"God loves life." This was the title of our sermon this morning at Sawyer Highlands Church here in Sawyer, Michigan. For over thirty years, Mary Lee and I have been attending this church just down the street from the Michigan House where I come to write. Pastor Jeff Dryden preached on abortion with Psalm 139 as his text. As usual, it was an excellent sermon. Faithful to Scripture with loving application to all of us sitting under his ministry. If you're in the area, I highly recommend this congregation to you. It's Reformed and Baptistic with elder rule, and entirely unpretentious—a godly combination.
Pastor Dryden's sermon got me thinking about the moral agency of women. It's hard to face how we have turned our wives and daughters into murderers, today. We don't mind condemning the men who failed them and their child nestled in the womb, but always remember that Sapphira was killed by God after He killed her husband, Ananias. Regardless of our own sins as fathers and brothers and husbands, women who chose to kill their baby are murderers and must be led to confess it so they may repent and believe in the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing them from all sin. Even such a horrible one.
Again, women are moral agents. Here's an excerpt from the fatherhood book I'm working on that I trust will help remind us of this important facet to the pastoral care needed by the women of our churches.
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Recently, I have been thinking about an excuse mothers use for murdering their unborn children through abortion. They say they did not want to bring their child into the world, only to suffer. Their child would have been unwanted. Their child was diagnosed in the womb with Spina Bifida or Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and they could not bear the thought of what life would have been like for him. So they had an abortion. It was for their beloved child’s own good, of course.
Now I am not making this up...
Back in the mid-eighties, I was at the General Assembly of the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) to testify against abortion. With other members of the Presbyterians Pro-Life team, I was there to call the denomination to repent of its theological and financial promotion of this wickedness. A number of us were in a committee meeting of commissioners and were taking turns testifying. The bloodthirsty ones were there to testify, also, and so anti-abortion testimony was followed by one pro-abortion testimony, and so on until we had all been heard.
Waiting my turn, I listened to a woman in her late sixties or early seventies testify in favor of abortion.
She said this: “When I was a young woman, I got pregnant and, because it was years ago, there was no way I could have had an abortion. Plus I didn’t know I was carrying in my womb a baby boy who would be born deaf. Now, thirty-five years later, my son is a successful artist and he’s been able to weather his handicap quite well. But I should have been able to abort him!”
Yes, that’s precisely what she said. I was flabbergasted. I was speechless. I was sick in my stomach. I looked around to see what others were thinking or feeling, but as far as I could tell, the commissioners seemed simply to take this cruel tenderness in stride. Here was a mother of a successful artist who, by her own testimony, had made a good life for himself despite his handicap, yet she was publicly lamenting the fact that her son had been born prior to Roe v. Wade when abortion was not yet legalized. She was publicly mourning that she had not been able to murder him while he was still in her womb!
Tell me, why was this woman angry? Why did she wish she could have killed her son? Was she out of her mind? A bit touched, maybe?
No, I think not.
Rather, I believe that mother resented the suffering she had gone through raising a son who was deaf. He was her son and the moment she gave birth to him he owned her in a way nothing else had ever owned her, emotionally. This is motherhood and every mother knows it.
This is also fatherhood and every father knows it.
When our children suffer, we suffer. When this woman’s son was finally diagnosed as deaf, she began to grieve for him. She noticed when he missed his father’s greeting when Dad got home from work. She saw his boredom when he had to sit in church unable to hear the Word of God proclaimed. She saw the other kids leave him to the end when they chose up teams for baseball and basketball. Lying in bed at night thinking how difficult it would be for her son to find a good wife, she cried. And when she thought back on all the times she’d sung lullabies to him while he nursed at her breast, she realized he had never heard one of them and she cried some more.
Think of the pain this woman went through in her life, seeing her son suffer, and it becomes clear why she was going to her grave angry she hadn’t been able to abort him. Each year in these United States alone, 1.3 million mothers murder their unborn child through abortion
The issue isn’t so much their son or daughter’s pain as the mother’s own pain. No mother wants the pain of giving her daughter or son up for adoption. No mother wants the pain of telling her child that his real father is his grandfather. No mother wants the pain of seeing other children laugh at her son out on the playground. Think of the mother’s grief as she teaches her son to read lips or to learn American Sign Language.
It’s not simply the suffering of children that abortion aborts, but the suffering of those children’s mothers. Mothers don’t want their child to suffer—of course. But more, mothers don’t want to suffer themselves raising their child.
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My wife adds that women today don't bother saying they murdered their baby so he wouldn't suffer. Rather, they didn't want him and that's that. They weren't going to set their education to the side for him. They weren't ready to be a mother. In other words, things are much worse today than they were twenty-five years ago, when mothers still felt the need to justify their murders by appealing to something other than their own selfishness. Which is to say woman's moral agency must be dealt with even more seriously than in the past because it's even less visible today than it was in the past.
Good shepherds don't heal the wounds of their flock superficially.