How do I justify Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ stance on abortion? I was just asked that question, based on what I wrote in Do American Christians care about truth at all? It’s a really good question. The truth is, I don’t justify it. I can’t. Abortion is wrong. However, so many things we do are wrong. How do we decide whether one is worse than another? Or, for many people, how do we decide that one might be so bad that it dwarfs everything else?
To be honest, I used to have three of those “hot button” issues. One was abortion. The others – well, they’ll follow in other articles. Notice – those are past tense. “was”. If I have a “hot button” issue today, it’s about how we treat each other. How one of God’s children treats everyone and everything else in His creation.
There are a number of reasons for my original “hot button” issues. Also a number of reasons why they aren’t anymore. And a number of reasons why I care so much about we treat each other and how we maintain (or destroy) God’s creation. Although, how we care for each other has to be number one. How we treat this world we live in is partly doing what God charged Adam and Eve with – and very much because of the impact our actions have on people because of what we’re doing to this planet we live on.
So let me go through those issues. As I do, remember, this is my life, my background, where I’m at right now, and what I believe the Bible is telling us. It’s OK for you to disagree. It’s not for me to judge anyone. But I do feel it is for me to express my beliefs about what the Bible says. Just don’t hate.
A message about and from a women’s center
But first, I want to share something with you. Just before the COVID shutdowns began here in California, I visited a women’s center. They were like everything I thought a center like this should be. Caring. Loving. No judgment. Just kind help. I was so impressed. It was Options Women’s Center in La Puente. Their Director, Shannon, sent me the following to include in this article.
“At Options, we provide support services to women with unplanned pregnancies in a compassionate and respectful environment. We believe in helping women holistically which means we care about their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. We find that most women who say they need an abortion don’t actually want one but feel like they have no choice at all. Our purpose is to help such women, such families, find hope in their circumstance and for their future.
Part of the Options culture is a strong sense of family. Many women served have described stepping into Options as feeling like home, like family. Often, we are the first people to find out about a pregnancy, something that is typically shared with intimate family members. Sometimes, women feel they wouldn’t have the support of their family if they found out about the pregnancy or are hesitant to share the pregnancy with family because of fear of disappointment. We have the great honor of being in that moment, offering the support that would typically come from a family member. Options has welcomed babies at the hospital, celebrated 1st Birthdays, marriages, graduations, many significant events in the lives of the families served by Options. We are working alongside a community of people who are creating this family culture by committing to these women and their precious children. We believe that as the community rises up to provide help and hope in the midst of the unplanned, we truly will see a culture that values and protects human life.”
Options will, if desired, pray for and with people. It’s not required. No pressure. It’s just what they do and one wat they show their love.
As a Christian, I believe this is how we should approach the abortion issue. Not with judgment, legal challenges and sometimes even hatred. Rather, we should do as Jesus did, and do all things in love.
I mentioned that I visited Options back at the beginning of COVID where I live. Now, more than six months later, I’m finally writing about it. Honestly, I’m not surprised it took that long. Sometimes, even when I think something’s really important and needs to be done “now”. God’s not ready for it. That seems to be the case here. I could have written about the visit right away, back in March. But it didn’t feel “right”.
Now, we’ve got the election coming up, where how America – as a country – will approach abortion. And there’s the question I was asked. The time is right. And so it’s all coming together. In God’s time, not mine. I pray that also means someone reading this – (maybe you?) – is also seeing it at just the right time. If so, look up Options if you live in the Southern California area. If you’re not around here, but need someone like them, find a center where you or a friend will be treated in the same manner. Like someone who matters. Someone who needs love and care.
And so, with that as a background, here’s my answer to the question I was asked: How do I justify Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ stance on abortion?
Christian Hot Button issue – abortion
OK – this one seems obvious. Abortion is murder. For a long time, I looked at it the same way. How could I vote for anyone who wasn’t pro-life? It’s like condoning murder.
Occasionally, maybe even very occasionally, abortion is a women’s health issue. Abortion is somewhat personal for me. Somewhat, although not as direct as many of you. My grandmother, mother’s side, had an abortion – maybe – sort of. It actually was a women’s health issue. My grandmother’s life, in fact.
I don’t know the details, but from what I was told, the doctor had to make a choice between her life and the baby’s. Apparently, back then, this kind of case almost always meant save the baby and if the mother dies, so be it. For whatever reason, the baby died and my grandmother lived. My mother never forgave her mother. She felt she should have had a brother and it was her mother’s fault for sacrificing the baby.
Was it actually an abortion or what it a doctor’s call during the delivery? I don’t know. But I do know it had a huge influence on my mother’s relationship with her mother. It’s like she was a horrible person for not dying and therefore preventing my mother from having the brother she should have had. I never understood why.
My grandmother was always so nice to me. For the last ten years of their lives, I was the one providing emotional and monetary support to keep them at home. It was just the “right” thing to do. They lived back east in Pennsylvania. I’m in California. I’d fly back at least twice a year and visit for at least 4 weeks. Take them out to eat. Go shopping. Just talk and keep them company.
My grandmother was Christian. My grandfather wasn’t. I had two caregivers helping him, since the last few years he was alone at home. The last couple weeks he had to go to a nursing home. At the very end, I was calling a lot and sending emails for someone to read to him. One of the caregivers was in the church choir and would sing hymns to him every Sunday after her own service. On the last night of his life, He accepted Christ. Then went to sleep and passed away.
Had I hated them, like my Christian mother did, none of that would have happened. In fact, my parents told me not to do anything to care for them. They would have been removed from their home many years earlier. Probably would have died much earlier. And the chances my grandfather would be waiting in Heaven for me are pretty much zero. A soul lost, because of hatred. That’s just so sad. Especially when the hatred comes from someone who’s claiming to be a Christian.
Christian Hot Button issue no more – abortion
The scenario I just described is real. If anything, it was actually much more brutal on my parents’ part than what I included.
I can’t help but wonder, how often does something similar, or worse, happen because Christians forget about Jesus’ command to love everyone.
6:29, 30 pp — Mt 5:39-42
Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Notice something in this passage. It’s about things others have done to us. Not to someone else. To us, personally.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
In light of that, knowing that an abortion is not something someone did to us personally, however wrong it may be, notice what Jesus said.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Someone who has an abortion is not our enemy. They are God’s enemy. But not ours. They are only our enemy if we decide we want to make them our enemy.
Let’s keep going, to see why that’s important. Remember something else Jesus said. Something about murder. Something to keep in mind for those, me included, who consider abortion to be murder.
5:25, 26 pp — Lk 12:58, 59
Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Mt 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Mt 5:25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
OK – we all know the first part:
Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.
And so we presumably are trying to keep someone from committing murder. And in the process, we think it’ll help to make abortion against man’s law as well as against God’s law. But is that really important? Does it really help? Or does it just make us feel better?
But let’s keep going. There’s so much more in this passage.
I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
OK – which one of us has never been angry with our brother? And oh, by the way, if you think you’re off the hook because you have no brothers, sorry. Not true. And if you read a translation that tries to be gender appropriate and says brother or sister, sorry but you’re still not off the hook. Why? Because here’s what the Greek word actually means.
80 ἀδελφός [adelphos /ad·el·fos/] n m. From 1 (as a connective particle) and delphus (the womb); TDNT 1:144; TDNTA 22; GK 81; 346 occurrences; AV translates as “brother” 346 times. 1 a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother. 2 having the same national ancestor, belonging to the same people, or countryman. 3 any fellow or man. 4 a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection. 5 an associate in employment or office. 6 brethren in Christ. 6A his brothers by blood. 6B all men. 6C apostles. 6D Christians, as those who are exalted to the same heavenly place. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Today, Christians tend to go with the English (or whatever language) word in our chosen Bible translation. But let’s be honest. Jesus spoke to Jewish listeners. What He told them, taking into account language and cultural differences between then and now, but always maintaining the overall Biblical intent, is what He’s telling us today.
Therefore, we must consider that Jesus’ Jewish listeners would have understood Jesus was telling them not to be angry with anyone who could fit within that broad definition. They would have understood that Jesus told them not to be angry with anyone. Not that they could do it any more than we can. But that should be our goal. And it leaves us no room to carve out exceptions for people that we think it’s OK to be angry at. Or to hate.
Tell me. Is there any one of us that can honestly say, given all that, we’ve never been angry at a “brother” the way Jesus used the word? I dare say, no one’s going to try to claim they’ve been successful. And given that, let’s look at one more thing Jesus said:
Jn 7:45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
Jn 7:46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared.
Jn 7:47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”
Jn 7:50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?”
Jn 7:52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11.
Jn 7:53 Then each went to his own home.
Jn 8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Jn 8:9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Jn 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
As with adultery, abortion isn’t a sin directly against us. And it wasn’t a sin against the teacher of the law or the Pharisees. It was a sin against the man’s wife. And, if married, against the adulteresses’ husband. And most importantly of all, it was a sin against God. And yet, here’s Jesus telling the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. They left. And Jesus, who was directly sinned against, forgave her.
Summary: Hot Button issue no more – abortion
Given everything we just looked at, which of us is ready to now condemn someone who’s had, or is considering an abortion?
But let’s go beyond that. A while back, I wrote something titled, If you stop abortion – so what?
It goes into questions like:
If we do stop an abortion, who’s going to help care for that mother and baby if the reason for the abortion is that the mother just isn’t capable of dealing with a child at this time in her life? There’s all sorts of reasons. Lack of money. No home. No father. Abusive relationship. The list goes on and on.
When I wrote that, I got an email back that something like 99% of the time, it’s about convenience. I’m sorry, but the numbers just don’t bear that out. Beyond the list, consider that even healthy mothers get depressed during and / or after pregnancy. If the mother’s alone, who’s going to help with that?
As Christians aren’t we called to do something other than try to pass human laws and make the prospective mother feel hated and alone? Aren’t we supposed to be trying to help? Don’t we have a responsibility to help? Aren’t we supposed to help care for the poor?
Do we remember what James wrote about favoritism? Essentially about ignoring or putting down the poor?
Jas 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Do you think this doesn’t apply to abortion? How about this? Laws are passed making abortion illegal. Illegal in this country. The rich, they don’t care. They’ll go to another country. It’s the poor who suffer. The poor can’t go to another country. And the poor can’t afford to pay a doctor to not report an abortion.
The poor have to go to the clinic that was closed because abortion is illegal. Or they’ll go to an “underground” facility that doesn’t have proper care. And if something goes wrong, they’ll get very sick and maybe die.
Is that our objective? As Christians, is that what we’re really trying to do? We have noble reasons. But are they doing what’s really important?
Jas 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
Jas 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Oh – Love your neighbor as yourself. Do we want to be one of the poor who have to suffer what I just wrote about? Or do we want to be one of the poor who has the baby, and then can’t afford to give him or her proper care? Do we care about something beyond just the fact that an abortion was prevented? Or does Jesus want us to be sure that not-aborted child is taken care of as if it were one of our own? One of His own?
Jas 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
And the ultimate statement. Mercy triumphs over judgment! Are we interested in judgment? Or mercy? Do we remember when Jesus said,
Mt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
I, for one, would like to be shown mercy. I’m learning to show mercy. It’s hard, especially when it’s one of our hot button items.
Conclusion: Christian Hot Button issue – abortion
I hope I’ve given you something to think about. To pray about. And remember, prayer is a two way conversation with God. That’s important. Our hot button issue might not be God’s hot button issue. And what happens when our often committed sin becomes someone else’s hot button issue? Do we want them to do to us the same things we’re doing to others because of abortion?
I believe God’s hot button issue is more likely to be something like:
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
And then there’s always:
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In light of that, should our hot button item be strictly focused on preventing abortion?
Or should our focus be on spreading the Gospel?
On getting people to understand why abortion is against God’s will, rather than only trying to make it against man’s law?
Shouldn’t we focus on the eternal souls of both the mother and the baby? Helping the mother to navigate a difficult time?
Loving the mother, no matter her choice of whether to go through with the abortion or not? Loving mother and baby if the mother chooses to go through with the birth?
Ultimately, shouldn’t we be more like Christ? We are, after all, Jesus’ representatives here on earth – until He returns. And that is part of what we’re to do per the Great Commission. Judgment is His, not ours. We are to love. Even, and maybe especially, when we don’t want to.
|↑1||Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.|