On the Side of Life
By now you have more than likely seen or heard of the study recently out in the New England Journal of Medicine seeking to show that women who have had abortions have no more psychological problems than other women who are pregnant. This article, by Danish researchers who followed a number of women who gave birth along with a number who had abortions, will probably be used by the pro-abortion folks to say, “See, it’s no big deal. You can have an abortion with no real consequences. The pro-life people are lying to you.”
For another perspective on this, go to an article by Dr. Priscilla Coleman at www.LifeNews.com. Dr. Coleman, a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, shows that not only is the Danish study biased, but she cites at least 35 recent studies that do show a definite link between abortion and increased threats to mental health. Check it out.
But while the scientists fight it out, if you are interested, go talk with any pastor with a little experience. More than likely he has dealt with women who have had abortions or are struggling with the question of abortion. In reviewing my own pastoral work, without breaking the confessional seal, I can personally attest to this. The problems are numerous and long lasting. After all, no matter how you spin it, an abortion is the death of a defenseless human being. No amount of cover up or ideological fulminations can change or soften that.
The scourge of abortion, however, is just one facet of our culture’s fascination with death. “If it bleeds, it leads,” goes the saying in news rooms. Blood, death and scandal sell. What’s the death toll? We ask. Nine people dead in Kabul from a bombing by the Taliban. (Of course, it’s too “politically incorrect” to ask what is the death toll for abortion!) Let a famous person be shot, say a congresswoman along with a bunch of others, and the topic takes on a life of its own on the talk shows. Will the perpetrator get the death penalty? If so, what will that solve?
Yes, this “culture of death” (as Pope John Paul II called our society) even holds out death as a solution to problems – euthanasia, the death penalty, and especially abortion, are actions people think will take care of a problem. But when you really think about it, no death solves anything. It’s always ultimately a sign of a deeper issue, our estrangement from the God of Life (indeed, one big issue for a woman post-abortion is the question, “how can God love me now, after I’ve done this?”).
Our God lays out in His Word the way of life for us. Yet human beings in their sin choose to go their own way. We want what we want, not what God wants. And often what we want will come only at the expense of another. There’s the reason we die. There’s the reason we attempt to make death a solution.
In the midst of all this talk about death, Jesus has planted His church as a sign of life! Life here and life forever! We proclaim Him as the one who bled and died for us and rose again in victory over death. If you look into the tomb of every other religious leader, you will find nothing but bones and dust. Looking into the tomb of Jesus, they found nothing but some grave clothes. There was no body there, because Jesus lives!
“‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’” the angels asked the women. “‘Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words…” (Luke 24:5-8).
What the world sees as final, God has turned inside out. What our culture considers the end, in the hands of Jesus, becomes a new beginning. It is counter to everything we normally expect. When all is said and done, the only thing we have to give to God is our death. But in the cross of Jesus, God Himself received our death, and in the resurrection of Jesus, God Himself reverses the rule of death.
Now when we are baptized, the Spirit of God unites us with Jesus in His death and resurrection. That’s why, when you confess your sins, even the sin of abortion, you are bringing to God your death, but in the absolution, in the forgiveness of sins by His blood, Jesus gives you new life in place of your death.
Christ has destroyed death, our destroyer. “This is the will of my Father,” Jesus said, “that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). The whole world is headed for death, but Jesus promises life and the resurrection of our bodies. It is as if Jesus were to say, “Here, give me your death because in return I give you my life. Let me have even THAT sin,” says Jesus to the person wondering how God can love her, “for I have already taken it to my cross.”
When you receive the body and blood of Jesus in His Supper, this is also the sure sign of this resurrection life Jesus gives, “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). It takes faith to see it, but it’s there! Jesus promised!
Because He lives, I pray our churches can be sure signs of life in the midst of death, signs of the resurrection, signs of the mercy of Christ, signs of eternal hope for all. I pray that we speak loudly for life. I pray we are the arms of Christ’s love and care for people so desperate they are considering something as terrible as abortion. Much more can be said here, but baptized into Christ we are called to do everything possible to be sign posts for life – pointing always to the life that God gives in Jesus.
Jesus lives now, calling each of us to follow Him, and to believe that, in Him, despite all the evidence of death, we shall live also! By that life, He sends us into a world of death, to be On the Side of Life!
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President