CROSSFIRE SERMON SERIES
FEBRUARY 5, 1995
Rachel is a thirty-five year old mother of five children. She is so excited because finally her youngest has entered the first grade which means she can work outside the home and hopefully save enough money for college tuition. Her husband is not as far along in his career because five children have a way of slowing that down. Their house is jam-packed, it is too small. The only car that they have keeps breaking down and Rachel sees a light at the end of the tunnel. She sees some relief out there. However, something terrible happens. Rachel finds herself in a crisis situation because, you guessed it, Rachel is pregnant again. Pregnant again. She feels devastated. Her husband is furious. She doesn’t know what to do.
This afternoon though, Rachel gets in that broken down car and drives over to your house, that’s right, to your house. She knocks on your door and she asks you what she should do about her crisis situation. She comes to you, not me, to you for counsel. What would you say to Rachel? Compassion would say for you to really feel her pain, to identify with her. And compassion would lead you to invite her to take a trip in your car down to the local clinic. In forty-five minutes some doctors could take care of this tissue mass, these products of conception and in just a little while everything could be A-OK for Rachel. The problem will be done away with. Surely, surely you would put Rachel’s well being, her husband’s well being, her five children’s well being above the well being of a tissue mass, wouldn’t you?
Before you do that, though, before you grab the car keys, I want you to collect your thoughts. I want you to think about the situation. And why don’t you call this tissue mass by another name? Why don’t you call it a developing baby, which medically speaking is a perfectly accurate term? A developing baby. And if this developing baby is protected, one day it will come into the world, it will lock eyes with it’s Mom and Dad, it will make those cute facial expressions and sounds, it will nurse at it’s mother’s breast, it will turn parents into picture-taking fools who will show these pictures to anyone who comes within a fifty mile radius. If the child is protected. Wouldn’t you give her advice to take care of this developing baby? Someone protected you. Someone protected me. We’re here. If we would have had a say-so in the decision whether to live or not, I think most of us would have chosen life. And I think you would tell Rachel, “Hey, Rachel, I know it is going to be tough, I know it is going to be difficult. Take care, protect this developing baby.”
Today we are talking about a riveting issue called abortion. I am in a series called Crossfire, and we are talking about light-weight topics. Last week, racism, this week, abortion and next week, the environment. We think about abortion, we see abortion, we read about it. Many here have probably gone through it. What about abortion? What about it? When you say the term abortion you think about two camps. You have got the pro-choice camp, those who are for abortion and then you have the pro-life camp, those who are against abortion. Let me go on record by saying that I am in the pro-life camp. I strongly believe in protecting developing babies. However, I have talked to a number of people and know a number of people on the pro-choice, pro-abortion side. When they counsel, expecting ladies to get an abortion, they always tell me that the reason that they are counseling for abortions is because of the value of compassion. “I am compassionate about the ‘rights’ of women.” I talk to people on the pro-life side and when they counsel expectant mothers not to have an abortion, they say that the value that drives them is the value of compassion. “I am compassionate about this deal.” And I want to say, everyone is being so compassionate, and that is fine and dandy, but who is right? The issue is you can be compassionately wrong.
I want to share with you, today, some influences that have impacted my decision to be pro-life. You see, to become a Christian and to face issues like we are facing today, God does not want you to leave your brain or your intellect outside the door of the Art’s Center like you would leave your shoes outside the door of a Japanese restaurant. Some people think, “Well, I think that today as I go to church I will just leave my brain in the car. Let’s got to church, honey, and whatever the Pastor says, I’ll just accept it, face value, no problem, no discussion.” God wants us to think. We need to be thinking Christians. And I pray that you have an open mind as you hear from my heart why I am pro-life.
The first influence I can think about that has impacted this decision for me is the Bible. The B I B L E, that’s the book for me. You read the pages of scripture, as I have read the pages of scripture, and you will see the high value put upon human beings. The Bible says we are made in the image of God. We are not educated apes. We are different, one of a kind, unique human beings. God says He is with us during the time of conception, when the sperm meets the egg. God says He is with us when we are in our mother’s womb. God says He is with us when we are born. God says He is with us when we go through infancy, when we got through childhood, even the teenage years. That’s hard to believe for some of you parents. And He is with us throughout adulthood and, if we come to know His Son personally, God will be with us throughout eternity. A high value is placed on life. The Psalmist said it in Psalm 139:13-16. Verse 13. “For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Notice David did not say, you knit it together, you knit me together. Verse 14. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” David just got a glance, he just had a sliver of what God had done in his life, of how amazing He is. And David said that he wanted to express his love to God because He is so awesome, so great, and He made him. Verse 15. “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, I was woven together.” This term woven together in the Hebrew literally means embroidered. It has to do with your veins and arteries. And I am sure you have taken a biology class and seen how the veins and arteries look like they were knit or sown together. Verse 16. “Your eyes saw my unformed body.” The Hebrew term for unformed body is rendered embryo. So this verse would read, Your eyes saw my embryo.
Look what Jeremiah 1:5 says, God speaking. “Before I formed you, Jeremiah, in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” You take a quick glance at the Old Testament and you see directive after directive protecting human life. God wants to protect us from being victimized, God wants to protect us from being assaulted and one of the big ten, in Exodus 20:13 the Bible proclaims, “Thou shalt not kill.” The worst thing that I can do or you can do is to take the life of a human being. God says that is not your prerogative. That is only My prerogative. Just think about the Old Testament for a second. Verse upon verse upon verse protecting human life. You won’t find a verse, though, in the Bible that says, do not have an abortion. You cannot find that. But, the Bible, I believe, gives scores and scores of verses that encompass this issue of abortion. Case in point. Exodus 20:13. Think about the New Testament. People don’t realize when they read about Jesus in the gospels how radical Jesus was. I think people portray Jesus and therefore we think of Jesus in terms of an emaciated looking individual who was so solemn and serene, who never laughed and was not a man’s man. That is not the picture of our Lord. You take a trip to Israel and you see just where Jesus walked during a twenty-four hour period of His life. I dare say very few people here who run marathons and triathalons could do what He did as far as just walking. The man was a man’s man. And Jesus said some radical things. I am talking about some things that were counter-cultural. He said things like this concerning human life. “Love your enemies.” Jesus said don’t scheme and dream of ways to get back at your enemies, that is so natural, that is so humanistic. He also said, “Turn the other cheek.” And then He said words like this in Matthew 25:40, “When you have defended and cared for the least of these, you have done that unto Me.” Jesus is saying to those of us who are powerful, those of us who are healthy, those of us who have some stroke, do whatever you can to protect those individuals who are the most vulnerable, the poor, the widowed, the handicapped. And I had to ask myself this question as I read this verse. Who, Ed, in our world today happens to be the most defenseless individuals? That is a no-brainer. Developing babies. Developing babies. You’re talking about defenseless.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” God send Jesus Christ to redeem mankind to Himself. If that does not tell us how valuable human life is and how we should protect developing babies, then I don’t know what does. So the Bible plays a major role in my life. In fact, I could close this message right now and say, that is enough for me, the B I B L E. That’s it. Just for grins, though, just to continue my view and my decision-making process on being pro-life, let’s take the Bible and remove it for a second. I am not even going to talk about the scripture. I’m still talking about abortion but the Bible is removed from the discussion. If there was no such thing as the Bible, if there was no such thing as heaven and hell, I would still be pro-life because there is something else that has influenced my decision. The Bible is enough. But it continues. Another area is recent medical data. Just recent medical data would cause someone, I believe, to seriously consider being pro-life.
A year and a half ago, my wife walked into my office and she said, “Ed, I have a surprise for you.” And I thought this was kind of strange, it was two o’clock on Tuesday afternoon and we had just concluded our staff meeting. She had a video camera and she put the video camera on my credenza area, pushed the play button and she stood in front of my desk and she said, “Ed, I want to show you something.” And she pulls out a picture from her purse and she hands it to me and she said, “We’re pregnant. We’re going to have a baby.” And I look and there is a sonagram picture of a little baby. You could see the little baby. And here is what I said in my nervousness, I said, “Lisa, congratulations.” Like I didn’t have a part in it, you know. And she said, “Ed, I am so happy, that is baby A.” Well I didn’t really think about that for a second, it kind of just went over my head. Then she takes her long fingers, puts them in her purse and pulls out another photograph. She puts it on my desk. “Ed, that’s baby B.” I said, “Say, what?” And she said, “Twins!” And my head just kind of hit the desk. Bam. One day during an intimate moment, I will show you that video. I have plans one day to show it.
Look at, though, the advances in medical technology. Two decades ago there was sort of a veil over what happens in the development of a human being. Now, however, with all these monitors, with all these pictures, it is amazing what we know and what we can see. Read Life magazine, Newsweek, check out a video at Blockbuster on the human being and you will see as I have seen a twelve-week old fetus has facial expressions. A twelve-week old fetus can more its arms and legs, a twelve-week old fetus can suck its thumb. This is not a tissue mass we are talking about, this is a developing human being. The recent medical data. Eighty-five percent of women who are considering abortions will not abort the baby if they are shown a picture of a child in the same stage of development as their developing baby. People on the pro-choice side, in my opinion, oftentimes are uninformed, misguided and they have not really done their homework. Many people in this camp are really into being pro-choice because of song I used to sing that goes like this. “Money, money, money….money.” Do you remember the OJs? Anytime you see someone have a view that just medically speaking is skewed, you follow the money. There is 1.5 million abortions a year in our country. There is one abortion every three minutes. An average abortion costs about $300, you do the math, $300 multiplied by 1.5 million, you have a half a billion dollars roughly. So you are talking about major cash. Major cash.
Even the secular minds and doctors, from the Mayo Clinic to the Harvard Medical School, are deciding that life begins at conception. In about six weeks brain waves can be detected. In this society we say that if a person has no brain waves they are dead. Why then do we not call a fetus a human being if it has brain waves? Recent medical data. Have you done your homework? I pray that we have some thinking people here. And again I am not talking about the Bible, that is over here on the stool right now.
There is a third factor that has influenced me, sheer logic. Sheer basic,
ABCDEFG elementary school logic. Think about it. A couple of years ago we went to Florida for a vacation and I have told this story before but it really hits home on this whole abortion issue. LeeBeth, my daughter, and I walked out on the beach and LeeBeth noticed a fence in the middle of the beach right by the surf. And she asked what it was. I told her I wasn’t sure but that we should walk over to see what it was. We walk over and there is a sign that says Warning, Sea Turtle Eggs. And it explained to us that if we touched the sand or the eggs we could be arrested and thrown into jail because of touching and damaging sea turtle eggs. Are you ready for that one? And I am thinking to myself, here we are concerned about sea turtle eggs when we are letting 1.5 million children die a year. More than all the wars combined. What kind of logic is that? What kind of rationale? What kind of thought processes are going on?
Yet I hear women say, “Well, it’s my body. It’s my choice. I have a right to choose.” Wait a minute. You are saying it is your body? Question, ladies or men. When you are feeding your child, when it is nursing, is the baby your body or is the baby the baby’s body? That is a no-brainer, it’s the baby’s body. When the baby is in your body, Mom, is that baby’s body your body or is it the baby’s body. It’s the baby’s body. It is located in the womb but it is the baby’s body. So what we are talking about is not the nature and essence of whether or not it is a child, we are talking about the size and the location. Basic logic. Would you starve a week-old infant, Mom? Would you just say that you didn’t want to feed the infant any more? No. You would be thrown into prison for that. Yet, we look at abortion and what goes on? Logic. Logic.
There is a final influence, though, and I challenge you to do your homework on it. And this has to do with counseling situations that I have found myself in. I have had the opportunity and I don’t know why, just by the sovereignty of God, over the last ten years to be exposed to thousands and thousands of people every week. In Houston, I regularly spoke to about 12,000 people weekly as an associate pastor down there, and here I speak to a couple of thousand, at least, a weekend. Because of that, at a very young age, I have been put into situations where I have had to talk to ladies, hundreds and hundreds of ladies who have had abortions. I have never met a lady, I have never met a lady who has had an abortion who was not deeply wounded and deeply scarred by that abortion. I have not met that person. Yes, I have read and heard about women who say, “Oh, abortion is no big deal. It is like having a wisdom tooth pulled. No problem.” I have not met that person. I would encourage you not to have an abortion due to the fall-out that it causes, the sheer fall-out. Ladies, it is not worth it.
Let me stop here and say something to those of you who are pro-choice, you are for abortions. I want to say I respect you and I respect your opinion but again I don’t think you have studied the factors. I really don’t. And I challenge you to let this message motivate you to really do something to come to a Biblically based, medically supported, Christian thinking decision. That is my challenge to you.
Let me say something now to those of us who are pro-life. If you are pro-life make sure you follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit of God. Make sure you get involved in this process. If it is writing letters, if it is picketing, I don’t know what it is. I’m not talking about violence. I am not for violence at all. I think the Bible makes that candidly clear, but I am saying, get involved in it. And if you are so concerned about pro-life, also be concerned about other issues that protect life, working with the homeless, the needy, the poor, the downtrodden, the depressed. Make sure there is balance there.
Let me say a word to those ladies who have had abortions, and we have many here. Many, many, many. I will say it three times and I am going to bring the Bible back. OK? I have got to bring the Bible back on this one because if I don’t you are never ever going to have freedom. You will live in a prison cell of regret and depression for the rest of your life if you don’t take that guilt to Jesus. Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins be like scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Now a word to those ladies who are considering abortions right now. Don’t do it. Based on the authority of scripture, don’t do it. There are tens of thousands of parents who would give anything to rear your child. Great parents. Some of my close friends in Los Angeles, CA recently send us a card with a picture of a baby they had just adopted, and I can’t describe the joy on their faces. I pray you will protect the child.
You know what. Time is kind of escaping us and I could go on with this whole issue but I don’t really know that much about this issue compared to the couple from our church that I want you to meet, Burt and Lee Anne Odom. I want you to listen very closely to this personal story regarding abortion.
Lee Anne: Romans 5:20 says, “For where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” And that is a testimony to my life. I have lived that verse. In December of 1981, I found myself pregnant and unmarried. For twenty years my God had been my own self-image and my own reputation. Up until that point I thought I had done a pretty darn good job on both. I was very proud of the fact that even though I was obviously sexually active with my boyfriend, Burt, who is now my husband, I never spent the night away from my own dorm room. Oh, the girls down the hall, they probably came in at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 AM, but I was better than they were. I was home, I was decent, I was respectable, I was in my own dorm room. But I was faced with the ultimate self-image problem. I was pregnant. Well, the decision was easy. Get it done, as fast as you can, as far away as you can and, for God’s sake, don’t let anybody on the face of this earth know it. And that is exactly what we did. The initial feeling was relief, it was over with, it was behind us. Just get on with the rest of your life. But there wasn’t a day that didn’t go by that I didn’t think about it. Every day I thought about it.
A little over a year passed and I really came to grips with the truth of what I had done. I had sacrificed the life of an innocent for my own self-image and reputation. And at that point my self-image and reputation could offer me very little comfort or solace. And it was at that point that I also realized that this intellectual knowledge I had about Jesus, the fact that He had been born, that He had been crucified, and that He had risen again had been of very little value to me. It had done nothing for me and I realized that what I needed was a relationship with the living Lord. I was tired of running my own life. I had to admit, I had done a pretty crummy job. I had done something that I never dreamed I could do. So by the grace of God I found that relationship with the living Lord.
This story of grace begins to grow. Years passed. Burt and I married. But even though we lived exemplary Christian lives in our church as leaders, as Sunday School teachers, I still secretly bore the guilt and the shame and the regret of having had an abortion. I secretly walked around with a scarlet A branded on my forehead and that was my identity. I saw myself as a woman who had committed abortion. The depression and the grief and regret grew and grew and grew. The Lord moved us to Dallas. We had been married seven years and we had begun to want to have children. We discovered severe infertility problems. I am saying, OK, Lord I deserve it. This is my punishment. But the grace began to flow even more in my life. I met a precious, beautiful girl here at the Fellowship of Las Colinas who by God’s plans disclosed her past to me. And it gave me the courage to disclose my past to her, the first time it had ever crossed my lips. She got me in touch with a bible study, an abortion recovery bible study, which I attended for eight weeks. The turning point came when my abortion bible study leader looked at me and said, “Lee Anne, are you greater, are you bigger, are you holier than God that He can forgive you but you can’t forgive yourself?” And that was a huge turning point in my life.
Well, talk about grace flowing, it was three months later that we were given the news that we were expecting twins. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more. And I want you to know it is such grace that I am standing here in front of you, a person who worshipped self-image, whose god was her reputation and what other people thought of her, but am now able to tell you what I have done. It was the ultimate ruination of a self-image. But you know what? I no longer wear that scarlet A on my forehead. The Lord in His grace has caused me not even to see myself that way anymore. And I want you to know, it doesn’t matter what your sin is, you may never have committed abortion, your sin might be different. But I want you to know that where sin increased, graces abounds all the more.