The End of Abortion: Reclaiming God’s Blessing of Fruitfulness

And so, many thousands of words later, we bring this jeremiad against the slaughter of children to a conclusion. What will be the end of abortion? God alone will most certainly bring about the end of abortion, but when and how will He do so?

We believe in the power of God to end oppression and bloodshed. Those of us alive at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union remember well how astounding this great change was to the entire world. Many heroic men had been laboring to this end, but no one anywhere predicted what happened, and the shock was heard around the world. Christians rejoiced in this wonderful act of God, even though, in retrospect, the crumbling of the foundations was clarified so that natural causes seemed sufficient for the explanation. But natural causes are never the whole, and not even most, of the story in the eternal conflict between good and evil, life and death.

Having surveyed this monstrous genocidal holocaust, we wonder what work we can do to hasten its demise. Preaching, prayer, and our own repentance are the first things we give ourselves to. There’s no question that, here as always, we wrestle not with “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

The Evil One never ceases in his attack upon little ones. Hating and seeking to destroy life, he inspired Pharaoh to slaughter the Hebrew baby boys. He led generations of the people of God in both kingdoms of Israel and Judah to sacrifice their little ones to Molech. He led Herod to murder all the sons of Bethlehem born within two years of our Lord. Then, finally, we have this prophecy given through the Apostle John, recorded in Revelation 12:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

What a terrible account of the Evil One’s attempt to destroy our Savior and His mother, but what a wonderful account of God’s justice and mercy, throwing him down and protecting our Lord, as well as His mother in the moment of her womanly vulnerability and labor as life-giver!

Satan is forevermore standing before woman in childbirth, seeking to devour the precious life of her child. Yet God is seated on His throne, building His kingdom generation after generation to the very end, with victory sure and certain. We must note the glorious theme of the miraculous births of little ones predestined to be the servants and saviors of His plan of salvation.

Think of the promise He made to Abraham and Sarah fulfilled in the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac. Think of His miraculous protection of the infant Moses. Think of His promise to Zacharias and Elizabeth fulfilled in the miraculous conception and birth of John the Baptist. Remember the response of the blessed Virgin Mary when she was told she would give birth to the Savior of her people. In innocence, she responded, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34–35)

Mothers giving birth to saviors promised and protected by God is a central theme of salvation history. This history never denigrates or dismisses women’s work and contribution to that history. Surely it is in large part these accounts of God’s work in and through women’s life-givingnesss that have borne the fruit of the equality of women and men which, among the world’s religions and ideologies, is uniquely Christian.

Then also, we remember our Lord’s promise concerning these little ones, whose mothers look on and listen with joy. Note the men. Note the children. Meditate on the response of the women present:

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After laying His hands on them, He departed from there. (Matt. 19:13–15)

This document can be understood as our work seeking to restore the beauty of womanhood and childbirth to the church, because without that restoration, no negative attempt to expose and oppose the bloodshed of babies will get any purchase among us, let alone the pagans.

Necessarily so, much of this statement has been negatively focused. We have spent much time showing God’s no—His condemnation of abortion, His judgments upon bloodshed, and our own sin that has brought it about. We have labored to show the need to speak truly about this evil, from our courts, our pulpits, and now from our own lips as men and women claiming Christ’s name. We have shown why “pro-life” must never be defined so as to exclude or hide “anti-abortion.”

But we have also shown that God’s commandments are always reciprocal. Where God says yes to something, He also says no to its opposite. When God forbids something, He encourages its opposite. And so must we. The opposite of abortion is childbearing. It is painful, but it is life-giving. The opposite of death is life, and as God creates life, so we must love life. But not simply generic “life,” but this and that newborn child and this and that preborn child, back to the moment of his or her conception. And as we shall see below, even before his conception.

God has made His world fruitful. Fruitfulness is creation’s DNA.

We see the early spring bulbs. We gaze on snowdrops bursting through the snow in their glee for spring. We see the roses full of color, changing in shade with the temperature, so full of petals they can’t hold themselves up. We see the apple and peach trees so laden with fruit that they can’t bring it all to harvest. And then there are the animals that fill our world. The cardinals outside our windows, diligently pecking through the snow to find their food. The coyotes we hear at night, glorifying God by the howls they share one with another. And the tenderness and delicacy of newborn kittens, full of unchecked curiosity and jaunty in their play.

Today, it’s commonplace to talk of how best to conserve this life. We understand that proper conservation involves not just stopping threats to creation, but also working positively to undo the damage done. We know that if the wolves on Isle Royale are lost because of man’s mismanagement, repairing the problem may involve reestablishing them. That if the fish are depleted in our waters because our effluent is full of hormones from the Pill, we must not only purify the waters but also replenish the fish. And that repairing land whose soil is eroded because of clear-cutting involves not just stopping the harvesting, but reforesting it. Caring for creation means not just stopping its destruction, but promoting its prosperity—its fruitfulness.

The same is true concerning abortion. Ending abortion means not just hating abortion but loving the life God gives us as His blessing. We have shown how the civil magistrate must have a commitment to this, in fostering and protecting the lives of those he rules. We have seen how pastors and elders and churchmen as a whole must pursue this, in both disciplining the sins of those under their care and also encouraging them towards obedience in caring for children, born and preborn. And so, we conclude by exhorting each of us to rekindle our commitment to gratitude toward God for every one of His blessings.

Consider the wonder and privilege He has bestowed on woman to bring into this world children made in His own image and likeness. Let our love for woman as God made her fire our hatred of snuffing out those lives He blesses her with—and also those of us privileged to be her husband and lover through all the days, months, and years of her self-sacrifice as the mother of all the living. We are to be romanced and inspired by the fruitfulness God placed at the heart of all His creation, glorying particularly in woman’s gift of this fruitfulness to us all.

Being moralists, it is tempting to think negatively. Strangely, as hard as it is for many of us to speak God’s no publicly, we sometimes have no difficulty allowing it to be the extent of how we define our faithfulness, and this is particularly so concerning abortion. After all, we reassure ourselves that we have been firm where it counts. We’ve stood outside of the abortuary and condemned the ghoulish “escorts” leading women into the killing chamber to kill her child. We linger on Facebook, ready and waiting to thunder against the wickedness of child murder. We relish every opportunity to prove our intellectual acumen and godliness by dispatching all the craven arguments of postmodern pagans in support of the slaughter of the innocents. We have rebuked our congressmen, calling down God’s wrath on him for his hatred of life. We declare that we won’t vote for him. Pompously, we denounce our governor publicly, informing him that he has no claim to authority because he hasn’t shut down Planned Parenthood’s “clinics.”247

And yet, does our defense of the babies extend to embracing them?

Yes, this is the canard every escort shouts at us: “If you love babies so much, why don’t you try having one!” they yell derisively at godly men walking the sidewalk with signs that say “Love life!”

Sure, they’re hardhearted and scornful, but their mocking presents us an opportunity for self-examination. Do we love children, or do we simply love our own moral superiority? This is the question every preacher knows too well. Sure, I warn the people of God against sin and am faithful to preach against abortion, but do I love my neighbor? Do I love life?

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy . . . but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1–2)

The last fifty years of Evangelicalism have been so soft, so cloyingly sentimental, so opposed to any proclamation of God’s judgment, that our repentance from these things has not been easy to do ourselves, nor to call others to. Proclaiming God’s no as well as His yes, we are tempted to reassure ourselves that we practice and preach repentance, and thus are superior to those who do not. Opposing abortion is so seductive to the growth of spiritual pride, but love casts out pride. Love leads us to give ourselves to vulnerability and self-sacrifice.

Are we willing to become childlike? Remember Jesus’ words: “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:15).

Protecting life without loving life is absurd. Protecting children without loving and coming to resemble them in childlike faith falls short of the kingdom of God. The godly love life and children.

“Well, of course,” we say, “a more obvious truth has never been written.”

Then, if it’s so easy, why did the people of God in Israel and Judah sacrifice their sons and daughters? Why do we ourselves sacrifice our own sons and daughters?

The reason Scripture commands Christians to love is that it is very difficult. Were it easy, the commands would not be so constant across the New Testament. Let us recognize that the core of child murder is a desire not to be inconvenienced by the burdens of another. Lovelessness is the seedbed of child sacrifice, although this lovelessness is strengthened by our resolve not to allow ourselves to become the subject of God’s sovereignty in creating life within us and within our wife. Lovelessness combined with rebellion against God’s sovereignty and a refusal to thank God for His creation and gift of life are a toxic triad that corrupts many of our marriages and families. We have even passed these sins on to the next generations.

Our precious children see and hear how often we think and speak of them as an inconvenience to us. Maybe it’s when our daughter comes in while we’re writing about the evil of abortion and the precious gift of life, and she asks us to look at her drawing. Maybe it’s when our son interrupts our train of thought, wanting to tell us (in never-ending detail) about the snowman he just made outside. Maybe it’s when we can’t take that vacation to Europe we’d like because the airfare for seven is as ridiculous as having seven children in the first place in our modern dissipated world. How would we manage traveling across countries devoid of children with our own brood needing potty breaks and diaper stops every hour?248

Or think of how knowledgeable your children are of your irritation at God for His blessings of little ones. You wanted to finish that degree, but couldn’t because you had to provide for that new mother and baby—and you have made no effort to hide or put to death your continuing bitterness and the lethargy in your fatherhood and leadership. You resent the fact that you couldn’t take that high-paying job because it would have left you no time for your children, and your children live with the awareness that they are a perpetual pain to you. Your five-year plan was perfectly on track, but then your fifth or sixth child was born with special needs and you take no joy in him.

Is it any wonder that our wives hanker after jobs and more spending money and the positive affirmation they receive working outside the home where their bosses and coworkers never stop telling them how great a gadget inventor and gadget maker and gadget marketer and gadget seller and gadget improver and gadget-maker human resources manager they are? Is there any better way to kill our wife’s femininity, motherly instinct, and life-givingness than daily displaying our bitterness at the burden of the children she has presented us? Woman is made by God to be the glory of man. Why join the world in trashing her glory?

Our negative reactions and bitterness at the outpouring of life God sends us as His blessing are obvious to all, and our wives are acutely and painfully sensitive to it. By the will of our Father, even men and women as evil as we are have been given the gift of new life, both spiritually and physically. He has allowed us to share our lives with those born from our own bodies, sharing our own genes, and often sharing our interests and hobbies also. He has privileged us to take part in the propagation of the human race and the calling of men into His kingdom—two of the profoundest mysteries of existence. Yet we are ungrateful. Often we loathe our tiresome duties toward our children. We even commit murder in our hearts as we wickedly wish that God had never given us these blessings.

Truthfully, how different are we from worldlings who kill their children? By God’s grace, His Spirit keeps us from going that far, although often we think the same thoughts, have the same motivations, display the same ingratitude. Brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, this must not be. It is these sins of our hearts we must recognize, bring captive to the power of the Holy Spirit, repent of, and destroy. At the core of ending abortion is not just opposing those who would kill children, but becoming those who welcome and love them—which begins by loving our wife as mother, as life-giver, as Eve.

Loving children and motherhood includes loving the children we haven’t yet been given. On the surface, this statement may sound like nonsense. How can we love a child we haven’t been blessed with? How can we have affection for someone whose face we haven’t seen, whose personality is yet unknown, whose habits and quirks and even sins are (as Melville put it) a lipless, unfeatured blank to us?249 How can we love children God has not blessed us with yet; children He has not yet created?

The question itself reveals part of the problem: we think highly of our thoughts, and lowly of God’s. We live in an age that prizes empiricism and scientific discovery, and we are self-assured in our understanding of what life is and how it begins. Ultrasounds and DNA research have been instrumental in reinforcing the truth that life begins at conception, but pro-lifers celebrating and using these tools to defend little ones must not fall into thinking we have unveiled the mysteries of life’s beginnings.

We can love our wife’s womanly fecundity and her future children even while God has not yet granted her any child. Is this not the meaning of Otis Redding singing, “When a man loves a woman”? Woman is life. Woman is fruitfulness. Woman is fecundity and this cannot be separated from her being. The love of a man for his woman is not simply love of her personhood, but love of her womanhood which will ache with longing until it is satisfied by God’s gift of a child.

In God’s economy, our unborn children who are the coming fruit of our lovemaking do exist. The same Psalmist who tells us we’re formed in our mother’s womb goes on to speak of things even more mysterious:

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
(Ps. 139:15–16)

There are, indeed, more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. When we begin to preen ourselves on our understanding of biology, we must remember Scripture records that Levi gave the tithe to Melchizedek while he was still in the loins of Abraham:

And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. (Heb. 7:9)

And the Apostle Paul tells us a perhaps even greater mystery: God the Father “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4)!

Remember that several of our church fathers speak of killing a child before he exists250—and they were not ignorant of the law of non-contradiction. Still today, it is a great mystery when and how soul and body are joined together by God. Deep truths are open, and infinity is finite, to God.251 It is no absurdity to talk of cherishing our wife’s fecundity, her life-givingness and the coming little ones we hope and pray for, while we have not yet heard or seen them. This is the center of man loving woman.

Pornography’s eroticism is woman’s life-giving body parts put on display for men who hate life, who hate fruitfulness. The world is full of men incapable of loving woman as woman. Refusing the responsibility and celebration at the heart of true manhood, these men remain dead in their trespasses and sins, giving themselves over to their infantile desires and lusts, and dying with little or no seed. Their particular taste in erotic images might differ from the sodomites, but the essence of sodomy is sex denuded of fertility; it is sex robbed of life-givingness. One may use one’s wife for such lust, or one may use another man, but the essence of the thing is identical. What’s love got to do with it? What’s woman got to do with it? What’s life got to do with it?

So now, again: Do we love life? Do we love that life not yet placed in the wombs of our wives? In faith we may do so. By faith we love what He has promised to give us according to His will. We not only hate the murder of children, but we also agree with the Psalmist that they are a heritage from the Lord. That the fruit of the womb is His reward, and that God is pleased to give good things to His children.

And so, for our part, we commit ourselves to loving children past, present, and future, trusting God with the fruitfulness of our marriage beds. We choose faith for the lives God gives us as His blessings, welcoming not just some of the lives He sends in a timely way, but also those He sends in what we might think an untimely way.

And when we choose to offer our fruitfulness to God as Christians before the twentieth century did, we do so fully aware of how many of our fellow believers will mock us; or worse, will accuse us of being Quiverfullists who are ignorant, presumptuous, foolish, patriarchal, and irresponsible. They will tell one another that our motivation is pride.

Brothers in Christ may characterize us as legalists who think God requires us to have as many children as possible. They will never understand the truth that we have simply become committed to loving life, and that this love has led us to openness to God blessing our lovemaking as He chooses, by faith receiving with joy all the fruit He may bestow on it. No, nothing so joyful will cloud the judgments of the loveless and coldhearted Christian who speaks of childbearing (and even abortion) as merely a question of stewardship.252 Fellow Christians will say we are in bondage to some law of multiplication of the species that will grow our tribe and take us to a higher level of heaven, and we’re sure we’ll have more crowns there. They’ll claim we believe God requires us to have as many children as possible.

Truth is, though, that we believe the Lord opens and closes the womb. This is our joy, our faith, and we love trusting God with all His blessings. When the advocates of abortion scream “My body, my choice,” we smile, noting that unless we recognize our bodies as His, our choices are nothing but slavery. The freedom to abort is nothing but bondage to the devil. It is only when we choose to abandon our claims to autonomy that we have freedom to be the fathers and mothers God has made us to be. Those the Son makes free are free indeed (John 8:36).

Of course our love of life runs utterly against the grain of our culture—particularly the culture of Evangelicalism. And it’s not that we can’t come up with a host of reasons why we should avoid fruitfulness: Until both husband and wife get their degrees, a child would be inconvenient. Our house is too small for another child. More than one child per bedroom is irresponsible. Our wife frets over the future, and we would not be a servant-leader if we neglected her fears. Our husband’s single income isn’t sufficient to feed another mouth. We need to get a job. Our parents already think we’re irresponsible, and another child would just confirm their judgment.

In fact, we’re just as good at coming up with reasons to shut down our fruitfulness as all our friends who stopped at two. (And yes, we know some couples have valid reasons for stopping there.) Nevertheless, for the vast majority of us, our problem is not an excess of prudence, but a deficit of faith and the love that flows from it. Sure, everyone around us thinks three or four children is the outer limit of sanity. How can parents of five provide music lessons? How can they have their kids in sports? How will they be able to send their children to college, let alone graduate school? How will they pay for each of their daughters’ weddings?

Some of these expenses are unlike the others, but the point is clear. These judgments of what fathers and mothers need to give their children are not a function of what pleases God and will lead to our children’s godliness, but what our peers see as the minimal obligations parents have to their sons and daughters. Here as everywhere, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”253

The doubts and fears of fathers and mothers are nothing new. Every generation of Christians faces them. In fact, a good case can be made that the doubts and fears of past generations were far more substantive than our own. In a world where food was self-produced, they had to be concerned whether there would be enough food to go around come winter and spring. Whether God would provide summer rains this year after last year’s drought. Whether locusts would swarm in and destroy their crops.

In a world without Walmart, Goodwill, and eBay—a world where clothing was ten times the relative cost of clothing today—they didn’t know if they could afford to clothe their children. Technological and economic development have put so many of these fears to rest, today, yet we manufacture new ones like whether or not we can afford a piano or guitar for our musically gifted children, a kit for our budding soccer player, private school tuition, or college tuition for all of them.

To those of little faith, the Christian family’s resources are always a fixed pie, with each new child depleting the share of those who came before. Whereas anyone who has grown up in a large family, or any father and mother blessed by God with one, knows this is a lie. To those of little faith, every last act of faith is way too costly and must be carefully weighed by those who understand that judiciousness is next to godliness.

What if we trusted God? What if we truly believed the promise of Romans 8:28, that God is ultimately causing all things to work together for good to those who love God—including antibiotics, vaccines, farming techniques that massively increase yield, NICU advancements, and on and on. God’s providence has made it much easier to fulfill the command to be fruitful and multiply, and yet we balk. Does God still rule His world? He has orchestrated many, many technological mercies in this world so that the church might grow with godly seed to the praise of His glory. With all the benefits and blessings He’s given us in the modern world, can we not still rest upon the same promises our fathers and mothers in the faith did?

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:25–34)

Early Christians knew these promises, and took them to heart. Their world was filled with sin: with child abuse and neglect, abortion, exposure, and infanticide; with poverty, rampant injustice and oppression, and terrible cruelty. Life expectancy was around 40, and more than half their children and mothers died in childbirth. Persecution was constant. There were many physical and spiritual threats to their children. The greatest minds and philosophers of their time had concluded it was better not to bring children into a world of such difficulty, cruelty, and bloodshed. There was a pervasive cynicism about marriage, children, and family, and it caused Greco-Roman birth rates to plummet even as standards of living improved. Their world was our world.

But their response was not ours. Amid a Roman population in decline, the population of Christians was on the increase.254 In the face of realities that, to the natural mind, argued for moderation, the church fathers became, if anything, more adamant against abortion and contraception. And as the Christian population increased, demographic change continued. The Christians who had more children became the Christians who loved more children, and the Christians who loved more children sought to ensure that the children of their persecutors were cared for as well. This continued throughout periods of war, famine, and persecution.

Finally, in God’s good providence, the magistrates themselves began to change. But it took time and went in fits and starts. It would be glorious to imagine that, when Constantine marked Rome with the cross, abortion was done and gone, but the reality was messy. Abortion’s demise proceeded by gradual steps of law. First to be proscribed was abortion that deprived a husband of offspring.255 Then came banning of child exposure and infanticide.256

Finally, some 450 years after our Lord sanctified childbirth by His incarnation, Emperor Leo banned abortion outright.257 Yes, the legal end of abortion was brought about through wars, politics, protests, prayers, and schemes,258 but all of it was the providence of God, and He worked through simple Christians who loved their children, and who rescued and adopted babies left to die on the hillsides. In doing so, they heaped coals of fire on the heads of their enemies (Rom. 12:20).

This is our hope. It is the hope that has undergirded countless Christians working to protect the widow, the fatherless, and the unborn, ever since the Evil One set his sights on them. It is the hope that has carried us through the dark days of Griswold, Roe, and Casey, knowing that the cause of righteousness proceeds in fits and starts. It is the hope that gives meaning to every small act of courage: every man who refuses to kill his child to hide his sin; every woman who chooses to let her little one live despite the cost to her reputation, her relationship with her parents, or her career prospects; every downtrodden protestor who stands alone in the rain with nothing to show for it; and every legislator or magistrate who defends the unborn at the cost of his own position. And it is the hope that must abide even with the downfall of Roe, since only this hope can sustain the pro-life struggle in the terra incognita of a post-Roe landscape.

We have spent much time and many words unpacking the wicked state of our land. We have shown how, to our utter shame, we the people of God have also given ourselves to the bloodshed of our infants. We have recounted God’s condemnation of abortion writ large across creation and throughout Scripture and church history. We have begun to open up what we can do to end the bloodshed—as magistrates, churchmen, and men and women of God.

Finally, though, our hope for the end of abortion isn’t a matter of historical insight, proper argument, or wise application. The only end of abortion will be born through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ which alone produces the fruit of repentance. This repentance must begin within the church of the Living God, but it will not end until it has spread throughout the earth.

This repentance from abortion is no abstract thing. It will be a living, breathing reality that is produced in the power of the Holy Spirit, and it will lay claim to every part of our lives, most especially our marriages and lovemaking. It seems almost unfathomable that God graces man with His very image and likeness. It seems unfathomable that, despite Adam’s sin and our own multiplied transgressions adding to it, our heavenly Father continues to shower both the righteous and unrighteous with the gift of life, with the gift of children—the fruit of our lovemaking.

This extravagance from God should never be taken for granted or despised. He owes us death and hell, and shall we despise His gifts of love and life? Do we hear His warning?

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. (James 1:16–18)

We are a kind of first fruits sent down from above by our heavenly Father. He has blessed His creation with such endless fruitfulness! Let us commit ourselves to being the instruments of His fruitfulness. Let us propagate a godly seed to serve in His courts of praise, giving Him glory forevermore.

Yes, doing so will require sacrifice. But the reality of sacrifice is built into creation. Into the little strawberry plants, which even in their first year will try to produce as much fruit as they can, stunting their own growth. Into the apple or peach tree which will bear so much fruit that their branches, laden with fruit, will break and fall. Into the salmon of Alaska, which travel a thousand miles upstream, expending all their energy to lay their eggs and then die. Of course, also, into our wonderful wives, who will endure the indignities of pregnancy, the pains of labor, the resulting stretch marks and varicose veins and bouts of depression, and on and on—who, in infinite ways, die so their child (our child) may live.

The cross is unavoidable. The only question is who will bear it and to what end. Will the cross be borne by fathers and mothers who sacrifice time, labor, money, and convenience—and in the mother’s case, even their own bodies—so our children may live? Or, oppositely, will fathers and mothers demand the cross be carried by their children? Will fathers and mothers demand of their children their death, without even asking them if they’re willing? Will fathers and mothers demand of their sons and daughters this last measure of devotion, which they hope will enable them to live an unencumbered life, not bothered by their children’s needs, free to pile up wealth and possessions with no thought for anyone’s needs but their own?

Will we call these little ones to die for us, or will we die for them? Every man and woman ever conceived has faced this choice, and each answer reveals to the watching world faith or unbelief in the King of kings and Lord of lords.

When God’s people are fruitful, bearing, loving, and disciplining our own and others’ children (through adoption), we testify to our rulers as well as the watching world of the kindness, mercy, and love of the heavenly Father. When we respond to ridicule not with cynicism or anger but by entrusting ourselves to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2:23), we follow the Apostle in showing our gentleness to all men, knowing “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). When our pastors and elders condemn oppression and injustice, particularly that terrible injustice of the murder of little ones awaiting birth, we tread the path our own fathers and mothers trod two millennia ago, thus changing the Roman Empire.

It will not happen overnight. Roe stood for half a century, and its debris is everywhere. But abortion will in God’s time be brought down; and so let us here declare it simply: to embrace the fruit of the womb is to prove ourselves true sons of our heavenly Father. To care for the soul of every little one is to see in that life the image of God Himself and of our Lord, made man for us. And to love children, ours and our neighbors’, is not to burden the world, but to exercise godly care by tending to our own corner of it. Or, as J. R. R. Tolkien put it:

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.259

This, then, is our hope. That our pastors and elders, legislators and magistrates, will lead us toward repentance and a return to God and His law. That as our own hearts bear new life, so we as fathers and mothers will have the blessing of the fruit of the womb that is the Lord’s reward. And that, day by day, this joy will provoke our neighbors to jealousy—our repentance leading theirs, so that, finally, our eyes may see the day when this mighty scourge of evil shall speedily pass away.

Until that day, we persevere in hope—not a hope of chimera or fancy, but of faith and certainty, that when abortion is all past and the blood of Abel altogether purged, it will be by the sovereign hand of the Almighty as He turns our hearts once again to repentance.

The final verse of the Old Testament proclaims the wonderful fruit of this repentance:

He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. (Mal. 4:6)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

  1. A clinic, properly called, is a place where the healing arts are practiced—not a place presided over by an executioner of the innocent and defenseless. From the Online Etymology Dictionary: “1620s, ‘bedridden person, one confined to his bed by sickness,’ from French clinique (17c.), from Latin clinicus ‘physician that visits patients in their beds,’ from Greek klinike (techne) ‘(practice) at the sickbed,’ from klinikos ‘of the bed,’ from kline ‘bed, couch, that on which one lies,’ from suffixed form of PIE root klei- ‘to lean.’” Accessed April 10, 2022,↩︎

  2. A note of encouragement on this. One married couple of our congregation traveled across Europe a couple years ago with a brood of four, ages 1, 2, 6, and 8. They reported: “We walked out of our Airbnb as a family of 6, and a very old Italian woman looked at our kids and her eyes filled with tears and she said, ‘Bella! Bella! Bella familia!’ On more than one occasion we had waiters go out of their way to serve us because they were so thrilled that we were out and about with so many small children. The Italians were smitten, and even the French were accommodating to an extreme.”↩︎

  3. Herman Melville, Moby Dick, ch. 134.↩︎

  4. Cf., e.g., Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence 1.15.17 (AD 419–420): “Indeed, sometimes this lustful cruelty or cruel lust [libidinosa crudelitas vel libido crudelis] extends so far that it obtains poisons of sterility [sterilitatis venena]; and, if nothing else works, [it] snuffs out and breaks up by some means the offspring conceived in the womb, preferring its own offspring to perish before it lives [prius interire quam vivere]; or, if it was already living in the womb, to be killed before being born [occidi antequam nasci].”

    Cf. also John Chrysostom (AD 391): “Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. . . . Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws? . . . Yet such turpitude . . . the matter still seems indifferent to many men—even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks.” Homilies on Romans 24, trans. J. Walker, J. Sheppard, and H. Browne.↩︎

  5. “Far be it, then, from us to doubt that all number is known to Him ‘whose understanding,’ according to the Psalmist, ‘is infinite.’ The infinity of number, though there be no numbering of infinite numbers, is yet not incomprehensible by Him whose understanding is infinite. And thus, if everything which is comprehended is defined or made finite by the comprehension of him who knows it, then all infinity is in some ineffable way made finite to God, for it is comprehensible by His knowledge. Wherefore, if the infinity of numbers cannot be infinite to the knowledge of God, by which it is comprehended, what are we poor creatures that we should presume to fix limits to His knowledge, and say that unless the same temporal thing be repeated by the same periodic revolutions, God cannot either foreknow His creatures that He may make them, or know them when He has made them? God, whose knowledge is simply manifold, and uniform in its variety, comprehends all incomprehensibles with so incomprehensible a comprehension, that though He willed always to make His later works novel and unlike what went before them, He could not produce them without order and foresight, nor conceive them suddenly, but by His eternal foreknowledge.” City of God 12.18, trans. Marcus Dods.↩︎

  6. One of us recalls an elder telling him that the wife of one of the staff members of the church had just found out she was pregnant. He said the staff member had come to him asking what they should do, since his wife had been on some medication that might have harmed the child and they were fearful. The elder explained he’d suggested the staff member consider abortion, explaining to his pastor, “I consider abortion a matter of stewardship.”↩︎

  7. G. K Chesterton, “The Unfinished Temple,” ch. 5 in What’s Wrong with the World,↩︎

  8. Hard data on Roman fertility in general, let alone Christian Roman fertility, is lacking. But Stark, The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History (Princeton University Press, 1996), 122–128, considering the available evidence, lays out a compelling argument for a healthy increase in the Christian fertility rate in the late Roman world, pointing in particular to the following advantages held by Christians in comparison to pagans: (1) abhorrence of abortion and infanticide, (2) objections to contraception, (3) a positive view of marriage (even in cases of mixed marriage), and (4) a high percentage of women of childbearing age. There is also some testimony from primary sources of the time. Noting this, Stark comments, “Differential fertility was taken as fact by the ancients,” and quotes Minucius Felix approvingly: “Day by day the number of us is increased [because of] [our] fair mode of life” (122).↩︎

  9. Put in place by Emperor Septimius Severus (193–211): “A woman who intentionally induces an abortion is to be sentenced by the Governor to temporary exile; for it can be considered dishonorable for a woman to defraud a husband of his children with impunity.” Digesta 47.11.4.↩︎

  10. Particularly under Theodosius II (408–450): “If anyone commit the crime of killing an infant, this evil shall constitute a capital offense.” Codex Theodosianus 9.14.1.↩︎

  11. “Two laws have been enacted, one against a woman who, through dislike to her husband, takes pains to produce an abortion upon herself, and accomplishes the death of her unborn child, and another enacted against the husband requiring him to repudiate a woman who has been guilty of such an outrage.” Leo later says that such a woman “has committed a crime which is an outrage . . . against Nature.” The New Constitutions of the Emperor Leo 31, trans. S. P. Scott,↩︎

  12. This does not mean that the practice of abortion ended immediately, of course. Indeed, child murder was apparently slow to decline. Law, as all else, is bound by God’s decrees, but law cannot in itself change hearts.↩︎

  13. J. R. R. Tolkien, “The Last Debate,” ch. 9 in bk. 1 of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.↩︎