Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The wages of abortion is death. Most obviously, of course, it brings about the death of a baby. But abortion also causes significant collateral damage. Mothers can die or be physically injured, sometimes endangering their ability to have children in the future. Relationships between the parents of an aborted child routinely often do not survive. Abortion deadens the heart, either through grief or hardness, particularly in (but not limited to) the mothers. And for the culture that tolerates it, life becomes increasingly cheap and violent.
The irony is that abortion promises life. Freedom to get on with life without the responsibilities of motherhood and fatherhood, and therefore the freedom to pursue a career, to enjoy this or that thing unhindered, to avoid the shame and/or embarrassment of being sexually active and pregnant, or simply to make ends meet. In each case, abortion is a solution to a problem that appears to be death dealing, which, left unchecked, appears to bring bondage. The implication being that one is more likely to find life on the other side of an abortion.
But it never works, because the wages of sin is death. This is why abortion will always be a Gospel issue. Paul speaks of the gospel in terms of fruit.
But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:21-23)
Many who have been through abortion know all too well that the end of abortion is death and can answer very well Paul’s question concerning the fruit of the things of which they are now ashamed. What they may not know is that, in Christ, God offers fruit that leads not to death, but to eternal life. But this is the thing—people who are ashamed rarely will come forth to speak of their need, precisely because they are ashamed—which is why the Church needs to understand that abortion is a gospel issue and to speak clearly and proactively about it as such. Not to bring burdens, but to lift them. Not to make people ashamed of their fruit that leads to death, but to lead them to the One who freely gives life. Abortion is hardly the only opportunity, but it is nonetheless an important opportunity to make the Gospel plain to those living in shame.
Heavenly Father, make us a people who love and serve you, who seek to bring love to the broken, protection the vulnerable, and glory to Your Name. Open our eyes to the needs of those who have been hurt by abortion, that we would tell them about the forgiveness and freedom that can be found only in You. In Jesus name, Amen.
This week’s reflection has been written by Anglicans for Life’s Board Member, the Rev. Dr. W. Ross Blackburn. Rev. Blackburn is the Rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, NC.