This past week a Texas school valedictorian used her speech to condemn the passing of the heartbeat bill. The bill essentially bans abortions after six weeks. The young woman claimed the bill was a part of a “war on her body and rights.” Many on the left praised her and said it was brave. I have to admit I was angry after reading about it (not with the valedictorian but with those who glorified the speech). Yet, as I pondered it all, I realized something that goes far deeper than the issue of abortion.
What it all comes down to. The reason there is such disagreement over abortion is because of a fundamental rift over what fulfillment means. For many of us (both Christian and non-christian), the ultimate goal is self-fulfillment. The dictionary defines it as the act of fulfilling one’s ambitions or desires. In our society, that can take many forms (status, power, money, or career). There is no higher fulfillment. The valedictorian of that Texas school was only fighting for the only thing that she believes has value. The highest joy can only come from the fulfillment of our personal desires and ambitions. If she or one of her friends were to get pregnant and fail to get an abortion before the six-week deadline, this bill could potentially jeopardize that.
The worldview that personal fulfillment is our highest good is not unique. All of us crave status, money, or power in some regard. We have all dreamed about such things. It seems harmless, but when we base our lives around that motivation, it is always harmful (to ourselves and others). In one situation, the lie of self-fulfillment leads to an abortion. In another, it might lead to being a workaholic and neglecting our families, and in another, it might lead to depression, spousal abuse, divorce, etc. It affects us all to some degree. As Christians, we are not immune. When I am impatient with my children and don’t fully love them as I should (because I’m focused on work), I fall under this fallacy. When I ignore my wife and instead spend time on my phone doing research, I fall under this fallacy. Sometimes I am focused on the self-fulfillment that comes from work, and sometimes I want the self-fulfillment that comes from reading a book or relaxing. There is nothing wrong with enjoying these things unless we put self-fulfillment above sacrificial love or God-fulfillment.
We need to understand that while abortion is terrible, it is only a symptom of this much deeper problem. We all need to ask ourselves, where do we get our fulfillment? We can gain incredible success, become rich and famous, or do countless other things that the world praises us for. But if God is not at the center (if we are not humbly submitting to his will and are only pursuing our glory), then it is all futile. We are only chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:17). We fool ourselves into believing that the temporal is eternal because that’s all we can see at this moment. It’s only in the pursuit of God that true fulfillment lies. True satisfaction does not come from recognition, our careers, power, sex, or money. These are the false gods of this world on which arguments for things like abortion are based.
Maybe anger is justified for those that glorify abortion as a fundamental right, but how can we be angry with the rest of the world when they know nothing else? It’s only through our daily walk with God that we have the wisdom to recognize the lie of self-fulfillment, and then sometimes even we still lose sight of the truth. If we have these struggles, how can we expect the world to understand the sanctity of human life? If I am not always the loving father I should be because I’m tired or want time to myself, how can I ever expect the world to understand where true fulfillment lies? I am no better than them in this regard.
The world sees family as a kind of slavery. At times I would jokingly agree, but true fulfillment comes from God. There is no career, no power, and no amount of fame that can ever match that. True happiness comes not from our uniqueness (talents, skills, education, fame, money, power) but our sameness (father, mother, son, daughter, friend). God has given us all an opportunity to glorify him and find fulfillment in him through parenthood and his other callings on our hearts. None of which would ever call us to sacrifice a child’s life. Until the world understands that, we will always be at war (as the valedictorian proclaimed). There will never be agreement on the sanctity of life as long as one side sees fulfillment as possible only through self pursuit and the other through submission to God.
Now let me be clear that I’m not saying any of us are perfect. Even among Christians, we all have fallen into the trap of pursuing our will over God’s. And that’s where perhaps the greatest problem lies. We can stand up for the unborn, but it is useless if we look like hypocrites. Arguing on social media or grumbling does nothing. It is a waste of time. The single greatest thing we can do is press into God, as we simultaneously reject the false idol of personal fulfillment in our own lives.
Because as much as our words are important, our actions are even more important. The true power of the Christian faith doesn’t lie in argument but in showing others the joy of God-fulfillment (so they can compare it to the emptiness of self-fulfillment). But we will never show this authentic joy as long as we partially believe the lies. Only after we have weeded them out of ourselves can we accomplish this, and as long as we are all Christian islands, we won’t be able to either. The only way forward is through community. We must support each other in our walks, encourage each other, bear each other up and break bread. We must focus on fellowship while being vulnerable and accountable to each other in the pursuit of God.
Ultimately, the world believes that sacrificial love is giving a commencement speech that condemns anti-abortion laws. It will never understand what real sacrificial love and fulfillment are if the church doesn’t portray it. Only then will unbelievers begin to understand God’s truth, glory, and why life has sanctity. Until then, the culture of self-fulfillment will always win.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”Romans 12:2
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:25 ESV