December 13, 2018

Would you kill someone? Lately, I find myself involved in discussions over whether abortion is killing or a moral obligation we have for creating children we are not prepared to raise. Society, I’m afraid, has begun to accept that abortion equals kindness, and killing is only wrong when regulated.

Would you ever kill someone? Take some time and ask that question of a few young Christians you know. I expect every one of them will answer no, with some allowing for instances of self-defense. Follow up by asking: Why not?

I was a little dismayed when not one person I interviewed mentioned that murder breaks God’s Fifth Commandment. Instead, they said it is against the law or they didn’t want to end up in jail. One person admitted that she’s not a very good killer, as though she had tried it once and decided it was bad to not be good at it.

My informal poll has me believing we Christians rely too heavily on secular law to mold the moral values of our children. While we are outspoken in our push for legislation to define marriage and life, and while we argue with others about what the Constitution does or does not protect, how much time do we spend quietly teaching our children about God’s plan for the world? How are we modeling compassion, love, and grace to them in daily life?

Rules for Life

For decades, abortion in the United States was not illegal, and it can be argued that the reason for this was because it was viewed as so morally reprehensible, so risky, and so rare as to require no regulation. The first abortion laws in the country were enacted in the 1820s and prohibited ending the life of an unborn child after the fourth month of pregnancy.

For the most part, abortions were outlawed in the US by 1900. In the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, the Supreme Court argued that during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, prenatal life was not personhood and, therefore, was not protected under the Constitution. Historically, cases involving marriage, contraception, and child-rearing were cited as protected under the Bill of Rights as rights of privacy.

Ironically, the freedom to raise your own child and the freedom to kill an unborn child enjoy the same protections under the law. Seemingly, parenting is important, but the pregnancy that makes one a parent is not. And the only individual with any right to determine the value of the life of an unborn child to the world and to the child itself is its mother.

Who Is to Blame?

Fast forward some 45 years and our sexuality is no longer reality but a journey of self-discovery, assisted suicide is a gift we offer our loved ones, and abortion is a charitable act provided to unplanned children. In a recent Rewire.News article on abortion among black women, Yamani Hernandez proudly claims that “… abortion is an act of compassion, love, and self-determination, not the legal or moral crime that conservatives would like it to be.”

This is heartbreaking. How did we get here? How has ending a life in the womb become an act of compassion and love? And who shall we blame–science? Public education? Democrats? Republicans? The Russians?

The truth is, we have only ourselves to blame. We are the the ones who ceded the responsibility of guiding our children concerning marriage, sex, and life to society, and we are the ones who dropped our children off at Sunday school for their weekly dose of Jesus while we went back home to drink our morning coffee and catch up on laundry or yardwork. We are the ones who portray marriage and parenting as burdens that have kept us from true success, and we are the ones who stopped believing in the old adage that children don’t keep. We consider ourselves pro-life, but we live pro-self.

Law vs. Morality

Should we be surprised, then, that young people trust that a society which deems something to be immoral also insists it should be illegal, and argues that if a thing is legal, it is therefore moral. Why are we shocked when what keeps our children from murdering another human being is the fear of going to jail and not the fear of going to hell? Maybe the leap in thinking that abortion is no longer a moral issue but an act of benevolence is shorter than we know.

Light in the Darkness

As Christians, we understand better than most that life is weighted with profound suffering and buoyed by eternal hope. As such, it’s time to raise our children to appreciate what a big, beautiful struggle parenthood is and that it simply cannot happen without offering compassion, love, and grace to children still in the womb and to the mothers and fathers who view the scales more filled with suffering than hope.

Laws of the State clearly matter, and the message they send affects the mindset of society. But, if our battle cry for life begins on the abortion table, then we’ve waited too long to speak. If our efforts to model life end in the courtroom, then we’ve already lost our children.

God help us; it’s time to ask ourselves if we speak life or whisper death.

Lord, our Comforter and source of all hope, grant that the Holy Spirit would meet us in Your Holy Word and Sacraments as You have promised. Help us to live in this world, sharing Your abundant blessings and delivering your hope to the hopeless as we seek to honor You with our lives. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Tawnia Hoehne lives with her husband, Steve, on a dairy farm in rural Frazee, Minnesota. She is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church (LCMS), Corliss, Minnesota.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20).

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul … You shall teach them to your children … that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them” (Deuteronomy 11:18a, 19a, 21a).