Abortion and Grace
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh . . ." Romans 8:1-3
While talking recently with a friend about the gospel, he asked me about Ted Bundy, the serial killer, who murdered young women even in Utah, but reportedly became a Christian before his execution. “What about him? Does God really forgive him?” Let’s add in “Comrade Duch”, I said - the Cambodian general responsible for unspeakable atrocities of torture and murder of women and children, who then became a Christian. "Ted Bundy" is a common objection, if our gospel is clear. The lavish grace of God becomes offensive, usually about sins worse than our own.
But what if the really bad person is . . . you? What if, in the past, you had an abortion? Note that I am not drawing moral equivalents between abortion and what Bundy did. But what if the sins that seem out of the reach of grace are your own? What if you encouraged your girlfriend, your daughter, or your wife, to have an abortion, or you stood by and did nothing? What if you were an abortion doctor, directly responsible for so much death? What if your very employment was an embodiment of “the law of sin and death”?
The theological answer: it’s not the relative badness of one’s sins that matters, but the worth of the sacrifice given by God, for the forgiveness of sins. Leave in place the badness of what Bundy, Duch or you have done. Do not minimize it for a moment. But Jesus, the perfect Son of God, God in flesh - God! - was an even greater, infinitely more valuable sacrifice, more valuable than all the offense caused by all the murders of the whole world.
Though we can’t imagine that with our minds, it’s still true. There is therefore now no condemnation, if you’ve placed your weight upon Jesus. NO condemnation for you, who had an abortion, or abetted one, or performed many.
That’s the theological, cognitive answer. But we need more; we need to see it, and feel it, and experience it. Where? In the church. How? By hearing others pronounce the gospel of grace over our darkest deeds. That’s how Duch experienced grace: real Christians, whose families he had killed, pronouncing “forgiven” over him. Amazing grace fashions us - the church - into God’s haven for the world, including those who’ve had an abortion, or who are contemplating it. The infinite worth of Jesus transforms our message from
“Well, there shouldn’t be this situation in the first place,”
“Yes, there are consequences; but let’s walk in them together, by the Spirit, in freedom, in the reality that there is no condemnation for you - in Jesus.”