January 17, 1999

NO OTHER CHOICE

“…you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16).

The Choices We Made–that’s the title of a book in which various people tell their experiences and feelings connected with having abortions.  But the most striking thing about the book is that although the book’s title speaks of choices, almost all the people telling their story say they had no other choice.

Elizabeth Janeway says, “I decided to have an abortion because there was no other thing to do.”  Kay Boyle says, “My husband and I were both working very hard, but we were poor and realized we couldn’t afford a baby…  I just knew it was the only thing to do at that particular time.”  Boyle later had a second abortion because, she again says, “It was the only thing to do.”  Patricia Tyson says of her abortion, “That was the only choice I had.”  Author Grace Paley and her husband already had two children and they hadn’t planned on a third.  When she found out she was pregnant again, she says, “I knew I couldn’t have another child.”  Norma Sayre says, “When I found I was pregnant, there was no question whatsoever in my mind or the young man’s that an abortion was necessary.”

And so it goes.  In story after story, it sounds like abortion wasn’t a choice but a necessity.  Whoopi Goldberg says that when she got pregnant for the first time, she aborted the child herself using a coat hanger and didn’t tell anyone.  The next year she got pregnant again.  This time she told her mother.  How did her mother react?  She told Whoopi she should couldn’t possibly have a baby.  Whoopi agreed and got another abortion.

Barbara Corday, a prominent TV producer, declares, “I had an abortion because I believed there wasn’t any other alternative…  it would have been an impossible situation.”  She later had her second abortion, she says, because “the man absolutely did not want any more children.”  Actress Margot Kidder of the Superman movies says, “I remember sitting down and saying to the doctor, ‘I can’t have this baby.  I have to have an abortion.”  Actress Anne Archer uses almost the exact same words: “There was no way I would have had that baby.  I had to get an abortion.”  Actress Polly Bergen explains her abortion by saying, “I couldn’t have that baby.  That baby would ruin my whole life.”

Is this getting repetitive?  Sorry about that, but remember, all these quotes are from a book called The Choices We Made.  With every story, it sounds more and more like the book should have been titled, We Had No Choice.  Rayna Rapp and her husband aborted a Down’s Syndrome baby because raising such a child “would call forth more than we could muster.”  Christine Grimbol, a clergywoman who promotes abortion rights, says of her abortion, “It seemed to me abortion was the only choice I could possibly make and carry on my life.”  The book includes plenty of talk about a woman’s right to choose, but the refrain of nearly every one of these people is that they had no other choice.  They considered abortion their only option.

Closely related to this attitude toward abortion is a certain attitude toward sex.  Grace Paley declares,

My generation… and the one right after mine have been the only ones to really enjoy any sexual freedom.  The kids have to know that it’s not just the right to abortion which is essential; it’s their right to a sexual life.

Paley talks about sexual freedom, but what does this freedom amount to?  Most contributors to the book believe that girls and boys, women and men, really don’t have much choice but to be sexually active, whether they’re married or not.  Choice is the buzzword, but the reality seems to be that people have no choice.

Anne Archer says, “I feel very strongly about a woman’s right to control her own body,” but then, just a few sentences later, she implies that, when it comes to sexual urges, a woman is unable to control her own body.  “The truth of the matter,” she says, “is I was going to have sex …  That’s the thing people don’t realize.  Girls are going to have sex.  The puberty experience for a girl, just as it is for a boy, is so driving and so enormous that to abstain until marriage is not realistic.”

Rita Moreno echoes this, saying that she didn’t have the power to control her desires.  She says, “I was terribly, terribly frightened of getting pregnant,” but had sex anyway,

“which goes to show you how strong the sex drive is and how natural.  Despite all that terror … I still now and then would give in, succumb, to those pleasurable moments.”

Strange, isn’t it?  With all the talk about choice and sexual freedom, the fact is that these people seem to have no choice or freedom at all.  It saddened me to read how trapped they felt.  Sex is inevitable.  Abortion is a necessity.

Why do they feel this way?  Well, the sense of having no other choice isn’t just true of sex or abortion.  It’s true of sin in general.  Sin is slavery.  Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”  But then he goes on to say that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34,36).  With the help of the Lord Jesus, it’s possible to know true freedom and make real choices.

Do you have freedom and new life in Jesus?  Many people who talk loudly about freedom aren’t free at all.  They have sex outside marriage because they can’t control their bodies, they have abortions because they see no other choice–and yet talk as though this is freedom.  We’re so eager to be our own boss that we barely notice we’re doing what we’re doing because we see no other choice.  We’re slaves and we don’t even know it!

The fact is, none of us is our own boss.  I’m not, and you’re not.  “You’ve got to serve somebody,” as Bob Dylan sings.  “It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord.  But you’ve got to serve somebody.”  In Romans 6, the Bible puts it this way:  “…you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16).  Those are the only two options: either sin is your master, or God is.  Who is your master?

When God is your master, you treat certain things as sacred, and other things as unthinkable.  God himself is sacred, and it becomes horrifying and unthinkable to dishonor his name or violate his will.  Even when God’s will seems very hard, you do it because you’ve got no other choice.  God is your master, his honor and his rule are sacred to you, and so you obey him.

When God is your master, human life is sacred.  God made us in his image, and he commanded, “Thou shalt not kill.”  Some people argue that God doesn’t directly condemn abortion, that the Bible is silent about it.  That’s a lie.  The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  That settles it.  Granted, the Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not kill unborn babies,” but then it doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not kill teenagers” or “Thou shalt not kill sixty-year-olds” either.  It simply says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  One command protects all, because all human life is sacred, especially the helpless.

When God is your master, his honor is sacred, human life is sacred, and sex is also sacred.  Some people have the notion that the Bible teaches sex is dirty, but that’s not true at all.  Sex isn’t dirty; it is sacred.  The Bible teaches that sex is so holy, so beautiful in the committed relationship of husband and wife, that it’s a tragedy to spoil or misuse it.  Your sexuality is so sacred that nothing less than sacred marriage is the right place to express it.  The Bible says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

When God is your master, his honor is sacred, human life is sacred, sex is sacred, and it’s unthinkable to violate them.  But when sin is your master, your whole sense of what is sacred and what is unthinkable is upside down.

When sin is your master, God’s honor is no longer sacred.  You can use words like “O my God” and “good Lord” and “Jesus,” not with reverence, but as casual swear words.  God’s name isn’t sacred, and his commands aren’t sacred.  Only your right to do as you please is sacred.  If it feels good to you, that settles it.  It would be unthinkable not follow your own preferences.  God isn’t even significant to you, let alone sacred.

When sin is your master, human life is no longer sacred.  Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood, bluntly that abortion is killing–and she supports it anyway.  “Any pretense that abortion is not killing,” she says, “is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus, but it is the woman’s body, and therefore ultimate her choice.”  Given the choice between giving up your own plans or killing an unborn child, it would be unthinkable to give up your own plans.  Your plans are sacred; the child’s life is dispensable.

When sin is your master, God isn’t sacred, life isn’t sacred, and sex isn’t sacred.  God says that sex is for marriage, and marriage is for life.  But Anne Archer says, “I believed that … sex before marriage was absolutely right, that it was a natural human experience.”  To more and more people, sex is just a form of recreation–nothing sacred about it.  You just do whatever you feel like whenever you happen to feel like it.

Now, when you’re told that God and human life and sexuality are sacred,  you may think it sounds limiting and oppressive.  You want to be your own person and do your own thing.  But like it or not, you’re not your own person.  If you’re not serving God, you’re a slave of sin.  You may talk about freedom, but what really happens?  Instead of controlling your body, your body controls you.  Instead of making your own decisions, you do what boyfriends or husbands or parents pressure you to do.  Instead of choosing something because it’s right, you ignore questions of right and wrong and do what you feel you have to do.  You’re a slave of circumstances.  You have no other choice.

So don’t be fooled by all the hollow talk about freedom and choice and control.  The fact is that all sin, including the sin of abortion, is a kind of slavery.  We’re sometimes told that abortion brings greater freedom to women, but that’s a lie.  As a writer from Feminists for Life has put it:

Abortion is a convenience for sexually exploitative men, who find it easier to pay for an abortion than to be responsible for the life they helped to begin.  In fact, abortion makes it easier for everyone–the woman’s boss, her landlord, her family, her church–to ignore her plight and the impositions it might cause them.

So don’t be fooled.  Abortion isn’t about liberating women; it’s about manipulating them and ignoring their needs.  St. Peter once said something about false teachers that applies to the champions of abortion today: “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity” (2 Peter 2:19).  One slave of sin tries to convince other slaves that slavery is freedom.

In Romans 6 the Bible says,

…you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness…  Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:16-23).

You’ve got to serve somebody, either sin or God.  When sin is your master, you go from bad to worse.  You “offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness.”   We’d like to sidestep this grim talk, but God won’t let us.  If God’s name isn’t sacred to you, you’re a blasphemer.  If human life isn’t sacred to you, you’re a murderer.  If sex isn’t sacred to you, you’re a fornicator or adulterer.  Don’t be fooled by polite little phrases.  Swearing isn’t “colorful language.”  It’s blasphemy.  Abortion isn’t “terminating a pregnancy.”  It’s murder.  Sleeping around isn’t “being sexually active.”  It’s adultery and fornication.  Sin makes you a slave of “impurity and every-increasing wickedness.”

The fact is that we’re living in a society that is so enslaved to sin that it sinks further and further into barbarism and death.  Probably the two most hideous forms of barbarism in history are child sacrifice and cannibalism.  Just thinking of such things makes our skin crawl.  And yet we’ve sunk to the level where millions of helpless children are aborted and sacrificed for the sake of parents and society, and their flesh is consumed by others in fetal tissue research.  White coats and stainless steel don’t change the fact that through abortion and fetal tissue research, this society is practicing child sacrifice and cannibalism on a far wider scale than our most primitive and depraved ancestors.  We call it progress.  The Bible calls it “ever-increasing wickedness.”

Making abortion legal was supposed to make society better.  Getting rid of unwanted babies was supposed to mean less child abuse, less poverty, and so forth.  But anyone can see that crime, gang violence, and broken families have become much worse in the abortion era.  We can’t build a society on death, and expect to live.  We can’t make the violence of abortion a pillar of our social order, and then be shocked when our society becomes more violent.  We’re killing our children.  Why are we surprised that our children are killing us?  The wages of sin is death: death for individuals, death for a society, death now, and death in eternity.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Even now, in spite of our sin, it’s not too late to change.  Death is inevitable if sin remains your master, but there’s another Master who calls you into his service.  Romans 6 addresses people who were once slaves to sin, but now have been set free to become servants of God.  Instead of going from bad to worse, they’re becoming more and more the pure, holy people God created them to be, and they are destined for eternal blessing.  As Romans puts it, “the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

That’s not because we deserve God’s mercy.  It comes as his free gift.  You and I can’t make up for the evils we’ve committed as slaves of sin.  Whether it’s swearing or sexual immorality or killing or cheating or lying or whatever, we can’t make up for what we’ve done.  We can’t remove the guilt or undo the damage.  If we get what we deserve, we get death and hell.

We don’t deserve a fresh start, we don’t deserve the glorious freedom of having God as our loving Master, but even though we don’t deserve it, it can happen because of Jesus.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Jesus’ sacrificed his life to set us free from sin and death, and he rose again to bring us new life.  Jesus’ blood can pay for any sin, whether it’s the awful sin of abortion or any other sin.  In Christ God accepts as his servants and children all who repent of sin and stop trying to excuse it, who trust Jesus’ blood to cover their sin, and who submit to the Lord as their new Master whom they are determined to obey.

Aren’t you weary of sin’s slavery?  Wouldn’t you rather be under new ownership?  Then accept the free gift of eternal life earned for you by Jesus.  Come to Christ today.  Submit your will to God’s will, and choose what he chooses.  Whatever you do, don’t plow ahead as a slave to sin, plunging further into evil as though there’s no other choice. Stop in your tracks, ask Jesus to take over your life, and look to him to guide your choices.

Perhaps at this very moment, someone listening to me is facing an unwanted pregnancy.  You’re in a tough situation.  But before you decide you have no choice but abortion, here’s a question for you: Do you want to go on being a slave of sin, or do you want God take over your life?  Choose life.  Choose eternal life in Jesus, and choose life for your baby.  You may raise your baby yourself, or you can give your little one to other loving parents through adoption.  That’s not an easy choice, but it’s a godly one–and what a gift it can be for your baby and for the new parents!

Let me share excerpts from an article by a woman who gave up her baby for adoption.  She was already a single mother with one child, she says.

And then when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse I got pregnant again.  Another child was on the way, born of emptiness and loss of hope, born of rebellion and discontent, born of desperate loneliness.  My shortcomings with one child were painfully evident, but with two–it would be impossible.

With one I had a small chance; with two, failure was inevitable.  I didn’t have the strength or the wisdom.

So I chose someone who was strong and wise.  Someone who was ready for motherhood, all equipped with a gentle husband; a plain, warm house; an empty cradle by the bed; and a heart aching for a child… I wanted this baby to call her Mother and the gentle man beside her, Father.  I wanted these lovely people to call her their own and love her as God intended parents to love their children.

Eventually, this woman got married.  She now has three children in her home.  But she hasn’t forgotten the child she handed over to others.  She says,

Three children are always with me, taking the world in by my side.  One lives elsewhere, having left an aching hole deep within me.  I guard that pain fiercely; I hold it sacred, for it is all I have left of this child.  In my mind rests peace; in my heart lives pain.

She’s honest; she doesn’t cover up the pain she still feels years later over not being with her child.  But she speaks of peace despite her pain, because she chose life.  The pain of giving up her baby to others is minor compared to the anguish she would feel if she had killed her baby–and the joy she has in knowing she had a role in giving her child life.  She writes,

God has given me the freedom that comes with making the right choice: freedom from regret, from turmoil, from guilt.  I made God’s choice, and I am honored that he chose me to make it, to carry this beautiful child of his to the family he intended for her (The Banner, October 26, 1998).

For those who belong to God, the choice is life.  There is no other choice.

PRAYER

Lord, it is staggering to realize the horror of sin and the iron grip it has on us.  Forgive us through the blood of your Son, set us free by his resurrection life, and direct our lives through your Holy Spirit.  Help people in hard situations right now to hope in you and to choose the life that you provide in Jesus.  In his name, Amen.

By David Feddes. Originally broadcasted on the Back to God Hour and published in The Radio Pulpit.