Why we are pro-life
    January 9 2018 by J.D. Greear, Guest Column

    How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:2-4 ESV).
     
    Jan. 19, in Washington, D.C., thousands upon thousands of people will participate in the March for Life, the largest pro-life rally in the world. The march is built on the conviction that unborn babies are made in the image of God, and as such, deserve the rights God has given to all people.
     
    I want to outline here the two key reasons why we – pro-life advocates in general and The Summit Church specifically – believe this, and why we take it seriously. Then, I want to address some of the “red herrings” in the discussion. Finally, I want to offer a word of hope to you, wherever you stand on the issue and whatever your background. All of this is meant to serve and love both the unborn and those of you who have abortion as part of your story.
     
    To state it as simply as I can, we believe the unborn are humans worthy of protection.
     
    Here are two reasons:
     

    1. Science and logic

    Scientifically, the human embryo, from the point of conception forward, is already a whole human entity. As Maureen Condic, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah, states, “Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances.”
     
    This isn’t a minority opinion, either. Every science textbook recognizes human embryos are not merely an extension of the woman or “collections of cells” but rather independent human beings. If they are not “human,” what else could they be?
     
    Scott Klusendorf points out that many of the distinctions made to imply the unborn are not “human” enough fail to stand against even the slightest application of logical consistency. He uses a SLED acronym to show the inconsistencies of saying unborn babies are not people yet, with each letter standing for an idea pro-choice advocates use to deprive the unborn of their humanity:

    • S: Size. Yes, you were much smaller as an embryo, but since when does body size determine value?
    • L: Level of development. You were less developed as an embryo, but infants are less developed than teenagers. Do infants have less value? Of course not.
    • E: Environment. Where you are has no bearing on what you are. Does an eight-inch journey through the birth canal change the essential value of the unborn?
    • D: Degree of dependency. Sometimes pro-choice advocates say unborn babies rely on their mothers for survival. But does dependence make a person un-human? People with disabilities have a higher degree of dependency, so do the elderly. Humans are humans not by their function, but by their nature.

     

    2. Scripture

    For Christians there can be no doubt the unborn are full persons. Bible writers consistently refer to unborn babies in this way. King David says God knew him before he was born: “You [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Or take John the Baptist, who was filled with the Spirit in his mother’s womb. Not only was he alive, but God was also dwelling within him. And consider this: The Hebrew word for “child” is the same, whether referring to children outside or inside the womb.
     
    The Bible teaches that all human beings are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9) and the intentional killing of innocent people is forbidden (Exodus 23:7; Proverbs 6:16-19). Intentionally killing any innocent human made in the image of God is an assault on God himself (Genesis 9:1-5).
    Yet, nearly two-thirds of the women getting abortions say they are Christians!
     

    Red herrings

    The abortion debate should hinge on one question: Are the unborn human or not? If not, then you don’t need much reasoning for abortion. But if they are, then the reasoning behind the pro-choice position falls apart.
     
    Any other arguments become “red herrings,” distractions that are not relevant. (A red herring is a fish that has been brined until it turns red, which makes it smell particularly odorous. The origin of the term is a helpful metaphor: The story goes that a person might be able to use the scent of the fish to distract hunting dogs, which would lose their trail.)
     
    Here are some of the most common red herrings used in the discussion about abortion:
     

    A. If you’re so pro-life, why do you only care about babies before they’re born?

    This comes in a variety of forms, but the basic implication is that those who are pro-life are hypocritically so: They don’t want women aborting babies, but they also won’t do anything to help those women or babies after birth.
     
    For example, pro-choice advocates might say: “Are you willing to adopt all these unwanted kids you don’t want aborted?” The charge is carefully engineered, but it is both a logical fallacy and inconsistent with facts about pro-life advocates.
     
    Logically, this is an ad hominem argument. It’s an attack on pro-life advocates, not on the pro-life view. These objections are carefully engineered to silence pro-life advocates, because who ever feels that they have done enough for women and children? If you imply people are not truly loving, the honest person will say, “You’re right. I could do more.” That’s the power of the “argument.” But remember, it’s not an argument. It’s an attack. The question of the humanity of the baby isn’t even addressed.
     
    The charge diverts discussion away from logical reasoning to moral judgmentalism, and it also misrepresents the facts. Pro-life Christians do care, and not just in a don’t-get-abortions kind of way.
    Pro-life pregnancy centers, for instance, outnumber abortion clinics two-to-one. They provide parenting classes, clothing and adoption services. Pro-lifers adopt more often than pro-choicers. And they give far more to charity than their pro-choice counterparts.
     
    We want to promote a culture of life, and that means caring about life from womb to tomb. So, if we aren’t caring for the poor and needy and marginalized among us, we need to repent. But that should never lead us to stop caring and fighting for the protection of the vulnerable and voiceless unborn.
     

    B. Only women can speak on this issue.

    This is often hurled at male pro-life advocates because the discussion touches on issues affecting women’s bodies. But again, this is a logical fallacy: Whether it is right or wrong to intentionally kill someone depends on the person being killed, not the gender of the person making the argument. Remember, the central question is, “Is the unborn one of us?”
     
    Maybe an even more appropriate response is to ask, “Which women?” What about the women who are aborted? Or the millions of pro-life women? Women do not have a single position on this issue. And, in fact, statistics show women are more pro-life than men.
     

    C. Shouldn’t we spend more time speaking out against the poverty system that creates the need for abortions?

    As with most red herrings, there’s an element of truth here. Yes, we should work to fight the poverty that can create despair which makes abortion feel necessary. But whether or not abortion is wrong is not contingent on the environment surrounding it.
     
    Imagine a Southern slave owner explaining why the economic system Northerners created demanded slavery. Even if it were true, the practice of slavery was wrong anyway.
     
    If we truly love people, we should do everything in our power to help them. So we speak out against poverty and abortion. It’s not an either-or decision.
     

    D. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one!

    We’re not talking about preferences; we’re talking about lives. I don’t oppose abortion because it violates a preference; I’m opposed because I believe it ends human life.
     
    To imagine how absurd this statement is, change the variables in it: What if someone said, “Don’t like slavery? Well, don’t own a slave!” or “Don’t like sexual assault? Don’t do it!” Pretty insensitive, right?

    E. I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I don’t think we should overturn Roe v. Wade.

    This statement is similar to the one above. It’s often offered on college campuses with good intentions, but abortion either deprives an innocent human being made in the image of God of life or it doesn’t.
     
    The questions here are: Why are you personally against abortion? Is it because you know it is the wrongful taking of human life? If that’s what you think, are you really willing to sit back and do nothing while innocent people are murdered?
     

    F. Abortion needs to be legal so that it’s safe for mothers.

    The narrative surrounding abortion rights goes something like this: Back in the 1970s, women were dying by the thousands in back-alley abortions. Then Roe v. Wade happened, and now women are much safer. They’re going to do it either way, so we might as well make it safe.
     
    The truth is that maternal death had been in steady decline – from 7,267 to 780 – in the years between 1942 and 1972. Of those 780 deaths, 140 were related to abortion (though that also included spontaneous abortions caused by miscarriage).
     
    So the idea that abortion was overwhelmingly common – but dangerous – simply isn’t true. What we can be sure of is that the death rate for babies in abortion procedures is 100 percent.
     

    G. What about situations of rape or incest?

    The number of pregnancies arising from tragic instances of rape or incest may be small, but they are nonetheless painful. Our hearts go out to anyone in this situation.
     
    For you, we recognize this is heart-rending. We grieve with you. The core of this question is about our response to pain and tragedy.
     
    A woman in this situation may be saying, “This baby came to be through the most horrific event of my life. Why should I be forced to bear the burden of something that only reminds me of that pain?”
     
    The answer, in brief, is twofold: First, it is actually not healing for the mother to pursue abortion. When faced with tragedy, the most healing path forward is not to push away any evidence of the pain. It is to bring that pain to God, allowing him to heal us. We’ll address that more in a moment.
     
    Second, this objection, like the others, shifts the terms of the debate. We aren’t debating whether rape is heinous. We agree it is and that it leaves deeply wounded victims. But is the child at fault for how he or she came into existence?
     
    How do we, as a civil society, treat innocent human beings that remind us of painful events? We don’t help anyone by harming one human simply because he reminds us of another human’s sin. The question, once again, hinges on whether the unborn are human or not.
     

    H. I have a right to my body.

    No one is arguing against that.
     
    What we ask is whether your right to your body includes taking the life of another body for the sake of convenience? Aren’t there competing rights at stake? What about the rights of the unborn child?
     
    Advocates of slavery doubled down on their position with similar reasoning in The Dred Scott Decision of 1857. They admitted that slaves had a right to freedom. But they also argued that slave owners had a right to their property. The justices in the Dred Scott case reasoned, tragically, that property rights superseded the rights of slaves to freedom.
     
    In the question of abortion, we also have competing rights – the right to privacy and the right to life. Are we going to follow Dred Scott and reduce people to property that can be disposed?
     
    Where do we go from here?
     
    Our efforts to defend the life of the unborn need to move beyond mere statistics; we must recognize how abortion deeply scars all involved. I read a piece recently by a woman who marched in support of abortion rights in 1973 and had an abortion a few years later. She admits that her decision has haunted her for 30 years. She writes: “It certainly does make more sense not to be having a baby right now – we say that to each other all the time. But I have this ghost now. A very little ghost that only appears when I’m seeing something beautiful, like the full moon on the ocean last weekend. And the baby waves at me. And I wave back at the baby. ‘Of course, we have room,’ I cry to the ghost. ‘Of course we do.’”
     
    Abortion leaves victims. Not only the child, deprived of life, but often the woman, who can’t escape the regret of the decision.
     
    To those of you with abortion in your past: we know you are hurting. We don’t want to make it any harder; we simply want to prevent others from enduring the same pain.
     
    If abortion is part of your story, you need to know we serve a Savior who died so he could make us whiter than snow and whose resurrection has the power to restore beauty from ashes.
     
    Each one of us, on some level, has dismissed the value of human life. We may have had different ways of doing it, but we’ve elevated our desires over the life of another. Furthermore, the entire human race rejected and murdered Jesus, yet through that murder, God brought salvation and restoration.
     
    Because of that, there is no tragedy, no mistake, that He cannot redeem, no sin that He will not forgive. Through the victory of His resurrection, He can make all things new. None of us needs to live a second longer trapped in the past.
     
    If you’ve had an abortion, your baby is with Jesus today. Both Jesus and that baby forgive you, if you will receive it.
     
    To pro-life advocates: Jesus’ redemption should forever change our attitude toward those who are hurting. It shows our dignity. The value you place on something is shown by what you’ll give up for it. We were so valuable to Jesus He gave up His life to redeem us. Furthermore, it shows us our responsibility to those who are hurting. If anyone ever had the right to terminate another human being, it was Jesus.
     
    Instead, He willingly let himself be terminated in order to restore God’s image in us.
     
    Jesus looked at the ruins of our lives, and he saw the potential for glory. He beheld despair, and brought hope. He saw our tragedy, and he came to our rescue. If we’re following Jesus, reaching out in mercy will characterize our lives, too.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE – The full version of this article originally appeared at jdgreear.com. It has been edited for length and clarity. Used by permission.)
     

    1/9/2018 9:26:17 AM by J.D. Greear, Guest Column | with 0 comments




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