“Fears over the Zika virus have contributed to a ‘huge’ increase in the number of women in Latin America wanting abortions, researchers say.” (Gallagher, 2016) At the time of this writing, a great scourge of death is sweeping the world – and no, it is not Zika. The Zika advent, however, does shed light on history’s greatest ongoing genocide: today’s worldwide culture of murder in abortion.
In the BBC article cited above titled “Abortion demand ‘soars’ amid Zika fear”, published on 23 June 2016, it was estimated that abortion requests have at least doubled in Brazil and increased by a third in neighbouring countries. Some of the responses from affected women are recorded. In one woman’s words: “We are all very alarmed and I do not want have a sick baby, please, I do not want to continue my pregnancy because it is very dangerous.” Another said: “I love children, but I don’t believe it is a wise decision to keep a baby who will suffer. I need an abortion. I don’t know who to turn to. Please help me ASAP.” In the article, it was lamented that the illegality of abortions in many parts of Latin America are turning many to unsafe underground providers, and the governments of said countries were roundly criticised for sparking panic and fear.
All this is not very far away from us here in Singapore, although by the time of publishing in November, Zika might well be almost last year’s news. Shortly after the outbreak was first reported in early September and the first local pregnant mother diagnosed with Zika, the topic of abortions (which is legal in Singapore under 24 weeks of pregnancy) was raised. A public health director was quoted: “If the scans are totally normal, I think all is well. If the scans are very abnormal, then I think the result is clear. But sometimes there will be borderline cases and I think that’s where there will be very difficult decisions.” Another medical professional added: “Whether or not to terminate the pregnancy is “a very personal decision” (Khalik, 2016).
Few clearer signs of the nearness of our Lord’s return are there, when men assert that the decision to commit the murder of other human beings is “a very personal decision”. Indeed, our Lord tells us plainly that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). Indeed, the widespread acceptance of abortion in our day is a prime example of how men “think to change times and laws”, as will Antichrist in grand fashion when he arises (Dan. 7:25). The issue is no longer about whether it is wrong to kill, but when. Words like “kindness”, “mercy” and “circumstances” readily find their way into abortion morality debates – how cruel are the tender mercies of the wicked (Pro. 12:10)! Love worketh no ill to the neighbour (Rom. 13:10) – which clearly includes not slaying the neighbour.
Recently, my wife and I had our own personal experiences encountering the abortion zeitgeist. At the first visit to our gynaecologist early into the pregnancy of our unborn son, our doctor who is herself a Christian and opposed to abortion, was at pains to explain to us the details behind common prenatal abnormality testing. A battery of extra tests are routinely offered in many clinics to parents that enable the confirmation of birth defects such as trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and various others, if routine checks show up abnormal (routine checks alone are not enough to confirm birth defects). This article will not delve into the details of these tests except to state that, as there are no pre-birth interventions available for such babies at present, the main purpose of such testing is for parents to deliberate the possibility of abortion. (Another reason parents may opt for the checks if they are not considering abortion, could be to prepare themselves mentally for the task of raising a child with disabilities after the child is born. However, the tests are not without risk to the child, so tests for this reason are not often recommended, as I understand.) Our doctor wanted to know from the outset whether we might consider abortion in the scenario of a child with defects. As I gather, there were probably personal limits to how far she would go to assist couples in taking that path. We did not need to find out, as we asserted that abortion was out of the question. We decided against undergoing the extra testing and left it at that.
Some time afterwards, however, while I was on an internship, I happened to speak to a colleague who had given birth recently, and who claimed to be a Christian herself. She was surprised that we had chosen not to undergo the abnormality tests from the outset, to which I replied that we saw no point if the sole purpose was to consider abortion, which we would never consider an option. This colleague then took it upon herself to counsel me that the huge costs of raising a child with abnormalities should give us pause to consider carefully. At the time, I asserted in reply that the challenges were not trivial, but that God would certainly give such Christian parents the necessary grace to bear the trial. Perhaps it could have been added too that the costs in this life, however immense, cannot for a moment compare to having to stand before the Almighty God in the last day to answer for the wilful murder of one’s own child. Now, this is not to say that abnormality testing is wrong in itself or that those who chose to do so necessarily sin. However, judge for yourselves the nature of the decisions that such tests purport to help parents deliberate.
Our rejection of abortion as murder does not in any way minimize the great difficulties that parents who are tempted to consider abortions may face. Often, crushing problems – poverty, lack of family/community support, crippling disabilities like microcephaly (which can be caused by Zika) – lead women to have abortions. While circumstances can never be a sufficient excuse to commit murder, these are nevertheless real problems and real temptations, and we must not think that these could never become a temptation for us as Reformed Christians. For mothers who do fall into the terrible sin of abortion, the consequences, apart from the slaying of the baby, are often severe. There are emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual traumas, and some women may be haunted by their conscience and the ghosts of their decision for the rest of their lives (McGeown M., 2015). We must be prepared to reach out to such women with the gospel and with compassion when we encounter them. As a church, we rightly condemn abortion when we preach Lord’s Day 40 of the Heidelberg Catechism on the sixth commandment, for abortion is murder – and yet, the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover even the sin of murder for the broken, repentant sinner. Our responses must contain these two truths: Christ condemns the transgression of his commandments, but He does not condemn the penitent sinner for whom His blood has covered all sins.
Having covered at length in this article the negative fulfilment of the law “Thou shalt not kill”, it would be a shame if we did not take the opportunity to look at the positive aspect of the law as well – that we love our neighbour, which includes loving our children who are gifts of God. Focused solely on the horror of wilfully slaying babies for which millions have their consciences grievously seared, we may lose sight of the incredible wonder and blessing that is a child brought into the world by God, through the astonishing intricacies of conception and birth. The changes in the body of the mother, feeling the movements of the child in the womb – these are but some of many ways that we realise anew that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we confess that “marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. (Ps. 139:14).
We need not fear Zika, or any other birth defect, sickness or disease, for all these are sovereignly held in the hand of our Almighty Father. This is not to say that such conditions may never affect our children, but that if it is the Lord’s will that they do, they are His specific trials that are given to us in love and for our purification. All children are brought into this world in exactly the way the Lord has designed, whether healthy or with “defects”, down to the smallest cell. This is a tremendous comfort to Reformed Christians, all of whom can sing with truth: “All that I am I owe to Thee, thy wisdom Lord, hath fashioned me” (Psalter 383).
For Christian parents, the birth of a child is a moment of great rejoicing, for notwithstanding the many trials and sorrows that accompany childbearing, covenant children are added to the eternal congregation of believers. While we know that in the sovereign counsel of God, not every single one of our children may be elect, we know of a certainty that the covenant promise is for us in our generations (Gen. 17:7). Truly, it is a great privilege for parents to be used by God in the raising of the next generation of the church.
As the Lord’s return draws near, ever more will these views be at odds with the culture and world around us. We live in the midst of a society obsessed with death. As pilgrims, our confession will be as a blinding irritant to the ungodly. Though we shall be mocked and hated for speaking the truth on abortion, let us reflect that it is for the Lord alone to kill and make alive (1 Sam. 2:6). Even as the world rapidly darkens around us and the ungodly are apparently ascendant in all aspects of society, let us remember that the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment (Jud. 14-15). Let us pilgrims take heart, for Christ is coming swiftly on the clouds of glory.
Gallagher, J. (2016, June 23). Abortion demand ‘soars’ amid Zika fear. Retrieved from BBC News: http:// www.bbc.com/news/health-36595448
Khalik, S. (2016, September 9). Zika spreads to Bedok; first mum-to-be hit by virus. Retrieved from Straits
Times: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/zika-spreads-to- bedok-first-mum-to-be-hit-by-virus
McGeown, M. (15 Jan., 2015). Abortion: the Culture of Death. The Standard Bearer, pg. 178-9
McGeown, M. (1 April, 2015). Letters: Abortion…and the Grace of God for Sinners. The Standard Bearer, pg. 295-6
Written by: Chua Lee Yang | Issue 40