When battle lines are drawn around the legalized abortion debate, the two sides are aptly coined as pro-life and pro-choice. "Pro-choice" certainly makes for a much cleaner bumper sticker than "pro-abortion." Actress Michelle Williams recently stood up on the 2020 Golden Globes stage and testified, "I wouldn't have been able to do this without employing a woman's right to choose." When abortion proponents label the practice as "a woman's right to choose," it reduces life inside and outside of the womb to a mere choice.
However, life is not a choice; it is a responsibility.
Every life is a masterpiece, and Christians are losing the abortion battle because our battlefield has become limited to the courtroom and the halls of government instead of extending to the hearts and souls of people. Pro-life messaging has become stale, and it lacks passion for the truth that all people are handcrafted by an intimate Creator. At its core, the issue of abortion is inextricably tied to our understanding of Who created life and when life becomes valuable. Is it when oxygen enters the lungs or when the heart starts to beat? Or, does life begin at the moment of conception?
A simple illustration makes the point. When does a work of art begin? Is it the moment of inspiration when the artist first sets out to create or only once the art is finished? Artisans the world over would argue that a masterpiece begins at the moment of inspiration or, at the very least, when the chisel first hits the stone or the paint first hits the canvas. Art museums in Western Europe, including the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence, Italy, contain recognized masterpieces that are unfinished pieces of art. Sculptures that Michelangelo never quite finished like the famous Pietà or paintings da Vinci gave up on like the Adoration of The Magi are regarded as some of the world's greatest pieces of art, yet they were never completed by their creator. If we celebrate these unfinished works of art as masterpieces, why do we devalue something far greater – the Master Creator's work of life?
Christians have made women such as Michelle Williams the villains instead of seeing them as the mission field, and all life as the masterpiece at the epicenter of our message. Our rhetoric marks pro-choice advocates as evil, instead of dropping to our knees in prayer for their souls, hearts, and minds to be turned to our great God.
Michelle Williams continued her speech at the Golden Globes by saying, "I've tried my very best to live a life of my own making and not just a series of events that happened to me, but one that I could stand back and look at and recognize my handwriting all over it – sometimes messy and scrawling, sometimes careful and precise, but one that I have carved with my own hand."
When a society begins to deny life to the most vulnerable and to mark those lives as a "choice" the decline of the society and its value of life will soon follow. This is exactly what has happened in America. Today, Darwin's discredited theory of evolution is considered settled fact in the minds of Americans and most of the rest of the world with survival of the fittest being the standard for life and death. In the years since the legalization of abortion, life has become ranked by value, worth, dignity, health, and the creation's choice.
Men must also step up and realize that abortion is not just a woman's issue. Abortion is equally a man's issue. If Christian men would lead, love, and nurture their families and women, then we could easily see a reverse in the devastating trend of abortion. If men would love women with a protective love, guard their hearts, and be committed to staying pure and chaste, I believe the abortion debate would grow very small and insignificant.
Shortly before the Golden Globes, Planned Parenthood, the nation's number one abortion provider, released its 2018-2019 annual report. The group touted an increase in abortion procedures of 4% for 2018, or 345,672 lives ended in the womb. While Planned Parenthood's numbers are rising, the Guttmacher Institute, the statistical arm of Planned Parenthood, has shown that the number of total abortions decreased by 7% in the same time period in the United States.
With these statistics going in vastly different directions, it raises this important question: what would happen if we as the Church spent our resources looking at the abortion issue as an opportunity to shape culture, as opposed to lobbying simply for the de-funding of Planned Parenthood?
On Friday, January 24th, pro-life advocates will gather in DC for the 2020 March for life – what a great opportunity for the Church to regain influence through love, mercy, and prayer! When the Church of Jesus Christ loses her influence to affect culture, marriages will crumble, children will struggle, and healthy families will dwindle. Instead of influencing culture toward the Gospel, the Church has allowed the culture to be its shaping force. We no longer stand on our convictions and principles in the name of love and inclusion. Mercy and justice have been replaced by fussiness and politics.
It's as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, "There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society."
Today, we don't need the US government to merely de-fund Planned Parenthood and we don't need to decry Michelle Williams. We need our hearts changed and our deeds altered so that the authenticity of our lives de-funds Planned Parenthood, and our knees bow in prayer for Michelle Williams.
Herbie Newell (MBA, Samford University) is the President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children's Services and its ministry arms including (un)adopted, Crossings, Families Count and Lifeline Village. Under Newell's leadership, Lifeline has significantly increased its international and statewide outreach, attained membership with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and achieved international accreditation under The Hague Treaty, began an extensive foster care ministry, and started its (un)adopted strategic orphan care ministries in more than 10 countries. Herbie speaks nationally at conferences and events, and regularly preaches throughout the world on gospel-driven justice. He and his wife, Ashley, live in Birmingham, Alabama.
Following her graduation from Samford, Ashley worked as the Assistant Director of Sav-a-life, a Birmingham based crisis pregnancy center, where she counseled hundreds of women on life-giving options for their babies. Herbie and Ashley share a passion for the unborn, life, and adoption and desire to spend their lives advocating for the least of these. Herbie and Ashley are parents to son, Caleb, and daughters, Adelynn and Emily—who are the originators of the #StandForOrphans Campaign that has raised almost $500,000 for global orphan care in its first four years. Herbie's first book Image Bearers will be released on January 21, 2020.