There was a statement on social media the other day that caught my attention. It stated rather succinctly my own feeling about a primary subject in the Christian culture wars. It went, “Abortion: the only word that can make followers of Jesus vote against everything Jesus ever talked about because of one issue that Jesus never talked about.”
Let me be clear. I’m not in favor of abortion. My preference would be that it was never necessary. One always hopes that conception takes place in a loving relationship where the parties are prepared to be parents. Obviously, that is not always the case. There can be any number of reasons why a woman would seek to terminate a pregnancy. Conception may have taken place under duress, either by rape, coercion and abuse, or deception. There may be a serious health issue involved for either the fetus or the mother, or both. A society where poverty stalks so many single moms can be a deterrent. Sometimes family planning and contraception just doesn’t work. And then there are those who are young and inexperienced and make a tragic mistake.
My father told me of being at the bedside of his sister-in-law as she died from trying to abort herself. She and her husband already had several children she struggled to feed and care for, as her husband was an unrepentant alcoholic. As my father watched his brothers’ wife die, his brother was on a bender. That was before Roe vs. Wade, when some women resorted to the coat hanger method and back alley butchers.
Also before Roe vs. Wade, I was a member of the Clergy Consultation Service on Problem Pregnancies. Since abortion was illegal in this country, desperate women sought out members of our service for information and help. We covered all the options with them, including adoption and suicide. If termination was the result of the counseling, they were referred to reputable doctors in other countries, typically in Canada or Great Britain.
I never met a woman who took the decision for an abortion lightly. All of them understood the requirements of motherhood and realized those responsibilities. Most were seriously frightened and desperate. Almost all were victims of what I would call “male privilege.” As they said “no,” their companion said “yes.” Only one who approached me for counseling was joined by the man involved.
Which leads me to an alternative to abortion. We might develop something akin to the chastity belt for men. There does seem to be a concern in Scripture with men being careless with their “seed.” Check out the sin of Onan in the book of Leviticus. Or consult the ancient belief that potential life was in the male semen. Women only offered the “oven” to help that seed come to life. Men were the givers of life, so semen was meant to be reverenced and saved, only spent for its reproductive purpose.
If Christians have a concern about killing, Jesus is quite clear, though I hardly think he’s referring to abortion. Jesus says in Matthew 19, “You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. ... and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It pains me to think Christians can be so focused on a single moral issue that they ignore all the others. Take the issue of killing. Does the command of Jesus include not killing killers, as our president has resumed the death penalty in federal cases in this country; six dead so far? What does Jesus say about 35 bullets sprayed around and into Breonna Taylor; or a knee on a neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until all breath is gone? Or what about southern neighbors, dying in detention centers or sent back to sure death in their own country? Are these the ones Jesus would have us love, as ourself? What would Jesus say about those who endanger themselves and others during a pandemic, with over 200,000 dead and gone, many “disposable”: old, black, brown, poor? Or how vocal would Jesus be about two wars, almost 20 years old, with catastrophic numbers of civilians killed and injured?
What about adultery? Some Christian leaders say, “We’ll give him a mulligan.” Is that what Jesus would say?
Stealing? Forget the emoluments clause, conflicts of interest and presidential tax transparency. All have been undermined.
Bearing false witness? 20,000 lies, false statements or misinformation by July 9, 2020, from this president.
Loving the neighbor? What’s happening at the southern border and to refugees is morally despicable, in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” and in a “Christian” nation. Jesus weeps!