First Posted 26-Jun-2014
So, imagine yourself young, still in high school, calling a tough neighborhood home, counting a single Mom as a parent, and learning that you are pregnant. The boyfriend wants to abort the child. You are conflicted, thinking maybe since it’s not been that long, that the embryo isn’t a baby yet, so would it really be so wrong? Then, you are invited to an event where there is food and friends, the senior pastor of a prominent church, some of the elders of that church, the youth pastor and the praise team leader. There is also the leadership of a local non-profit whose stated purpose is to help at-risk kids become productive members of society. The leader of that non-profit is passionately pro-life as are many in the room. It is announced that there will be a debate, that you will captain one of the debate teams, and the topic is, “when does life begin?” The moderator of the debate tells you that you are to argue this point of view, “it’s not a baby until the heart begins beating“.
Everybody you care about is there along with church leadership. Your private problem is about to be everybody’s business. You start to figure out that through the debate you are about to be called out and publicly shamed. As captain of one of the debate teams you are asked to speak first. In front of everybody you are expected to argue in favor of your boyfriend’s words, “it isn’t really a baby yet so an abortion isn’t so bad”. That’s the setup.
I and my son would last about a nano-second before exploding, cussing out the room, and leaving. I would totally understand if this girl broke down in tears in front of everybody and ran outside. What she did amazed me. She stood her ground and did her best to state the case asked of her, that it isn’t a baby until the heart starts beating. Her boyfriend was there and he stood with her, trying to honor the elders in the room by echoing their less than helpful words–it’s not a baby, it’s like a cyst you can just freeze off. For the next 45 minutes she stood at the back of the room and watched us kick this issue around. I watched this charade and was heart-broken for the girl. All these people assembled, some prominent in our community, to push her to make another choice besides an abortion. As I watched I looked online for info on when a baby’s heart begins beating. One source I found said that it can occur as early as 18 days from conception. This girl was nearing the end of her first trimester. If the premise is that it isn’t a baby until it has a heartbeat then she and her unborn child had passed that milestone. Nothing about this was going to be easy.
What set me off was the huge social pressure brought to bear on this new mother through the charade of a debate. There was nothing debate about it. The whole thing was rigged to push a point of view–abortion is murder and your unborn child is a baby because by now, it does have a heartbeat. That’s not a debate. That night the “debate” devolved pretty quickly. The truth of the game afoot became clear in the first minute. This was a dirty trick to pull on this mother. I don’t like abortion. I also don’t like false premises like this being perpetrated as a means justified by its desired end. We are not removed from our obligation to behave well just because an egregious sin is threatened.
Last I heard the mother had agreed to give the child up for adoption. Ends should not always justify means. We too must answer to God for our behavior. We are saved by grace but we live here, in this broken world, with each other and though we are saved, we still have to mind our manners.