Abortion Part 2:

Change for Right Decisions

Edited by Drew Friesen

Photo Courtesy of Larry Crayton 

By Anderson Hultgren

Published October 1st, 2020

            In the first part of this two-part article we discussed the nuanced reception and presentation of the abortion debate. Looking at the statistics, I argued that the debate is far more diverse than simply ProLife or ProChoice, and that if the ProLife movement wishes to sway culture by way of legality, they have to overcome specific obstacles. Three obstacles are legal-illiteracy, miscategorization, and public image. In this second half, we will wade through the traumatic affect abortion has had on its practitioners. Following, we will formulate a biblical approach for the ProLife movement.

Abortion Testimonials

            Addressing ProLife’s obstacles will not be quick nor easy. One needed step is to listen to the other side, leading by example. If we wish to combat “arguing with phantoms”[1] we must understand the rational and hear the experiences of those who have experienced abortion. If one of the ProLife’s obstacles is public image, we must first hear how the public perceives ProLife.

            In research and personal experience, I have heard many abortion accounts. I have seen fearless men drowning in tears for paying the $700 and witnessed honest women who have shamefully kept the nightmarish experience a secret.[2] Every account is draped with trauma. This is true on all sides of the debate. After having an abortion, a ProChoice woman described, “For a month after, I’d weep at anything, even a toothpaste commercial. I Googled it—my hormones were wonky. Even when I felt I made the right choice, I regretted having anything to regret.”[3] Even Norma McCorvery (the woman from the Roe v Wade case) regretted her ProChoice stance years later.[4] No matter our stance, abortion is indeed a traumatizing event.

            How are the traumatized greeted from the ProLife movement? Zealous ProLife activists greet their opposition with judgmental screams and graphic images outside of clinics, while loved ones distant, abandon, and excommunicate. In both the immediate and the removed, ProLife judgement is too often adjudicated with criminality in mind, not care. Some respond to the strong arming activists, recalling, “The picketers met us at the car with disgusting pictures. I was quite emotional, but I was so scared that if I showed any emotions, they wouldn’t let me do it.”[5] Another recalled, “Truly pro-life people should go light on the judgment, because shame motivates abortions.”[6] Even when the abortion is hidden, ProLifers carelessly state their ProLife opinion in a harsh, blatant, and sharp manner. The irony with the ProLife movement is that though they value life, they are quick to stone the sinner. There must be a better way to approach the sinner and address the sin.

The Biblical Argument

            The Biblical argument against abortion has been well documented elsewhere. Many accurately cite, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." (Jer. 1:5 ESV). Others cite the personed and vocationed Jesus and John in the womb.[7] As I have nothing new to add to the biblically sound teaching on the issue, I have left several articles in the footnotes under ‘Further Reading.’ What I can offer, however, is a loving approach for believers to employ with those who have been thrown within the whirlwind of the abortion debate, specifically with those who have previously had an abortion.

            Where some have used cultural shame to spread belief, it is ultimately divisive. Others appealed to conserving tradition, but too many have been marginalized by another’s tradition, discrediting tradition’s image (even if it is correct). The most common approach is through political power, yet few understand the nuanced American opinion, nor the accuracy needed for a law to be made.[8] In the end, each approach judges without God’s standard of judgement. In an attempt to “judge with right judgment” (Jn. 7:24) we must look to the Bible’s standard of judgement.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.

- John 8:3-11

            In this passage, Jesus judged the adulterous woman primarily with love and embrace. His first step was to stop the condemnation from the religious leaders, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (8:7). Jesus knew that mercy was a more proficient response to her sin. Secondly, He addressed her sin through encouragement, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (8:11). The order of the two was the most effective way to allow the woman an opportunity to repent.

            Those who value swift justice may think this approach too slow. However, the Bible would disagree. God is the standard for how we judge rightly. Our perception is too limited to judge “by appearances,” instead we are commanded to “judge with right judgment” (Jn. 7:24). Though God is the Judge of the world,[9] He is also “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). Though Christ will return and judge the world, He is “… not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Likewise, our judgement should apply the Bible’s ‘slow’ and merciful approach to judgement. In our judging, we are called to allow room for repentance, as Jesus did to the adulterous woman. When we judge by any other standard, we are sinning against God and neighbor.

            The ProLife movement has been grabbing verbal stones, ready to condemn those who appear as ProChoice. When we see the sin as primary to the sinner, we take a brutish approach that abandons mercy, leaving no room for repentance. When we marry biblical morality with culture, traditions, or the pursuit of power we create division—demonizing our opposers and abandoning the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:34-40). Followers of Christ must address the sin justly. When looking how to address abortion and our politics, we must remember those who have suffered because of it (the parents of the unborn, the unborn themselves, and their surrounding community). We must learn how to address politics in a loving way. We must give room for repentance—approach with love like Jesus did to us. If you have been unloving to the sinner, you are not condemned. From now on, sin no more.[10]

________________________

Footnotes:

            [1] James Davison Hunter, "What Americans Really Think About Abortion" First Things (Vol. 24, 1992), 15; Accessed Sep. 2, 2020: https://www.firstthings.com/article/1992/06/what-americans-really-think-about-abortion.

            [2] Meaghan Winter, “My Abortion” New York Magazine (Nov. 8, 2013, online), Accessed Sep. 13, 2020: https://nymag.com/news/features/abortion-stories-2013-11/

            [3] Ibid., “Monica, 30 New York, 2007”

            [4] Fr. Frank Pavone, "Thoughts from Fr. Frank Pavone on the Norma McCorvey Documentary" Priests For Life (Online) Accessed Sep. 8,2020: https://www.priestsforlife.org/norma/documentary.aspx.

            [5] Winter, “Red, 30 Pennsylvania, 2008”

            [6] Ibid., “Heather, 32 Tennessee, 2011 and 2013”

            [7] Lk. 1:13, 30-33, 41-44; Michael J. Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church: Christian, Jewish & Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1982) 51-52; William S. Kurz "Genesis and Abortion: An Exegetical Test of a Biblical Warrant in Ethics." Theological Studies (47, 1996), 668-680; Gorman quotes church history, “Clement records that this write’s proofs that the embryo is alive are the references in Luke 1 to John the Baptist and Jesus in their mother’s wombs. He makes particular use of Luke 1:41: “And when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb.” Though the writer focuses on the Baptist and does not even mention abortion, he laid the groundwork for subsequent theological links between abortion and the Incarnation.” Likewise, Kurtz continues Clement's argument through the rest of Luke 1. John was personed and vocational positioned before his earthly father even saw evidence of a pregnancy (Lk. 1:13-18), Jesus' personhood was spoken of prior to conception (1:30-33), and there was communication between the unborn two (1:43-44).

            [8] For instance, the legal and medical definitions of abortion include miscarriages and induced labor. If a law were to be made, it would have to be specific enough to allow for accidental miscarriages and address the ethicacy of induced labor.

            [9] Is. 33:22; Acts 17:31; Jn. 5:22; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15

 

Further Reading:

            For non-academic articles on the Bible’s stance on abortion:

                        Got Questions on Abortion:

                                    https://www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html

                                    https://www.gotquestions.org/life-begin-conception.html

                                    https://www.gotquestions.org/is-abortion-murder.html

                        Billy Graham on Abortion:

                                    https://billygraham.org/story/billy-grahams-answers-on-abortion/

                        Christianity.com on Abortion:

                                    https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-life/the-bible-say-

                                    about-abortion.html

            For a philosophical argument against abortion See John Langan, "Observations on Abortion and Politics" America The Jesuit Review (online, Oct. 25 2004) Accessed Sep. 6, 2020: https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/501/article/observations-abortion-and-politics.

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