Who Speaks for LIFE homepageThose who know me know that I love a vigorous debate. On any subject, except, maybe, whether there will be snow in heaven or not, simply because that issue has been settled since creation – when the perfect world was created, there was no precipitation of any sort.

We, evangelicals, can be so passionate about some issues. Abortion is one of them. But I am afraid that our passions sometimes get the better of us. Words have at times thrown the world into turmoil. They are powerful to heal, but hate can also ride on the backs of verbs and adjectives.

To be perfectly clear: I am viscerally opposed to this culture of death that fell upon us since the United States Supreme Court, by a 7 to 2 majority vote, struck down a law in Texas which prohibited abortion. That famous Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 would forever change the landscape on this debate, making it legal to abort babies within the first trimester of pregnancy.

This ruling still revolts me but you will not hear me calling abortionists “murderers.” The seven Justices who voted for the majority still make me angry, but there will never be any hate in my life directed toward them. You will, however, hear me speak kindly of Justices Byron White and William Rehnquist, the only justices who dared to dissent on that landmark decision.

We may hate the fact that this is so, but the fact remains: there is such a thing as “legal” abortion in the land. This is a matter of settled jurisprudence, so no amount of name calling will change the fact that people can have abortions and not be outside the realm of the law. You could say that they are legally within their rights, which doesn’t make their rights ‘right.’ You can, after all, be legal and immoral at the same time.

Now let’s be clear here. Some of the things that people on the other side of this debate did this past Wednesday is lamentable, including the statement by the President, which said, in part, that his administration will “recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.” He also reaffirmed “our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom…” Of course, he goes on about protecting children but not a word about abortion.

Yes, I am enraged that the Governor of New York says that pro-life conservatives have “no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are,” but contrary to Sean Hannity, I can’t afford to live there so I can’t grant the Governor his wishes. I am beside myself with the tweet from a DNC chairwoman in Florida who posted a “Happy Birthday” type of comment, saluting a decision which has ultimately sent to their death an estimated 56 million innocent babies.

Still you will not hear me using hateful words toward these folks. I figured they will each have to give an account to God on judgment day. I have a hard enough time just dealing with my own inconsistencies and foibles; I am not about to start keeping tracking of those of others.

But following somewhat in Jesus’ footsteps, who reserved his harshest criticisms for religious leaders of his time, I would like to turn the blade toward us for just a second. I say the Church has also contributed to the monumental events that led to Roe v. Wade.

We are the ones who have from time immemorial treated all sexual matters as taboos. In the past we shunned young women who found themselves with the unfortunate burden of carrying a child they didn’t want. I saw this among people in my own milieu, growing up in an evangelical church. Families didn’t hesitate to throw their daughter on the street and have nothing to do with her once they found she was pregnant. Young girls were forced to resort to abortions in the highways and byways of this world, with no protection in place whatsoever.

Not too long ago I was involved with a ministry that provided teenage girls in a country in Africa a way to learn a trade to help themselves and their families. One of the projects had to do with sewing. I noticed one 13 year old girl who seemed to be so mature and was so far ahead of the rest in the kind of clothes she was making. The next year I went back and saw that she was missing. The coordinator of the project told me that she got pregnant and was kicked out of the program. When I met with the pastors of that district who oversaw the entire project, I tried to broach the subject and was warned by the coordinator not to even try to go there. And that is how many of these girls end up in the alleyways of this world, shunned at the time when they needed help the most.

We are the ones who have been sleeping when it comes to providing alternatives for abortion. Pregnancy Care Services across the country struggle to survive with little or no support from local churches. Adoption providers have to beg to get inside our churches. These people are the unsung heroes of the abortion debate and they deserve respect.

We are the ones who “sub-contracted” this issue to the Catholic Church. Anti-abortion activism is seen as a “Catholic issue” and we should have never allowed this. Even during the events leading up to the most recent March for Life in D.C., which outstanding voices in the evangelical world are lending their support? How many churches take the time to remember the tragedies that these 41 years have wrought? Pope Francis issued his statement denouncing what he calls “the culture of waste;” what about us, what are we saying?

Finally, we are still engaging people on the other side of this debate with hateful words. In the name of God and being “pro-life,” some fringe groups have stepped outside the bounds of legality. We have made things worse with our incendiary language. Sure, it is nice to hear people like Glenn Beck saying now that he regrets that he played a role in helping tear the country apart. He says, “I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language,” but it is a little too late now for apologies, isn’t it?

Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As far as I know, there are no exception clauses attached to His statement. Yes, we should be outraged at the atrocities committed in the name of “reproductive freedoms,” but we shouldn’t forget that this should never give us an excuse to lash out at people and engage in hateful speech or action directed toward them or even toward the acts they are perpetrating.

My advice to you as we remember the life of the unborn is to find something positive to do that is going to raise awareness and provide support for those who are on the frontline of this battle. Don’t just feel something, DO something!

And no, I don’t hate abortionists. I don’t even hate snow.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade