Unplanned, the movie, is out in theaters as I write. It took some sacrifice on my part to watch it today. I could’ve decided to wait and see it a few years from now after the initial DVD prices have fallen. Indeed, I personally have good financial reasons for not going to see it. I’ve also recently had surgery. It was laparoscopic–assisted by a robot–but nevertheless I’m in considerable pain from the bruising in one place in particular. Despite encouraging others to go see the movie, I think most people would have understood if I decided not to do so yet because of this pain. I share all of this not to make myself some kind of hero but in order to illustrate that every one of us can make sacrifices to end abortion. We can all do something. We all can experience something of the loss that God knows when we make a financial sacrifice and when we sacrifice time even if it happens to be at an inconvenient time.
I’ve shared before, in this post, how Deuteronomy 21:1-9 describes what the people of Israel were to do in the event of an unsolved murder when the body was found lying in the open country. In such a situation, the elders and judges were to go out and measure the distance from that body to the surrounding cities and the city that was the closest had the most responsibility. That entire city was to grind to a halt to do a ritual that helped them feel something of the loss God knows. The people in that city would experience a loss of time and money whenever they followed these instructions…even if the timing was inconvenient. The elders would sacrifice a heifer that has never been worked and the neck of the heifer would be broken. Then the elders of that closest city would wash their hands over the heifer and testify that they had not actively taken the life of this man nor had they passively watched it happen: “Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it shed” (Deut 21:7). The elders would also say: “Accept atonement, O YHWH, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for” (Deut 21:8). This is a curious concept. God instructed the elders of the city to pray for atonement even though they did not actively take the life of this person nor fail to stop it from happening. Then, by way of explanation, Deuteronomy says, “So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of YHWH” (Deut 21:9). In other words, it might be obvious that actively taking innocent life and passively watching it happen both bring bloodguilt on the land, but even if you did neither the people closest are still stained with bloodguilt. The answer for the bloodguilt on our land is the gospel of Jesus Christ. John Ensor puts these things much more eloquently in his book Innocent Blood and thus I would encourage you to make a small sacrifice of your time and money to buy it and read it. Click here where you will see my review of the book and even if the image is broken the link to buy the book still works.
When it comes to abortion today, your hands may not have shed this blood and you may even be able to say that you never stood by and did nothing while you watched it happen. Nevertheless, there is bloodguilt throughout our country for the shedding of the innocent blood of pre-born babies. We all need the atonement of Jesus Christ for this bloodguilt…Jesus who Himself was put to death even though He was innocent of all the capital offenses with which He was charged. And we can all experience something of the loss that God knows by sacrificing some of our time and money to watch movies like Unplanned and Gosnell, to buy and read books like that by John Ensor and that by Nancy Pearcey (Love Thy Body), to donate baby and maternity clothes and many other useful things (including our time) to local pregnancy centers for mothers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, to pray outside of an abortion clinic, to explore the website of Presbyterians Protecting Life, to follow pro-life leaders on social media, and in countless other ways. I thought it was particularly appropriate to read about business owners in my State of New York who closed their businesses for a day of mourning after the signing of abortion expansion into law. These are just some of the ways that we can take up our crosses and follow Jesus.
The title of the movie looks at pregnancy from a human perspective. Sometimes we don’t plan for it. We often call those “unplanned pregnancies.” But the song at the end of the movie is right, “There is no such thing as unplanned.” God planned each of these babies and God has plans for these babies and their families. And God has plans for you. Abby Johnson, the main character of the movie, witnessed an ultrasound guided abortion that immediately changed everything in her life. When your guilt increases that much, sometimes it will lead to immediate repentance even if it takes some time for you have to figure out how to disentangle yourself from the industry. Abby Johnson, in real life, has explained that it didn’t happen as sudden as all that. She has written that the reason for this simplification is the length of the movie. She says that for at least 72 hours she desperately tried to justify what she had seen. No doubt, she was trying to justify herself because she watched and did nothing to stop it. In fact, she didn’t reach out to the Coalition for Life for a week. See her book Unplanned for more details. This is an important insight if for no other reason than people often don’t experience a sudden conversion. Indeed, you may consider yourself pro-life already. But then when you read something like John Ensor’s book you might gain an unplanned passion (humanly speaking) to end abortion. This movie is already leading people to become pro-life who were previously pro-choice. For those reading this blog that are pro-life, the movie might inspire you to do more. We have more responsibility for these abortions the more that we know and that we see. You might not want more responsibility, but we all need to take more responsibility for it if we’re going to see the abolition of abortion within our lifetime. This movie does many great things. It helps you to have compassion for those working at Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics. It helps you appreciate that shouting “murderer” at people trying to go into an abortion clinic makes that clinic seem like a safe space. It encourages redemption and forgiveness in the name of Jesus for those who have had abortions and for those who work at abortion clinics. But I think that the most powerful thing that it does best is to show you what abortions can be like. Even though they aren’t live abortions, it makes it much harder to say that I haven’t watched one. In other words, (keeping in mind the verses in Deuteronomy) it increases our responsibility for the abortions happening near to us so that we might do more to end abortion. It might be a slow evolution for you as you get involved in pro-life ministry, but God has plans for you.
[Ed. note: Students for Life of America (SFLA) is giving away tickets for a pro-life high school or college student who pledges to take a pro-choice friend with them to see the Unplanned movie. More information and the form to submit your pledge are available here at this link. This is not a bad idea for all of us…if you know a pro-choice friend, you could invite them to come with you and offer to pay for their ticket.]