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How hard should we be fighting to end abortion?
This question haunts every truly pro-life person. It takes various forms. How much time and money should we be expected to give? What sort of things should we be doing and saying? What should our attitude be when we do them? What sort of risks should we be willing to take?
Determining the role that each individual should play may seem daunting, but the task becomes much easier if we learn to keep one very important question at the forefront of our minds: How would I respond in a world where born people are murdered? If the preborn are really just as human as the born, it follows that in any given situation, we should respond to injustice against preborn people in a way similar to how we should respond to injustice against born people. This is called Moral Consistency, and it’s the most important thing we need to remember as we examine how to get serious about ending abortion
So, how should we respond in a world where people, born or preborn, are being routinely murdered?
At least one historical example is very instructive. Yad Vashem (aka the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority) has awarded its Righteous Among the Nations award to more than 25,685 individuals for their heroic actions to save Jewish persons during the European Holocaust of the early 1940s. As noted on the Yad Vashem website, it is possible that the total number of persons who sheltered Jews and other targeted groups is as much as four times that number, but because they were caught (and often executed) their names are lost to us. Those that did survive made great sacrifices of time, money and personal agendas. Many of these people had no special position that would make them ideal candidates for taking such extreme measures. Their numbers include people like businessman Oskar Schindler and watchmaker Corrie ten Boom. They simply recognized that when innocent people are being routinely murdered, stopping these murders is one of the most important duties a person has.
It’s obvious, then, that fighting to end abortion justifiably takes an extremely high place in the list of our duties, and we are amiss if we do not find ourselves making the same sorts of sacrifices to end abortion as we hope we would make to end the routine murder of born people. With this in mind, let’s examine how the average pro-life person can be morally consistent in regards to working to end abortion. First, let’s look at time.
HOW SHOULD WE SPEND OUR TIME?
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, every week in 2014 the average American adult with children and a job worked just over 40 hours, but since this number includes part timers, we’ll bump it up to an even 45 hours. They spent about 59.5 hours sleeping or falling asleep, and 39.62 hours preparing and eating meals, making purchases, caring for children and performing other household tasks. (1)
This leaves just almost 24 hours per week for religious services, family time, recreation and any other unforeseen situations that may arise. Couldn’t 4 of those hours be used to help bring an end to abortion? Four hours is only 2% of the week, and remember, we're only talking about, employed adults with children. Minors, singles, retirees and perhaps even homemakers would have more flexibility.
No doubt most people reading this will be quick to insist that, no matter what the statistics say about ‘average’ people, they themselves don’t have any free time. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans report “Not having enough time” to do the things they want to do in life. 2 This is incredible, considering that barely one generation ago, many of the technological advances we use to make life easier didn’t even exist. How is it possible that modern pro-life Americans don’t have enough time to deal with a problem as immense as abortion? Where are we spending our precious hours? Well, here is a short list:
Working harder to get promoted; pursuing higher education; family vacationing; cleaning house; gardening, mowing your lawn; interior decorating; home improvements; jogging, basketball, baseball, football, hockey, hiking; kayaking; drama club; antique restoration; watching TV; playing video games; socializing; painting a portrait; reading for pleasure; visiting night clubs; shopping; visiting a theme park; taking a cruise; learning to play a musical instrument; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; Lions Club; Rotary Club, Circle K; Kiwanis; Elks; Knights of Columbus; volunteering in a soup kitchen; volunteering with Habitat for Humanity; volunteering at a nursing home; choir practice; decorating your church; participating in a short term mission trip, etc.
Upon seeing the above list most readers will probably be outraged. They will think “How can you suggest that we are wrong to have a career and get an education? You can’t tell me that it’s wrong to spend time with my family, enjoy life and volunteer at my church! These are GOOD things!”
They may be good things. Some may be extremely good and even sacrificial things. The question, however, is not “Are these activities good?” but “How much time should I spend on these activities when children continue to be slaughtered all around me?” We need to face the hard truth that many of the good things we currently spend our time doing may need to be curtailed, and in some cases indefinitely postponed, until abortion is dealt with.
For example, everyone must find a way to support themselves, but we need not insist upon working at our dream job or working extra hours to get promoted. Everyone needs education, but we don’t need to insist upon a specific degree, and it might be necessary to postpone higher education altogether. Everyone needs recreation, but probably not as much as we think we need. Worship, fellowship, evangelism, Bible instruction and service to the needy are all essential components of the Christian life, but, depending on the hour, even these activities may not always be our top priority. Saving our neighbor from destruction can indeed take precedence.
If such a mindset seems too radical, remember that these are exactly the same sacrifices made by millions of young Americans at the start of World War II. Nearly every young man fit to enlist in the Armed Forces did. In doing so, he postponed his education, his career plans and in many cases his plans to start a family. He endured extreme hardship and sometimes paid with his life. Professing Christians were no exception. In fact, they probably enlisted with even greater enthusiasm than their secular counterparts. Everybody just assumed that ordinary life would have to wait until the war was over, and few if any people thought the decision was difficult.
The fact that abortion is legal should have a significant impact on the way we allocate our hours, and if it doesn’t, we can’t really say that we’re taking abortion seriously.
HOW SHOULD WE SPEND OUR MONEY?
What about money? Like time, it’s hard to determine exactly how much money each pro-life person should be contributing, but consider this: there are about 38,000,000 Americans who think abortion should be illegal in all cases. 3 About 18,000,000 of these people are employed.4 If each of these people set aside $1 each week, that’s $864,000,000 a year. You could fund a small army of anti-abortion activists with amount of money, purchase air time on major television networks, or do a host of other things.
Of course that’s not where our money is going. As we demonstrated in a previous lesson, neither Evangelical nor Catholic churches are routinely giving anywhere near that much money to anti-abortion initiatives. Part of this is due to the fact that we don’t understand how the movement could use the funds. However, it is also true that pro-life people, and their churches, are finding other ways to spend it. Such expenditures may include:
Expensive homes; new cars; college debt; vacations; diamond engagement rings; golden wedding rings; new cell phones; retirement funds; recreation; swimming pools; hot-tubs; furniture; new clothing; plastic surgery; expensive social events; private education; coffee; church buildings; church parking lots; expensive worship services; pastor salaries; men’s retreats, women’s retreats; youth programs; all forms of charity not related to ending abortion.
Once again, you will notice that very few of the things listed above are intrinsically “bad”. Some are in fact very noble. Even today, in the midst of the abortion holocaust, some money should obviously be reserved for the needs of one’s family. Some should probably be given to help the poor or sick, protect the persecuted and deal with other acute needs. Yet too often we are financing wants instead of needs. Even when we do spend money on needs, we often choose a less important need over a need that is more important.
There’s an easy way to tell the difference between needs and wants. Simply ask “Did my great-grandparents need this?” While not a perfect formula, this does help to put everything in perspective. If previous generations, especially previous generations of Christians, did not find it necessary to spend money on beautiful church buildings or entertaining worship services, we probably don’t, either.
Many will say, “This doesn’t apply to me. I don’t waste money and I don’t have much debt. I probably give more to help others than the majority of people in my church.” While this is commendable, remember, our goal should not be to simply out-give those around us (which is actually quite easy) but to meet the needs around us, including the need that preborn children have to survive. John Wesley understood this principle, which is why throughout his life, no matter how much he earned, he limited his own expenditures to the absolute necessities of life and gave the rest of his income to charity. As long as the needs of any person, including any preborn person, are unsatisfied, we should not be spending money on wants.
However, just because something is a need does not make it the right choice. Each and every tentative expenditure should be considered in light of the fact that we live in the midst of a holocaust. We must realize that quite often, ending that holocaust trumps whatever other things we might consider spending our money upon, even if these things are also “good” and help people in need. Just as repentance is more critical than offering a sacrifice (Matthew 5:23-24), defending our preborn neighbor is more critical than many other moral responsibilities.
This, then, is how hard we should fight to end abortion. Naturally, these are not easy principles to live by. Doing so will cause major changes in your lifestyle. For many people, it would mean a complete reorientation of our lives. You would have to sacrifice a lot of the things you enjoy doing and alter many of your plans. You may very well have to cut back on serving God in one way, in order to free up more time and money to serve Him by saving preborn babies. Yet if abortion really is murder, we are living in the midst of a genocidal society. This is not a normal world and our lifestyles shouldn’t stay the same.
REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES
1. American Time Use Survey – 2014 Results, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf
2. Time Pressures, Stress Common to Americans by Joseph Caroll, Gallup (January 2, 2008) http://www.gallup.com/poll/103456/time-pressuresstress-common-americans.aspx
3. Nearly every national survey has revealed that at least 12% of the US population opposes abortion in all circumstances http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm. The current population is 319 million people
4. Age and Sex Composition: 2010 by Lindsay A. Howden and Julie A. Meyer, US Census Bureau (May, 2011) http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf. Also see unemployment rate cited by Bureau of Labor Statistics http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000
What if abortion