We’ve turned a page in the abortion debate, or so abortion advocates hope.
In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned on the premise that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” As to why it should be rare, he never told us. Indeed, during his two terms as president, Clinton rejected every attempt to limit the abortion license. He even vetoed a bill that said you can’t pierce the skull of a partially born fetus and suck out his brain. Abortion, though bad, was necessary to preserve the health of women. Politically, he got away with it. For millions of Americans, it was enough that Clinton felt sorry about abortion.
We’ve come a long way since then. In 2019, we aren’t supposed to feel sorry anymore.
Instead, abortion advocates insist that we make peace with abortion. In her book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, feminist Katha Pollitt says we should stop apologizing for the practice. She asks, “Why can’t a woman just say, This wasn’t the right time for me?” (10). Only those with a deep contempt for the female sex question her saying so. In short, Pollitt insists that it’s an affront to women when pro-choice advocates settle for anything less than legal abortion on demand and without apology. And she’s not the least bit sorry if that offends her opponents.
Shouting Your Abortion
She’s not alone. Take a look at the cultural landscape. We now have “Shout Your Abortion” T-shirts coupled with social media campaigns like “Kids, Meet Someone Who’s Had an Abortion” — all attempts to self-justify abortion and empty it of any shame.
“Abortionists are not Good Samaritans. They are substitute saviors.”
The political world took quick notice. With the 2020 presidential elections approaching, rival candidates from one major political party raced to outdo one another in their support for abortion. In New York, the Democratic governor signed legislation repealing protections for children who survive abortion procedures. The argument is clear enough: If a woman wants an abortion — even a late-term procedure — she’s entitled to it. Her own justifications are enough. No apology needed.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, “Christian” abortionist Dr. Willie Parker declares himself a “Good Samaritan” with a “ministry” to aborting women. “I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God’s work,” Parker told the New York Times.
The Bad Samaritan
Parker needs to take a careful look at Luke 10:25–37 before appointing himself God’s abortion hero. The parable of the good Samaritan is familiar to nearly everyone, even nonchurchgoers. People think they get it. Socialists say it’s about the redistribution of wealth. Conservatives say it’s about giving more to charity. Religious people say it’s about helping the poor with Christian love. Truth is, we all need to take a closer look.
The primary context of the passage is not social justice. It’s salvation. A lawyer schooled in the Mosaic law challenges Jesus with a question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus gives a chilling answer: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26). The lawyer knows exactly what Jesus is driving at and answers correctly: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus affirms his answer with devastating clarity: “Do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28).
Why did Jesus answer that way? The lawyer just asked how to get to heaven, and Jesus says nothing about the gospel. He tells the man, Go do what the law of God demands. Love God perfectly. Love your neighbor perfectly. Then you will live. We find out why Jesus said this in the next verse. The man was self-righteous (Luke 10:29). When the lawyer attempts to justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replies with the parable of the good Samaritan. The parable flips the narrative from “Who is my neighbor?” to “Am I a good neighbor?”
We Can’t Save Ourselves
Here is where it gets real. If we think the story is simply about showing kindness to poor people or merely how to act toward those in need whom we might be predisposed to dislike, we have missed something. Take another look at the narrative. The love Jesus illustrates here is perfect: flawless self-sacrifice, flawless love for someone who hates you (remember, Jews despised Samaritans), flawless financial sacrifice for the needs of a complete stranger, flawless giving of our time (and not just once). Nothing else is acceptable to the law of God. Problem is, who loves like that? The lawyer should have fallen to his knees and cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). But instead, he seeks to justify himself.
“If you’ve participated in abortion, you don’t need an excuse. You need an exchange: Christ’s righteousness for your sinfulness.”
We have a real conundrum. The Bible says that without righteousness, no one will enter the kingdom of God. It then says none is righteous. The best pro-life advocate you know fails the test. The local pregnancy center director fails the test. I fail the test. Left alone, we are not righteous.
There is only one fix for our failure to love. We need what Christians have sometimes called an “alien righteousness” — not something out of a popular horror flick, but a righteousness outside of us that we can’t manufacture. Thankfully, the righteousness we need is the righteousness God provides through Jesus.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Romans 3:21–22)
Here we have the perfect alien righteousness. And it’s a gift! We aren’t made righteous by doing good stuff. We are declared righteous because God provided a perfect substitute to stand in our place condemned. Forget about justifying yourself. He offers greater grace than our darkest sins.
Baptizing Bloodshed with Bible
Rather than repent and believe the good news, however, abortion advocates often cite Scripture to justify child killing. They’ll tell you the Bible never mentions abortion and thus nowhere condemns it. Abortionist Willie Parker makes this very claim. Whenever you hear it, you should ask one question to clarify things: “Are you saying that whatever the Bible doesn’t expressly condemn it condones?”
The Bible nowhere condemns abortion by name. Is abortion justified? Certainly not! The Bible is clear that all humans have value because they bear the image of God (Genesis 1:24–28; 9:6; James 3:9). Because humans bear the image of God, the shedding of innocent blood is strictly forbidden (Exodus 23:7; Proverbs 6:16–19; Matthew 5:21). The science of embryology is clear that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Therefore, the biblical commands against the shedding of innocent blood apply to the unborn as they do everyone else.
Moreover, the Bible’s alleged silence on abortion does not mean that its authors condoned the practice, but that prohibitions against it were largely unnecessary. The Hebrews of the Old Testament and the Christians of the New Testament were not likely to kill their offspring before birth. To understand why, let’s step into their world and take a look.
“The righteousness we need is the righteousness God provides through Jesus.”
First, children were seen as a blessing, while barrenness a curse — the worst curse for a woman (Psalm 127:3–5; 1 Samuel 1:6; Genesis 20:17–18; 30:1, 22–23). Second, immortality was expressed through one’s descendants. God promises Abraham to make of him a great nation (Genesis 12:1–3), and that promise is passed on to Isaac, Jacob, and on down the line. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward,” writes the psalmist (Psalm 127:3).
Third, among a people surrounded by hostile nations, continuing one’s family line was vital for national security. Fourth, having children was a sacred responsibility: God’s promise to bless all nations through Israel was predicated on replenishing the land with offspring. Fifth, the early Christians of the New Testament were Jewish believers who inherited Jewish morality, including the commands against shedding innocent blood.
Put simply, in a culture where children are a gift and barrenness is a curse, and where a nation’s destiny depends on parents having lots of children, abortion is unthinkable. Hence, the Bible’s silence on abortion does not suggest permission, but that prohibitions were largely unnecessary.
Great Savior for Great Sinners
At the end of the day, Parker’s self-justification is breathtaking. University of North Carolina professor Mike Adams put it well in his recent debate with Parker:
You will notice something about that parable: When someone was robbed and beaten and lying by the side of the road, you know what the Good Samaritan didn’t do? The Good Samaritan didn’t stop by the side of the road and slit his throat and slowly and methodically dismember him. I believe that the Good Samaritan parable is a pro-life parable, and I don’t appreciate it being hijacked in the name of God. That is obscene.
Abortionists are not Good Samaritans. They are substitute saviors. Substitute saviors can’t save us. Only Jesus can. If you’ve participated in abortion, you don’t need an excuse. You need an exchange: Christ’s righteousness for your sinfulness.
And whether or not you’ve participated in an abortion decision — whether you’re a man who encouraged a woman to abort, or a woman who made that decision because you thought you had no other way out — this righteousness is offered to you. Post-abortive men and women can now experience true forgiveness, knowing that God accepts them on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, not their own. When you trust Jesus to save you, God the Father is no longer your condemner. He’s your dad, and he adopts you into his family as a dearly loved child.