In More Than Just a Game, legendary former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden claimed he was sitting in church with his wife and their six children between them. The evangelist pointed directly at him and said, “Sir, you have six children. Let me ask you a question, ‘If I put a 40-foot I-beam here in the front of the church and it was just a foot off the floor, would you get up on it and walk across it for $20?”
“Sure!” responded Coach Bowden.
“Let me ask another question,” said the evangelist. “‘If I took that I-beam to New York City and put it between two skyscrapers fifty stories in the air, then would you walk across it for $20?’”
“No way,” replied the Coach.
“Let me ask a final question,” said the evangelist. “‘If I put that I-beam up there fifty stories high, and on one side I was holding one of your children over the edge and said if you walked across the I-beam then I wouldn’t drop the child, would you do it?’”
Bowden pondered the question for a moment and then asked, “Which child?”
Of course, Bowden’s answer was said in jest. What makes it funny is the absurdity of it. To think that someone would not see the value of a child by failing to want it with every fiber of their being is outrageous. Yet just such a decision is made and carried out in abortion an estimated 3,000 times per day in the U.S… Since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, over 63 million abortions have been performed.
It is hard to get one’s head around the travesty of such numbers of unwanted children. Some of the common reasons for having an abortion include: not feeling financially prepared, partner-related issues, interference with educational or job plans, not feeling emotionally ready, all of which, regardless of how one might prefer to see it, amounts to an unwanted child. Nevertheless, the unwanted child in the womb is still a person irrespective of whether wanted or not.
Is a person’s value determined by whether they are wanted? As abortion activist Randy Alcorn once marvelously stated, “For years women were degraded when their value was judged by whether they were wanted by men. Just as a woman’s value is real whether or not a man recognizes it, so a baby’s value is real whether or not his mother or father recognizes it.”
A recent New York Times article points out the problem of not wanting children is an issue of profound consequence for America’s future. The article says:
“Americans are having fewer babies. At first, researchers thought the declining fertility rate was because of the recession, but it kept falling even after the economy recovered. Now it has reached a record low for a consecutive year.
“Because the fertility rate subtly shapes many major issues of the day – including immigration, education, housing, the labor supply, the social safety net and support for working families – there’s a lot of concern about why today’s young adults aren’t having as many children.”
According to CNN, the problem is of such concern that Pope Francis recently addressed it before a general audience, criticizing “couples who choose to have pets instead of children as selfish, arguing that their decision to forego parenthood leads to a loss of ‘humanity’ and is a detriment to civilization.”
Abortion advocates, however, argue it isn’t fair to bring children into this world that aren’t wanted. They don’t do as well in school and are less likely to excel in life. The hope of any quality of life for an unwanted child is significantly diminished. But such facts only tell us about the importance of wanting children, not a reason for eliminating them.
In Stories Jesus Still Tells, John Claypool writes about a young girl born with no arms or legs. One day, a friend of the young girl’s brother asked her how she kept from hating God or being bitter about her circumstances. Her answer was astounding:
“I realize that compared to what most people have, what I have doesn’t seem like much. But listen, I wouldn’t have missed being born for anything. I’ve been able to see. I’ve been able to hear. I’ve been able to smell, to taste, and to feel. I’ve been exposed to some of the world’s great literature. I’ve heard some of the finest music ever composed. I’ve had some of the most wonderful friendships anybody could ever have. I know what I have doesn’t seem like much when compared to what other people have, but compared to never getting to be at all, I wouldn’t have missed being born for anything.”
That young girl’s testimony begs the question: Is the solution of not having the prospect of a good life reason enough to take away the only life one has?
Absolutely not, life itself is always too precious, and the value of a child’s life is priceless.
Therefore, rendering an unwanted child synonymous with destroying that life is a grievous sin, precipitating the need for God’s forgiveness.
Perhaps a prayer by Barbara Johnson in Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy is appropriate here:
“Lord, there are countless things in my life that are inexcusable.
There are things unaccountable and things unexplainable.
There are things irrefutable and things irresponsible.
But it comes to me with unutterable relief
that because of your amazing love.
Nothing in my life is unforgivable.”
O God, forgive us for not wanting your greatest earthly treasure – the gift of a child. Forgive us for the travesty of unwanted children.
Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.