The following article first appeared in Think Magazine, edited by Brad Harrub, in the year 2006. I’m thinking today of my little Ezra and how much joy he brings us at Christmas this year. He has a tiny stocking hanging from my mantel and his portrait in a ho-ho hat is above the fireplace. I’m thinking, too, of the 1.3 million or so first Christmases that will not happen this year because tiny lives. already DNA encoded, gender selected, hair color and handprints already decided, were snuffed out selfishly in a society that has disregarded the sacred nature of preborn life. Today is for the Christmas morning smiles that will not happen, the tiny people that will never wear Christmas pajamas, look with wonder at the lights on the tree or sit in Santa’s lap. They will never give a single gift, work to share joy with underprivileged people, or find their places in any humanitarian efforts. Thankfully they are safe in the arms of the Father, but those who have elected to place them there as preborn souls, have life’s blood on their hands this Christmas. May we, as a society face the truth about what that is in the womb: it is innocent human life. May we face the truth about what it is when we intentionally take that life: it is murder. So, for the babies we are missing this Christmas:
In terms of loss of life it was the most horrific day in American history. It was January 22, 1973. Little did those seven black-robed justices know that the opinions they filed on that day would result in the terminations of over 48 million pregnancies as of this month (and still counting). It happened rather quietly as lots of Supreme Court decisions have. I was thirteen years old. We had a television and access to the newspaper, but the Roe vs. Wade decision was only a relatively small news blurb on that cold winter day and it would be a couple of years before my family even began to realize the appalling implications of what had occurred in that courtroom. It was as if the blackness of that day’s events just sort of settled in over time. The darkness fell slowly. If we had known about the 47 million babies on that day, surely we would have raised our collective voices in anguish for them. If we could have foreseen that a six pound, full term baby, even one who had begun his exit from the womb, could legally be stabbed at the base of his skull and thus delivered lifeless, then surely millions of us would have been so vigilant in our protests that government officials would have been prompted to action. But the devil wanted to hide the truth on that day. Just as he has been doing since he drew Eve to the death fruit in the garden (Genesis 3:4), he continues to hide the shocking death factor that comes along with the sinful decisions we make, whether they be in the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court or in the secret chambers of our hearts.
What those seven men in black robes did that day in 1973 was unconscionable. But there is a sense in which their decision to murder the unborn on that day was not as bad as a mother’s or doctor’s decision to do so today. You see, with greater amounts of information come greater responsibility. In 1973, it was impossible to look through the window that we call ultrasound and see the unborn baby sucking her thumb. In 1973, all of the biological data had not yet conclusively confirmed that at least by the twentieth week after conception, unborn babies are fully capable of feeling pain. In 1973, I couldn’t go online and read about how that a baby’s heart starts beating at about the same time the mother may begin to suspect that she is pregnant; or how that by the time surgical abortions are performed (around the seventh week of pregnancy) the baby already has arms and legs and brain waves. Today all of this information is a click away. At least those judges were still in the dark about some of these details of human gestation. But we are without excuse. We now know. The murder of 2006 is, in this significant sense, far more premeditated. When a person knows the full implications of the procedure– that excruciating pain and ultimate death will come to an innocent life because of her choice—the act escalates to murder in the first degree.
Of course, Christians have always known the seriousness of the sin of abortion. We have taken it on faith all along, knowing that God forms in the womb (Isaiah 44:2), that He is the one Who makes the bones grow in the womb (Ecclesiastes 11:5), knits together in the womb (Psalm139:13), and that He calls the baby by the same Greek name (brephos) whether born or unborn (Luke 1:41 and Luke 2:12,16). God’s wisdom informed us of the value of life in the womb far before all of the scientific data was in. It is His wisdom, in fact, that has established absolute moral truth for all societies.
In Romans chapter one, we read about a society that had rejected God and His moral truth. They failed to give Him glory for life and its joys. They credited themselves and became vain in their imaginations (21). They rejected the wisdom of God and professed themselves to be wise (22). Finally God gave them up to uncleanness (24) and they, refusing to have God in their knowledge (28), cast off all spiritual restraint and became filled with all unrighteousness (29). The sins listed in verses 29-31 cover the gamut of immorality and are frighteningly prophetic of our modern America. In the middle of that list of vile behaviors, the scriptures say that the people were without natural affection. The ESV renders the phrase heartless. What does it mean to be without natural affection or heartless?
It is difficult for me to imagine an affection more natural than that of a mother toward her child. It is instinctive. No one had to come into my hospital room when my children were born and give me lessons on hugging and cuddling my children. It is motivating– strong enough to make me risk my life at any moment for their safety. It is enduring. Nothing they can do can make me stop loving them. It is words, hugs, smiles, spankings and stories. It’s holding hands, wiping noses, butterfly kisses and cheering in the stands. It’s a thousand things every day that nobody ever taught me to do. It is natural affection. It is affection that was planted by a Creator. It is only when we as a society refuse to have God in our knowledge that we can possibly find it in ourselves to be heartless toward the fruit of our own wombs.
Our amazing God, in counseling Job, mentioned the mother ostrich (Job 39:13-16). He says that she leaves her eggs in the earth and warms them in the dust. He says she forgets that the foot might crush them or that the wild beast might break them. He says she is hardened against her young ones just as if they were not even her own. And then He gives the reason for Mama Ostrich’s hard heart:
Because God has deprived her of wisdom, neither has he imparted to her understanding. Job 39:17.
But I am not an ostrich. God has imparted to me wisdom and understanding. He has given me a heart and a conscience. He has given me His will for my life. He has, in giving me these blessings, set me apart from the animal kingdom and given my human life inherent and eternal value. He formed those inward parts of me in the womb. They are the same inward parts that he is still forming in wombs.
One day recently, while speaking with a crisis pregnancy counselor in Montgomery, Alabama, she related this phenomenon to me. She said that many young girls come in determined to abort their babies. Sadly many leave with that same determination. In this particular center, each expectant mother is offered a tiny pair of baby booties. These booties, knitted by volunteers, are just the right size for the tiny feet and toes already beginning to form in the womb of the young girl. The young girl listens and understands that her baby’s DNA code and all genetic characteristics are already determined. Its sex, hair color, eye color and even the shape of those tiny toes that will soon be big enough for those booties has already been set. She hears that all her baby needs now to be healthy at birth is nutrition. Then the booties are placed in the young girl’s hand. If the girl leaves the office with those tiny blue or pink booties in hand, the odds are overwhelmingly favorable that she will carry that baby to term. If she refuses the booties, she will likely choose to abort the baby. Why is this true?
God has given each mother a heart of natural affection. It is to this heart that the booties are appealing. The booties are a tangible test to see if that heart has been so hardened against the wisdom of God that it no longer responds to the plea of the life within her. Often the moment the little shoes are offered is the moment of truth. Will she respond with natural affection or has that heart been hardened and replaced by a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28)? The woman who walks out that door empty handed usually proceeds to the abortion clinic. There an innocent human life is taken. Romans one concludes by saying that those who commit such things are worthy of death.
The blackness of January 22,1973 has settled. We now understand its implications. We mourn the loss of 48 million babies. May we, who walk in the light, raise our voices in prayer and to our legislators in behalf of the innocent, silent ones whose lives are endangered in wombs of those who walk in darkness.
“Abortion in the United States: Trends and Statistics” (2004), [On-line], URL:http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstatistics.html.
Anand, Kanwaljeet S., Expert Report on Fetal Pain to U.S. Federal Court reviewing the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, (2003) [On-Line], URL:http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/Fetal_Pain/index.html
“Defining Abortion,” (no date), [On-Line], URL:http://www.nrlc.org/asmf3.html.