If Jesus were to write a letter to the Pro-Life movement, here’s what I’d hear him say:
“I applaud your pro-life passion. The world has need of you. Your passion for life can lead to the saving of many lives and bring much joy.
However, your time on earth is limited. Your energy is limited. The finances I choose to entrust to you are limited.
Might I suggest that you love the neighbour you have seen before you love the yet-unborn whom you have not seen.
You cannot save all the 16000 children who will today die of hunger, one every five seconds. But you might be able to save one who will die tomorrow. Save one family from heartbreak.
You will not be save all the 21000 children who will die today from preventable disease, malnutrition, unsafe drinking water, and lack of a five-cent vaccine. But you may be able to save one tomorrow
I feel the pain of the aborted embryo, and the pain of the born child. But since you can today: Save some those already born, whose illness and death breaks the heart of their families before you insist that every zygote, every fertilized egg, every embryo is borne to full-term, regardless of the physical, emotional, psychiatric, or financial cost to the mother, despite her desperation, devastation or destitution.
For there is coercion in that, but in me there is no coercion. I invite you. I never compel you. Do likewise.
* * *
Are we to permit mothers to murder their babies? you ask.
I have spoken to you about murder. I am as appalled by the anger which turns your heart away from me as I am by murder. I shrink from your angry rhetoric. I have no part in it.
So we are to permit a holocaust of the unborn?
I have told you how to deal your neighbour’s sin. First, remove the log in your own eyes, deal with the darkness in your own heart, and then you will see more clearly to deal with the speck in your sister’s eye, and the zygote, the fertilised egg (as small as a speck of pepper) in her womb.
I see them. “For my eyes have seen their unformed body; all the days ordained for that zygote, that foetus were written in my book before one of them came to be.” I have entrusted them to their mothers, to whom I have also entrusted conscience. Do not compel her to act in accordance with your moral convictions. And the decision their mothers make , within the laws of the land, is between the mother and me. And my mercy is great.
But for you, return to your first love. Return to me. Deal with your own sin, with the things which cloud your joy and peace. Repent and believe. Come, follow me.
But Jesus, it’s because we follow you that we must stop women slaughtering their babies.
My friend, beware of emotive language. A commitment to precision in language is a commitment to truth. And I AM the truth.
YOU follow me. It will take all you have.
And what about Wilberforce, who changed the laws of the land, and abolished slavery in the British Empire?
YES! My servant, Wilberforce, who worked through legislative means for 45 long years until he saw the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.
And yet there are more slaves in the world today than at any time in human history, with 27 million in bondage throughout the globe, exploited for manual and sexual labour.
Help the born first, the brother and sisters your eyes can see.
* * *
I know there are heroines in the land. I stand amazed at the love of women who bear their babies through nine months of pregnancy, and then, knowing they cannot mother them well, give them to another woman whose heart aches for them. Eshet Chayil, women of valour.
But—here is the mystery of grace—I love too the women whose heart flails and quails at the thought of nine months of weight gain and sleepless nights; the financial costs of time off work; the steps down on the career ladder; the social and church disgrace; the heart-knitting and then heart-wrenching; the permanent hole in the heart left by the baby, surrendered to the foster-care system, and who knows if her carers will be cruel or kind, who if she will be adopted, and when, and by whom, and if they will be cruel or kind. I see the anguish of the choices, and know that no termination is without anguish, and neither is any adoption.
If you hear my call into the legislative process as Wilberforce did, do so with my kindness in your hearts for both sets of women. Encourage research and development into and subsidies for and easy access to affordable contraception so that 40% of pregnancies in some cities do not end in abortion. After the first few weeks, the life-long anguish of abortion mirrors the life-long anguish of surrendering your baby to foster-care; so ensure pregnant women have financial and psychological support whether for the life-long adventure of mothering their babies, or the perhaps more difficult decision of surrendering them to adoptive mothers.
* * *
You are a Christian, child, and if you walk with me, my spirit within you will sanctify your intelligence and turn it to wisdom. Never let the great and wonderful adventure of following me be hijacked by powerful religious-political lobbies into political positions which favour powerful parties. Never let following me be reduced to single political positions—being against abortion or against gay marriage, issues I never mentioned.
Following me is the adventure of your lifetime, and the way of following me are as diverse as star differs from star in splendour. As no two of you have the same iris, or the same fingerprints or the same DNA, so no two of you will follow me in exactly the same way.
How are you to follow me? Not by being against other people and their choices, but by loving me whole-heartedly, and loving your neighbour as yourself.
Good. So am I.
Come, let’s dance.