October 28, 2008

My Brother's Blood [jenna]

The other night I saw a holocaust movie called Everything is Illuminated. It made me cry. Holocaust movies will do that to a person.

The horrors done to the Jews—and whoever helped them—and whoever got in the Nazis’ way at all—outstrips the power of imagination. To read Corrie ten Boom, visit a museum, hear a Jew or someone else close to the situation speak, or hear any description of something that went on during those terrible years is to be moved with grief and a sort of repentance, even if it happened before your birth, as it did before mine.

I wonder what it would have been like to be a German German—as opposed to a German Jew—during that terrible time. Surely not all of them were in favor of Hitler’s ideas; surely, those who dissented did not all hide Jews in their homes; surely, they did not all speak publicly against Hitler and his guns. What would have been the responsibility of someone living out her life in a German town, someone who didn’t know any Jews, who had no real voice with the government?

Was it easy to ignore the situation? Was day-to-day life reasonably secure? Were all average people unwilling to speak the least word against the Nazis, for fear of retribution?

What does it mean, now, to live in a country where it’s legal to take a life merely because it is unwanted, or because its mother was impregnated in circumstances of trauma?

It’s easier to ignore this situation than that of Jews versus Nazis because it’s so hidden. Because the little ones have the same story, all of them, and without the character development that can be drawn up for a remembrance montage on television; their fear is sudden, silent, and then over. It’s easier to ignore this situation because so much of the psychological damage is hidden in the hearts of mothers tormented and burdened by their sense of guilt.

But it is easier to understand, and harder to condemn someone like Pope Pius XII (especially when we look at actual history, and not at the nonsense now often thought of as fact), when we look at what it means to be for the right to life, against abortion in this day.

Our decision of when it’s morally okay to abort a human baby is completely arbitrary; as I’ve heard several people say lately, the unborn can be disposed of silently within yards of a place where round-the-clock personnel and the very best technology are used to save lives at the same stage of development.

In Hitler’s time, speaking or acting against the regime could get a person killed. Nowadays, it just gets you marginalized. You have no voice; you’re labeled as an extremist.

It’s easy enough to marginalize those who criticize abortion as comparable to Nazism; the cold Nazi mentality seems so unlike the presumed compassion of abortion-rights advocacy. But if we actually believe that the unborn are human and alive, regardless of whether we believe in immortal souls, is the comparison really so extreme?

“I want the children”, said Mother Teresa so memorably some years back. She was not the only one who would have cared for the little ones. I will take that ‘unwanted’ baby—I and the thousands and thousands of other women throughout the world who long for motherhood. I will take it regardless of race, gender, or handicap. No child is ever truly unwanted; they’re just arriving at difficult times, and in our country at least, there is help for almost any situation nearly everywhere.

What, then, is my responsibility, living in this land of holocaust? The duty will be different for each person. What is that duty for me?

“God doesn't value people and things like we do. Jonah loved a shade tree more than an entire city of sinful people. We love our dogs more than a terrorist. We love our cars more than a beggar on the side of the road. And sometimes, we love our money more than a child growing in a desperate teenager's womb.

But God isn't like us… His love for us is greater than His love for a plant, an animal, or any other created thing. And the book of Jonah tells us that He loves even the most sinful people and seeks to bring them into His merciful arms. And it's a love that seeks to touch all of his created children: that desperate teenager, the baby growing in her womb, even tyrants and terrorists."

—Dennis DiMauro, Lutherans for Life representative to the National Pro-life Religious Council


  1. this article is hard because abortion is touchy to begin and relating it to the holocaust is so not politically correct. and when i say "hard" i mean that it will agitate certain people (for good reason in my opinion).

    i remember last year, maybe two years now, just realizing that 4000 a day is a crazy number no matter where you stand... so i empathize with your sentences that end with question marks (which also allows someone to read this seeing grace).

    the most difficult part for me is how the law should play in it... i suppose the law is just for restraint, but there needs to be a redemption of family; abortion is mainly the fruit of broken family and not just the stereotypical ghetto broken family either.

    the best talk i've ever heard on the subject at large was from here:

  2. My Grandfather says this is premium writing! Really, first rate! I dig it all the way. :-)

    Thanks for showing in a fewsh way that this issue is more than just political rhetoric.

  3. First of all, Everything Is Illuminated is one of my favorite movies.

    Second of all, you communicate your concern well. And it is an interesting/disturbing comparison between the "unwanted" Jews, considered to be Germany's "problem" with unborn children: another so-called "unwanted problem" to many.

    Depending on the audience this could be considered highly controversial.

  4. I just re-read this, and the word fewsh should have been "fresh".

    Deep apologies.

  5. Jenna, I have thought long and hard about your post. What I like about it is that it reminds me of the gruesome truth of abortion, and I think it's easy to lose sight of that fact--that we are actually killing millions of nameless faceless babies every year. Unbelievable. Thanks for having the courage to write in such forthright terms.

  6. I am having trouble with Google, my name is Andrea Weeks and I just submitted my first thing to Relief. So, sorry for logging on as someone else. I agree that this issue is so difficult to address. From a Christian perspective, of course life is even before conception because we are knit in our mother's womb and because we are God's idea, not created by human decision.

    But, from a political viewpoint, it can appear that we lack humility, gentleness and patience with others when we hold what our culture perceives as an extreme view -- on either side. Being willing to come to the table and discuss things without using terms like "murderer" or "Hitler" helps. (Especially since without Christ we are all murderers.)

    Imagine a church where if you were caught in the act of adultery you would be stoned for criminal behavior. Or, if you “worked” on the Sabbath you would be condemned to death. This would be a great deterrent and a law that would preserve marriage and worshipping God. Right? By creating a law that condemns, from a Christian perspective, it limits reconciling relationships. What if instead we confronted, in love, prayer and the Spirit’s leading, the person in adultery, prayed for them to repent and walked alongside them until the Sprit led us to end the relationship or until we saw the beauty and restoration of their repentance? Jesus Himself did not condemn as a criminal the woman caught in adultery nor did the Pharisees have a reason to condemn him for healing on the Sabbath (even though he had broke Sabbath law).

    God will judge all the world for our sin and we will all fall short. In the meantime, as Christians, remember Betsie Ten Boom and how she never stopped praying for the Nazis. What if her prayers are the reason for Hitler’s fall? If you read Corrie’s book her sister ALWAYS had compassion for the Nazi’s being sad for their lack of faith in a compassionate God and always praying for their repentence. She told her sister, “Do not hate” when Corrie went to defend her sister after being beaten by a Nazi. She told her to constantly fix her eyes on Jesus – not to hope in the world but in Christ.

    We have an obligation as Christians to pray where we might be part of the body – through the youth group, with our neighbors, with other believers! The mystery of Christ is not just salvation – it is that God will reveal Himself through the BODY. As individuals we want a law that will make abortion illegal. Why? Maybe then we don’t have to invest in our neighbor? Maybe then we can put our confidence in the law rather than Christ? Where is God calling you to invest your life? Children as young as 12 are getting pregnant. They need love desperately. Not a law to make sure they have their baby. Even a 40 year old married woman needs THE BODY to encourage her in pregnancy. This is not just about a law, it is about reconciliation through meaningful realationships.

    Maybe God isn’t working in our country in some places because we don’t want to be part of the body. Maybe we don’t know what this even means or looks like. Read through the book of Ephesians. You will be amazed at the references to “the saints,” “the church,” “the body” and how the mystery of Christ is that He will reveal Himself and He will work through US when we are ONE BODY, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, with WHOM there is ONE LORD. And we can do this despite being outnumbered and despite laws that are against us and remember that without Christ we can do nothing.

    Now, on a more practical level….

    I have read a lot about research showing that babies do experience pain in the womb starting as early as 20 weeks. Therefore, if we are going to define human life, which from a political perspective we need to do (for corporate reasons, because right now you can own anything non-human and put a patent on it) we need to come to the table and, even though is it hard as a Christian, just like the extremists on the other side who want abortion at nine months -- because the mother is depressed -- we need to define things.

    In my humble opinion, the only way to stop illegal abortions and keep babies from experiencing pain, is to make cerrtain laws (and I realize this is not a Biblical perspective, but one where we can negotiate). A life could be defined at 20 weeks. After 20 weeks, the mother's life must be in danger (very rare -- like 1%) and she must administer anesthesia to the baby for an abortion to be done NOT in a clinic, but in a hospital -- only if her life is truly at risk. Meaning life or death -- cancer, needing chemo, etc.)
    I know it is wrong in the eyes of God to allow abortions before this, but God has forgiven even the worst of us, and that mom might be in a place in her faith journey where she is unable to trust God for that baby. Maybe this woman does not even know someone to come alongside her to help trust her for that baby (for we are ONE body, and sometimes we like to act more like individuals than souls being built together to create His masterpiece.) God has always given us freedom to make bad choices. So, unfortunately, legally, abortion would be possible up to 20 weeks.

    Finally, we must as believers "walk in a way that is worthy of the calling we have been called" (Ephesians 4:1) encouraging our friends who have unexpected pregnancies, believing in God's power even in the face of events that seem impossible. When the Virgin Mary was pregnant with Jesus, how much support did she get? Her own spouse wanted to stone her to death (which would have probably killed her baby). That was in Joseph's heart and was the Law until the Holy Spirit touched him.

    Without the Holy Spirit we are perverse, all of us, from the start. (Read Ephesians 2). To demonize those who have abortion is to forget we were all born to the same sin condition.

    Praise God that we do have pregnancy clinics and people who have been through abortion, who are renewed by His Spirit and receive forgiveness of sins, recognize their brokenness and through repentance and His amazing grace, can walk in His power.

    In the meantime, let us not forget to, regardless of the law, live a life preserving God’s Spirit. That means we have a moral responsibility to encourage ALL that we know personally to trust God, regardless of the circumstances, to listen to God’s voice and preserve ALL human life. This means, if you have a friend or relative get pregnant in challenging circumstances, pray, pray, pray (I am always underestimating prayer and thinking what I say or the law is stronger) and share, in God’s perfect timing, that you want to do all you can to support and uplift and that you believe in the person having this baby!

    That is more powerful than ANY bill that is EVER passed!

    More on pain at 20 weeks:


    How a bill in Congress failed in 2006 to cite that mother's should be told that the use of anaestesia would lessen the pain of their baby in an abortion at 20 weeks:

  7. Peggy Noonan once said, "Anyone who's ever bought a pack of condoms knows when life begins." I find it hard to argue with that.

  8. I struggle so much with this issue because I totally agree with Justin in that there needs to be a redemption of family but I sort of want a law in place as a safety net. But people will still have abortions regardless and I don't want young girls having unsafe abortions. . . and at the end of all those thoughts I just get to thinking that we really need Jesus. I wasn't sure how I felt about you comparing abortion with the holocaust but I think that we are so used to the idea now that comparing it that way helped me think about it in a different light.