Americans have a complicated relationship with the business of abortion. A majority of Americans describe themselves as “pro-life,” but a similar majority supports Roe v. Wade. When given the opportunity to establish the “personhood” of unborn children in their state constitution, the residents of Mississippi – one of the most pro-life places in America – refused to do it. South Dakota, another overwhelmingly pro-life state, turned back at least two attempts in recent years to defy Roe v. Wade and outlaw all abortions within their borders. Many people in the United States want to call themselves “pro-life,” but they are not comfortable with the implications of that confession.
Listening this morning to Albert Mohler’s podcast, The Briefing, gave me an opportunity to reflect on the causes of this complexity. He suggested that Americans have a guilty conscience, and seemed to identify the guilt as that which comes from our silent complicity in the crime of killing countless millions of unborn children. Maybe that does weigh on our consciences, but maybe there’s something more to it than that.
Abortion begins to seem necessary when pregnancies occur outside of marriage, and pregnancies occur outside of marriage when sexual relationships do. Certainly married couples have the same freedom to kill their children as everyone else has, but it is the image of the poor and destitute UNMARRIED woman, facing the tremendous challenge of motherhood ALL ALONE, that invokes our sympathy, and makes abortion only one of two evils.
And here’s the rub… How many Americans can honestly say that they have never indulged any of the licentiousness of the sexual revolution? How many men and women can honestly say they never engaged in a sexual relationship with someone who was not their wife or husband? Beyond that, how many men can say that they never let their eyes linger on a pornographic image? Were you ready at that moment to refuse intercourse with the woman in the picture? How many women can say that they never wore alluring dress in a public place? Was it for your husband, or did you want the admiration of everyone you encountered?
Americans have a guilty conscience when it comes to abortion, but I would venture to say that relatively few consider themselves complicit in abortion itself. At the same time, almost no one in America is completely clean when it comes to the kind of behavior that creates unwed mothers in the first place. Having done the deed without the consequences, how can we say that the person caught in the consequences must be forced to bear them? The sin that put her in that condition is our sin. Our desire to leave open a way of escape is intensified by our own participation in the root cause of the problem.
We must repent. Where abortion is concerned most people in America will admit that it is okay to grieve over the tragedy brought on by our sin. But when it is fornication, society will not allow any sorrow or contrition. What you do with your own body is your own business. After all, “I didn’t hurt anybody… I didn’t mean to… I didn’t think it would.” Repentance is not washing our hands so that we can take up arms against our neighbor. It is receiving the forgiveness given to us in Christ Jesus, so that we can love our neighbor – especially the unwed mother, and her unborn child.