On January 20, Americans celebrated the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, our first African-American president. But at this time of year many of us mark a much sadder occasion, the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that struck down abortion restrictions in all fifty states.
What a contrast in these events. Christmas celebrates birth, life, and hope. The inauguration of Barack Obama is an enormous symbol of transcending racial barriers and recognizing all citizens as equal regardless of their color or background. But Roe v. Wade opened an era of death, despair, and division. We hear people claim that America is a “Christian” or “Judeo-Christian” nation. But concerning the sanctity of human life, as a people we have gone in a much different direction, back to the ancient religions of Baal and Molech, both of which relied upon the sacrifice of children to win divine favor. The happiness and prosperity of the people was built upon the homicide of those who could not defend themselves.
As a Christian, I grieve for this nation and am ashamed at the complicity of so many of our churches in supporting abortion rights. Jesus said in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of our brethren, we do to him. Can anyone seriously argue that the unborn are not the least among us: the smallest, weakest, most vulnerable, and dependent members of the human family? Yet, many of us insist that we cannot be happy or free or prosperous without the “right” to kill our own children in the womb. The God of Israel and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ affirms that all human life, created in God’s own image, is precious in his sight, and that the way to happiness and freedom and fulfillment is not through killing our unborn children.
As an American, I also wonder how any of us can respond to the violence in Gaza and Israel when we tolerate so much violence in our own land? What credibility do we have to demand that Arabs or Israelis show more respect for human life when we demonstrate so little ourselves? And how terribly ironic that our first African-American president would be so callously indifferent in his record and policy proposals to the sanctity of unborn human life! We need to look into our hearts and ask why we cannot extend the minimal equality of the right to life to those yet unborn?
I speak as someone who survived a difficult premature birth (born a month early by C-section in 1967.) Two brothers died within weeks after their own births, with another brother dying as a result of miscarriage. I performed a year-long CPE internship in a major hospital and spent many, many hours with the distraught parents of critically ill or dead babies born prematurely; no one then questioned that these babies were truly human and truly precious. And I am someone who is the father of two small children who were once unborn, and I cannot bear the thought that these precious little ones could have been legally murdered before birth if their mother and I had been hard-hearted enough to make such an evil decision.
Finally, I am someone who believes God grieves mightily for the wholesale destruction of unborn human life. God is surely patient and forgiving. He gives us every chance to repent of our wickedness. But there will come a time when we run out of second chances, and we will feel his righteous judgment as a nation. I believe those who claim to follow Jesus Christ will be held especially responsible for their attitude towards the unborn. For the sake of the unborn, and for our own sake, let us follow a different path from the path of abortion.
Let us choose life.
John B. Erthein is pastor of Westminster Church in Erie, Pa.