This week New York was the first state to pass legislation legalizing abortion up to the time of birth. We should not miss the qualifier that that the health of the mother must be under threat to justify the late term abortion. However, in modern parlance “health” encompasses all sorts of physical and mental conditions. So this qualifier does not require that a mother’s life be in danger. Practically, this means that abortion on demand, even though the baby could live independent of the mother, is legal in New York.
I heard one commentator pose the question, “What is the intention of the lawmakers in New York? Is their intention to kill babies?” I believe their answer would be a resounding, “no.” I believe that their intention is to through the legal process make men and women equal. Behind the argument for legal abortion is the goal of taking one more step to bring a perceived equality to men and women. Equality in this context really means sameness. If a man does not have to be pregnant after sex, then a woman should not have to be pregnant either. In other words, men and women cannot be equal if a man does not have to be pregnant but a woman does. So the New York lawmakers have passed a law that they believe is moral because they would say that it is immoral for men and women to not be equal or the same.
First, we must say unequivocally that abortion of any kind is a sin. It is simply the taking of human life for selfish reasons. In other words, it is murder. Some might argue that early in pregnancy a baby is not yet a human life, and therefore there are no moral issues involved. However, modern medicine has shown us that babies in the 3rd trimester are capable of living without the mother. Surely no one could sincerely argue that a baby in the 3rd trimester is not a human being owed basic human rights. So we see that those in favor, especially of late term abortion, are making a moral judgment that a woman’s right to not be pregnant outweighs the baby’s right to live. In other words, the woman’s right to equality or sameness in this instance is more important that the life of the child.
The question for Christians is how do we view the never ending battle for equality between men and women? This question can only be answered in light of the Gospel. We must understand that the Gospel is not simply that Jesus died for our sins and now we can go to heaven. The Gospel restores not only a human’s relationship with God but also should restore a human’s proper relationship with other humans.
It is clear in the book of Genesis that God created men and women with a purpose to honor and glorify him. God created women with the ability, responsibility, and honor to bare children. It is equally clear that when Adam and Eve rejected God’s good gifts and his authority that the created purpose of humans was frustrated by sin. The perfect, complementary union between men and women was broken. Sinful men now tend to seek domination and rule over women. Sinful women tend to strive for sameness with men, rejecting their God-given honor of baring children all while men do everything they can to escape monogamy and the responsibility of raising the children they so happily produce.
A proper understanding and living of the Gospel can restore men and women to their place of glorifying their Creator. The Gospel tells us that men and women are in fact equally loved by God and given equally important purposes. To strive for equality apart from the Gospel is a never ending battle. Only in Christ do we find true equality. Paul says that in Christ there is no nationality, race, or gender. We are all equally valued by our Creator. It is through believing in the mission of Jesus Christ that we realize this equality. This does not mean we are all the same. In fact, we are told that we have many differing gifts and talents that when exercised together perfectly complement each other, just as man and woman perfectly complement each other by living out the Gospel.
Humans will never be able to truly escape the fact that gender does have meaning. This is because men and women are created beings, not cosmic accidents, and the Creator made them different. This in no way means that one is more valuable than the other. But it does mean that the only lasting path to equality, peace, and value for both men and women is through filling the empty place in the human heart with love for our Maker. In this way we will glorify him and find ultimate fulfillment by doing what we were created to do and being who we were created to be.