The One Where I Lose More Friends

If as a follower of Christ you can accept the premise below that passing new laws about abortion and homosexual marriage without explaining WHY to non-Christian culture is pointless, then you and I are left to puzzle out HOW to do that.

Right off the bat, we’re confronted with a Pauline dilemma about judging others: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” – I Cor. 5:11-13.

However, it seems to be permissible for us to judge the acts of those outside, some of which he mentions in verse 11: sexual immorality, idolatry, swindling, slander and drunkenness.

Then HOW do we explain the WHY?

This post would be too long to try to deal with both questions, so let’s just pry into one for now.

Scripture only seems to mention abortion specifically maybe only twice, both times in the Old Testament. In Exodus 21:22-25, a brawling man who hits a pregnant woman and causes a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion?) must pay whatever fine her husband requires. In Numbers 5:11-21, a husband who suspects his pregnant wife of infidelity may ask a priest to force her to drink water mixed with dust and pronounce a curse upon her if she is guilty. The curse may or may not be correctly interpreted to mean that her womb is to miscarry – hard to tell because of the possibility of euphemisms.

Neither of these instances deals directly with an abortion chosen by a woman … probably because Jewish women of that era apparently saw childbirth as a privilege and blessing; the means to perform one doubtless existed, but no woman would have wanted to.

David may well have recognized God’s power in Psalm 139:13: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb; I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Yet David also said “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.” (Psalm 58:3) And Job, at the extremity of temptation and suffering, wished he had never been born or even conceived (Job 3:1-19).

Can we rush to condemn all abortion wholesale when God commands Israel’s armies to utterly destroy their enemies, men women and children? (Deut. 7:2, 20:17, Judges 21:10-11)

It’s a complicated question. When does it become wrong?

Several years ago, my friend Char became pregnant and something went very wrong. The fetus inside her became cancerous, and the pregnancy threatened her life. You can be sure that she and her husband prayed about it. They chose to abort as soon as possible. (They have had two beautiful children since, thank you.)

Another friend, Cindy, was pregnant with her second when in-womb testing revealed that the fetus would almost certainly not survive to full term, though it was no threat to her. You can be sure that she and her husband prayed about it, too. They chose to carry to full term. The baby was born, lived a few minutes, and passed to his next life. (They have since been blessed with a handsome son to keep his older sister company, thanks.)

I’m not wise enough to say that their choices were right or wrong, or would have been right or wrong had they chosen the other alternative.

I just know that at the funeral for Cindy’s baby, her minister shared (with their permission) that they had told him:

“We don’t know why God took our baby home. But we also don’t know why He blessed us with his beautiful sister, or anything else in this life.”

How could anyone express the “why” more eloquently?

Next in this series: The One Where I Just Lose

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3 thoughts on “The One Where I Lose More Friends

  1. Two excellent posts–thanks for bringing up topics usually left untouched. A few quick thoughts off the top of my head: we pass laws to make living with each other bearable and to set parameters for what society decides is acceptable behavior. (See John Locke.) The biggest problem in the abortion debate is that neither side will give an inch–it’s either “abortion-on-demand at any point in the pregnancy” or it’s “even IUDs are murder.” Highly vocal groups are so entrenched in their positions that rational dialogue becomes impossible. I like what one of your commenters said about gay marriage; how can marriage be any more trivialized than Britney Spears et al have already made it?

  2. Keith, I think it is an EXCELLENT point you make about Paul telling us to NOT judge those in the world. I confess I have been guilty of that at times. Speaking for myself, I could never condemn the choices that Char or Cindy made. Probably because in each case I think those are the choices we would have made also.

    I think it is important to remember that in this discussion you have brought up two things……A) judging others and B) laws. Those are two VERY DIFFERENT discussions in my opinion. I need to stay OUT of the judgement business…….God alone is the only one qualified to judge. ESPECIALLY those outside of Christ. In reference to laws, I think our laws ought to reflect God’s commands for man. If we accept that His wisdom is more than any human could ever attain, then why would we not want our laws to reflect his wishes for us? I know some laws don’t need that level of wisdom, such as traffic lights and other things that are common sense. But there are “weightier” matters that we need to use His wisdom for as a guide, for our best interest. I don’t believe that God had to use the term “abortion” for us to know his view of it. Are all abortions equal? I don’t think they are. The two examples you mentioned are case in point. But wouldn’t you agree that both of those are exceptions to the normal abortion? God didn’t make his laws for the exceptions…….in my opinion.

    I think legalized abortion is wrong in the sight of God.
    I didn’t say I KNOW……I said I THINK. That does NOT give me the right to judge any woman who has had an abortion. It does, however, motivate me to hope our laws will reflect the will of God. It also should motivate me to be light and salt to a world that does not know Him, and tell them (as you suggested) WHY I believe it is wrong in most cases. I also need to do it with a loving spirit if I want them to hear me. “Speaking the truth in LOVE”. Jesus came full of “grace and truth”. One can’t effectively have one without the other!

    Thanks for having the courage to talk about this sensitive subject!

  3. Laws and judgment are different, but inextricably related. When we vote to pass a law, we have already judged what is right and wrong to do for everyone, Christian or not. Law is generally about what is permissible because it does not cause harm, and what is not permissible because it causes harm. Law also sets precedent, and the interpretation of it may lead to other laws (sometimes more restrictive, sometimes less) because the law has defined an area that is deemed permissible to legislate.

    But law has to be specific, and not everyone can agree on the specifics. As English Professor pointed out above, there is no negotiation – no common ground – for opponents on the abortion issue. It <>is<> an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s simpler than dealing with it as a complex issue.

    (It’s politically suicidal for a candidate to answer a question about abortion. So, during the presidential debates when an audience member asked John Kerry if he could look us in the eye and say that no federal dollars would be used to support abortion, he had to meander. He couldn’t say, “No, ma’am, because I can’t look a rape victim in the eye and tell her she can’t have a surgical abortion because she’s too poor. I can’t look a pregnant woman in the eye and tell her she can’t have an abortion in a clean, well-lighted place even though her fetus has become cancerous, because she can’t afford it. Could you?”)

    If Christians – and I use the term broadly – really believe that a fetus is a person who has rights, why aren’t we spending our time and money proving it by offering and promoting adoption as an alternative? Why aren’t we rushing with open arms to financially support pregnant women willing to be single moms, and to protect the married but abused?

    Just imagine what good could have been done if even half the money spent to lobby the passing of laws limiting abortion had been used in that way instead.

    Instead, the law just condemns without saying why … and in effect says, “We don’t care.”

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