Does having a child mean your life is over? In this devotional message from Dr. John Ferrer we see how pro-life Christians can counteract abortion-choice culture with the knowledge that sacrificial living is the only way to TRULY live.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’”
Matthew 16:24-25, NASB
Abortion isn’t just a surgical procedure. It’s not just an action, a choice, or a policy. It’s also a culture. Abortion-choice culture is a range of institutions and actions driven by a specific set of ideas about women, sex, motherhood, children, family, and liberty. Somewhere packed inside that culture is a set of expectations about what “normal” women and families should be like.
Rachel Jankovic, a mother of seven children, is decidedly abnormal. She writes:
Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.
The truth is that, years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.
Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time on.
If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. (source: “Motherhood is a Calling,” DesiringGod.org)
Jankovic is happily wed in Christian marriage, to her first husband, and with her seven children, she is a walking testimony to the glory of biblical Christian family. She’s a countercultural hero. And she’s not the only one to recognize how abortion-choice ideas have saturated popular culture.
Abortion ideology tells women their life is over once you have kids. It says that children are more burden than blessing, marriage is disposable, and sex is just a leisure activity with no strings attached.
Abortion-choice culture is hostile to many
of the central values of Christian living.
Another woman, Frederica Mathewes-Green arrived at the same conclusion but she began her journey on the inside of that culture, as a vocal pro-choice advocate. Speaking of her days advocating for abortion choice, before Roe v. Wade, she says:
We expected that abortion would be rare. What we didn’t realize was that, once abortion becomes available, it becomes the most attractive option for everyone around the pregnant woman. If she has an abortion, it’s like the pregnancy never existed. No one is inconvenienced. It doesn’t cause trouble for the father of the baby, or her boss, or the person in charge of her college scholarship. It won’t embarrass her mom and dad. . . . there is significant pressure on a woman to choose abortion, rather than adoption or parenting.
A woman who had had an abortion told me, “Everyone around me was saying they would ‘be there for me’ if I had the abortion, but no one said they’d ‘be there for me’ if I had the baby.” For everyone around the pregnant woman, abortion looks like the sensible choice. A woman who determines instead to continue an unplanned pregnancy looks like she’s being foolishly stubborn. It’s like she’s taken up some unreasonable hobby. People think, if she would only go off and do this one thing, everything would be fine.
But that’s an illusion. Abortion can’t really “turn back the clock.” It can’t push the rewind button on life and make it so she was never pregnant. It can make it easy for everyone around the woman to forget the pregnancy, but the woman herself may struggle. . . . life stretches on after abortion, for months and years — for many long nights — and all her life long she may ponder the irreversible choice she made.
This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion since it rescued her from the clutches of her child. (Source: “When Abortion Suddenly Stopped making Sense,” National Review)
Mathewes-Green goes on to say that abortion culture isn’t just mistaken, it’s layers of violent oppression against women. She first realized this after viewing a recording of an abortion. Before the days of sonograms, people still thought 19-week old children in utero were just inchoate globs. She wasn’t sure what to expect in a chemical abortion. The abortionist inserted the needle into the middle of the mother’s abdomen, into the baby’s chest. The syringe was still for a few moments. Then it moved, vigorously. The tiny child was struggling against the needle, struggling for life.
There I was, anti-war, anti-capital punishment, even vegetarian, and a firm believer that social justice cannot be won at the cost of violence. Well, this sure looked like violence. How had I agreed to make this hideous act the centerpiece of my feminism? . . . . Once I recognized the inherent violence of abortion, none of the feminist arguments made sense. (Source: “When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense,” National Review)
These two women are coming from very different paths, yet arriving at the same conclusion. Popular culture is saturated with the abortion-choice ideology, and that spells violent harm to women and their families. They both came to understand that . . .
Pro-life is Pro-woman.
Jankovic offers additional clarity on the subject, from a Christian perspective. Recognizing the opposition that pro-life Christians face in an abortion-friendly culture she says:
Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates because you represent laying down your life for another . . . Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die — and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.
Jankovic might sound like she’s surrendering too much ground to abortion culture as she admits that women are deathly afraid of losing their individual identity in motherhood. Women are, justifiably, scared about the prospect of “dying” to themselves. Abortion sounds like it would make sense, in light of those fears. But she’s not done yet.
There’s more to the story
when Christ is the main character.
“Christian[s] should have a different paradigm”, Jankovic says,
We should run to the cross. To death. . . . Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back. The Bible is clear about the value of children. Jesus loved them, and we are commanded to love them, to bring them up in the nurture of the Lord. We are to imitate God and take pleasure in our children.
The prospect of motherhood, pregnancy, and childbirth is really scary. Choosing life, especially with big families, can be terrifying because it’s wildly countercultural. But in the face of these fears we don’t have to surrender, like cowards, to popular culture. We don’t have to retreat to abortion and kill our young like captured POW’s. No, we can be heroes for our children, laying down our lives in sacrificial living. And we do this not by our own strength. We draw strength from the risen Christ. Our life in Christ is resurrection powered. We can gladly lay down our lives for our loved ones because “whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake will find it.”
*This devotional was first delivered at Pella Pro-Life in Pella, Iowa on June 20, 2019, by John D. Ferrer.