Willie Parker is an abortion doctor. He says he’s not ashamed of that. Willie Parker also says he is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ. That one’s more complicated. His new book on why Jesus would support his abortion practice shows us the end-result of a cultural Christianity in which the self can redefine anything: Jesus, the gospel, morality, justice, even life itself.
Parker is a kind of circuit-riding abortionist, spending time at various abortion clinics all over the South. The book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice is one part an autobiography, and one-part a political manifesto for the legality—and even the goodness—of abortion. Even as one who has to wade through all sorts of material assaulting human dignity, I found that I would gasp at the lackadaisical nature of Parker’s reflections.
Parker writes about his profession of faith in Christ. He even discusses listening to some beloved Christian writers—C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, for instance—on his long drives between abortion clinics. Jesus, Parker tells us, has no issue with Parker’s vocation. And, apparently, neither does Parker. He writes, chillingly, about aspiring to learn how to do abortions. He said that he would go to the Planned Parenthood clinic “and perform abortions, over and over, like the athlete who goes to the gym after practice to shoot three-pointers.” He would sometimes do fifteen abortions, sometimes thirty “I wanted to get to the point where the procedure was automatic, a synthesis of muscle memory and mental vigilance,” he writes.
He learned not only how to do these abortions, but also how to quiet his conscience along the way. Parker doesn’t hide the grisly mechanics of abortion. He writes, step-by-step, of what he does in an abortion, and in the aftermath. “I inspect what has just come out of the woman’s body: what I’m looking for is the fetal sac, which at a later gestational age, becomes the placenta, and, after nine weeks, every one of the fetal parts—head, body, limbs—like a puzzle that has to be put back together.” This job of “recreating the fetus in the pan,” Parker writes, is what “assures me that I’ve done my job completely and well.”
The nonchalance of the metaphors is no accident. The aborted “product of conception” is a puzzle; the act of aborting him or her is like learning to shoot basketballs. Parker writes of how he calms women down as they approach the abortion, sometimes with guilty consciences. He talks to them about Dr. Seuss books or southern cooking, Parker tells us, “and if all else fails you can talk to them about football.” More specifically, he writes, he talks to them about whether they are fans of the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide or Auburn.
He admires a similarly casual approach to abortion in his patients. He praises the woman who asks to see the remains of the abortion, nods her head, and goes back to her crackers and juice. He admires the woman who asks to see the ultrasound afterward but seems unmoved by it. He chastises a woman who sees the joking about the abortions by fellow patients on the table around her as lacking respect. “When she wrote a letter to complain of the atmosphere in our clinic,” Parker writes, “I was unmoved.”
And on his enemies list to be attacked in the book are not only pro-life Catholics and evangelicals but also pro-choice feminists who speak of abortion as a tragic, if necessary, choice. “Most of the women I see are utterly matter of fact about they’re doing,” he writes.
In fact, he writes, the problem is, in part, “liberal women with children who themselves became enraptured with the sonogram images they saw at the obstetrician’s office and who wept when they heard the fetal heartbeat.” This is, Parker argues, a “fetishization of motherhood and children that I don’t quite understand.”
Parker issues what amounts to a kind of altar call at the end of the book. He asks the reader whether he or she is truly committed to abortion as a moral good. “Or are you secretly squeamish about abortion rights now that you’ve seen the sonogram images of your precious and beloved children in utero?” he asks. “Do you find yourself agreeing, a little that life might begin at conception, that abortion is tragic?” If so, he implies, repent and believe in the wonders of “reproductive choice.”
How, you might ask, would one be able to boast in a practice condemned by the Christian church from the very beginning in the Roman Empire, while simultaneously claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Well, one does so, first of all, by moving the locus of authority away from the Scriptures. Parker will, at some places, attempt to argue that the Bible doesn’t actually prohibit abortion.
Still, these arguments don’t get him quite to where he needs to go—toward undoing the Bible’s prohibitions on not just killing but on sexual immorality as well. Parker then describes the Bible as misogynistic and patriarchal. Even God must be redefined. Parker writes of God in impersonal, cosmic terms and argues that the Christian vision of a personal God who judges the living and the dead is “a tendency to anthropomorphize” God. Not coincidentally, he argues through the book that to call a “fetus” a “baby” is to “anthropomorphize” the entity in the womb.
The biggest hurdle, though, for Parker, is to redefine life itself. Like many in the abortion movement, Parker scoffs at the possibility of fetal personhood because the child is small, “no bigger, from crown to rump, than the first two digits of my pinkie finger,” and because the child cannot live, in most cases, on his or her own outside the womb. He seems to recognize though that lack of size and lack of power won’t be persuasive on their own, so he continues to what he sees as the real problem: the idea that life is “a miracle.” Parker writes that to say that “conception, or birth, or even death is ‘miraculous’ does an injustice to God.” Life is, instead, he argues, merely “a process.”
As I read this abortion doctor’s repeated inveighing against the metaphor of “miracle” for human life, I could not help but be reminded of Wendell Berry’s manifesto against scientism and materialism, which he says demotes humanity from creature to machine. The rejection of the miracle of life, Berry wrote, leaves us with the coldness of abstraction.
“The giveaway is that even scientists do not speak of their loved ones in categorical terms as ‘a woman,’ ‘a man,’ ‘a child,’ or ‘a case,’” Berry wrote. “Affection requires us to break out of the abstractions, the categories, and confront the creature itself in its life in its place.”
Berry concluded. “We know enough of our own history by now to be aware that people exploit what they have merely concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love.” It all turns on affection.
To dehumanize the unborn child, to reduce the child’s mother to her ability to make “choices” about the life and death of others, is to dehumanize Jesus. In Christ, after all, God has “anthropomorphized” himself. And we are introduced to Jesus in the biblical story, just as John the Baptist was, as an unborn child (Luke 1:44). To keep doing his job, Parker must depersonalize the women and children he encounters. He must depersonalize God into an unblinking, non-judging cosmic abstraction.
The good news is that God has dealt with even guiltier consciences than Dr. Parker’s, and he has done so in mercy. The good news is that Willie Parker may one day see a different vision of himself, and of God. He might one day be found in Christ Jesus, a new creation. That’s happened many times before, to many of us. And this new birth is not just a process but a miracle.
BY CHAD BIRD & DANIEL EMERY PRICE
If April 1 is April Fools’ Day, then March 25 is Divine Fool’s Day. Falling nine months before Christmas, it’s the day when God set in motion what appeared to be a foolish plan. The Creator of heaven and earth became a two-celled human zygote gradually drifting down the fallopian tube of an unwed Jewish virgin. Every few hours, he doubled his number of cells until, a few days later, he made himself at home inside her uterus. There he would remain for the summer and fall. A God swimming in amniotic fluid. A God growing a heart and liver and lungs. A God kick-starting a plan that seemed to have failure written all over it.
How would this ever work? What was he thinking, becoming one of us? What we need is a mega-God not a mini-human. Give us an almighty deity not a helpless fetus. We want a muscular Jesus to stand strong in heaven and do powerful stuff to fix our lives and save the world. But it’s so like our backwards God to defy our expectations and become a baby. It’s the kind of thing only a Lord of love would do. Everything we have been, he wanted to be, including an unborn child, so that everything we are would be saved by him.
All babies conceived are not only the object of heaven’s love; each is a tiny human reflection of the God who was once in a womb himself. Jesus, who fills all things, was once so small you’d have to kneel before a microscope to gaze at the God you worship.
In the magnitude of his mercy, he joined ranks with the weak, the dependent, the vulnerable of humanity.
But we’re not just talking about unborn babies; Jesus joined ranks with their mothers as well. Mary gave him his DNA. She fed him with her own body. He was closer to no human than he was to her. Mary felt the feet of God kick inside her stomach. And like many of those who get pregnant today, the mother of Jesus was a teenager. Her own fiancé almost dumped her when he found out she was pregnant. From the moment Jesus entered our world, he was surrounded by suffering people in desperate situations.
That’s the situation of many unmarried women today who get pregnant, as well as the men who get them pregnant. They’re scared. They’re confused. They’re desperate. They’re desperate to believe almost anything that will make this all go away, including the lie that their unborn baby is just tissue and not real human life. In far too many situations, these are the couples who fall prey to groups like Planned Parenthood. Fear ignites a desperate fire within them that often mistakes gasoline for water. In desperation, they snatch at something, anything, that they think will help extinguish the flames. But it only makes matters worse—much worse. When they opt for abortion, not only do they take the life of their children, they conceive within their souls a monster of shame and guilt and regret whose gestation period threatens to last a lifetime.
There is a love that is stronger than death, including the death of abortion. It is a strong love hidden in the weakness of the baby inside Mary. It is a strong love that remained hidden even when this baby became a toddler, then a teen, and finally a man whose mercy gushed out in streams of blood when he gave his life on the cross. This love is life itself, the life of God as a man, which he offers and gives to all, including the unwanted, the discarded, the desperate, the guilty, the shamed.
There is a reason Jesus didn’t just jump down to earth as a thirty year old man ready to fulfill his Father’s mission. Because that’s not us. And to save us he had to become like us. We begin as that two-celled zygote in the fallopian tube, so God became that. We spend nine months in the womb, so God did that, too. But he wasn’t just following in our fetal footsteps, he was saving us every inch of the way. His conception hallows our conception. His time in the uterus sanctifies our time there. His birth cleanses our birth. His intimate bond with his mother binds him in love to all mothers and fathers. God infuses every stage of human existence with divine compassion. He knows us. He loves us. He is one of us. And he saves us, no matter how small or big a human we might be.
For every unwanted, aborted child, Jesus the child conceives a saving love that knows no bounds. For every desperate mother who murders her baby, Jesus the baby was born to set her free from guilt and shame. For every employee of Planned Parenthood, Jesus the physician of soul and body, shed his blood on the cross to reconcile them to his Father. For every boyfriend or parent who has strong-armed a girlfriend or daughter into an abortion, Jesus the man stretched out his arms and died to make peace between them and heaven. There is no sin so big that God’s love is not still bigger. There is no shame so great that his holiness cannot clothe it with honor. Show him your sands of guilt and he’ll point you to the mountain of his love.
But he also turns to the desperate, delinquent mother and says, “You come too.” And to the doctor still holding the forceps, he says, “And you as well.” Such is the absurd and holy scandal of the incarnation.
Have you had an abortion? Have you supported or performed an abortion? Jesus will remove the monster of shame and guilt and regret and fill that chasm inside you with himself, with a love stronger than death, a love that transforms you into a son or daughter of God—beautiful, chosen, royal. He is not against you but for you. With every fiber of his being, every cell of his body, he is your advocate and friend. This child of Mary makes you a child of your heavenly Father.
SAN DIEGO, December 17, 2013 — For those who had any lingering uncertainty about a woman’s right to abortion, such doubts have supposedly been laid to rest by two authorities, comedian Sarah Silverman, and Jesus Christ Himself.
Actually Jesus is portrayed by actor Michael Weatherly and joined by Silverman in a video sketch created to plug a national day of pride for women. Sponsored by Lady Parts Justice, the event promises rallies in every one of our 50 state capitals. The rallies are a ways off (September 28) but thanks to the Silverman video recently posted on YouTube, the “Ladys” are getting plenty of advanced publicity.
When asked by Silverman when life begins, Jesus replies, “Life begins at 40.”
That’s actually a funny line. But the remainder of the sketch was not as clever and the overall message was meant to be quite serious.
Jesus goes on to say, “Fertilized eggs aren’t people, people are people.”
This is followed by a sanctimonious lecture from Silverman: “Using religion to dictate legislation is un-American, but it’s happening.”
Un-American Sarah? Then how come the reverse is not also true? Evidently using religion to espouse the Pro-Choice point of view, and inspire people to keep abortion legal by making guesses about Jesus’ opinion on the subject is not un-American.
Actually, if abortion really is the taking of a human life one need not turn to religion at all while asking if the procedure is wrong. Take, for instance, murder in the more general sense, the murder of any human being, child, adolescent, or adult. Don’t we as a society agree that murder is evil despite a person’s view of God? True, the Bible issues an actual command saying “Thou shalt not murder,” but atheists and other secularists already know murder is wrong regardless of Scripture. Nobody argues that they are being forced to accept Christianity or Judaism simply because our society outlaws murder.
Be that as it may, since Silverman opened the door, perhaps it would not hurt to see what the Bible says about life in the womb.
In the Gospel of Luke, Mary the virgin, after miraculously experiencing pregnancy, visits her Aunt Elizabeth. Elizabeth is also with child. She is bearing John the Baptist.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb ; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:41-42)
Luke tells us in verse 36 of the same chapter that Elizabeth had been pregnant for six months. This fact might be of interest for those who argue that abortion is only wrong during the third trimester.
Of course, Michael Weatherly’s Jesus took us long before six months by talking about a “fertilized egg.” Even so, after a single cell is formed, its DNA structure is complete with 23 pairs of chromosomes. I.E., it is a human life If Jesus is the God of the universe incarnate, he knows that. If Jesus is not God, his opinions about abortion do not matter.
But perhaps the most interesting question of all was conspicuously missing from Silverman’s video. What would Jesus say to the question, “Did your mother Mary, upon hearing she was with child, have a right to choose an abortion?
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious.
The Christian Post contributed to the news in this article.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE
New International Version NIV
Copyright © 1973, 1979, 1984 by International Bible Society
Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
All rights reserved.
Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at bobsiegel.net.
A graduate of Denver Seminary and San Jose State University, Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and popular guest speaker at churches and college campuses across the country, using a variety of media including, seminars, formal debates, outdoor open forums, and one man drama presentations. In addition to his own weekly radio show (KCBQ 1170, San Diego) Bob has been a guest on many other programs, including The 700 Club, Washington Times Radio’s Inside the Story, The Rick Amato Show, KUSI Television’s Good Morning San Diego, and the world popular Jonathan Parkradio drama series, for which Bob guest starred in two episodes and wrote one episode, The Clue From Ninevah. In addition to CDN, Bob is a regular contributor for San Diego Rostra. Bob does a good deal of playwriting as well (14 plays & 5 collaborations), including the award winning, Eternal Reach. Bob has also published books of both fiction and non-fiction including; I’d Like to Believe In Jesus, But…and a fantasy novel, The Dangerous Christmas Ornament.
This silly story left me wondering . . . what WOULD Jesus do about abortion?
The answer’s not in The Onion. It’s in The Bible, and it’s probably not what you expect me to say.
There’s a little song we all know. It goes, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
If Jesus, as this Feelgooder tune claims, truly loves all the children of the world, why does He allow billions of them to be born with no chance of Salvation?
“What’s that?” you ask. “No, no, everyone has an equal chance at Salvation. The vast majority of people just choose Hell instead of Jesus.”
Let’s investigate that, shall we?
Two classes of little children are, according to the Bible, condemned to eternal torture in the Pit of Hell by virtue of being born: Those who do not choose Jesus, and those who are illegitimate. Loopholes exist for some who fail to choose Jesus, but never for a bastard.
A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
I don’t see any ambiguity here. Neither a bastard, nor his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., to the tenth generation, may enter into the Lord’s congregation. If they can’t enter the congregation, how can they be Saved?
Is there any loophole? Well, the Bible indicates that those “without understanding” aren’t subject to the Law. That includes the mentally retarded, young children, and . . . the unborn.
What would Jesus do? Would Jesus allow an illegitimate child to be born, knowing that it would be condemned to an eternity in Hellfire because of its parentage? Or would Jesus abort that little fetus, giving it an effective “Get into Heaven Free” card?
I’d like to think He’d choose the compassionate option.
“But wait,” you cry. “That’s KILLING! God says THOU SHALT NOT KILL!”
Is it killing? Let’s investigate. Does God consider the unborn to be people?
Exodus 21:22-25 tells us, quite clearly, that an unborn embryo is not a person:
22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Well, there’s punishment . . . a fine . . . but what about if he kills a man? Exodus 21:12 answers that:
12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
Clearly, God does not consider the unborn to be people. Therefore, the Bible does not condemn abortion; in fact, it seems clear that this would be the alternative preferred to condemning your illegitimate child to an eternity of torture for your misdeeds!
Do you still doubt God’s Plan? If so, consider that 20% — one of every five — pregnancies fails. In most cases, the fertilized egg — according to the antiChristian “Right to Life” crowd, a living person — fails to implant, and the mother doesn’t even know she was pregnant. Many more fail shortly after implantation. Look it up, if you doubt my veracity. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Back? Good. Did you look up how many millions of known miscarriages there are each year? Where the expectant mother actually knows that she’s pregnant? Is God murdering all these children? Or are they not children at all, until they have taken the breath of life? (See Genesis 2:7; Adam was not “a living soul” until God breathed the “breath of life” through his nostrils!
In Christ’s name, if you are pregnant and will not be married in time to give the child a legitimate birth, show some Christian compassion and abort the unwanted embryo, that it not suffer God’s unending wrath for your failure to exercise a little self-restraint!!