Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Only Ground

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About a month ago, I posted the following on facebook:
I'm tired of the word "deserve." "Ever girl deserves..." "...because you deserve..." "Everyone deserves..."
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead...made us alive...that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
All we deserve is eternal death in hell, but Christ's incarnation and sacrifice have rendered what anyone "deserves" as irrelevant. Life is to be centered around His love, His grace, and His mercy. Can we stop with our false sense of entitlement? I'm so grateful to not get what I deserve!
Having the Christian friends that I do, many agreed with me, posting their own encounters and understanding of the magnitude of the free-ness of God's gift of eternal life. However, at the time, I couldn't help but wonder how many people would have so heartily concurred if they knew what had sparked the mini-rant. Last week, as we mournfully observed the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade, enough one-liners, and comic strips, and blog posts rolled across my screen to assure me that my motive in the post would have been rather - if not extremely - unpopular. Why? Because the catalyst for my anti-entitlement reaction was a pro-life ad.

How could we, as Christians, have strayed so far in defending our beliefs? Even a pro-life ad on a Christian radio station fell short. After briefly running through general information about the pro-life organization, the commercial then moved to how those looking to donate could do so as a tax write-off (in fact, the whole ad felt disproportionately money-oriented, but that is not the point here). After announcing all pertinent details, the gentle lady's voice concluded, "Because every baby deserves a chance to live."

Deserves? Is that what we believe?

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If you are pro-life, why? Because you believe that the child in the womb is an actual human being and abortion is the same as murder? Who says murder is wrong? Couldn't it sometimes be a necessary evil for the greater good?

Are you pro-life because studies show that a baby in the womb can feel pain? Is pain inflicted on another human a legitimate reason for outlawing a practice? Do we outlaw orthodontists? Doctors who set legs? Who's to say that the temporary pain of an abortion isn't, in the long run, the best for the child, if his life would be one of great trial?

Are you pro-life because "innocent" babies deserve the chance to live? Why? Do their mothers "deserve" to go through the nausea, discomfort, job complications, and financial hardship to bring to term children they don't even want - perhaps for whom they cannot even provide?

Why are you pro-life?

If the Christian literature I saw this past week is any indication, we are failing miserably in our attempts to answer this question. We spout our scientific facts: 8 weeks after conception, the baby's heartbeat is discernible via ultrasound; at 16-18 weeks, the baby can feel pain. These are evidences of personhood. After science we appeal to morality: the baby is alive, and it's murder to abort him; abortion is sacrificing one's children on the altar of selfishness and willful ignorance. Goodness and kindness rise up in protest.  But the weapon of choice is pathos. Miraculous survival stories, heart-wrenching testimonials, appeals to mothers who would never want pain for their children- the more tears we see, the more people we feel we've reached.

Why are you pro-life?

Christians, should not our answer be, "I am pro-life because never once in God's word did He show the unborn to be of any less personhood than the born; therefore, I cannot consider them to be anything else, either. I am pro-life because our God is the God of life and murder is against His very nature; therefore, I oppose it too. I am pro-life because God loves children; therefore, I delight in them as well."?

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Are we ashamed of these answers? Afraid of "turning people away" by our radical, life-supporting, Christian response? Have we so thoughtlessly burned our bridges? Our foundation was surely on the rock, but we have taken a sledgehammer to it in the name of not "forcing our views on others." If we blow the pro-life horn in the name of ever-changing science, unreliable pathos, and floating societal morality, how will it sound?

In observing the Christians of his time, William Wilberforce noted this lack of foundation from which we still waver today:
"If we listen to [the Christians'] conversation, virtue is praised, and vice is censured; piety is perhaps applauded, and profaneness condemned. So far all is well. But let any one, who would not be deceived by the "barren generalities" examine a little more closely, and he will find, that not to Christianity in particular, but at best to Religion in general, perhaps to mere Morality their homage is intended to be paid..."
"Does this seem too strong? View their plan of life and their ordinary conduct....Wherein can we discern the points of discrimination between them and professed unbelievers?"
 I am pro-life. Not because science "proves" or "supports" the life of a child in the womb - although it does.

Not because it is "bad" or "evil" to take that life, whether from the preference of the parent or pressure on the parent  - although it is.

Not because I have shed innumerable tears over the lost lives of so many millions - although I have.

And certainly not because every baby deserves to live - frankly, they don't. None of us do.

I am pro-life because my Father in heaven, Who has so perfectly formed each being, loves, bestows, and values life, and I stand with Him. What other choice do we have? "All other ground is sinking sand."