God’s Workmanship

By Trisha Williams, a member of the Culture Impact Committee

I was leading my online summer class through a discussion of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley on Tuesday, July 14.  A lively Socratic discussion ensued about pride, family, desire for love, alienation, beauty, hatred, revenge, psychology, origin of life and influence of education on worldview development.

Right before calling a ten-minute break, I told the students to prepare for a question regarding scientific ethics. After all, Victor Frankenstein had used body parts from cadavers to stitch together his new creation. Was this right? Are there applications or implications to be learned from this novel written by a young eighteen-year-old woman in 1818 for our more “advanced society”?

During break I checked the news. The Center for Medical Progress had released its first undercover video depicting a member of Planned Parenthood leadership, sipping wine and eating salad, and all the while speaking about harvesting and selling fetal organs and tissue.

I relayed this news to my students and you can imagine how troubling and convicting the conversation became.

Since that day more videos have been released, Congress has voted against defunding Planned Parenthood at least for now, and four states have individually stopped funneling state monies to the organization. More videos are promised, and I’m sure—and hope—this issue won’t leave the political or private stage for a while.

My own conscience has been awakened and my heart hurts. It hurts for the life potential lost due to the abortion industry, the mothers who feel they have no other option and the fathers who don’t want to take responsibility or can’t. My heart hurts for the scientists who legally use fetal tissue in an attempt to better the human condition, for a country who claims to support the right to life except for the most vulnerable, for childless couples who long to be parents, for orphans who long to have parents, for children in the foster care system who are desperate to be cared for, and my heart hurts for God’s people.  What must we do and what can we do when confronted with such news?

I am number eight. I am child eight out of eleven born to parents who not only believed in the right to life, but also firmly believed that children were a blessing from God.  I have vivid memories from childhood of new acquaintances jokingly asking me, “Don’t your parents know how birth control works?” I knew I came from a unique family at a very young age, but it wasn’t until I was about fifteen when I realized that that question implied the person’s entrenched belief that I should not exist. If my parents had followed the culturally acceptable and honored traditions, I and at least seven of my siblings shouldn’t have been born.  As hard and as difficult as being in a large family can be, I can’t imagine life without my siblings, and I know now as an adult how much my parents sacrificed to ensure we did have a chance at life. 

Not only did they ensure we had shelter, food and an excellent education, but they also worked daily to introduce us to the source of abundant life, Truth himself, the Triune God, who knit us together to bear his image in our mother’s womb. The Creator God who made our limbs functional to move about on the earth he formed, who made our minds curious to explore the past and the present, and opened our eyes to recognize our sin and our desperate need for a Savior.  Inside our beating hearts we desired to know God and he who gave us the desire granted our request by replacing our stony hearts with a new heart, a heart of flesh and giving our tongues a new melody to sing.  This melody proclaims the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.  This melody is the song of King Jesus.  Our voices now have the chance to join the millions of past and present children of God who desire to live as his “poema”—his workmanship. For this I am eternally grateful. 

Rosario Butterfield (author of Secret Thoughts of an unlikely Convert and Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert) said recently in a blog post: “I remember asking the women in church why Christians condemned abortion and celebrated capital punishment. I never heard a compelling argument. And then, one day during worship, we sang Psalm 102 and it hit me between the eyes. Here was the line of my undoing: “And peoples yet uncreated shall praise and magnify the LORD” (Ps. 102:18). I got it: abortion is not a right or an entitlement. Abortion steals praise from God by denying image-bearers the opportunity to live through and for him. Abortion despises and attacks and destroys the image of God. Yes, children must be protected from abuse, but abortion does not accomplish this.” (Here is the complete post.)

A few days after reading Rosario’s words, a former student of mine posted on Facebook: “Being against abortion doesn’t make you pro-life.” This young man is absolutely correct. It’s not enough to believe that abortion is wrong, we must be willing to go further. We must be willing to actually obey Jesus and love our neighbor as ourselves. To love the teen mom ashamed to admit she’s pregnant, to love the physicians who performs abortions and the nurses they work with, to love the men and boys who won’t take responsibility, to love politicians who we don’t agree with, to love foster children or orphans, to love the organizations that provide alternative solutions and long-term care for mothers who choose life, to love the unlovable. To love truth and hate sin so much that we teach and live faithfully even in the area of sexual purity and reproductive health. To love to the point that it hurts. 

So what can we do as the body of Christ at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois? How shall we then show this love? If you’re like me you start by feeling overwhelmed. Then, hopefully, you become wise and pray for wisdom and pray for all involved. Then God will show you a way you can use your gifts and abilities to take action.  Ephesians 2:10 reminds us “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  What good works in this area of the sanctity of life might God be calling you to do?

Here are ways you can be involved:

1.  Learn more about bioethics and a Christian worldview from College Church member Paige Cunningham at 9:30 a.m. in Commons Hall at College Church, Sunday, August 16 and 23.

2. Contact your elected officials to urge legislative action against the use of federal tax dollars to support organizations that conduct abortions and profit from the sale of aborted fetal tissue.

3. Support organizations like CareNet—one of the church’s ministry partner organizations—that provide support to women in crisis pregnancies with resources, information, counseling, ultrasounds and support throughout a pregnancy. CareNetalso  provides post-abortion counsel and education to prevent teen pregnancy.

4. Support and encourage local families involved with Safe Families. Safe Families is a community safety net for parents and children facing crisis so that children receive safe temporary housing and care.

5. Support and encourage local families involved with foster care and adoption. In 2012, almost 400,000 children were in foster care in the U.S., with a fourth of those children eligible for adoption.

6. Support people in our communities who may be facing a crisis or unwanted pregnancy. We can provide care, friendship and the love of Christ in a vulnerable situation. Places like CareNet can also come alongside us in caring for those in our community.

7. Pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for lives to be saved, children to be protected and orphans brought into loving families. Pray for our leaders and politicians. Pray for local families involved in Safe Families, foster care and adoption.