I am guilty of abortion.
I've never walked into an abortion clinic. I would never consider letting a doctor take the life of my unborn child, but I am guilty of putting my own desires before God's and before another human.
One day I fell into a pit of fear—gut-clenching panic, a debilitating numbness in my limbs, stark terror rushing through my brain. I checked and rechecked the test strip in my hands before finally assuring myself that it was all right. I wasn't pregnant.
But if I had been?
A kid would cramp my style. It would change the life I've made for myself: a comfortable, good life. I have a husband who loves me, friends, work, and social engagements, and it would all be ruined by a child.
Ruined. That's the word I've used.
"You have heard it said . . . ."
Reading the Sermon on the Mount, I'm struck by the way Jesus aims at the root of sin. We think we are so holy for following the Ten Commandments, keeping to the straight and narrow path, and then he shatters our self-righteousness with words like this:
Don't just avoid muder—
kill your anger and reconcile quickly.
Don't just stop short of adultery—
cut out your lust altogether.
Don't just divorce nicely—
don't divorce at all.
Don't just make good vows—
don't make any vows.
Don't just take what you deserve—
give up your rights.
Don't just love your friends—
love the people who spit on you.
The Root of Abortion
What would Jesus say about abortion? Is the surgical removal of fetuses the real issue? If anger is the root of murder and lust is the root of adultery, then what is the root of abortion that God considers as heinous as the actual deed? Perhaps an addendum to the Sermon on the Mount would read like this:
Don't just keep your children alive—
love them as I love you.
Don't just grudgingly accept my gift—
embrace it with open arms.
Don't focus on what you want for your life—
pursue what I want for your life.
Perhaps if Jesus were faced with the abortion question by religious leaders today, he would say something similar to what he told the Pharisees about divorce (Matthew 19:1–9). Another blogger has formulated his possible answer like this:
Haven't you read that in the beginning, "God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number.' God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:26, 27, 31) Therefore, what God has created as good, let not any man destroy.I've always thought that Catholics went overboard in their strictures against birth control, but perhaps those guidelines are so tight because they come from a thought process that is totally different than mine. My question is, "How can I enjoy married life and not have kids?" while they ask, "What is the purpose of married life?" Is the entire purpose of marriage to produce offspring? No. Is that a primary function of a godly marriage? Yes, indeed.
The Last Resort
I've never made the choice to end the life of my child, and I feel pain for every woman who has felt forced into it. I understand that many would rather let their child die than have them grow up in their situation. Life is brutal, no question.
But what of those who use abortion as a last-ditch method of birth control? What of the middle-class woman in a loving, long-term relationship who thinks, "If the pill and Plan B fail me, there's always another option . . . ." She doesn't want to get pregnant. Her lifestyle can't afford it. Her husband feels the same.
The root of their sin and mine is selfishness.
I have my life planned. And right now, there is no room for a baby. And yet this is God's mandate for humanity: "Be fruitful and increase in number." Why should I hold my little life exempt from this great call?
Along with my growing sense of conviction from Scripture, I have begun to take note of other people's experiences with motherhood.
The face of a wife who wants children so much she can hardly breathe. A woman cherishing her young daughter as if she's the only person in the world. Another mother grieving the loss of her son, wishing she could die in his place a thousand times over. A frightened girl seeing no option other than to destroy the life growing inside her.
Paying attention to these women has humbled me and made me grateful. I'm also more cautious about allowing myself to express anxiety about or distaste for raising children. I can hear Jesus' words to me and every other woman (and man) guilty of this sin: "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11).
For all I know, I may not be able to have children. But if I can, and if God's plan for me includes motherhood (whether of biological or fostered or adopted children), I must bend my knee gladly to his will.
His plans are good for me. I have a vision in mind for my life, but my dreams are minuscule in comparison to God's.
I see the thread. He sees the tapestry.
Lord, give me the grace to accept your best—whatever that may be.
Grant me peace and wisdom as I walk, to be faithful and show your face to a watching world.
Humble me when my pride and selfishness threaten to override your Spirit in me.
Give me grace upon grace. Amen.