So there are already a million blogs written on the subject of the Planned Parenthood videos. There are some really great ones that are far more worth your time than what you about to read from yours truly, to be sure. Many of them are in my twitter feed and are worth a look. But, as I awoke this morning to the sound of my foster daughter’s sweet voice singing “Papa! Where are you??” I was struck with a thought that I felt compelled to write down.
So obviously, full disclosure–I am a Pastor at a non-denominational Bible Church in Texas. My stance on abortion is right where you’d expect it be, and I make no apologies for that. But in the interest of being forthright, let me assure you that while my belief in the Bible as wholly true and my vocation as minister of the gospel shapes my ethic on this issue (as it should), what has shaped it far more is my vocation as “Papa”–that is to say, a father to an amazing biological son named Liam and a first-time foster father to an amazing new foster daughter within the last 3 months.
That out of the way, back to the idea, which is simply this: if planned parenthood and pro-choice proponents are to be believed, according to their ethic, in their topsy-turvy world, my foster daughter probably ought not to have been born. Allow me to explain. But before I do, another small disclaimer: I can’t divulge the specifics of my foster child’s case. I can’t even tell you her name, how old she is, or show you pictures of how beautiful she is. So that may make the language of this post sound a bit strange and distant. Believe me, distant is the complete opposite of how Andrea and I feel when it concerns our foster child, and Lord-willing, one day our adopted daughter. We love her so much, and I can’t imagine her being a part of any other family now, even though that is not up to us.
All I can say is that she is a child born out of wedlock from two drug addicts who are tragically incapable of staying clean, holding a job, or staying out of prison, let alone adequately providing for or raising a child. Both parents’ extended families have the same addictive proclivities, and many of them have criminal records. It is a sad story, and one that you hear too often in the foster system.
As you begin the foster parent journey, you often hear stories like hers and others far more horrific during the training and from foster parents you meet. The sad truth is that some people just seem utterly incapable of being parents except in the biological sense. But you don’t fully become aware of that until you welcome that reality into your home. When our foster-daughter arrived, she was covered in head lice, had clearly not been been bathed in several days, had no shoes (and several splinters in her feet) and was wearing clothes two sizes too small. She was exhausted and terrified, having been taken from everything she had ever known. Even though what she had known was irresponsibility, abuse, and neglect, it was at least familiar.
She had been through immense trauma, inflicted by people who should have loved her. So I say again, it is my understanding that according to the ethic under which planned parenthood operates, all of this could have been avoided if her mother had just terminated her pregnancy. Better still, her unborn child’s tissue then could have been donated(?) to medical research that could one day save lives. At least something good could’ve been salvaged from this pregnancy that never should have been.
That’s the narrative pro-choice proponents want us to believe. If my foster child’s mother had just made a different choice, all of this terrible mess could have been averted. Right?
Wrong. It’s very wrong. You see, my daughter is a person. Despite the trauma she’s been through, which no doubt began in utero, she’s a human being. Despite her mother’s financial situation, emotional maturity, or her history of substance abuse, she became pregnant with a child. And let me tell you, that child is beautiful. She loves books. She loves to sing and dance. She gives great kisses on the cheek. Like most girls her age, she loves Disney Princesses. She’s a person. A wholly distinct individual, made in the image of God.
The ethical debate about when a person “becomes” a person has been well-covered elsewhere by smarter and more well-spoken individuals than me, but I can tell you what I know: If abortion on demand were really a morally acceptable thing to do, then we would not be wrong to say that it would have been better if my foster daughter would never have been born. But that’s a lie. It is wrong to say that. Clearly, my foster child enjoys being alive, despite all that she’s been through. I can easily tell you it wouldn’t have been better for me or for Andrea or even our son Liam, who has a new best friend. I could also say with confidence that even her biological mother would tell you (on a sober day) that her daughter is a blessing.
Was she born into a world that she never should have had to deal with? Yes. Did she experience things no child should experience? Absolutely! But snuffing out those bad experiences before they begin means stopping a beating heart and closing the door on good, redemptive experiences to come. It means that she would have never come to us and never learned what a loving and stable environment is. She would never have had a ridiculously happy foster brother to play with every day to help her learn how to have fun and feel safe in a strange place. She would never have had an amazing foster mom that would work with her day and night to help her cope with the trauma she’s been through. She would never have had me for a Papa, and I wouldn’t have been able to hold her sweet hands in mine and sing songs with her at bedtime.
You see, life (and that’s what we’re talking about–life) is full of good and bad experiences. That’s part of the gospel story itself, isn’t it? Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” I believe him. This world is broken, and all the evil that we will see inflicted upon children inside or outside of the womb is endemic of that fact. Yet it is also being redeemed every day. Those of us that believe the gospel believe that evidence of God’s grace is all around us. And more importantly, we believe that these things, these good and bad experiences have a sanctifying purpose. So, even if we believe that all these children taken before they can even breathe their first breath go straight to heaven, that’s no great comfort because they are missing out on life!
My favorite songwriter, Andrew Peterson, put it perfectly (as is his way) when he said,
“And when the world is new again
And the children of the King
Are ancient in their youth again
Maybe it’s a better thing
A better thing
To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love
Maybe this old world is bent
But it’s waking up
And I’m waking up”
That’s what I believe. I believe what Christ said in Revelation 21:5–He is making all things new.
In the face of the horror of life being taken before it’s even begun, I can weep. I can pray. I can feel sick. I can call my congressman.
I can also love a little girl who deserves to be here and deserves to be loved. Because maybe this old world is bent, but it’s waking up, and I’m waking up.