Today, across the country, pro-life people have gathered at graves and memorial stones to remember the unborn victims of abortion. I am participating in this national day of remembrance at Kochenderfer United Methodist Church in Lebanon, PA. Several pastors will be leading prayers for the unborn and for women who have gone through abortion.
This is a day of remembrance.
How can we remember those who we have never met?
Elective abortion has been a reality of human experience for centuries - though the technology that enables it en masse has only been present for the past few decades. The watershed moment for abortion around the world is really the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade which made abortion legal across this country. Since that time, over 61 million human beings have been aborted in the United States.
That's more than the population of all but the top 21 most populous nations. There are 37 million Canadians. There are 51 million South Koreans. There are 60 million people in Italy. There have been over 61 million people aborted in the United States since 1973.
How can we fathom such an astronomical number?
The human intellect is not capable of fully comprehending the devastation of 61 million people killed by abortions. It is unimaginable that we could appropriately remember each of them as we ought. How can we memorialize such a painful reality?
And what about all of the unborn who have been aborted around the world? That number is even more sobering. The number of human beings aborted around the world since 1980 is over 1.5 billion.
Abortion has killed more human beings than anything else known to history.
And we have undertaken to remember the victims of abortion on this day.
An undertaking that we cannot fully accomplish.
We have never met them and we do not know them, yet we remember these victims. All of them.
Let us not be overcome by the numbers. Let us focus our attention on the most proximate reality.
The reports from 2017 (most recent) show that 138 women from Lebanon County had abortions.
One hundred and thirty-eight of our neighbors chose to have abortions in a single year. In our county alone.
We do not have these one hundred and thirty-eight children in our county. We don't get to see them in the park. We never got to see them in our nurseries. We never got to meet them. We never learned their names - presumably none of these unborn children were given a name.
How can we remember those whom we have never met?
It is their humanity that we remember. We remember them as human beings who's lives were taken so prematurely. We remember that there were 138 image bearers of God in Lebanon killed by abortion. We remember that there have been over 61 million image bearers of God in the United States killed by abortion. We remember that there have been over 1.5 billion image bearers of God in the world killed by abortion.
We remember them. We remember their loss.
We do not know them. We don't have the capacity to know them. God does.
God knows them. God knows their names.
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 139:15-16
God is so good. These human beings, made in his image, are known by him. And his heart breaks over the destruction of his creation. God knows them intimately. Just as he knows each of us intimately. And he loves them. Abortion breaks his heart more than it could possibly break any of our hearts. God mourns this tragedy more than we could ever fathom. How many times have we prayed that God would break our hearts for what breaks his?
Today, our hearts are broken over the destruction of the unborn.
Let us take a moment of silence as we remember and mourn. This is a day of repentance. The bloodshed of abortion is immense. This is a great guilt upon all of us.
Whether we have participated in this atrocity or have spent great amounts of energy opposing it, we all share in the guilt of the land. We are members of this society, and we have failed to protect sixty-one million of our country-men from death. We failed to protect one hundred and thirty-eight of our neighbors in Lebanon County from death. What caused each of these women to choose abortion? What are their circumstances? What are their troubles that afflict them?Why didn’t they choose life? Those questions plague us. We can’t fully know. We don’t have the capacity. They have not told us. We do not know who they are. We cannot ask them. But God knows. He knows each woman who chose abortion. He knows the women who were forced to have abortions against their wills. He knows the women who were afraid because of their health. He knows the women who were afraid because of their child’s health. He knows the women who were afraid because of their financial situation. He knows the women who were afraid because of their family situations. He knows what drove each woman to have an abortion.
And God has compassion on each of us in our sinfulness.
He knew all the grief and pain of abortion - each and every one of them - before he took the penalty for sin upon himself. Christ bore our sins upon the cross.
Through him, there is reconciliation with the Father.
And that reconciliation is offered to all people, no matter what they have done.
Years ago I saw a miracle of life as a woman, who had just had an abortion, chose repentance in the very parking lot of the abortion facility. In tears she repented of her sin and asked Christ to forgive her sin.
Just as the thief on the cross was forgiven, so this woman was forgiven.
Other women have carried their guilt for years before they were drawn to repentance. Pastors across this country have had the privilege of being present while women received the forgiveness of Christ.
And I have received the forgiveness of Christ.
For every time I have selfishly turned aside from doing right. For every time I have chosen sin. To watch pornography. To lust. To hate others. To be angry with my brothers. The penalty for my sin is the same as the penalty for abortion.
And Christ bore that penalty.
Praise God for his great grace!
Let us all repent, and bear fruits in keeping with repentance.
This is a day of resolve.
Today we mourn the loss and the destruction of abortion.
Today we also must resolve not to allow abortion to continue. We must stand up for life.
There are many ways that we can do this.
We can stand outside of abortion facilities - reaching out to women right before and immediately after abortion. Offer them the hope of a better way. Help them to choose life before it is too late for the child, and help them to choose repentance no matter what.
We can speak - making the truth known in the public sphere. The upcoming March for Life in D.C. will be followed a few months later with a Pennsylvania March for Life in Harrisburg on May 18. Attend both if you are at all able. Speak up in support of life in the public sphere.
We can serve - providing support and help for women and families facing difficulties during a pregnancy or afterwards. Work with your local pregnancy center to help meet the immediate felt needs of abortion-vulnerable moms.
And do all that you can to make sure those around you know about all that you are doing. Not so that you will be praised by them, but so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven. Let your light shine.
You could save a life - if you put aside sin, choose to serve, and speak up. Let us resolve not to fail again. Yet we lack the capacity to do all that is necessary to end abortion. We don't have the ability to do this, no matter what our resolve.
But God can. He will end abortion. He will wipe away every tear. Let us remain in Him. We remember the loss, we repent of our sin, and we resolve to end abortion. Not by our own strength, but fully relying upon Christ. We pursue life and godliness.