With last Sunday being Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and today being the March for Life in Washington, D.C., I can’t help but think of the many courageous women who in recent years have come forward to share their abortion story with the hope that it will save some from the pain and loss they’ve experienced. But I have my own confession to make in regard to abortion.
No, I have never been directly or even indirectly involved with an abortion. I’ve never counseled someone to have an abortion. So my experience is of a different kind, reflecting a different kind of tragedy, but one that I fear is not too uncommon among Christians.
To appreciate my experience with abortion you should know that I was “raised in the church.” I went to what, today, we’d call conservative, evangelical, or Bible-believing churches. As the son of a bi-vocational church music director, I was in church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday until I was a teenager.
When Roe v. Wade was decided I was in the middle of my 14th year. I don’t remember hearing anything about the decision.
In 1980, I started law school. By that time, the Roe decision had been “on the books” for seven years. I still don’t recall having heard anything about it. But it was that fall that I read the opinion in Roe v. Wade in my constitutional law class.
Sadly, at the time I didn’t think about what the decision really authorized, and more sadly still, I don’t remember thinking about it until sometime in the very early 90’s. Oh, I knew about abortion and that abortions were taking place. But it was not until then that I connected the abortions that were taking place with the decision of our U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
In retrospect, I feel rather dumb that I didn’t connect those dots for so long. That’s embarrassing, but that is not what troubles me most.
What troubles me most is that I knew all about the Bible; I’d heard lots of sermons over 22 years; and yet I was able to sit through a class discussion about a “law” saying it was okay to kill an unborn child and, as a Christian, not be outraged that the law would allow something like that.
Why, I’ve often asked myself, did I not connect the two? As I thought of my answer, I realized that my experience is probably like that of many other Christians. I had never learned to connect my Christianity to the issues in my culture. I didn’t know that there was a Christian or Biblical way to look at law, nor did I really understand that a law could be judged morally right or wrong. The law was just what the law was, and my “job” as a law student was to learn the law.
In other words, I was a prime example of “compartmentalized” Christianity. I could be a good moral person, even support crisis pregnancy centers financially, and yet be unconnected to and unconcerned about a cultural issue because it was outside my personal life of “being a good Christian.” Those issues weren’t “Christian” issues; they were legal or political.
To be honest, it is knowing my own story — that I could grow up in the church and think the way I did — that drives me to do what I now do. I know there are thousands just like me, going to church faithfully every week, thinking they are being told all they really need to know to be a good Christian. And I know they are not being challenged to connect what the Bible says to the laws and policies that have helped spawn the moral chaos that, ironically, they lament and condemn.
Someone’s got to reach them. I thank the Lord He finally reached me and now graciously allows me the opportunity to try to reach others.