If Only It Were Easy
We live in a world that prizes convenience, doing things the easy way. Gone are the days when there was thought to be a natural dichotomy between doing things right and doing things easy. "Do you want to do things the easy way or the right way," parents would say to children. Not anymore; there are easy ways to do right things. There is an easy way to buy gas at the pump. There is an easy way to get phone calls wherever you are. There is an easy way to fluoride your teeth, get your vitamins and give to your favorite charity. But not all right things can be done easily. Moreover, even today just because something can be done easily, doesn't mean it is right.
For example, take the whole matter of problem pregnancies. And let's be honest there is such a thing as a problem pregnancy. There are children conceived by rape or incest although the number is very small, not more than 1%. There are women who become pregnant beyond the years when children are desirable. There are girls who become pregnant while still children themselves. There are families who can hardly afford the children they have, and others who abuse the ones they have. We must admit that a baby on the way could indeed be a problem for some families, for some women, for some girls, for some guys. If only the problem was as easy to solve as taking a pill.
Modern society has a long history of apparently solving problems by taking pills. Venereal diseases were a problem right before World War II. The invention of antibiotics, a pill, to treat these diseases apparently solved it. Prior to 1960 there was no convenient way to stop pregnancy. Then the birth control pill was invented, and modern man apparently solved that problem too. I say "apparently" because you know that venereal diseases are actually on the increase now as our unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, the pills to treat such things didn't address the real problems.
And now what do we have? As of September 28, 2000 we have a pill, RU 486, produced by a Chinese drug company that can solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies. It's the first pill a pregnant woman or girl receives which shuts down the life support system for the developing baby causing the baby to starve or suffocate most of the time. Two days later the woman goes to her doctor and gets another pill to stimulate contractions and expel the baby who has died.
Most of the time, as I said, the baby dies. The problem of the unwanted pregnancy is solved. The woman or the girl who did conceive by rape or incest will not have to go through the experience of a bearing a child conceived in violence or trauma. The woman who is too old will not have to face the possibility of bearing a child with birth defects. The girl who is too young is given back her childhood free from the responsibility of raising a child while she herself is still a child. The child who might have been abused won't be now. The child who could have been a financial burden can't be now. Wallah! By means of a pill the problem is solved.
If only it were that easy. You see when you end a pregnancy in the womb whether by the physical violence of a surgical abortion or the sanitized violence of a pill, you don't stop a woman or a girl from being a mother. You simply make her the mother of a dead child. Likewise, abortion, chemical or surgical, doesn't stop a man or a boy from being the father of a child. You simply have made him the father of a dead child. Is that any sort of solution?
No pill we now have or ever will have can take away guilt, and guilt is always the product of an abortion. The dirty little secret of the abortion industry is that they have plunged millions of girls and women into the pit of guilt. The problem that all literate people of all time have recognized as the most painful of all, guilt, the abortion industry creates and does nothing to resolve. In Louisiana my church use to put up a display of a 1,000 crosses. The notes left by women confessing their guilt show how hidden guilt had ravaged their lives.
But don't think the guilt of abortion only afflicts the mothers. The fathers too are plagued by it. A captain in the Army who just happened to be passing through my unit on the Sunday when I was preaching a Life Sunday sermon came to me after and poured out his heart over an abortion he had paid for 20 years earlier in college. If only the guilt from an abortion could be handled by taking a pill.
Of course, you know what conservative people think the answer to the problem of abortion is? Passing a bill. It is quite right to expect this to happen. Indeed prior to 1973, abortion was illegal in all of the states, and it is most certainly a function of government to protect human life, particularly the most helpless, that in the womb. God has given government the power of the sword. It is to protect innocent life and to take the life of those who take it upon themselves to take human life.
Yes a bill would stop abortions, and it would save lives. Here I speak not only of those of children in the womb (72% of women having an abortion state they would definitely not have one if it were illegal.), but of the women and girls who have abortions. Another dirty little secret of the abortion industry is that there are all sorts of medical risks associated with abortion such as a greater likelihood of future tubal pregnancies, endometriosis, breast cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease. "Yes, but at least they won't die from an illegal abortion," some will respond. When the lobbying was going on to make abortions legal pro-abortion leaders spread the propaganda that 5-10,000 women were dying a year from illegal ones. The truth is 42 died in the year prior to making abortion legal. Now there are about 21 per year.
Even if a bill should be passed tomorrow outlawing all abortions except to preserve the physical life of the mother, the damage has already been done. Over 39 million American children have died since 1973. Add up all the Americans who have died in all the wars in US history and it comes to less than 1.2 million. How many good mothers and fathers have we aborted? How many scientists, doctors, and leaders have we put to death? Who knows whether one of these might have invented a pill to stop cancer, or heart disease, or any of the other horrible diseases that plague us?
If only it were as easy as passing a bill. But no bill will do away with the stain of blood on America. A principle you will find in the Scriptures is that innocent blood calls out to God for vengeance. No nation has ever escaped the judgment of God for shedding innocent blood. We are fools if we think America somehow will. A bill outlawing abortion tomorrow will not make up for the abortions of the last 28 years. God has a long memory. How many centuries did He allow the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Jews, the Romans, or the Germans to go on in their sins? But judgment day came for them, and it will for us. Even a bill making abortions illegal will not turn God's wrath from us.
No, dear friends in Christ, a bill is not to be our hope. While God does expect government to protect human life and holds it accountable when it does not, as the Romans reading makes clear, He does not want us trusting or hoping in government as the Gospel reading makes clear. Government has a right to our money in taxes, our service in the military and elsewhere, and our obedience to laws not contrary to Scripture. But our fear, love, and trust is to belong first and foremost to God. Only God can deliver us from this horrible plague of abortion; no pill by science, no bill by government is the answer. And make no mistakes about it. God's answer is hard not easy, but it is hard on God, not us.
It was hard on the baby Jesus who came into the human womb for sinners, and He wasn't there just to grow. He was there to bear sins and sorrows. Chemnitz, a 16th century Lutheran, described it this way. "The Son of God in assuming His own flesh...also endured those things which commonly befall man in conception, pregnancy, and birth.." While in the womb, all that afflicts humans in the womb afflicted Him. All the guilt they bear from Adam and Eve, was born by Him. He Himself was a "problem" pregnancy in the place of all problem pregnancies.
Solving the problem of abortion was hard on the Baby Jesus and on the Man Jesus too. When He walked this earth, He carried on His shoulders, on His conscience, in His heart, the guilt, the shame, the fear that every woman or girl who ever had an abortion feels. He bore the sin of shedding innocent blood that they feel. He did the same for the men and boys who have financed such terrible deeds.
Friends, it won't do to minimize the sin of spilling the blood of a baby. That is the easy way, and besides it doesn't work. When friends, counselors, or even clergymen tell those guilty of the sin of abortion, that they really had no choice. They couldn't handle a baby at the time. The baby would have grown up unwanted. The baby would have been deformed. All of this might be true, but it doesn't remove guilt from the conscience. No guilt of any sort can be removed by reasoning. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can do that.
And His blood was shed in large amounts just to do that. You know one drop of the blood of Christ was enough to pay for the sins of the whole world. His is the blood of God. The blood of God has infinite value. Therefore, when the Scripture tells us that God shed the Blood of His Son, when Christ tells us in the Holy Communion that His Blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, we are to see large amounts of it so that we might know it was sufficient to cover our sins. Yes, there is the blood of Christ pouring down His body as He hangs on the cross. It is pooling at the base of the cross. It is so deep there that none of our ugly sins, big or little can be seen poking through.
Here is the answer to abortion in two ways. First, guilt leads to repetition. It's kind of like these Texas Seven fugitives. They were in prison already for serious crimes, so they felt they had nothing to lose in breaking out. Now they've killed a policemen. What is one more murder, one more robbery one more crime to them?
The devil can trap us in guilt that way too. We are guilty of so many things any one of which deprives us of eternal life, so what if abortion continues, babies die, and sins mount? But what if, our sins are covered and our guilts removed? What if, we are as clean as snow and white as wool? What if there are no sins of ours that Christ did not die for? What if when God the Father raised His Son on Easter morning, He declared that He accepted Christ's payment for our sins? What if God the Father doesn't want us feeling guilty or even thinking of our sins any longer?
Can you see what a tremendous effect this reality should have on us? It would be like telling the Texas Seven that there has been a terrible mix up, and they weren't guilty of any of their crimes to begin with. They are all free. How many of them would turn themselves in? Friends that can't happen to them because they are under the law of the state, but you are under the grace of God. Your sins have been forgiven and forgotten by God. The guilts that have tormented you, do not have to motivate you any longer.
I said the cross of Christ was the answer to abortion in two ways. Most women and girls who have abortions feel trapped. Before them are only two options neither of which are appealing. God's grace in Christ presents a third option. God promises grace and every blessing to those who keep their babies. All of heaven is on the side of women and men who make the difficult decision for life. Our God is one who works wonders through the womb. He used a sinful human womb to do the impossible thing of coming and redeeming sinners. What can't He do through one?
The abortion problem is not easy for us sinners, but what really is? Let us not, however, think our problems are hard for God. O, they were hard on Him in the sense that they cost Him dearly. But having paid that cost for us willingly and freely, do you think He will now turn His back on us when the problems of life confront us? Not hardly. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Life Sunday, 1-21-01