Born to Die to Self
October 4, 2021
by Nicole D. Hayes
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).
“Many trains arrive at your station; treat them good whether they stay or leave!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan, Contemporary Turkish playwright
In several states this year, and most recently in Texas, bills have been introduced and passed to protect the unborn from abortion, particularly once a heartbeat is detected. “The Right to See and Know Act” was passed in Arkansas, which gives a pregnant woman the right to view the ultrasound of her unborn child before choosing an abortion. This is so she may see exactly what it is she is having aborted. (Women are frequently told that what they are aborting is just a “clump of cells.” However, all the major organs have begun to form in the unborn child by eight weeks, as well as external structures, sex organs and a regular heartbeat rhythm.) In Florida, FL SB 1664 and FL HB 1221 were introduced to ban “disability abortions.” In these bills, disability is defined as any disease, defect or disorder that is genetically inherited, including (but not limited to) a physical, mental, or intellectual disability, Down syndrome, Scoliosis, dwarfism, etc. Pennsylvania introduced The Down Syndrome Protection Act, which would forbid abortion solely due to a prenatal diagnosis that the unborn child may have Down syndrome. We hope this bill becomes law.
Also introduced were pain-capable bills banning abortions that are 20 weeks or more after fertilization, due to the overwhelming scientific evidence[i] that an unborn child can feel pain by that point. Scientific literature shows that an unborn child reacts to touch by eight weeks[ii] after conception and experiences pain as soon as 20 weeks gestational age. Other states have passed waiting period laws by at least 24 hours (some states up to 72 hours) before an abortion is performed. And on December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns the constitutionality of the “Gestational Age Act” enacted in the state of Mississippi and prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergency.
Feeling their opportunities to kill the innocent under threat, abortion proponents are seeking to pass radical bills that would create wider access to abortion (such as federal bill HR 3755). Some of those efforts may impact life-protecting bills already introduced or passed in individual states.
Life is indeed a miracle and gift from God. While policies can be imperfect, I am grateful more mothers and fathers are choosing to embrace rather than erase the life of their unborn child in whatever circumstances that life came to be. I am grateful Christians in families, churches, medical schools, ministries, or pregnancy centers are helping those caught in life’s hard places to invite God into their decision-making. There is great fervency in which lives are being saved against the backdrop of a culture of death under the guise of “reproductive freedoms” and “reproductive rights.”
However, I am increasingly dissatisfied with how we treat the born. I am specifically addressing this with the church and body of Christ because we know better. Through His Word, our Lord gives us excellent instruction on how we are to treat, speak to and consider one another. The world does what it does, so we can’t expect it to do better unless we show them the way and mirror the one who IS The Way.
When all is well between me and thee, it is easier to show gentleness, goodness, kindness, and love. It is easier to think well of them and to treat them well. But let upheaval come. Let waves rock that boat that floats. I will say to you that in times of societal, cultural, or personal upheaval, it may not go well between me and thee. Particularly when such upheavals reveal diverse viewpoints and perspectives in our sacred space of unity within the body of Christ that we didn’t know existed between us before. When the upheaval occurs among the born—and specifically, the born again—it catches us off guard. As the upheaval intensifies, we may momentarily forget that we are a “royal priesthood, a holy nation” called out of the world. In frustration, we might abdicate that royal priesthood role by forgetting to yield to and exercise the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and we begin to display some other strange fruit—fruits of hostility, name-calling, etc.—while asserting our viewpoints. We are seeing this now generated by a confluence of events whether social or political.
The church seems unrecognizable amid this present upheaval. Like many of you, I have prayed, have been perplexed by it and have lamented. In my perplexity, I might liken the division as “friendly fire” that occurs by accident among allies while trying to attack the enemy. But being honest with myself, the verbal shots fired among some of us are not friendly fire but murderous.
Upheavals are not so unique, but the church is. God called us out of the world—not to be like it or of it. We are to reflect Christ’s light and love to the world—to the unborn and the born, to those who have similar and different views than us. (Many of you are doing this, so thank you. Keep doing it.) Our feet are prepared with the gospel of peace, expressing the assurance of God’s love and will toward others.
I suspect greater upheavals are ahead for the world and the church. The upheavals will surely reveal where we are in our walk with Christ and our fellow man. The upheavals will certainly reveal if we are growing in Christ by denying the flesh’s urge to text, tweet, or post disparaging remarks to others—or if we will instead walk over Jesus to exact our positions. The upheavals will reveal if we are simply fans or enthusiastic admirers of Jesus or if we are truly His followers.
Upheavals are character revealing and character refining. By yielding to the Holy Spirit and dying to self, Jesus is recognizable in you and me. I know that in all of this, Christ is reconciling all things to himself (Colossians 1:17). We will see God at work as He matures His church. There will be meaning in this. I believe this time will draw us into deeper commune with God, allowing our minds and tongues to continuously be discipled morning by morning (Isaiah 50:4), so we will know how to provide godly instruction and engagement with the born—as we advocate for the unborn. This weary world is seeking rest and refuge from the upheaval. May our words be a welcome comfort and contrast to their daily diet.
[i] “Fact Sheet: Science of Fetal Pain,” Charlotte Lozier Institute, 2020, https://lozierinstitute.org/fact-sheet-science-of-fetal-pain/#_edn9 .
[ii] Ohashi Y et al., Success rate and challenges of fetal anesthesia for ultrasound guided fetal intervention by maternal opioid and benzodiazepine administration, J Maternal-Fetal Neonatal Medicine 26, 158, 2013.