Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion in America. Since then over 40 million unborn babies have been legally killed in our country.
I can still remember when abortion first gripped my heart as a moral issue that Christians cannot avoid. It happened in 1979 when Moody Magazine published a cover story featuring renowned surgeon (and later Surgeon General) Dr. C. Everett Koop on why abortion should matter to every Christian. It was as if the light had been turned on and for the first time, I saw the truth, felt the pain, understood why Christians must speak up on behalf of the most defenseless members of our society–the unborn.
I can also remember those halcyon days of the early 80s when Christians united across denominational lines, motivated in large part by our desire to see abortion made illegal once again. I began to write about it in local newspapers, and I began to speak about it from the pulpit. I joined the small army of pro-lifers who said, “Here is where we draw the line. We will not compromise on this issue.”
On this day I give thanks to God for all those who have spoken out and worked on the side of life. I am grateful for peaceful picketers and for sidewalk counselors and for lthose who walk, run and march for life and for letter writers and for brave pastors and for church leaders who support those pastors. And I am very thankful for those who have started crisis pregnancy centers across America and around the world. Tens of thousands of babies have been saved from death because someone cared enough to reach out to hurting young women, desperately afraid, often abandoned by boyfriends and family alike, who would have chosen abortion if not for caring counselors who encouraged them to choose life. And I thank God for those who have adopted children and those who run the Christian adoption agencies. God bless everyone who has spoken out on this issue. And I thank God for those who have voted for life year after year, waiting and praying for better days to come.
About ten years ago I was asked to give a devotion to the leaders of the largest crisis pregnancy center in Chicago. It happened on this very day–the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I reminded them of Abraham Lincoln’s stirring words in his Second Inaugural Address, arguably the greatest speech he ever made. It is certainly his most theological speech. In the central paragraph he ponders the ways of God in allowing slavery in the first place and the bloody cost to bring that barbaric cruelty to an end. He concludes with the scriptural truth that “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Then he ends with these soaring words that express as well as anything can the true heart of the American dream:
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
This is why we keep up the fight 35 years later. We banish all malice, we do not judge the hearts of others, but with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, we press on to finish the work we are in.
I am sad and glad today. Sad that abortion is still legal in the United States, but glad that a vast army, much larger than it was before, joins hands and hearts to speak out against the profound inhumanity of killing the unborn. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “the arm of the universe of long, but it bends toward justice.” Indeed it does. And that is our hope today.
May God forgive us for destroying our own posterity. And may God grant us tenacious, winsome courage to fight the good fight in whatever ways we can, until the day when the scourge of abortion is removed from our land.