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seeking God's Heart on abortion: Part 2

Updated: May 30

This is part 2 of a 4-part series on the topic of abortion. We realize it's not easy or convenient to address this topic these days. However, we also believe the scriptures address topics like this, and bring much-needed clarity to issues that have been used by the world to confuse and divide people. We pray you are encouraged and blessed.


Late one Thursday evening, at the start of this year, my wife Madison gave birth to our third child, our son Valor. We were constantly in prayer for his arrival. Unfortunately, after he was born, we instantly realized that something was wrong with his breathing. He needed immediate emergency transfer to the NICU for multiple unforeseen challenges and remained there for the next two weeks.

 

Truthfully, I was terrified as I put my wife and newborn son on a life flight to Portland and sent our older children to stay with their grandparents. "Valor" means strength of mind and great courage in the face of danger. Ironically, it’s exactly what I needed as I prayed for the Lord to heal our boy. I continued to pray through four ambulance rides, a life flight, MRIs, a ventilator, and a whole team of doctors who God used to save our newborn son. 


Putting Valor on a life flight to Portland

image bearers of God

I met another Father in the NICU who wasn’t as fortunate. We prayed together, knowing that his son belonged to God. An MRI revealed that his son needed pressure relieved from his brain and so they sawed into his skull, leaving him unlikely to survive without major defects. Through many tears, we assured each other “God is so good”. We both believed that his son was not just a potential image bearer, but an image bearer with potential. God was in control and God loved both of our babies, regardless of one recovering and the other not.

 

The NICU hallways were full of encouraging pictures of babies born prematurely or with defects that ended up surviving and going on to become amazing people, proving that every child deserves a chance at life, no matter how it starts.

 

Why do we care about babies so much? Why all the tears and smiles and prayers and social media likes and expense for what some in society call overpopulating, non contributing, unintelligible, helpless little ones? Unlike a Western secular worldview that increasingly devalues infants as climate-change instigators or future consumers of capitalism, the Christian worldview esteems these little ones as bearing the image of God. They have an intrinsic value, independent of their culture or circumstance, or our decisions. Valor was already loved by God, no matter how bleak his situation, or anyone’s opinion of his viability before or after birth. According to Jesus these little ones can teach us the most about entering the Kingdom of God and in welcoming them we welcome God.

 

“…Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 9:33-37

 

As disciples of Jesus, we love children, because to love children is to love Jesus, and to love Jesus is to love his Father. Born or unborn, sick or disabled, as my older son Thaddeus’ favorite song goes: “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world.”  Jesus blessed children, embraced children, and indignantly rebuked his disciples for not allowing them near. Jesus understood the innate moral worth of these little ones. There was a time when I misunderstood this and oversimplified the topic of abortion to an intellectual exercise.



In the NICU

toward a heart of compassion

 

In high school, a feminist friend and I went back and forth on the issue, as I had fun debating it and clobbering others with statistics and rhetoric. We had befriended each other enough to take each other to dances, even felt comfortable antagonizing each other to the point of shameful bullying. Somehow, she trusted me enough to share with me that she had had a miscarriage, and that if it were not for the miscarriage, she would have sought an abortion. I argued with her strongly about the sin of abortion, but my insensitive arguments fell flat against her emotionally painful experience.

 

What I’ve come to realize is that I had judged her simply because of her ideology. I categorized and stereotyped her because she belonged to a certain group I felt was in the wrong. In defending unborn image bearers, I had treated my friend as less than an image bearer, loved by God. While we continued to disagree strongly on the issue, we reconciled to the point where she was willing to visit church with me and hear more about the hope of the gospel. That never would have happened if I had continued in my belligerence and intellectual argument alone.

 

“…If anyone causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Matthew 18:4-6

 

I realized that I was being a complete hypocrite. Yes, my friend had dealt with an unplanned pregnancy and may have ended it, but did I need to place another burden on her shoulders or make her feel more terrible? Though she was curious about God, she didn’t understand the principle of image bearing that God gave us as Christians. I was acting in a way deserving of the millstone that Jesus describes. I was causing an image bearer, struggling in their belief, to stumble. I wish that I had spent more time sharing the good news of Jesus’ hope and forgiveness for those who follow him. I’ve stumbled many times myself, and am very grateful for the grace that Jesus has shown me.

 

According to a biblical view of humans, we have intrinsic value - male and female, black and white, big or small, less or more developed, left or right, before we can even take steps or form sentences. Value is not determined by my extrinsic opinion of the individual, or by a society saying some matter more than others. The sanctity of life doesn’t rest in traits or attributes or abilities or politics, but by intrinsic value endowed by God.

 

No one can take that from you. You matter. You are unspeakably worthy.

 

Let’s remind people of that as often as we remind them of their sin, perhaps even more. Let’s consider our own millstone around our necks before lovingly pointing out the millstone on others. Yes, it’s a sin to cause little ones to stumble and we must speak up about the atrocities and sin of abortion, but let’s remember to extend grace to those who are struggling with ideas we completely disagree with, especially if they’ve yet to make a decision for Christ. In our witness to others, let’s show them the truth, grace, and love that Jesus has shown us.

 

Let’s win others to Christ by loving them as much as Jesus loves the little ones, born or unborn.


Joey Hungerford



Mom, Valor and Dad


Joey Hungerford is a film maker, disciple maker, and father serving in the Pacific Northwest. He and his wife Madison lead the Bend International Church of Christ and equip others throughout a collective of Oregon house churches. The Hungerfords have had three births while engaged in church planting, adding Saoirse, Thaddeus and Valor to their family. To connect with God, Joey enjoys backpacking in the Cascade mountains, gardening, and creating spiritual content on the Disciple Makers Youtube channel

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