Can abortion be a "powerful act of love?"

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“Abortion can be a powerful act of love”: The danger of performative truth

May 10, 2023 -

Abortion pills spilled onto a sonogram © By ivanko80/stock.adobe.com

Abortion pills spilled onto a sonogram © By ivanko80/stock.adobe.com

Abortion pills spilled onto a sonogram © By ivanko80/stock.adobe.com

“We have become a nation that is more focused on the right to kill than the right to live.”

This is how California Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to the mass shooting in Allen, Texas, as he criticized Congress for not passing gun control reform. However, given his passionate support for elective abortion and efforts to bring women from other states to California’s abortion clinics, pro-life supporters like me find his statement tragically ironic.

On the same theme, I found this headline in a recent Time article jarring: “If someone you love has an abortion, give them a gift.” The writer thanks “friends and neighbors who dropped off big pots of soup [and] home-baked brownies and ice cream” when she had her abortion.

She writes: “Abortion can be a powerful act of love—for one’s self and one’s own future, for one’s existing children and family, for the pregnancy being released and thus spared from the circumstances informing the pregnant person’s decision, and often for a combination of all these things.”

This is the first time I’ve seen abortion called “a powerful act of love” for the unborn baby whose life it ends.

I promise to write tomorrow’s Daily Article

Merriam-Webster defines a “performative” speech act as “an expression that serves to effect a transaction or that constitutes the performance of the specified act by virtue of its utterance.” An example is my promise to write tomorrow’s Daily Article: this act brings something into being that did not exist until it was stated in words.

By contrast, a “constative” utterance “is capable of being judged true or false” on its merits. An example is my claim to have written yesterday’s Daily Article: you can check the article’s authorship on our website or in your inbox. If you are still skeptical, you can investigate further by consulting our editorial staff.

We now live in a culture dominated by “performative” truth claims. In this view, if I state that I am a female, even though I was born a biological male, my statement must be true even though I have no empirical way to verify it. If the Supreme Court discovers and proclaims a “right” to same-sex marriage in the Constitution, even though it overturns millennia of cultural consensus and practice in so doing, its declaration must nonetheless be true.

We have now progressed (or regressed) to the point that even performative statements that clearly contradict facts and evidence are to be taken as truth. For example, the Time article normalizing abortion claims, “Abortion has always existed on the same spectrum as birth, miscarriage, infertility, and so many other human experiences.” This is simply untrue: leaders across twenty centuries of Christian history consistently considered elective abortion to be intrinsically immoral. But the writer wants it to be true, so for her, it is.

Such “performative” reality pervades our politics as well, as Chris Stirewalt explains: do something to get covered by the media, then coverage drives polls, polls drive the media narrative, and that narrative drives reality.

“The heart wants what it wants”

Emily Dickinson described the foundational fact of fallen human nature: “The heart wants what it wants.” It is therefore unsurprising that our culture persists in confusing performative and constative truth claims, substituting our personal preferences for objective morality and calling them “our truth.”

When we can abort an unwanted pregnancy and locate our decision on “the same spectrum as birth, miscarriage, [and] infertility,” we get to do what we want while claiming moral status for our unbiblical decision. When we redefine gender, marriage, and the right to die under the guise of personal truth, we tolerate the unbiblical decisions others make, so they will tolerate the unbiblical decisions we make.

However, God knows the reality behind our performative truth claims: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lᴏʀᴅ looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). In the end, his assessment of right and wrong is the only one that matters: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

“They have brought this evil on themselves”

I am reading the book of Isaiah as part of my personal Bible study these days and am consistently troubled about my nation as a result. Because neither divine nor human nature changes, what was true for ancient Israel is true for America today.

Consider this prophetic statement, substituting our nation for Israel: “[America] shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness. But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the Lᴏʀᴅ shall be consumed” (Isaiah 1:27–28).

Because God is holy, he must judge sin: “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lᴏʀᴅ alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11). Consequently, “Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lᴏʀᴅ, defying his glorious presence” (Isaiah 3:8).

For this reason: “They proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves” (v. 9). By contrast, “Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds” (v. 10).

“The fire of the Lᴏʀᴅ fell”

I am leading a study tour of Israel this week. Today our group will visit Mt. Carmel, where the prophet Elijah faced 450 prophets of Baal who cloaked horrific sexual immorality in the guise of their false religion (1 Kings 18:22).

You remember what happened: the one true God honored Elijah’s sacrifice when “the fire of the Lᴏʀᴅ fell and consumed the burnt offering” (v. 38). As a result, “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lᴏʀᴅ, he is God; the Lᴏʀᴅ, he is God’” (v. 39).

In a broken world, God still uses courageous individuals to turn the tide. Does America need more Elijahs?

Will you be one today?

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