Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why X Wept

River, Wilberforce, Ohio

40 years ago X, a young girl in our campus ministry at Michigan State University, called Linda and I and said, "I want to meet with you. I have something I need to share."

Yes, we would love to meet with you. We set the meeting time and date.

X cancelled. She said, "I can't do this at this time."

X called again. We set a time to meet. X cancelled.

Finally we were able met with X. It took over an hour for her to get the courage to say, "A few years ago I had an abortion." She wept as she shared this. For a long time. Why?

Why did X weep? "Because I took the life of my child. He, or she, would be two years old. I think of her all the time."

Was X a murderer? Here's the definition of "murder" from Cornell University Law School.

"Murder occurs when one human being unlawfully kills another human being. 


BACKGROUND: COMMON LAW MURDER

At common law, murder was defined as killing another human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is a legal term of art, that encompasses the following types of murder:
  • "Intent-to-kill murder"
  • "Grievous-bodily-harm murder" - Killing someone in an attack intended to cause them grievous bodily harm. For example, if a person fatally stabbed someone, even if she only intended to wound her victim, she could still be executed.
  • "Felony-murder" - Killing someone while in the process of committing a felony. Note that at common law, there were few felonies, and all carried the death penalty. For example, at common law, robbery was a felony. So if a robber accidentally killed someone during a robbery, the robber could be executed.
  • "Depraved heart murder" - Killing someone in a way that demonstrates a callous disregard for the value of human life. For example, if a person intentionally fires a gun into a crowded room, and someone dies, the person could be convicted of depraved heart murder.
These definitions are valuable because they inform subsequent reforms of American murder law."

Was X guilty of "intent-to-kill" murder, as well as "depraved heart murder?" X thought she was. X believed that her child was inside her body. X not only left the child unprotected, but gave a doctor permission to assault him.

X believed the aborted life form was her child. That is why X wept. And why many weep today. 

"It is the duty of each individual and of society operating through its laws to provide protection for each member of the society. This follows the basic homicide laws of the common law that society protects a member from assault and death. The protection shall extend from the beginning of each human being's life - acknowledged to be when the father's sperm fertilizes the mother's ovum - and throughout the natural continuum of that human being's life." (From here.)

If abortion is not homicide, then what's the big deal about it? For X this was a big deal. She gave a doctor permission to end the life of her child.

When X called us she had become a Jesus-follower. We told X there is no sin that God cannot and will not forgive. X knew this in her mind; we prayed that this truth would descend into her heart. It did. It has for me, too.

Before I became a Jesus-follower I made choices and engaged in things I came to deeply regret. How, I wondered, could I ever break free from a conscience that condemned me? The answer..., the only answer I know of..., is in the gracious, merciful forgiveness of God. Without this we are all screwed.

For X, our meeting was a great encounter with the love of Christ that covers all our sin. Note the word "our." Here we find a love that is high, deep, wide, and long.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 3:17-19

(Watch this to see a murderer experience forgiveness - Forgiveness is a Beautiful Thing.)