It was suppertime at the Fox’s in 2001, and we were discussing the Right to Life vigil that would be held that evening around the Graham Courthouse. It was the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States.
One of the kids said to Judah, who was not sure about this vigil idea, “It’s cool, Judah! You get to hold a candle!” Another added, “And we might get our picture in the paper!” Judah was mildly impressed, but I was surprised at what I heard from my children. I responded, “Guys, the reason we do this every year is not to hold candles or because we might get our picture in the paper. If that’s why you’re doing it, I’d rather you stay home.”
There was a slight pause, and the older children looked intently at their broccoli. My problem is that even when I say the right thing (which happens every now and then), I often say it the wrong way. Thankfully, this evening was saved by my 5-year-old who was not offended by my sharp tone. Judah flashed his big brown eyes at me and asked, “Are we doing it for you, Daddy?”
Cindy said, “Oh, how sweet,” and my eyes pooled with tears at Judah’s innocence. And I thanked God for the high and holy privilege he gives us as parents, the privilege and the delight of leading children to faith and obedience.
The question Judah asked made me think about my own motives for standing at the courthouse on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. My heart whispered in prayer, “Am I doing it for you, Lord?” Or am I going to the courthouse to set an example for my children, so that they will see that the issue of the sanctity of life is more important than my temporary inconvenience? That is a good motive, but not the best. Am I going to the courthouse in memory of the more than 60 million babies who have been aborted since 1973? Am I going to the courthouse for the more than 600,000 babies that will not see the light of day this year? To pray and work, as Job said, for the one“who has none to help him”? The boys and girls of all races that will not be able to enjoy liberty and pursue happiness because their right to life was taken away? That is a good reason to go the vigil, I decided, but not the best. Judah’s question rang in my heart: “Are we doing it for you, Daddy?”
That’s really the issue for me. I went to the courthouse Friday evening with my family because my Father is passionate for life, and I am His child. I added my little voice to the millions who were standing and praying and holding candles across the nation, hoping that the holocaust of abortion will end in our lifetime, because I believe God would have me do so. I pray often that what is acceptable in our nation as a “right to choose” will soon become an unthinkable horror. Is it a simple matter? On the one hand, no, it is not. I know the issue of abortion is volatile, with strong emotions on both sides. There are some who say that one side doesn’t care about the difficult choice of the mother. The issue of abortion divides political parties, motivates voters, and separates friends and families. Most life and death issues do. On the other hand, yes, it is simple. It is a child. It is not tissue, but a human being. A helpless human being. Stephen Schwarz wrote in his book, The Moral Question of Abortion, “Suppose, in the encounter between doctor and child [in an abortion], the child won half of the time, and killed the doctor in self-defense—something he would have every right to do. Very few doctors would perform abortions. They perform them now only because of their absolute power over a small, fragile, helpless victim.”
I remember the day we lost our second born to miscarriage. The doctor explained, “We’ll never know what happened. But there was something wrong with the embryo and God decided to end its life in the first trimester.” Cindy and I wept for the son or daughter that we would not get to raise but were comforted by the assurance that our Father is in control. He is the one who gives life, and he is the one who takes life. He is the one who IS life, and that’s why I went to the courthouse and prayed. I did it for Daddy.