People on all sides of the abortion issue are talking about the Planned Parenthood videos. With the Pope’s US visit, the pro-life stance of the Catholic church has been discussed widely. During one such discussion on The View on September 22, Whoopi Goldberg argued that “there’s nothing in the Book that says anything about abortion.
My first inclination is to say that she and I must not be reading the same Bible. I do understand her technical point, though: you won’t find the word “abortion” in the Bible. However, the Book is rich with the value of life, from the first two chapters of Genesis when God creates life as we know it. In Psalm 139, we read that God formed us in a beautiful way and recorded our days before we were conceived. In Exodus 21:22-25, God lays out strict punishment – stricter even than what most states legislate now – for the assault of a pregnant woman that results in injury or death to her unborn child. In Leviticus and throughout the books of the prophets, the practice of sacrificing infants and children to false gods is decried. Jeremiah was consecrated by God as a prophet before he was born (Jeremiah 1:5). Job declares that God fashions us in the womb (Job 10:9-12; 31:15). In Psalm 125:3-5, Matthew 18:5-6, and Mark 9:36-37, the blessing and importance of children is made clear.
When I supported students with disabilities in high school biology as a special educator, I also learned that – upon the moment of biological conception, when egg and sperm join – the zygote formed has unique qualities separate from the two sex cells that joined to create it. Without interference or trauma, it will continue to develop in the womb and be born about 38 weeks later. A zygote has unique DNA, is able to reproduce through cell division, is highly organized, responds to its environment, uses energy, and is able to adapt to a certain extent.
Based on all that, I am unashamedly and unapologetically pro-life.
However, I also am saddened by the treatment of those considering abortion or those who have had one or more abortions by those who claim faith. Often, that faith perspective only offers judgment and proclamation of sin with little to no grace or mercy. If you are reading this and expecting that sort of response, please know that you won’t find it here. Is ending a life good? No. Was Christ’s death and resurrection insufficient to forgive sins, though? No. I am too covered in my own sin and too grateful for His forgiveness of mine to look down on you. And I am too focused on Christ to want to do anything other than point you to Him.
Because I am pro-life and because I love people with special needs, I have sobbed over the research in my last post about abortion and disability. Fetuses that appear to be typically developing live while some with prenatal diagnoses don’t.
In the statement of vision and purpose for our church’s special needs ministry, we intentionally chose language supporting all life. One of the aims listed in it is “esteeming the value of each person, preborn or born, as a vital part of the body, as defined in 1 Corinthians 12. With regard to people with disabilities, this includes welcoming them with respect and love, sharing the good news of Christ with them, serving alongside them as they use their giftedness, and otherwise including them as a contributor in God’s church. It also includes supporting them and their families after prenatal or postnatal diagnosis.”
The preborn part matters. It matters because how you act toward people with disabilities at your church now could influence the choices made by would-be parents in your pews. It would be naïve to think that all those babies with Down syndrome who were aborted were pregnancies to non-Christians. It would be statistically improbable for each of them to have been pregnancies to women who were pro-choice. No, some must have been to Christians. Some who chose abortion are church attendees or members. Some had to have been pro-life until that circumstance presented a difficult choice.
Could it be that, for some of those individuals, the choice was made more difficult because they saw no children like theirs represented in their faith communities? Could it be that their pew or row at church never included someone who didn’t look or act or think or behave just like they did? Could it make a difference if those of us who are called ambassadors of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:20 acted like it? Could it help families choose life for their child if they knew that the church loved their family, including their unborn child, and was willing to put that love into action?
I’m just speculating here, so I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I would love to find out.
In addition to serving as a Key Ministry Church Consultant, Shannon Dingle is a co-founder of the Access Ministry at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.
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