In the early 1900s, a nationwide temperance movement pushed for the end of alcoholic beverages. I think their hearts were in the right place. By 1920, the 18th Amendment passed and Prohibition began. It became illegal to manufacture, transport or sell alcohol. It was somewhat short lived.
Support for the law cooled after a few years and in 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th. Prohibition was over, but not before 10,000 or so Americans had been killed by tainted, illegally obtained alcohol. Many others went blind after being poisoned by amateur-made hooch.
Hey, at least we (indirectly) got NASCAR out of the deal. Stock car racing has its roots in bootlegger culture.
Fast forward a few years. There are a million stories out there about people being set free from alcohol addiction through Alcoholics Anonymous and faith-based programs. Many churches in our area offer a Celebrate Recovery group. There are Christian camps and homes that offer rehabilitation to those seeking an escape from alcohol and drug addiction. These groups show people love like most of them have never experienced. They help their clients to see that they can have a full life without chemical dependency. I personally know people who work in these programs, and I am friends with some who have benefited from their services. Christ is at work in these programs, and I’m thankful for the dedicated people who work in them. Laws didn’t change the lives of those former addicts, love did.
Prohibition didn’t work.
Arguably, the “war on drugs” has been a flop. The fact that it is illegal to cross the border into the United States without going through the proper channels hasn’t done much to curb immigrants from doing just that. There are still drunk drivers. Hey, the guys that broke into my house a few years ago and made off with all my stuff, including clothes, didn’t seemed to be phased much by the fact that it is illegal. They drove right past a no trespassing sign, too.
But love tends to win the day. Jesus said I had to forgive the guys who robbed me, so I did, even though I really didn’t want to do that at first. Many Christians believe we need to show hospitality to strangers, so they give a little to charities that help house, feed, provide medical care and clothe undocumented immigrants. Others work hard and sacrifice much to pull people up out of addiction, because they believe that is exactly what Jesus expects them to be doing. I think great love and great sacrifice are the only ways people are truly changed.
All this forces me to think that there may be another way for us to come together on the issue of abortion.
A little about me: I am pro-life in every sense of the term. I believe capital punishment is every bit as evil as late-term abortion. In order to be pro-life, however, I can’t just be pro-fetus. I have to think about the mother’s mental and physical health and well-being, too. When the mother’s life is in danger, or in the case of rape or incest, we must consider the physical and mental health of mother and baby. On the other hand, I personally wish abortions for convenience did not exist. Most abortions, after all, are based on convenience. We can’t be naive, though. These abortions will be done whether legally or illegally, in a sterile room in a clinic with a trained surgeon or in a tent deep in the woods by an amateur. Let’s be honest with ourselves, there have always been abortions, and I have no reason to believe that it will change.
So what can we do? We need to find ways other than condemnation to help these girls and women, because it doesn’t help. We must find ways to show her that she has options, and that people will love her, care for her and her baby, and go out of their way to make sure that her and her baby’s needs are met. If this means providing a place to live because mom and dad kicked their pregnant teen out of the house, then so be it. If it means we donate money to make certain a young woman has childcare while she finishes school and goes to work, so be it. If the child is still unwanted after birth, we have to simplify the adoption process and provide serious financial support for foster families. Adoption is not nearly as easy as many pro-lifers would have you believe.
This won’t be solved overnight, and I certainly don’t have the answers. People of faith need to start having honest conversations about this ASAP. With all due respect, most of our heads are in the sand when a majority of us believe that making abortion illegal is going to stop it from happening. Laws won’t change it, but great love and great sacrifice will.
P.S. Notice that the only people mentioned in this problem are the mothers. When the woman who was caught in adultery was about to be stoned in John 7 and 8, the man was never mentioned, either. The good news is that Jesus rescued her from the stoning, and did not condemn her. Shouldn’t we as a society be rescuing our pregnant women, instead of condemning them?
Jared Aaron is a lifelong resident of Walker County. He is a teacher in the county school system and board member on the Sipsey Heritage Commission.