CONSIDER GOD'S CHOICE
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
In my first quarter of Seminary during the Fall of 1978, a distressed and pregnant friend asked me to explain our Church's stand on Abortion. She was obviously considering it. I honestly didn't know if there was any official position at the time, and so I suggested that she ought to do what she felt would be best for her. I lost contact and don't know what she ever did, but I am no longer so uninformed myself.
It is not my intention today to hur5t or offend anyone, but I'd like to give a full and straight forward explanation of our Church body's "Pro-Life" position and personally appeal that you ponder the "why's and wherefore's" of our official stance based on the Holy Scripture..
The Ultimate Aim
First, the most important item about the LCMS's stand is the fervent desire for grace, forgiveness and healing to come to every individual in all circumstances, events and experiences. We care, in other words about people who have suffered intense terminal illnesses to the extend of wanting Dr. Kevorkian to step in and assist them toward death. / We hurt for the young girl who, merely to escape the embarrassment of an illicit pregnancy being discovered, has had an abortion. / Our hearts go out to those who are raped and have therefore been made pregnant against their wills. / We want to receive in love those who have guilty regrets for undergoing abortion. / We're concerned for the guy who, regretting his giving in to passion, is given no "say" to possibly prevent the aborting of a life he sired. / We care about those who are financially or emotionally overwhelmed by suddenly having responsibility for the needs of a new little life headed for this world. / We're touched by the plight of those who want to conceive, but are biologically unable. / We don't want to play God by insistently refusing to "pull the plug" on someone whose decline toward death is irreversible, yet neither would we want to cut off someone whose life might still be saved.
The same pertains to our feelings for earth's millions who are handicapped, suffer from poverty, famine, natural disasters and war as well. We care and want humanity's needs to be met, along with the chance for every human being to learn of salvation and receive the blessings that come to us in Baptism and Holy Communion. – Please know that the will and desire for God's grace, mercy and tender providence to touch every life is our Missouri Synod's bottom-line!
A "Pro-Life" Stance
It's to that end that our Church therefore officially identifies itself as "Pro-Life". Public documents present us as being opposed to all forms of abortion and for any reason, except a case so extreme as to necessitate an abortion to save a mother's life. – I know it may sound harsh and narrow to some, and I care for what you're feeling (and have struggled with it to), but it does mean that we do not condone abortion even in cases of rape or incest or severe handicap.
We certainly don't condone the threats, bombings and murders conducted by some in the name of saving babies, but we do profess that those in wombs should be granted the same chance and access to earthly life, getting needs met, and having a relationship with God under His grace that is our bottom line desire for everyone else. We therefore encourage alternatives to abortion such as adoption, or a mother keeping a child ( with some assistance, ) perhaps entering a shelter of some kind.
Regarding the position on Euthanasia ("pulling the plug", "mercy" killings and assisted suicide), we basically would not press for using all the extraordinary measures possible to try to prevent death in every case, but more importantly (!), neither does our Church condone any manner of deliberately hastening the process, as by administering lethal drugs. ...Those are things that make up our official stance, but here now are some of those "why's and wherefore's" for which I appeal your consideration..
BECAUSE OF WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS AND IS
What Scripture Says
Adam and Eve were granted the power, but not the right to eat of the forbidden fruit. They were in fact expressly commanded not to, yet exercised their power against God. Cain had the power, but not the right to plan Abel's death. What he was up to is directly labeled as "sin" in Genesis 4, even though the 10 Commandments were not issued until centuries later.
Although opponents consider it inadequate, the Commandment against killing does pertain to abortion and euthanasia. Christians should know that it pops up in Scripture in many more places than just Exodus 20. There were even tough consequences prescribed against anyone who merely induced a woman's miscarriage. – A standard response is that "a fetus is not a person", so therefore the Commandment doesn't apply. Some minds seem to close right there, when the truth is that Scripture presents an overwhelming body of evidence beyond just the Commandment.
Several Bible passages cite the presence of God's Spirit with children in the womb, such as during the time of John the Baptist's development in Elizabeth's womb. There are many passages regarding those who were already personally named, known, called and ordained by God, and "in God's Book" while in the womb. Esau and Jacob and the nations that would proceed from them, Isaiah's prophecies concerning Christ, and Jeremiah's and St. Paul's appointments as God's spokesmen are some specific examples, — when all were yet in the fetal stage! God HIMSELF considered them as "persons".
Bible examples are too numerous to count regarding God's disposition towards the poor and oppressed, orphans, widows, strangers, those with all kinds of handicaps and the defenseless. Human life is of infinitely greater value with Him than the rest of all creation, and He expressly repeats that life and death and the existence of handicaps are HIS domain. He intends to workout His own purpose in cases like a man born blind, whom Jesus healed, bringing glory to God. God urges us to take special care of such people, for they are precious to HIM!
Those are some issues for which integrity requires a close examination. – Excusing abortion or euthanasia with comments about wanting "quality of life" for people, or wanting to prevent a child's growing-up abused, reveals a disregard for a lot of forthright statements from God. We can't assume that allowing the birth of some given child would absolutely result in poverty, abuse, illiteracy and social uselessness!
Ezekiel records God's claim that He has no pleasure in the death of anyone, and He therefore pleads that all might "turn and live". / Paul tells us that God wants all to be saved and have the chance to come to the knowledge of His truth. / Peter comforts us that God is not willing that any should perish, (yet warns that many are headed that way). / Even the parable of the Prodigal Son reveals God's yearning heart for all.
The single most insurmountable expression of God's own choice and will and desire, though, is absolutely shown us by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus summed up the whole purpose of His work in the words of this Theme Verse: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." He was formed in the womb and born in the natural way so that you, I , and all might have life – and life that is eternal! He kept every single Commandment without a rebellious attitude against God so that we might have life! – He suffered abuse as terrible as has touched anyone we might know (and worse), laying HIS life down,suffering the deepest pains of literal hell at the Cross — for the express purpose of saving humanity's life! By paying the "wages" for our sin, He was raised to LIFE again! That has to be the clearest clue about God's own intention for people! Everything about Jesus is about life for us!!!
What Scripture Is
When David confessed the double sin of adultery and murder in Psalm 51, he also acknowledged that sinful nature touched him even as he was developing in the womb. He had stood in need of God's grace, forgiveness and salvation even at that stage. That's how the Bible's teaching of "Original Sin" describes it for us all.
Now, either David's words were only ranting's of a very upset man, or they express the very truth of God for our learning and understanding. – If even one such verse is not God's Word, we could never know what is or isn't! We would have to doubt Christ's Virgin Birth and Resurrection, His payment for sin and every other Bible teaching.
Our Church's position ( and I hope your personal faith) is that all the Bible is God's Word an that therefore includes the examples I gave on His perspective about "persons" and the handicapped and so forth. – You've been given a list of Bible passages inserted in the bulletin so you can see for yourself how absolutely clear and straightforward God is about the issue of Life.
God has commanded us to baptize and teach. – How will an aborted infant ever learn that "God so loved the world that" that infant might not perish? How can an aborted one ever know the grace given in the words "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"? What chance will such a person ever have to grow to hear the comfort of the words "This is My Body and Blood given and shed for YOU"?
Whether or not God has something else "up His sleeve" for His grace to come to millions who have missed out on Word and Sacrament, we're still called to work with those means which He has given us. –Humans have the power to choose against God's marching orders to the Church, but we do not have the right!
Moses summed up all his giving of God's Words to the people saying:
"I call Heaven and earth to witness against you this day that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore CHOOSE LIFE that you and your descendants may live."
I present you with the same personal appeal today. Amen.