Abortion and the Church article posts

A Response to Jesus Loves Me and Those with Down Syndrome

By Cathy Jo Johnston

Date: April 30, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

On March 30, 2019, I spoke to my congregation about World Down Syndrome Day that was celebrated on March 21. This was so dear to my heart as I was also celebrating the memory of my son, Jacob, whose birthday was March 28—he would have been 30 years old. I had flowers on the altar celebrating his life on this earth and celebrating his everlasting life with Jesus. It was quite emotional. Jacob was born at 7:30 p.m. with Down syndrome. I was not made aware of his condition until 10:30 p.m. when a nurse came in to tell me a pediatrician was coming in to talk with us. I knew that this was not good news.

When the pediatrician walked in the room, he said, “I am sorry, but your son was born with Down syndrome—which is a form of mental retardation.” What a shock that was to my husband and me. Forty percent of children born with Down syndrome have a heart problem. So, at midnight they transferred Jacob to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital to check his heart. They stated that if everything was okay he would be brought back to me. At 6:30 a.m. the next morning, I was contacted by a pediatric cardiologist who stated that my son had a severe heart condition and would need open-heart surgery when he got to be about 10 pounds. A couple hours later, I received another call from a doctor who said that they believed Jacob had Hirschsprung’s disease, a congenital condition in which the rectum and part of the colon fail to develop a normal system of nerves and, consequently, feces accumulate in the colon following birth. Jacob would need surgery as soon as possible. I didn’t know when the bad news would stop.

My mother flew in from Illinois, which she was planning to do anyway. We left the hospital and went directly to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and met my pastor so Jacob could be baptized as we did not know if he would make it through the surgery. When I arrived at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and told the nurses that I was Jacob’s mother, they all smiled and said they had all been fighting to take care of this precious little boy. It was so hard to see him, knowing what he would endure so early in his life on earth. I was confused as I did not know why God had given me this little boy and was now praying to God to help me take care of him.

I could go on and on and on, but I now know why God gave me Jacob. Even though I only had him for one year and 22 days, he was the most precious gift I could have received. I was so blessed to have been his mother. I learned all the special things that I had to do daily to take care of him. I joined a support group with so many wonderful people. I remember being at the hospital one day and having a nurse come up to me and say, “I am so glad to see that you kept your child.” I was shocked by that statement and responded, “What do you mean? This is my son. I would never ever think of such a thing.” She stated that oftentimes when children have severe medical issues the parents just give up. I was so sad to hear that.

I have so many videos and pictures of Jacob. He was the sweetest little boy, and I think of him every day. On April 19, 1990, Jacob had his second open-heart surgery. The surgery went very well; however, when they took him off the heart/lung machine, his little heart just would not work. That was the saddest day of my life. I had to see him and hold him. They brought Jacob into the chapel, and we all held him for the longest time.

Jacob’s funeral was beautiful and attended by so many people whose lives he had touched. In October of 1991, Shirley Volbrecht, a member of Concordia, approached me. She had become a very dear friend of mine as she had a daughter, Sue, that had Down syndrome also. She asked if I would be interested in becoming a coach for Special Olympics. Well, why not! We started with nine athletes and as of today have over 300. I cannot imagine my life without these special people that have Down syndrome. They truly are the ones that teach us the lessons in life.

I have two daughters, Amanda, 31, and Hannah, 24. When they are out and about and see a person with special needs, they get a big smile and usually go up and introduce themselves and tell them how happy they are to meet them. When people tell me how wonderful it is what I do, I tell them it’s not what I do, it’s what I get back in return.

Sue, who is featured in Lutherans For Life’s brochure Jesus Loves Me and Those with Down Syndrome, was a very special person in my life. I was her Sunday school teacher for many years. I taught the Breakthrough Class, a special Bible class for people with disabilities. Sue would also stay at my house when her parents would go on vacation. One time she was with me for three weeks. She was part of our family, and we all loved her so much, as she did us. Sue passed away but is still in the hearts of so many that were touched by her life.

Again, I could go on and on. If people could only see what love and beauty come out of these special people with Down syndrome, it would change their lives for the better. I can’t imagine life without these special human beings that make us realize how precious life is.

I loved the story about Elly and her love of Jesus and people, too. People with Down syndrome just want to be loved and appreciated for who they are. God does not make mistakes!

I had tears when I was speaking to the congregation, but they were tears of joy from all that God has given me. I know that the message I gave touched many people. As I was handing out the brochures, I was greeted by many hugs and know that my message was well received.

... continue reading

Unplanned - A Review by Virginia Flo

By Virginia Flo

Date: April 16, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

I had an opportunity to see the movie “Unplanned” this week, and it has given me much food for thought. It’s the true story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood employee who was recruited in college and made their “star”—at least for a while. The movie really brought to life the horror of the abortion industry. It was uncanny how little the employees thought about what was going on and how callous they appeared in doing their daily work. I can’t help thinking how complicated Abby’s life must have been during those eight years she worked for Planned Parenthood with all of her family being pro-life and not approving of her career plans. What a conflicted time that must have been, especially as she marched up the ladder from being a volunteer to becoming clinic director. As she rejoiced in her success, each promotion made her family even more saddened by what she was doing.

Yet, she really thought she was helping women and was trying to reduce abortions, even though she was convincing women to have an abortion when they entered the clinic. That denial must have been difficult to cover up and defend. In the movie, the look on her face when she sat in church and the pastor read Psalm 139:13 NIV (“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”) was very revealing. When you are wrong, it is often difficult to hear Scripture that points it out. For those few seconds as she sat there pondering those words, she clearly wanted to be somewhere else.

I think she knew that the life in the womb was really a child all along—and not a blob of tissue—as she was telling others. When she finally witnessed a surgical abortion and watched the ultrasound as the baby squirmed and tried to move away from the abortion instrument, it was all she could take. To add insult to injury, when she pointed out to the doctor doing the procedure that the baby was moving, he said, “they all do that.” O my goodness, how that spoke volumes. Thinking of the many times she told patients that the baby feels no pain hit her hard, as she helplessly watched how horrible and painful it must be for that baby trying to avoid being torn apart and losing a battle for which he/she had no defense. It was the final straw in the lie she was living and covering up.

When Abby questioned an increase in her abortion quota, when in her mind she was working to reduce abortions, the tables turned quickly. It became crystal clear that the work of Planned Parenthood was not about women’s health but rather it was about making money—and that meant doing as many abortions as possible. She went from being employee of the year to being the number-one enemy of her employer, Planned Parenthood. That amazed me, yet I was not surprised as this organization has demonstrated they have no heart, or they wouldn’t be killing babies as their main business objective. The efforts they put in to hide that fact proves they know what they do is morally wrong, yet socially justified, and they believe the end justifies the means.

The look on the faces of those women and girls who came to the clinic, many of them just teens, was mortifying. It was like they knew they were fulfilling a death sentence and not wanting to do it. But, they didn’t know how to turn back as the pressures were too great. Once they crossed the threshold of the entrance door, there basically was no turning back as the process used in the abortion clinic was swift and decisive. You see, they came there because they believed it was their “reproductive choice,” but a choice is not what they got as they became the pawns of the abortion system.

I also marveled at how God turned something so bad and so evil into something good. Surely it was God making it happen as so many things took place that could have gone very badly for Abby Johnson when she had a change of heart—yet they didn’t. She did struggle emotionally with the fact that 22,000 abortions took place during her watch as clinical director. (It would have been nice to see a scene where she was assured of her forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus who carried those sins for her. Since she is a Christian, I pray that assurance is a part of her life today.)

She is just an ordinary person like any one of us, yet God did use her in a very big way. The work she is doing today in her organization called “And Then There Were None” is helping others get out of the abortion business. Can you imagine that the people working in this business fear for their safety and careers should they choose to leave? I suspect when you are living in lie after lie on a daily basis you have a hard time understanding the truth when it finally hits you. Plus, when your business is built on lies, the greatest fear the employer has is how to silence those who leave from telling the truth about what they witnessed. That apparently is done with more lies and intimidation. Yet, the truth will set you free, which is exactly what Abby Johnson experienced.

This movie is something I didn’t think I would ever see in a movie theater. That in itself was the most amazing part of this. Now, people can see for themselves some truths they might never see elsewhere. The movie is a true story which makes it even more meaningful. I suspect when it was filmed it was extremely important to stick with the facts or the powerful Planned Parenthood would immediately challenge its release. I left hoping that everyone would see this movie before it leaves the theaters. As long as it is a box-office success, it will continue to be shown. Go buy a ticket. It is worth every minute. There are a few scenes that will make you squirm a little but nothing so bad as to warrant the R rating it received. There is no bad language, no sexual scenes, no nudity and the like as an R rating would imply. I understand that because of the graphic nature of a baby depicted dying by abortion in the computer-generated ultrasound the rating was given as that would be deemed violent, which it is. I believe teens need to be accompanied by their parents, which is a good thing. Parents can decide if this is a movie their teenager should see. It is amazing though, a child younger than 17 cannot see this movie without being accompanied by a parent, but in some places, a 16-year-old can get an abortion without a parents’ knowledge or approval. Irony shows up in strange places.

Virginia J. Flo is Regional Director of Minnesota and National Conference Director of Lutherans For Life

... continue reading

Lutherans For Life – Forty Years of Ministry and Education

By Lynette Auch

Date: March 22, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

History, the facts of past people, civilizations, and events, can teach us many life lessons. God emphasizes the importance of history in His Word as He instructed the observation of the Passover so the children of Israel would remember their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Jesus told us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper “in remembrance” of Him.

Remembering the history of Lutherans For Life has a place of importance too.

On March 22, 1979, three courageous, determined, God-fearing individuals—Rev. Dr. Calvin J. Eichhorst, Rev. Dr. Eugene Linse, Rev. Dr. Leigh Jordahl—set their hands to the documents that birthed the life-affirming ministry of Lutherans For Life. Because of these pioneers, many lives have been touched and saved by the witness and educational efforts of LFL.

As we acknowledge and remember the 40th anniversary of LFL, let us take a moment to thank God for these people, and others like them, who were and are obedient to God’s calling on their lives to take a stand and become a voice For Life, a voice for those who cannot defend themselves.

Let us take a moment to remember that every life is “handmade” by God; therefore, every life, regardless of size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency from conception to natural death, is precious and is someone for whom Jesus died.

Let us take a moment to call upon God, to humble ourselves, to pray and to seek His face, and to turn from our wicked ways, for God promises, “… then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14b NIV).

Let us take a moment to thank God for His invitation to be His hands, feet, and voice as Gospel-motivated voices For Life.

Let us take a moment to seek His will and ask His guidance for the future of Lutherans For Life in the challenges ahead.

Let us take a moment to thank God for His undeserved, yet enduring, mercy and grace toward us and the ministry of Lutherans For Life.

Let us take a moment to let God’s love shine through these, our earthen vessels.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV)

... continue reading

LifeDate Spring/Summer 2019

Date: February 28, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

View LifeDate on Issuu

Download LifeDate Spring/Summer 2019

From the Executive Director
10 Blessings of Large Families by Pastor Michael Salemink

Lutherans For Life – Bethesda Lutheran Communities
Wonderfully Made – Bethesda Lutheran Communities – Lutherans For Life
The Dream and Story of Parenting by Mona Fuerstenau

Abortion/Post Abortion/Alternatives
The Real Hippocratic Oath by Donna J. Harrison, M.D.

Family Living
Proliferate by Pastor Michael Salemink
Caregiving = Burden-Bearing by Marie K. MacPherson
Looking for the Good by Diane E. Schroeder
God’s Children by Lynette Auch

Lutherans For Life Resources

Life Thoughts in the Church Year

World News

Spotlight on Lutherans For Life
New York State’s Abortion Law by Pastor Michael Salemink
Together Beat Our Hearts
A Better Way by Pastor Scott Licht
Lutherans For Life at the 2019 March for Life
Scenes from the 2019 March for Life
LAMBs – Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets
2019 LFL Regional Conferences

... continue reading

Lutherans For Life at the 2019 March for Life

Date: February 28, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

Lutherans from around the country came together in Washington, D.C., on January 18 for the 2019 March for Life. Deaconess Rachel Geraci, mission and ministry director for Lutherans For Life, met a Lutheran high school student who was attending the March for the first time. He told Rachel he came to the March thinking he would have the opportunity to debate with the opposition as he appreciates a good debate. However, he realized soon after the March began that this was as much a celebration of life as it was a protest against abortion. Although it wasn’t what he was expecting, this student realized how wonderful it is when people can come together in such a positive manner.

This was the fifth March for Life for LFL Executive Director, Rev. Michael W. Salemink. He said, “I’m always moved by the fellowship, the joy and hope, the courage and compassion. My parents and my son came along and especially enjoyed the Lutheran witness of hymns, creeds, and prayers to proclaim how precious every human life is to our God and Father. And there were plenty of participants younger than my son as well as older than my parents. They all demonstrated genuine love, and the enemy has no answer for that.”

... continue reading

Did God Really Say?

By Scott Licht

Date: February 20, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

Click here to help equip Gospel-motivated voices For Life, right now, through a secure online gift!

Really? Are you REALLY shocked by the recent legislation that was signed into law in New York? The one that allows infants to be aborted right up to the moment of birth? Are you REALLY shocked by the Virginia governor’s comments that he’s perfectly fine with terminating the life of a child who has already been born? Are you REALLY shocked that in Washington state (and MANY other places) there are three possible genders on birth certificates (M, F, and “X”)? Are you REALLY shocked that seven states now allow physician-assisted suicide and that another 21 states had legislation introduced in 2018 which would allow for that atrocity?

The theme for our 2019 LFL Regional Conferences and our Life Sunday theme for 2020 is “Did God Really Say?” You know the genesis of that phrase, but Satan has perfected the technique of asking that question without really asking that question. And he knows how to patiently and methodically ask variations of that question in order to make small incremental steps toward his goal.

Put yourself in the setting of The Andy Griffith Show. That series ended in 1968—roughly 50 years ago. Do you think the people of Mayberry would have cheered if the mayor announced that mothers could kill their babies right up to the instant of their birth? Do you think that Aunt Bee would have consulted with the town physician to take her own life if she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness? Do you think that Opie would have lobbied for the chance to indicate “X” as his gender on his elementary school registration forms?

I’m NOT at all saying that the people of the 1960s were without their vices—far from it. But, do you ever look at the news today and ask yourself, “How did we get here?”

Satan is more wise and cunning than to make us take a giant leap toward immorality, so he breaks it down into more “manageable” increments by asking some form of “Did God really say?” Once society is comfortable with that step, he pushes our culture up another step, again by asking some variation of “Did God really say?”

“Did God really say?” becomes “Would God REALLY want that child to be born if there’s a chance she might be disabled?” Translation: We’re smarter than God now that we have the technology to diagnose (albeit, not anywhere near perfectly) “abnormalities.”

“Did God really say?” becomes “Would God REALLY want that young ‘man’ to live unhappily trapped in a woman’s body? Now that we understand DNA, we can understand that ‘she’ can’t help but want to be a man.” Translation: Never mind the fact that God created DNA and we’re the ones who are late figuring out what a miracle it is, we’re still smarter than God, and He made a mistake.

“Did God really say?” becomes “Would a loving God REALLY want Grandpa to suffer like that for weeks, months, or years? Let’s just ask the doctor to help him die with dignity.” Translation: We’re smarter than God because CLEARLY no good can come from suffering.

Once those hurdles are cleared, Satan has plenty more ahead—and so it continues.

But we—you and I, together—as Lutherans For Life have a never-changing, never-failing message of life to deliver to this deluded culture. God’s Word has answers to all of the questions that Satan has asked and will ever ask. By “equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life,” we—together—can be God’s instruments of light and hope in this dark world.

Please help us in this life-changing endeavor. When you look at the news and ask yourself, “How did we get here? Isn’t there something that can be done?” let me assure you that there is. When we all pool our resources—intellectual, physical, temporal, spiritual, and financial—we can reach the person who is tempted to heed Satan’s latest version of “Did God really say?”

And so, I ask you for your prayers, your time, and your energy to help in whatever way God has gifted you—and, yes, your financial help, too. Together we all can equip those who are struggling—or who are helping those who are struggling.

Thank you and may God bless you.

P.S. Help us remind those who are struggling that the answer to Satan’s question, “Did God really say?” is a resounding “Lord, to whom shall we go? [YOU] have the words of [ETERNAL LIFE!]” (John 6:68).

... continue reading

LAMBs – Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets

Date: February 14, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

LAMBs – Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets

Through the craftiness of some LFLers in Ohio, along with the Miami Valley Life Chapter, a new project entitled “LAMBs” (Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets) has been created. Although our world might tell us otherwise, children truly are a blessing. Therefore, Lutherans For Life would like to celebrate children, especially those families with a lot of them!

We would like to celebrate families that are awaiting the birth of their fourth or more child by gifting them with a homemade blanket. Do you know such a family in your Lutheran church? If so, please contact Rachel Geraci, our mission and ministry director, at so that she can arrange for this gift to be sent to them. (Alternatively, you can fill out a form and send it to Carol Houtler of the Miami Valley Life Chapter.)

Thank you for helping us care for your neighbor in this way!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

... continue reading

A Response to Norman Metzler

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: February 6, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

Dr. Norman Metzler deserves commendation for addressing abortion. His recent article, “Sanctity of Life: The Complexities of the Abortion Issue,” in the Winter 2018 edition of The Daystar Journal (thedaystarjournal.com/category/2018/winter-2018) identifies biblical, theological, and scientific dimensions of the practice. He perceives implications beyond the political, cultural, or personal ones that often limit how Christians consider abortion. By taking up the difficult topic, Dr. Metzler exemplifies how incumbent it is upon all pastors and congregations to engage an admittedly sensitive issue, and he laudably overcomes the reticence of many in our church body (the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod) to speak about abortion for fear of the Word of God causing offense.

The professor also demonstrates a welcome sensitivity. Life issues like surprise pregnancy involve more than merely popular opinion, political controversy, media narratives, or private choices. Dr. Metzler recognizes that life issues involve people, neighbors with whom sharing life is our privilege and responsibility. He rightly senses that another person’s crisis should never serve as excuse for me to indulge in excesses. He affirms that all Christians (and not just the woman directly affected, as the “my body, my choice” mantra insists) have blessed obligations related to procreation. He appreciates that abortion is always tragic rather than something to be celebrated (in the way that New York’s governor and the “shout your abortion” crusade recently have). He reminds us that “humans have accountability for dealing with the complex medical, moral, and spiritual factors” abortion entails. And he pastorally exhorts that “Christians should reach out with compassion … to women who for whatever reasons have had an abortion.”

However, it does seem that Dr. Metzler’s sympathy gets the better of his critical thinking. Illogical, unsupported, and inaccurate assertions – philosophical, theological, and scientific ones – riddle his article. Though he laments and disputes what he believes to be “simplistic ways of framing the issue,” he repeatedly resorts to peddling abortion advocacy’s own stereotypes and clichés. First, Dr. Metzler contends that all “problem pregnancies” are “by definition … tragic.” But he allows for “widely varying definitions” of “problem,” from life-threatening to “simply ‘inconvenient.’” This conceivably encompasses every pregnancy. Is he suggesting that all pregnancies are tragic? Nobody would disagree that carrying a child causes pain and comes with burdens, but our Lord maintains that joy still prevails: “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21).

The professor then appeals to “the sordid history of illegal abortions in our recent national history prior to Roe v. Wade.” He states that this alone should justify keeping abortions legal. Thankfully, research has shown that reports of casualties to women from “back-alley” abortions have been wildly embellished. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), famously admitted:

[I]t was always “5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.” I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the “morality” of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.[1]

Planned Parenthood’s own medical director, Dr. Mary Calderone, attested in 1960 that “90% of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians.”[2] She noted that “in 1957, there were only 260 [maternal] deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind,” and “abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous.”[3] By 1966, that number had declined to under 200.[4] Of course, our hearts break over any death from abortion. But antibiotics, not laws, most substantially reduced maternal fatalities from abortions even before the 1973 Supreme Court decision. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, 10-20 American women annually (not including California or Maryland) continue to suffer deaths related to legalized abortions,[5] not to mention the other well-documented physical and psychological aftereffects.[6]

Furthermore, almost any crime would prove less hazardous if given legal protection. Robberies, for example, frequently result in collateral damage such as destruction of property and injury to bystanders. Ought we insist that the government offer police escorts to facilitate safe stealing for would-be thieves? But it is not merely the inadvertent harm that makes robbery wrong. Its express intent, to deprive another person of rightful property, is unjust. In fact, the risk of unanticipated casualties provides a natural deterrent. Rewriting penal codes likewise won’t render abortion any less violent; whether licensed or illicit, it’s always lethal to the child.

Dr. Metzler goes on to advance a dangerously misleading analogy. “Not every acorn becomes an oak tree.” He then catalogs a series of (undocumented) statistics intended to establish that, as an acorn has less value than an oak tree, so “God’s own human reproductive design clearly demonstrates a differentiated valuation of the incipient human life … compared with the status of a post-natal person.” Since only a fraction of zygotes implant after fertilization, and since a majority of embryos miscarry after implantation, he would have us suppose that unborn human beings matter less to our Creator than adult ones.

This analogy ends up inappropriate for two reasons. First, it actually corroborates the opposite of what Dr. Metzler sets out to show. Every acorn is already an oak. Its genetic signature, its scientific classification, is nothing other than oak. At no point in its maturation will its DNA change such that it transfers to a different genus or species. To be sure, an oak acorn is not an oak tree, just as a human embryo is not a human toddler is not a human teenager is not a human adult. But an acorn embodies exactly what an oak should look like at its early stage of development. And a zygote or embryo possesses the same undeniable humanity as a preschooler or grown-up.

Moreover, the difference the professor alludes to is one of instrumental value. An acorn is less valuable because it is less useful to us than a tree – for landscaping, for shade and shelter, for kindling or construction. Surely Dr. Metzler agrees that valuing my neighbor primarily as object for my consumption is patently offensive both to the Christian faith and to common sensibilities. Human value is intrinsic rather than instrumental, that is, because of what and who they are, not because of what they can do for me. A more productive person is not a more precious one. With or without particular abilities or accomplishments, each member of the human race bears the image of God and all the worth pertaining thereunto.

An honest and responsible theology of human life cannot ignore this image. Yet the professor conspicuously omits any consideration of it. Nor does he attend at all to the impact of Jesus Christ, and in particular His gestation, upon the sanctity of the unborn. This represents perhaps the article’s most egregious error. Jesus incarnates the image of God fully and flawlessly in human flesh to hallow humankind. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) first in Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:20), and His residence there consecrates our embryonic existence by linking it to the life of God Himself (Hebrews 2:14-17). Even there He was the Son of God, beloved and well-pleasing (Matthew 3:17) to the Heavenly Father, and even there He redeems human weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). He devoted words from His prayers on the cross to declaring it – the same Psalm 22 that opens with “My God, why have you forsaken me” (22:1) also avows that “from my mother’s womb you have been my God” (22:10). So dear to Him are the littlest of children (Luke 18:15-16) that He charges us to behold and regard them as we do Him (Matthew 18:5, 10).

Dr. Metzler also misstates the scientific description of human beginnings. He falsely equates procreation with human life: “The human reproductive process, or ‘human life,’ does not begin at birth, nor even at conception.” While the gametes perform principal functions in procreation, “a human life” does not begin with a “viable human egg and a viable human sperm,” as the article claims. Sperm and egg cells certainly participate in human life, as constituents of an organism existing independently of them. But it is incorrect to identify them as even the beginning of “a human life,” that is, a distinct individual human being. The professor knows this, and so he substitutes the one (gametes) for the other (embryos) behind the veil of “the trajectory of human life.” The corn flakes one eats for breakfast also figure in the trajectory of human life, yet no one attempts to reckon them as even a “potential” human life. He indicates that birth converts the “potential human life” into “an actual child” but never specifies anything about birth that accomplishes this critical operation in the “trajectory.”

Indeed, he prefers rhetorically expedient language to biologically precise terminology. He inexplicably shifts from calling the conceptus a zygote to speaking of “the fertilized egg.” Embryologists know of no such thing, since upon commencement of fertilization the cell known as ovum or egg no longer exists, having chemically, structurally, and genetically transformed by incorporation of the sperm material into something else.[7] As soon as sperm and egg fuse, we classify the human being as zygote, then morula, then bilaminar and trilaminar embryo, then fetus, and so on. The article also alleges that some embryos “self-abort,” another argumentative flourish that has no foundation in medical vocabulary. Dr. Metzler realizes as much and then clarifies by adding “or miscarry,” which is the correct expression. He appears to confuse himself also with the linguistic gymnastics, referring in one paragraph to the “incipient human life” while in the next calling it a “potential human life.” The first designation is the factual one, but even the modifier “incipient” is unnecessary, as science defines the embryo a human life, whether in utero or ex utero.

The professor makes it his main point that mortality reveals God’s own cheapening of embryos. Since many ova go unfertilized even after insemination, and since many (most?) embryos die before implanting or prior to viability, God must not love or value embryos as much as infants. Dr. Metzler finds this to be God’s “plan” or “design,” but he overlooks the impact of original sin. “[S]in came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12), affecting even embryos (Psalm 51:5). If death be comprehended in God’s dominion, it belongs to His foreknowledge and not His will: “I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God” (Ezekiel 18:32). The Lutheran Formula of Concord professes,

This foreknowledge extends alike over good people and evil people. But it is not a cause of evil or of sin which compels anyone to do something wrong; the original source of this is the devil and man’s wicked and perverse will … God’s foreknowledge merely controls the evil and imposes a limit on its duration, so that in spite of its intrinsic wickedness it must minister to the salvation of his elect.[8]

It is therefore improper (and insensitive) to insinuate that death strikes according to God’s design or plan (see Job). God never intended miscarriages to come about. He grieves them with us and even more so. Had the fall into sin never transpired, perhaps every act of marital consummation would have led to live birth.

Even so, greater percentages of Haitians have perished in natural disasters of recent memory than have Canadians. Shall we deduce the Almighty Maker favors one over the other? Octogenarians depart the earth at greater rates than adolescents. Does aging diminish our significance in the sight of God? The Lord Jesus forcefully denies any connection between mortality and value: “those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5). And Isaiah delivers divine comfort about it: “[You] have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:3-4).

In fact, Dr. Metzler posits too many theological propositions without adducing scriptural support. He identifies himself with the Lutheran tradition, which distinctively insists that “the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged,”[9] but he neither draws nor authenticates any of his ideas from the Bible. When he does turn to the Word of God, he dismisses its testimonies with a ham-fisted non-exegesis. “Such biblical references as the baby leaping in Elizabeth’s womb, an individual being known by God from the womb, or proscriptions against violence toward pregnant women are either poetic utterances or provisions of ancient Jewish law.”

Setting aside the question of Luke’s literary genres, “poetic utterance” need not mean “inexact.” “Poetic” denotes form, not content (and in many cases only in the beholder’s eyes). Statements can be both poetic and utterly factual.[10] One wonders how many other promises and commands of our Lord can be discarded by labeling them “poetic utterances.” In the same way, ancient Jewish law is not ipso facto invalid. “You shall not steal” is an ancient Jewish law. Would the professor advocate dispensing with it? If one is not careful, one may find oneself nullifying the entire Christian faith as “ancient Jewish law.”

The article’s notion of personhood likewise leaves much to be desired. Dr. Metzler assumes “we” associate four essential qualities with “actual personhood”: “an independently functioning mind and body; a fully defined unique physical appearance; a distinctive personality; and interaction with others in a network of human relationships.” Whence he derives these universal standards he does not make clear. However, birth does not impart any of these qualities to a person, and many individuals we esteem as persons do not possess or exhibit some of them. Hospital patients who need ventilators to work their lungs do not have an independently functioning body. Are we to infer that the professor disqualifies them as human persons? A baby’s distinctive personality does not manifest until weeks or even months after delivery. Does the professor endorse the extermination of six-month-olds? If so, which ones? Every zygote has, from the moment of fertilization, a fully defined, unique physical appearance, albeit different from that of childhood or adulthood. A man’s appearance varies as much from a girl’s as an embryo’s does from yours. Who determines which falls short of human? And embryos interact with others, most immediately their mothers. Comatose patients do not (but did before incapacitation and will again upon recovery). Neither do hermits. Is one’s personhood genuinely dependent upon acceptance into a particular community?

Yes, Dr. Metzler, it really is this simple. Scripture and science agree. Conception (fertilization) furnishes the natural and obvious beginning of a human person. The zygote meets the commonly accepted scientific criteria for living (grows, metabolizes, reproduces, responds, adapts). The zygote belongs genetically and exclusively to the species Homo sapiens. And, as Dr. Maureen Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, documents, the zygote operates as an organism (self-directs coordination of parts and processes for development of the whole) rather than as part of another.[11]

So the Jesus who lived, loved, bled, rose, and reigns for us men and for our salvation is the same Word who became flesh first as an embryo in Mary’s womb. By the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), Elizabeth confessed her – poetically or otherwise – the “mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43) and not “almost-mother of my Lord-to-be.” Just the same, the “me” who speaks with you and undertakes the four characteristics of personhood you require is the same “me” whom God knit together in my mama’s belly (Psalm 139:13), sinful from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5). While our feelings about surprise pregnancy and aggravating circumstances may be complicated, our knowing is not. If the unborn one is not a human being, no justification for abortion will be necessary. If the unborn one is a human being, no justification for abortion will be sufficient.

Finally, Dr. Metzler’s distaste for “pro-life” caricatures clouds his judgment. He uncharitably construes actual life-affirming folks, some of them his own brothers and sisters in Christ, as stingy and partisan. Though one can hardly disagree that “Christians … should feel particularly obligated to take the lead” in supporting pregnant women in difficult circumstances,” this obligation is incumbent because we are Christians, not because we oppose abortion. Hypocrisy is a serious complaint, and a fair one, even concerning Christians, but it still amounts to the ad hominem fallacy.

His parting accusation, that pro-life folks are “expending relatively so little energy and resources on rescuing from death the many millions of … living children,” is just false. He offers no substantiation for it because none can be found. Presumably he feels frustrated that some individuals and organizations do not vote or pay for his favorite social policies or agencies. But this author continually shares company with exactly the people the professor slanders, and they think, speak, and act with exemplary and entire generosity, selflessness, sacrifice, and sensitivity, opening hearts and hands and homes to serve, safeguard, and embrace everybody they encounter, especially the least of these.

Perhaps if Dr. Metzler mingled more among such people, he too would come to know the joy and hope and purpose in every human life. We invite and encourage him to welcome absolutely every human being as gift and privilege, for God Himself has created, redeemed, and called them all to be His own precious treasures forever, regardless of age, appearance, or ability. After all, we Lutherans hold that a human creature has worth because of God’s gracious actions and not his or her own works. And what a profound blessing we have, to share life with each one, warts and all, just the way our loving Heavenly Father receives us!

Rev. Michael W. Salemink
Executive Director, Lutherans For Life
Epiphany II, A.D. 2019

[1] Nathanson, Bernard. Aborting America (New York: Doubleday, 1979), 193.

[2] Calderone, Mary. “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem,” American Journal of Health 50, no. 7 (July 1, 1960), 949.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Guttmacher Institute, https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2003/03/lessons-roe-will-past-be-prologue, accessed 01-25-19.

[5] Centers for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm#T23 down, accessed 01-25-19.

[6] See Ring-Cassidy, Elizabeth, and Ian Gentles, Women’s Health after Abortion: The Medical and Psychological Evidence, (deVeber Institute, 2002).

[7] Irving, Dianne N. “When Do Human Beings Begin? ‘Scientific’ Myths and Scientific Facts,” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 19, no. 3/4, 22-46.

[8] Tappert, Theodore G. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 494.

[9] Ibid., 464.

[10] One is reminded of William Whewell’s postulate in his 1819 Elementary Treatise on Mechanics, The Equilibrium of Forces on a Point: “Hence no force, however great, can stretch a cord, however fine, into a horizontal line which shall be absolutely straight.”

[11] Condic, Maureen L. “When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective,” The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person White Paper 1, no. 1 (October 2008), 6-7.

Also see: Does Capacity Define Dignity? A Response to Norman Metzler by by John T. Pless

... continue reading

New York State’s Abortion Law

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: January 25, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

Today we grieve with the citizens and residents of New York. On Tuesday, January 22nd, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act into law.

The state has tolerated abortion up to 24-weeks gestation since before Roe v. Wade. This new policy decriminalizes killing a child even up until birth if the little one has a condition a doctor thinks will cause death soon after being born. It calls it OK to abort a baby throughout pregnancy if the doctor believes carrying to term threatens the mother’s life or health. Other jurisdictions have stretched such “mother’s health” provisions to include simply her comfort or preference. (Caesarean section surgeries at 24 weeks or later are quicker and safer for both mother and child than any abortion. Premature infants as young as 22 weeks regularly survive without complications, and thousands of mothers undergo successful C-sections every day.) The regulation deletes a previous law that required medical care for any child born alive after a failed abortion—and it invites facility staff who are not doctors to carry out abortions.

New York’s senate applauded. The governor directed turning the spire of One World Trade Center pink to “celebrate.” Our country’s fourth-most populated state already has an abortion rate almost twice (23.1 per 1,000 women) the national average (11.8 per 1,000). In the largest U.S. city, New York City, 78% of abortions involve black Americans, and more black babies are aborted than born there. Where our nation’s most treasured landmark announces “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” the leaders and laws have abandoned women and children. The human community ought to protect and support them, especially because bringing forth the great gifts of life and future leaves them vulnerable. Instead, a sex-obsessed culture has sentenced them to desertion and death.

Nevertheless, our courage does not wane. Our compassion only swells. The Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims that our Almighty Maker creates, redeems, and calls every member of the human race to be His precious treasure forever. This Heavenly Father gives our whole species its sanctity and significance, and no one’s age, appearance, experience, ability, or history can improve or impair it. We celebrate our Savior’s crucifixion to forgive sins and His resurrection to defeat death. And we commit ourselves to receive especially the least of these as special privileges.

Dear neighbors of New York, we see you. However afraid or alone you feel, the people of Lutherans For Life hear your cries and pleas. No matter how ashamed you are, the Christian Church that is the Lord’s own body loves you. You don’t have to surrender to the devil’s deception that death be used as a solution to difficulties.

We are going to continue to marshal all the resources within our reach to preserve and embrace you from the womb until the tomb. We vow to come alongside you, carry your crosses, share your sorrows, suffer and labor together. We offer our individual and united voices to advocate for your well-being—not only immediately, but eternally. We open our hearts, our hands, and our homes to share life abundantly with you the way our Lord does. We pledge never to cease or weaken in assuring and enacting for you the joy and hope and purpose that Jesus Christ imparts to each human life. And even should all the laws of this land or any other decree human beings as objects to be used and disposed, He has guaranteed that the faith and fellowship that His truth and love set in motion among us will render them entirely obsolete.

... continue reading

A Better Way

By Scott Licht

Date: January 11, 2019

Category: Abortion and the Church

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18 ESV)

You’ve all seen it. The misguided pro-life zealot who blew up the abortion clinic. The “anti-abortion extremist” who shot and killed the doctor who performs abortions. The members of the church blocking funeral processions for members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service to our country—because the military allows homosexual men and women to serve. The rancorous protests and vicious rhetoric when “physician-assisted suicide” is debated.

God, through James’s hand, has a message for those who let their emotions and their own reason take control. Love for God and your neighbor demands a better way of getting your point across. “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13b). That wisdom is described thus: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)

OK, but sex out of wedlock is wrong. Abortion is wrong. Physician-assisted suicide is wrong. I can’t condone those things, so what am I supposed to do?

When word gets out that an unmarried woman in your area is pregnant, what do you do? Do you call the person in town who knows all “the news” to find out about the father? Do you ignore her in the grocery store? Do you ascribe to her all of the demeaning names and adjectives that society uses? Or do you recognize the fact that she sinned, just as you have MANY times? Her sin may be more visible and may have different consequences, but it’s no more grievous than yours. That sin is just as forgiven as yours. Why not offer to help her in whatever way she might need? Drive her to a doctor appointment, throw a baby shower for her, offer to pick up groceries for her, LOVE her. She is carrying a child of God regardless of how that child was conceived.

A friend confides in you that he paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion 10 years ago—what do you do? Remind him that he was an accessory to the murder of his own child? Vow never to talk to him because you would never do “THAT”? Tell everyone else you know to avoid him? Or do you sit and listen, offering comfort and assurance of God’s forgiveness for that sin? Offer him the number for the Word of Hope counseling service (888.217.8679; word-of-hope.org), find a local support group for post-abortive men, share Scripture with him regarding God’s unconditional love, pray with him.

An 82-year-old gentleman whose wife died a year ago just found out that he has Alzheimer’s disease. He’s going to lose his driver’s license. He’ll have to move after the last time that he forgot to turn off the stove and nearly set his house on fire. Soon he may need help brushing his teeth, going to the bathroom, and getting dressed. He is sure that he is going to be such a burden on his children, and when they do come to see him, he probably won’t even remember who they are or that they came to see him. Couldn’t his doctor just give him a pill to end it all? If his regular doctor won’t do it, couldn’t he keep looking until he finds one who will? What do you do? Perhaps you could offer to pick him up and bring him to church each week. You could arrange for his friends to visit with him throughout the week. You could stop by to visit and sing some of his favorite hymns (or other songs) with him. You could be patient when he tells you the same thing five times within five minutes. You could just be there for him, reminding him you care and you will always care.

“By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” Remember, “meekness” is NOT “weakness.” In the scenarios above, the “meek” actions were often more difficult and required more “strength” than following the ways of the world. Those things are certainly more difficult than doing nothing. But James also tells us that “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). Notice that James doesn’t say that our actions are the cause of our righteousness—that has been won for us by Christ. We are merely to sow in peace in order to benefit from that harvest of righteousness.

Prayer: Gracious Father, we give You thanks and praise for the gifts which You have given us. Help us to share those gifts with people who are dealing with life issues—even if it means stepping outside of our comfort zone. Let us always remember Your urging to sow in peace as we share Your love and forgiveness, reflecting the love and forgiveness that You extend to us. Amen.

Action: As this New Year begins and you make resolutions of things to do for yourself, consider ways in which you could spend one hour a week helping someone in need—at a crisis pregnancy center, a hospice house, a nursing home, etc.

... continue reading

Article Filter

Return to Life Issues