Posted on January 23rd, 2012
“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things…. And in one Lord Jesus Christ … by whom all things were made…. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.” The issue is not abortion. The issue is not a matter of our culture. The issue is not a matter of our educational system. The issue is not a matter of the support, or apathy, among our clergy. The issue is not our political system.
To be sure, all of these are broken. Our culture is a cesspool, saturated with soft pornography, blasphemy, and covetousness. Our educational system devours the minds of the young, producing relativists who think they follow science and reason but fall prey to the simplest of logical fallacies. Our politicians seem more interested in winning elections than winning the issues. My dear brothers and sisters, do not place your trust in any politician or political party. They all have demonstrated repeatedly that, given great power, they will not resolve the abortion question in favor of life.
But as I said, the issue is not abortion. Now without a doubt, the abortion holocaust is the civil rights issue of our day. I long for the day when our entire nation will look back and see abortion unequivocally as the great evil it is, just as we now recoil with horror at our nation’s past of racism and slavery. It is possible.
But marches and political rallies won’t do it. Make no mistake: I’m glad you’re here for the march for life. I’m going too. But in the long term, we don’t need to storm Washington with signs and slogans, but storm the gates of hell with the confession of the Creed. Mark again what you confessed: the Father is the maker of all things; the Son, Jesus Christ, is the One by whom all things were made; the Spirit is the giver of life.
From a political perspective, abortion is simply a matter of civil rights. As persons of different ethnicities should not suffer discrimination simply because they are different, so the weak and vulnerable should not suffer death simply because they are inconvenient.
But we have gathered here at Immanuel this morning not to invoke Caesar but Immanuel, God with us, and to consider not Roe v Wade but Revelation, Dragon v Woman.
Revelation paints for us the cosmic story in which we are now involved: “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” The entire narrative of Scripture, the story of human history, has been the pursuit of the woman by the dragon, the serpent, the devil. Why? What makes the woman unique? Her capacity to bear children. What is damaged in the fall? The woman’s childbearing.
The great women in the Scriptures have remarkable stories of conception. Sarah, barren into old age. Rachel, demanding of Jacob, “Give me children, else I die!” Hannah, barren, petitioning the Lord so fervently that Eli thinks she is intoxicated. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Immanuel. And behold, she does! Who is the woman in Revelation? She is Eve, she is Sarah, she is Mary, she is the Church, she is us.
And the dragon makes war against her. Abortion is not an issue of Roe v Wade, Republicans v Democrats, but Satan v Humanity, and especially Satan v the Disciples of Jesus. “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.”
Have you been unwittingly part of that war, on the wrong side? It’s taken me a long time to figure out that while our church says all the right things about abortion, little is done to address all the scaffolding of the abortion culture. Where are the Lutheran crisis pregnancy centers? Where are the Lutheran adoption agencies? Birthrates among Lutherans have drastically declined along with the general population. For the pro-choice mindset has already been adopted when contraception is embraced. The use of contraception says, “We will decide when to have children, and what number is convenient for us.” Thus we make ourselves out to be God, and children are viewed as the result of our choice, decision, and will, instead of received as a gift from God. Until we as a church become a community that welcomes the unwed mother, the unexpected child, the unwanted child, how can we expect others to welcome the children growing in their wombs?
And I urge you to welcome in your churches women who have had abortions with the message of love and forgiveness and acceptance, remembering that a woman haunted by her past abortion may be someone you see at church on Sundays and are chatting up at coffee hour. She may be ashamed by it and mortified that you would reject her if you knew. Love her; and if you are a pastor, guide her to confession so that you can give her the gift she needs: holy absolution. The Word of God, spoken quietly and lovingly to broken sinners, must accompany words shouted in slogans on marches.
Only God can stop abortion. For it is not the work of the Supreme Court, Margaret Sanger, or Planned Parenthood. The murder of children has been going on since Cain slew his little brother, since Pharaoh slaughtered the Hebrew boys born in Egypt, since Herod slaughtered the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem.
Only God can stop abortion, for we do not have the strength to overthrow the demonic powers arrayed against the world. And this is the joyous good news in Christ Jesus: the book of Revelation which paints for us the picture of the cosmic war, the dragon pursuing the woman and making war on her offspring, also announces the end of the war, the day when there will be no more tears or sorrow, no more lying politicians or unjust judges, the end to our own sexual weaknesses and selfish choices. For all has been finished in Christ.
In this time until Christ’s return, what we are called most of all to do is pray for mercy and show mercy to our neighbors. So if you are going to the march today, use it as a time to pray for our nation, and for yourself, asking God to have mercy on us as a people and pardon our sins—ours, not theirs. And then rejoice, knowing that the words Jesus spoke are still true: “It is finished.”