welcome those who are considering an abortion, have had abortions, or have performed abortions? No one is beyond the grace of God and the gospel can set people free from even the strongest bondage to sin. Lavish grace and mercy upon them and show them how, in Christ, they are not their sin. We point them to the Savior who gives rest and takes their burdens on himself (Matt. 11:28-30). To be pro-life means being pro-resurrection life as well, an eschatological life that proclaims the reign of King Jesus, a good king who will “will wipe away every tear from their eyes” and where, in his kingdom, “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.” Abortion does not have the last word. Shout hope from the rooftops.

Through God’s work of creation, the church champions being made in the image of God and the value of human life. Through the gospel, we not only maintain the value of human life, but seek to proclaim the restoration of it, even if you ended someone else’s. Let the gospel bring the healing it can, showing and proclaiming to families affected by abortions and to abortion clinic doctors and staff members that “if the Son sets free you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). And no amount of shame or guilt is too powerful for that kind of love and grace.

[1] Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New Race (Kessinger Publishing, Whitefish, MT, 2010).
[2] Margaret Sanger, “A Plan for Peace” in Birth Control Review, April 1932, 108.
[3] Margaret Sanger, Woman, Morality, and Birth Control (New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922), 12.
[4] Quoted in Randy Alcorn, Why Pro-Life?: Revised and Updated (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 2012), 14.
[5] Ibid., 13.
[6] Ibid., 17.
[7] Ibid., 132.

Chris Crane is a Th.M. student in Historical and Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. He previously served in various church ministries around Dallas, TX and in campus ministries with Dallas Baptist University. He is a freelance writer and occasional blogger at chriscrane.net. You can follow him on Twitter @cmcrane87.