We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.- 1 Thessalonians 1:3
During the time that I was involved in a pro-life ministry in Brookline, Massachusetts, I was often struck by the number of times our adversaries, the pro-abortion advocates, used the language of hopelessness. They never called themselves “pro-abortion” but rather “pro-choice,” since “choice” seems a much more pleasant image than abortion. They chanted slogans about protecting a “woman’s right to choose,” and elevated freedom of choice to an untouchable moral absolute. Yet, for all of that, I was struck by the consistent use of the phrase “no choice” when specific situations were discussed: “I feel like I have no choice but to get this abortion.” This was usually coupled with a description of the economic issues involved in the woman’s case…her poverty, her career, her tenuous family situation. When these circumstances conspired to push a woman to the edge, she felt that she had “no choice” but to get that abortion. What else but hopelessness could force a woman to do the most unnatural act imaginable, to harden her heart against all her natural motherly instincts and abort a growing child from her body?
A mother’s natural love for her children is so strong that God uses it as a measure of His love for His people: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you (Is. 49:15)! Isaiah’s question implies that it seems unthinkable for a mother to harden her heart against her own baby, but that, even if she may, God is unshakably committed to caring for His people. Yet abortion can only occur when a woman hardens her heart against this powerful love God put within her for the preservation and growth of humanity. What could possibly cause this hardening? Hopelessness. This is exactly why “pro-choice” people use “no-choice” language: “She had no choice to get the abortion because… __________ (her husband wanted no more children, her boyfriend is abusive, her boss would force her to quit her job, she already has five children she can barely feed as it is, she’s a teenager and it would ruin her life, she’s a college freshman and it would ruin her dreams, she’s unmarried and unemployed with no possible way to provide for the child, etc.). Hopelessness characterizes the non-Christian’s experience in this fallen and grief-filled world: “…without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
The essence of the pro-life perspective is the exact opposite…we offer hope where the world and its circumstances offer none. This hope springs from our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we live on it every moment that we look forward to life beyond the grave. This hope can become very practical, offering the precise material assistance the desperate mom-to-be needs: a home while she’s carrying the child to term, loving support and prayers, financial assistance even beyond the actual birth of the child, and many other things. All of a sudden hope springs into the woman’s heart, her natural God-given affection for her own child takes over, and abortion becomes, first, merely a “choice”, then truly “no choice” at all. Having earned the respect of a previously desperate woman, the pro-life ministry is then able to offer the greatest hope of all—eternal life through faith in Christ.
"The essence of the pro-life perspective is the exact opposite…we offer hope where the world and its circumstances offer none."
There is, however, one more aspect of this theology of hope on which the pro-life ministry must live. This is the perseverance which hope gives us in continuing to fight against the “pro-choice” culture of death which has taken deep root in our national psyche. It can seem overwhelming for us to face the public opinion polls, the “centrist” Supreme Court judges, the pragmatic members of Congress, the deep pockets of the A.C.L.U, N.O.W., Planned Parenthood, and N.A.R.A.L., and the scathing editorials written in Time and Newsweek. We can easily feel like we will never overcome this monster, and we can be tempted to crumble in hopelessness. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 speaks of a “work produced by faith, a labor prompted by love, and an endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” This alone will enable us to persevere in the pro-life ministry when circumstances leer at us, and grim evil grins, saying “You will never conquer… why don’t you give up and go home!” Hope and hope alone—the very essence of our life in Christ and of our pro-life stance—enables us to persevere against these odds and continue the fight until the victory is won.