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LAMBs – Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets

Date: February 14, 2019

Category: Abortion

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).

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A Response to Norman Metzler

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: February 6, 2019

Category: Abortion

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

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National Right to Life Releases 6th Annual “State of Abortion” Report

Date: January 31, 2019

Category: Abortion

“Based on data from the Guttmacher Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and estimating figures for subsequent years (2015-2018), National Right to Life now estimates 60,942,033 abortions have been performed in the United States since 1973.”

National Right to Life Releases 6th Annual “State of Abortion” Report

NRLC’s 6th annual “State of Abortion in America, 2019”: Part Two

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New York State’s Abortion Law

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: January 25, 2019

Category: Abortion

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.

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A Better Way

By Scott Licht

Date: January 11, 2019

Category: Abortion

“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.

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Holy Innocents

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: December 28, 2018

Category: Abortion

It was not little Lord Jesus who lay quietly in the Judean night. His lungs did fill and overflow His lips with blessed sound.

But His newborn brothers in Bethlehem, no crying they made. Herod’s sword snuffed them out before they could vocalize the carol the Almighty sent them to sing.

The government sanctioned silencing their voices, never to proclaim their Maker, never to praise the labors of the Savior He gave. Instead only their blood cried out from the ground. It amplified Abel’s ancient appeal for atonement.

And their mothers mourned uncomforted.

Scripture remembers how the gut-wrenching grief cast a pall over even the Christmas celebration. The Christian Church recalls them this day as the Holy Innocents—not because they knew no sin, but because they perished to purchase someone else’s comfort.

Yet these first martyrs for Christ embody the Gospel. They testify of a Beloved Son who would spill His blood to spare all others from punishment.

Abortion resolves no regrets. Abortions make nothing better, not even 3,000 American abortions a day for 45 years. It only adds anguish to anxiety and exchanges a lifetime of happiness for decades of heartache. Only God’s forgiveness works real resurrection. The presence of Christ Jesus relieves abandonment and panic. His words deliver, His ways protect, and His gifts provide abundant and everlasting life. Trusting in His pardon and promise brings the blessings none can seize for oneself.

Let us lend the Holy Innocents our voices the way Jesus Christ gives us His own.

Let us declare the worth and purpose of human life no matter what age, appearance, or ability.

Let us demonstrate how the Heavenly Father has created, redeemed, and called every human being to be His precious treasure forever.

Let us replace the fear and anger of sinful selfishness with courage and compassion.

Let us unwrap Christmas joy and hope for everyone!

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Word of Hope – The Founding of a Ministry

By Diane E. Schroeder

Date: December 13, 2018

Category: Abortion

Photo: (l-r) Lynette Auch, president of LFL; Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, former executive director of LFL; Rev. Edward Fehskens III, fomer executive director of LFL; Grace Kern, former director of Word of Hope and the 2018 Dominus Vitae Award recipient; Diane E. Schroeder, former president of LFL; Rev. Michael W. Salemink, executive director of LFL

In 1991, Lutherans For Life had a vision—to reach Lutheran women suffering with grief and guilt from a prior abortion. Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) was new then. Crisis pregnancy centers were finding that pregnant women who came to them were already feeling remorse over a previous abortion. Many pastors knew how to handle miscarriage and stillbirth but didn’t know how to relate to abortion loss. Members of the Roman Catholic Church had started Project Rachel, but a Lutheran theological perspective was needed that would reach post-abortive Lutherans with the biblical theology of law and Gospel, of sin and grace.

So, Healing Hearts (later named Word of Hope) was started in 1991. Initial funding was needed for the ministry—and it came from an unusual source. At that time, there was an active protest underway in Illinois concerning Lutheran General Hospital’s policy which allowed for abortion. Many Christians protested their policy and, as part of that, leaflets and brochures were distributed to the homes surrounding the hospital. The village of Rolling Meadows maintained that the distribution of these materials was illegal and threatened to arrest those involved. A lawyer involved with LFL in the protest, Carl Schroeder (my husband), spoke to the village attorney, inquiring if he had ever heard of freedom of speech. Carl then began distributing material himself and was arrested. After the village withdrew the charges, he filed a federal civil rights case against the village and collected over $90,000 in a settlement. Healing Hearts was funded for many years with his portion of that settlement.

Until her retirement in 2018, Grace Kern had been the only executive director of Word of Hope, serving without pay for all those years and often contributing her own funds for expenses. Her goal was always to show compassion and not condemnation, recognizing that Jesus died for all sin, even the sin of abortion. In her work prior to Word of Hope, she was involved with a crisis pregnancy center and saw many Christian women who had already chosen abortion for a past pregnancy and now were pregnant again. Word of Hope seemed the right place to reach out to give them a place where they could share their pain.

Over the years, Grace spoke to about 25,000 women, ranging in age from 13-93. She spoke to a young woman whose pastor had told her to get an abortion, which, according to Grace, was one of the worst situations she counseled. Post-abortive women and men came from everywhere: churches, high schools, colleges, the military, shelters, court services, jails, prisons, health departments, hospitals, YWCA, youth officers, and more. Calls came in from all over the world. Grace’s commitment to the women and their families involved taking calls in the middle of the night, visiting mental hospitals, going out late at night to visit with a woman because of a suicide attempt, and taking people into her home, among many others. She worked with the LCMS military chaplains who were dealing with the issue of PAS with female recruits. She also trained deaconesses from Concordia – Chicago to spread the Word of Hope message all across the nation through their various assignments.

Countless babies were saved. Babies were placed for adoption—too many to count.

Kathy, her first client, had an abortion at five months and called Grace when she found she was pregnant again. Her “baby” is now 33 years old, and Kathy is a colonel in the army. Kathy found Word of Hope through an advertisement in an LCMS newspaper.

Frank, who suffered from severe depression following an abortion decision 27 years before, found one of Word of Hope’s brochures in a Lutheran church. Through his work with Grace, he came to know Jesus and accepted forgiveness for the abortion.

Another young man, Daniel, as a result of his girlfriend’s abortion, drank too much in a bar and was involved in an auto accident that killed the daughter of a pastor. He served 10 years in prison and corresponded with Grace during that time. Upon his release, Grace arranged for Daniel to have a job with her husband’s business. He now works for the government and is married with two children. (Word of Hope was truly a family affair in the Kern household.)

Grace feels blessed to have been able to serve the Lord in this incredible For Life battle. To guide so many and to share God’s forgiveness have been great joys in her life. Working alongside so many fine Christians in Lutherans For Life that strengthen each other has been wonderful. Once, while enjoying a Mother’s Day lunch at a local Chicago restaurant, two separate women, each with their child, came up to her and thanked her for talking to them in their time of need, introducing their children who  had been saved from abortion because of those conversations.

Grace still receives calls and knows that she will continue to serve because she sees God working in incredible ways. At the October 2018 Lutherans For Life National Conference, Grace received the Dominus Vitae Award, which is presented by LFL to an individual for one or more specific achievements or for long-term, dedicated, life-affirming work. Throughout her time of service with Word of Hope, Grace has always demonstrated her love of people and true compassion for those who are hurting. She is truly deserving of this reward. Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

Word of Hope

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LifeDate Winter 2018

Date: December 13, 2018

Category: Abortion

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From the Executive Director
Entering our Fortieth Year … by Pastor Michael Salemink

Abortion/Post Abortion/Alternatives
Word of Hope – The Founding of a Ministry by Diane E. Schroeder
Abortion: Do We Speak Life or Whisper Death? by Tawnia Hoehne

Family Living
From Age to Age the Same by Mona Fuerstenau
When Death Comes Before Birth by Pastor Michael Salemink
The First Ultrasound – St. Luke 1:39-45 by Rev. Michael J. Schmidt

Worldview and Culture
Sin Unchecked – Has Freedom Gone Too Far? by Virginia Flo

Lutherans For Life Resources

Life Thoughts in the Church Year

World News

Spotlight on Lutherans For Life
Share the Life Message All through the Year! / Word of Hope
The Fragrance of Christ by Lynette Auch
2018 LFL National Conference – From Age to Age the Same/Conference Quotes/Photo Album
2019 March for Life
This Life Sunday, Consider an Offering for LFL by John Hawkins
John Hawkins Retires

From John Hawkins, “After considerable prayer and thought, I have decided to apply for retirement … I am honored and humbled at the opportunity the Lord gave me to serve both the ministry and the greater cause of Gospel-centered life affirmation. It was also a blessing and pleasure to work with a dedicated staff and literally hundreds of volunteers who went out of their way to help me … To God be the Glory!” LFL Executive Director Rev. Michael W. Salemink said, “We are going to miss your stories, your humor, your humility, and your industriousness. We have greatly benefitted from [your] experience and efforts … We look forward to transitioning with you into the future, and may God make the coming years the best of your life.”

2019 Lutherans For Life Regional Conferences

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Abortion: Do We Speak Life or Whisper Death?

By Tawnia Hoehne

Date: December 13, 2018

Category: Abortion

Would you kill someone? Lately, I find myself involved in discussions over whether abortion is killing or a moral obligation we have for creating children we are not prepared to raise. Society, I’m afraid, has begun to accept that abortion equals kindness, and killing is only wrong when regulated.

Would you ever kill someone? Take some time and ask that question of a few young Christians you know. I expect every one of them will answer no, with some allowing for instances of self-defense. Follow up by asking: Why not?

I was a little dismayed when not one person I interviewed mentioned that murder breaks God’s Fifth Commandment. Instead, they said it is against the law or they didn’t want to end up in jail. One person admitted that she’s not a very good killer, as though she had tried it once and decided it was bad to not be good at it.

My informal poll has me believing we Christians rely too heavily on secular law to mold the moral values of our children. While we are outspoken in our push for legislation to define marriage and life, and while we argue with others about what the Constitution does or does not protect, how much time do we spend quietly teaching our children about God’s plan for the world? How are we modeling compassion, love, and grace to them in daily life?

Rules for Life

For decades, abortion in the United States was not illegal, and it can be argued that the reason for this was because it was viewed as so morally reprehensible, so risky, and so rare as to require no regulation. The first abortion laws in the country were enacted in the 1820s and prohibited ending the life of an unborn child after the fourth month of pregnancy.

For the most part, abortions were outlawed in the US by 1900. In the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, the Supreme Court argued that during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, prenatal life was not personhood and, therefore, was not protected under the Constitution. Historically, cases involving marriage, contraception, and child-rearing were cited as protected under the Bill of Rights as rights of privacy.

Ironically, the freedom to raise your own child and the freedom to kill an unborn child enjoy the same protections under the law. Seemingly, parenting is important, but the pregnancy that makes one a parent is not. And the only individual with any right to determine the value of the life of an unborn child to the world and to the child itself is its mother.

Who Is to Blame?

Fast forward some 45 years and our sexuality is no longer reality but a journey of self-discovery, assisted suicide is a gift we offer our loved ones, and abortion is a charitable act provided to unplanned children. In a recent Rewire.News article on abortion among black women, Yamani Hernandez proudly claims that “… abortion is an act of compassion, love, and self-determination, not the legal or moral crime that conservatives would like it to be.”

This is heartbreaking. How did we get here? How has ending a life in the womb become an act of compassion and love? And who shall we blame–science? Public education? Democrats? Republicans? The Russians?

The truth is, we have only ourselves to blame. We are the the ones who ceded the responsibility of guiding our children concerning marriage, sex, and life to society, and we are the ones who dropped our children off at Sunday school for their weekly dose of Jesus while we went back home to drink our morning coffee and catch up on laundry or yardwork. We are the ones who portray marriage and parenting as burdens that have kept us from true success, and we are the ones who stopped believing in the old adage that children don’t keep. We consider ourselves pro-life, but we live pro-self.

Law vs. Morality

Should we be surprised, then, that young people trust that a society which deems something to be immoral also insists it should be illegal, and argues that if a thing is legal, it is therefore moral. Why are we shocked when what keeps our children from murdering another human being is the fear of going to jail and not the fear of going to hell? Maybe the leap in thinking that abortion is no longer a moral issue but an act of benevolence is shorter than we know.

Light in the Darkness

As Christians, we understand better than most that life is weighted with profound suffering and buoyed by eternal hope. As such, it’s time to raise our children to appreciate what a big, beautiful struggle parenthood is and that it simply cannot happen without offering compassion, love, and grace to children still in the womb and to the mothers and fathers who view the scales more filled with suffering than hope.

Laws of the State clearly matter, and the message they send affects the mindset of society. But, if our battle cry for life begins on the abortion table, then we’ve waited too long to speak. If our efforts to model life end in the courtroom, then we’ve already lost our children.

God help us; it’s time to ask ourselves if we speak life or whisper death.

Lord, our Comforter and source of all hope, grant that the Holy Spirit would meet us in Your Holy Word and Sacraments as You have promised. Help us to live in this world, sharing Your abundant blessings and delivering your hope to the hopeless as we seek to honor You with our lives. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Tawnia Hoehne lives with her husband, Steve, on a dairy farm in rural Frazee, Minnesota. She is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church (LCMS), Corliss, Minnesota.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20).

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul … You shall teach them to your children … that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them” (Deuteronomy 11:18a, 19a, 21a).

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Sin Unchecked – Has Freedom Gone Too Far?

By Virginia Flo

Date: December 13, 2018

Category: Abortion

We are blessed to live in a country with many freedoms, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are considered a model for others to follow—and our freedom is coveted. (God gave us free will, another freedom, but that freedom, especially, has been abused.) Our republic was originally based on Christian values and ideals. Yet, we look around us today and wonder what has happened? The lack of civility is shameful. The lack of respect for human life is horrible and intolerable. How did we get here? I see this as “sin unchecked.”

We need the Law as a mirror to see ourselves and our sin for what it is. Even more importantly, we need the Gospel—God’s grace—to assure us of our forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Narcissism is nothing new under the sun—and it appears to be here to stay. When it all becomes about “me,” it changes our whole perspective from what Christ has done for us to what we can do for ourselves. Yes, we have the freedom to make it all about “me”; however, remember the Apostle Paul’s guidance to think of others better than ourselves—a model all Christians should follow. What happens when you do that? I think you will find that you’ll feel even better about yourself when you experience the joy of doing for others and not just for “me, myself, and I.”

I was told recently by a prominent theologian in the life arena that all of the problems in America today stem from the legalization of abortion. That seemed a bit broad; however, after I thought about it for a while, it made perfect sense. Abortion-on- demand claims to give everyone “the right to choose and control their own bodies” (forgetting all about the life and body of the unborn child). It comes down to people wanting the right to do as they please rather than following God’s will. Be it abortion, end of life, bioethics, human trafficking, sexuality, or gender identity, the arguments are no different than that of the abortion argument. It’s about the “right to choose” even though it can be contrary to God’s Word and hurts others. In some cases, it even means killing others.

I continue to be amazed by how many people have been swayed by the “I have a right” argument. After all, we have been taught at an early age that we need to be “tolerant” above all else (and it’s often “tolerate or else!”). Too many feel it is better to never talk about life issues so they can’t be accused of discriminating and being intolerant, and if we avoid talking about the life issues, we can’t be accused of being political. (The life issues do show up in political agendas, even though they should have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with Scripture, which is very clear about life.)

Our 2019 Life Sunday theme is From Age to Age the Same, based on the words from Isaiah 46:3b-4. If we have any question about when in life God gives His support, these verses should clear that up. 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. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Yes, these powerful words make it very clear that God is with us from conception to old age and natural death. He also proclaims that He made us, and He will bear, carry, and save us, carrying the whole burden of salvation. (We can try to do it all ourselves, focusing on our rights, but that can often result in a lack of respect for God’s will for our lives.)

Let’s use our voices to share the message of life from Scripture. Let’s avoid being silent for fear of repercussions based on worldly ideas. May we use our voices to speak boldly, using God’s Word, seeking the help of the Holy Spirit in speaking with gentleness and respect, and knowing the outcome is not up to us as we are just messengers.

As we are confident our Lord and Savior is with us From Age to Age the Same, we have nothing to fear and everything to gain when hearts are reached and our freedom is not squandered. May your voice be heard as you share what is true through honoring God’s gift of life.

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