It was nearly dawn, and the September sunrise squeezed early morning light around the edges of dark, heavy curtains. The rays filtered in in feathery trickles at first, and then they strengthened into a blinding streak dividing the room.
And just like that, I knew.
I was pregnant.
I was pregnant because I’d been forced against my will, and I could no longer hoodwink myself with the delusion that I was in control of my own destiny.
I also knew instantly that I had only one hope—that the One who cast the quickening light into my dark heart would carry me through the changes that this quickening life in my womb would bring.
For a society that glorifies self-actualization and encourages the elimination of inconveniences and obstacles, the facts fell perfectly into place for their formulaic solution: I had conceived through rape, ergo, I must abort.
For me, it was a defining moment. It was a moment that forced me to rethink what and whom I allow to define existence and worth and good.
I hadn’t even taken the at-home test yet, but like many moms whose hearts confirm what science hasn’t yet verified, I was certain there was a baby growing in me. Not a blob of tissue, for what blob of tissue is accompanied by the protection of a mighty God who tilled the hard ground of my heart, stirred up the memories of scripture truths, and turned a life of self-destruction around to provide a haven for it? The sense of God’s supernatural surgery on my soul was so real, so tangible, that it overwhelmed even the physical sensations that were barely perceptible at this early stage in the pregnancy.
The pronouns, the promises and the declarations the Lord expresses about us as we develop in utero are personal and specific. Cultural fancy footwork notwithstanding, no honest follower of the Biblical Jesus can deny that God identifies us as unique persons.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Blobs of tissue aren’t in mind here, and no amount of prevaricating or dissembling can alter that.
I realized that all the wishing I might do—that it was an unfortunate dream, that it didn’t matter, or that I would be able to figure something out that wouldn’t require me to give up my dream job, my great apartment, my independence—none of that could recast the truth or change the definition at that moment.
I. was pregnant. with a baby.
That, however, wasn’t the definition that others were willing to accept. Oh, no. You could almost see the feminists and the liberals rubbing their hands in glee as they anticipated my voice speaking out for their side. (In fact, I actually did see one person react with glee over my circumstances.) Their definitions focused on me as a rape victim. Many were the voices who tried to convince me that the life I could have without continuing with this pregnancy would be so much better than anything that would come with the choice to carry to full term and deliver. Even more, to them the manner of conception defined the worth of the child within me as well as whatever future I would have.
"You don't want that . . . that thing . . . in you for nine months?!" "You can get rid of it in good conscience, you know." "Men are such pigs."
I couldn’t fathom how such irrational arguments could dribble from educated people. Good reasoning begins with the definiton of terms, and bad argumentation relies on altered definitions. How can personhood be ascribed arbitrarily? How is it a baby only if I say it is? How does my wanting it make it more human than if I did not? How could others have any clue as to how happy or worthy my life would be, as if contentment or satisfaction or joy is measured quantitatively and requires a fixed combination of factors and events? How could they impose on me a label, defining me by an external event, if I chose not to see myself identified that way?
Cartoonist Adam Ford queries the logic and rationality of pro choice arguments more effectively than I ever could:
What I came to see was that the Lord desired and planned for the purpose of making me a new creation, growing me in holiness and transforming me into the likeness of His Son by means of this event. (2 Corinthians 3:18) And He planned for and purposed for the making of a new creation in the person of my baby by protecting her life and in time doing His work of regeneration in her heart. In fact, that reality of New Definition in Christ is a chorus that resounds throughout the New Testament:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:10-11)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
Why would I or anyone choose not to be loved and cherished, not to have every work of the Lord of the Universe be to the perfecting unto glory of my mind, heart and soul? This is the definition of goodness and mercy and kindness. This is how a God who loves operates, by not leaving us in the mire of sin and death, but by bringing us—sometimes through pain, even pain like childbirth—to life. Glorious life. What a heavy, sad, broken-hearted life it would have been for me to exist in the knowledge that I denied the grace and mercy extended by the Savior.
Rape is tragic. Violence is sickening. It is a foul blight on humanity that it has happened —and no less authority than the word of God has condemned it. It damages a woman physically and emotionally—but never irrevocably. Never without hope. I know its ugliness and I know women who are haunted in this life by both physical and emotional wounds. But it is never without hope.
Death is more. Death is permanent, and causing the death of another who is not guilty of a crime has for thousands of civilized years been condemned and punished. By what reason would death to an unborn child, faultless of the crime of the father, be an exception to that moral statute? Murder by abortion is heinous, but it also is a sin that is forgiveable, for which there is grace, mercy, and hope.
Every moment of that pregnancy reflected the pregnant richness of the Word of God as I studied it more; the months were set apart by the beauty of communion as I prayed through doubts and struggles and times of thankfulness; and the following years have been ruled by the truth that my divinely defined status as a member of Christ’s body replaced my previous life as a stranger to God. The new life that came on that September day that the light cut through the darkness and turned a stone to a heart of flesh has been filled with awe and gratitude for the Life-Giver.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray--
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
("And Can It Be", by Charles Wesley)
What are you doing to honor God’s love of life and His place as the Giver of life? My baby’s all grown up now, and she delights in telling the story of how God saved her twice: first from a society that regarded her as an unfortunate but disposable casualty of violence, and then to an eternity of walking with Jesus. What are you doing to recognize that all lives belong to the Lord, and are not to be used as bargaining chips in political games? Rebecca Kiessling, president of Save The 1 reminds us that the Lord sees the value of every child: “A baby is not the worst thing which can happen to a rape victim—an abortion is.”
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:10-14)