(Please note that this is a conversation between a father and his son. If the characters were female, I’m sure it would sound different. I just happen to have more experience with boys.)
I ended my meeting with Jesus with a prolonged sigh. My journal recorded the conversation we had just had about Proverbs 31:8-9 and one of the hot button topics in the news; abortion. I guess my face reflected my heart as I walked into the kitchen to pour myself another cup of coffee.
“Is something wrong, Dad?” Andrew asked.
Andrew is the household inquirer. He is a deep-thinker and honest-asker. I’ll admit I’m often annoyed at the intrusiveness of his questions, but only until I remember that he’s literally me in a 11-year-old body.
“No son,” I started to lie, “…actually yes, there is.”
“Is it something I did?” Andrew asked.
This was a very plausible question.
“No, Andy, I’m sad with how the world is.” I replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m sad about how the world treats children and doesn’t respect life.”
Andrew looked puzzled and sensing another question, I just continued.
“Look, can you handle a mature conversation about something?”
Andrew tried not to react, but his chest puffed out ever so slightly as he replied, “Of course, dad. We’re both men. Let’s here it.”
“Alright, seeing as you’re a man and can handle some real-life stuff… Do you remember when we talked about how babies are created last year?”
Andrew’s face went a shade lighter, but he couldn’t back down, he was a man after all. “Yup. I remember all about it. Sperms. Eggs. …wieners.” He smiled cheekily.
“Oh good, you were listening, I thought I might have to go there again,” I said with a wink.
“Nope, dad! I’m a quick learner.”
“I know you are. And mature, too. Andrew, have you ever heard the word ‘abortion’ before?”
“I’ve heard it, but I don’t really know what it means. I think it’s on the news a lot these days, right?” Andrew was a quick learner and a better listener still.
“You’re right, it’s been in the news an awful lot lately and it’s a sad word to me, because it is the word that describes what happens if a baby dies before it is born.”
“Do you mean like what happened to Aunt Vicky’s baby last year?” Andrew asked thoughtfully.
“No, that was a miscarriage. A miscarriage can happen for any number of reasons, we don’t really know why her baby died before it was born. But an abortion, that’s when you try to kill your baby so that it won’t be born at all. It’s done on purpose.”
Andrew was learning something new and something morally troubling for his adolescent brain.
“But wouldn’t that be very wrong?” He asked, “Like, wouldn’t that be murder?”
“Well I think so, but not everyone does.”
“How could it not be?” Andrew asked. He was remembering how badly my sister, Vicky, had wanted her baby and how sad everyone was when she lost her. We had a little memorial service to help them through that pain.
“I’m not sure you will be able to really understand, I hardly can, but can you imagine any reasons why someone might not want to have a baby?”
“Because she met Jay?” Jay was Andrew’s younger brother. It was a joke, but as soon as he said it, Andrew knew it was not the right kind of joke. “I’m sorry dad. I guess some people just might not want kids.”
“It’s okay. You’re right some people just don’t want kids. I know you don’t like thinking about this, but it is true that having sex feels really good and sometimes people care more about the good feeling than about what could happen if they have sex!”
“Like making a baby.” Andrew offered maturely.
“Exactly! But there are other reasons that someone might not want a baby.”
“Yeah, like if the girl was raped!” Andrew said. I was a bit surprised.
“You know what rape is?” I asked.
“Yeah. Some of the kids were yelling it on the playground a few weeks ago so Mrs. Cyr sat us down as a class to talk about how that isn’t a good word to use.”
“I’m glad she did that. And you’re right, rape is very serious and girls who get raped might get pregnant. That would be just awful! But there still more reasons some people don’t want kids. Maybe they got pregnant but they are really young and they don’t want to make their parents mad or disappointed. Maybe having the baby could put the mother’s life in danger. Or maybe something is wrong with the baby.”
“What do you mean that something is wrong with the baby?” Andrew asked.
“Well, this is where I get so sad, buddy. You know that little boy down the street who has Down syndrome?”
“Oh yeah! I love that kid, he’s so happy. And man, does he love cats!” Andrew laughed.
“Well, son, did you know that people can test their babies for Down syndrome before they are born?”
Andrew could tell where this was going.
“But dad, why would somebody kill a baby just because it has Down syndrome?”
“Well, can you imagine that it would be pretty tough to raise a kid with special needs?”
“Yes… but Cat Kid (that’s what we call him), is so happy and he makes so many people happy.”
“Yes, Andy, you’re right and you have the right heart. We shouldn’t end a pregnancy just because the baby has a disability,” I said, “but not everyone feels that way.”
“So that’s abortion? Killing a baby before they are born?” Andy asked with sad eyes.
“You understand it,” I said, nodding sadly, “Some people try to make it very complex, but at the end of the day, if we just think carefully about it, there is a baby and a mother; two different people sharing the same body for a period of time. It is just wrong to end one of those lives because it isn’t wanted.”
“Dad, what do we do?” I could see Andy’s sense of justice beginning to stir.
“Andy, there are a few things we can do. The first thing we do is pray. We pray and ask God to show us how to be good neighbours.”
“How does being a good neighbour stop abortion?”
“Well, when Jesus was alive, you will notice that he always cared about the people right around him. He loved those people first. If we love our neighbours, then perhaps we can influence them if they face very difficult decisions like that. Perhaps we will even introduce them to Jesus before they make that awful choice. Plus, remember, the women who have abortions are precious to God as well. We must learn to love people well, starting with the people closest to us.
“But we can also do more. We can talk respectfully to people. We can read books and learn about the issues. We can go on the Life Hike.”
“Life Hike? What’s that?”
“It’s a peaceful march in town where people come together who believe that every life matters. If enough people decide to do that march, then it will show that this IS a big deal!”
“Won’t people look at us funny if we do that?”
“Let them look, son. We need to stand up for those who have no voice, that’s what the Bible tells us in Proverbs. We need to speak for the precious babies who are being killed.”
“I get it. It makes me so sad…”
“It makes me sad too, Andrew. But we can make a difference, if I didn’t believe that then I wouldn’t bother even talking to you about this.”
There was a long silence and then Andrew went back to what he had been doing, and I let him. The weight of what I just told him needed time to sink in, and I knew that it would.
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Associate Pastor – Southland Church
Thom has worked with children and youth for 18 years. He and his wife, Tara, have 7 kids; 4 boys, and two daughters and a SON-IN-LAW(!). The kids are spread across 23 years too so that gives him plenty of experimental material to write about! They have welcomed 31 foster children into their home over the past number of years.