NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–I have a confession to make.
I wasn’t always pro-life. It’s to my shame that, while I was in college, I thought I’d gotten my girlfriend pregnant. In the midst of my immaturity, anger and fear, I decided abortion was the best option. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, and there was no pregnancy to end.
Never being one to learn quickly from my sinful folly, I found myself in a similar situation five years later. This time there really was a baby, and I was faced with a crisis that has severely, yet blessedly, shaped my life ever since.
Because of that, I can tell you precisely the moment I became pro-life. It wasn’t at a rally; it wasn’t during a sermon; it wasn’t while I pored over the many Scriptures that indicate how precious life is to God. It was over dinner, and it involved the still, small voice of God.
Sherry, who is now my precious wife, and I were barely baby Christians faced with this crisis pregnancy. We didn’t know what to do, and we prayed that God would guide us. Then we went to dinner at the now-defunct Ground Round restaurant in Gainesville, Fla.
Throughout the dinner, we discussed our options, leaving abortion on the list. Sherry wasn’t too keen about the idea, her motherly instincts already kicking in, but for the sake of discussion she left an abortion option on the table.
So there I was dispassionately — or should I say coldly — contemplating ending our young baby’s life, using all the arguments you hear from abortion advocates — you know, quality of life (meaning ours), not bringing an unwanted child into this world. Suddenly I looked up to see an unusual family being seated in the restaurant. It stopped me in mid-sentence.
What was remarkable about them was that the father was a dwarf. The mother was also a dwarf, carrying a small baby swaddled in a blanket. It seemed to me, in the flash of that moment, that the genetic chances of the baby being of normal stature were slim. Yet this couple believed in life so much — believed that life was so precious — that even if their baby might have some form of disability or a stature not considered “normal” they were still willing to bring the baby into this world.
To me, it was a powerful message about the sanctity of human life, and from that moment Sherry and I never again discussed abortion as an option. Ironically, just a few days later, we both sat in a women’s health clinic, naively assuming it was a neutral, nurturing shelter created to help us through our crisis pregnancy.
Under the guise of medical objectivity, a young doctor told us without question that our baby would be perfectly healthy and normal and that we should expect to be parents for a long, long time (as in, this would be a bad thing). When we told him we were keeping the baby, he tried to talk us into having an abortion.
We sensed something wasn’t right, and we left. It wasn’t until later that we learned the woman’s health clinic existed primarily to sell abortions to women in crisis. Heartbreakingly, our baby, Joshua, died a few weeks after we were married, and later so did his sister Kathryn, followed by their brother Jordan. In the midst of all this, God blessed us with Christopher, who at almost 4 years of age, is a banner of love between us.
Sixteen years after that initial crisis, we find ourselves pregnant again, but in a different sort of crisis. We’ve been sent to a genetic specialist. Yes, he says, the diagnosis is accurate. “No,” he continues, “there’s not really anything we can do to save this child.”
Then he adds, “A Trisomy 18 baby is so universally accepted within the medical community as non-viable that we can deliver it anytime you want.” A seasoned traveler on the pregnancy path, I put my hands up and say, “Wait a minute. You don’t deliver a baby who’s only been in the womb 16 weeks. You’re talking about an abortion, right?”
I press on. “You’re not talking about a normal delivery, I assume. You’re talking about either doing a D&C (dilation and curettage) or injecting saline into the womb.”
He responds, saying he doesn’t do D&Cs, but rather D&E’s (some subtle semantics!), and he doesn’t use saline anymore because he’s found that it sometimes hurts the mother. Instead, he’ll give my wife a pill, and she’ll conveniently miscarry within a day or two.
We tell him that’s not our intention. We’re Christians. We believe the baby, as a creation of God, deserves dignified treatment. We’re going to carry it … him … Jeremy … all the way to term, if possible.
He says that’s fine and that he’s here to help us “rationalize” whatever we need to get us through this crisis, working within our particular belief parameters.
Now, I don’t hate the doctor. I’m not mad. He’s not the enemy, and I sense he’s truly trying to be helpful within the limitations of his “belief parameters.” Unlike before, this isn’t an abortion mill; it is the office of a scientist, speaking the truth as he sees it.
But my wife and I know that science is not omnipotent. It’s not the whole truth, and on this journey, where most of our children have died on the womb side of life, we’ve learned that 40 weeks or less in utero often is the breadth of one lifetime. However short, it’s always a life sent from the Creator and worthy of celebrating.
The doctor is speaking again. He says we’re the most mature couple he’s ever met. We know it’s not maturity, rather the Holy Spirit, and tomorrow, without God’s grace, we could fall apart. The doctor offers that he’s a nihilist — don’t worry, I had to look that up too — it means he believes everything is random, all life is chance, and that we just got a bad roll of the dice with Jeremy.
But Scripture teaches that nothing is random. “The die is cast, but its every direction is from the Lord.” Jeremy and his quirky DNA and his spinal bifida — if we believe what we say we believe — none of that was an accident. We’ve named him after the prophet Jeremiah, to whom God said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Who says a life of 40 weeks is any less valuable than one of 80 years?
We leave the doctor’s office, and I’m grieving, amazed at how easily we explain away life. I’m think about the fragility of a young couple looking for help in the midst of crisis and how simple it is for them to end up on the wrong side of what they believe, not because they’re denying their beliefs, but because somebody changed the definitions of “life” and “delivery.” How can you be wise as serpents and innocent as doves without the proper grounding? And are we doing enough to make sure young couples are grounded in God’s character, letting them know that God does not make mistakes?
For Sherry and me, the battle against abortion has never been about picketing or condemning those who grieve God. Yet our Sovereign has strangely drawn us into a double decade of raising a standard for life — one lost child at a time.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.” It may seem self-serving coming from her husband, but I submit to you a modern hero — a redhead named Sherry, who, in a treacherous age of choice, embraced one more pregnancy, literally sustaining life for one of God’s more fragile creations when the wise of this world suggested such a thing was foolish. But then God’s wisdom confounds the wise of this world, and young Jeremy is no less his wisdom than our beautiful, living son Christopher.
The last 16 years haven’t been easy, and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you that some days I wonder why God keeps asking us to walk this road. It doesn’t appear fair, but in those moments, I think about the prophet Jeremiah, who pleaded with God to let him go home and be quiet. He didn’t like the life he’d been called to, but then again, he came to realize it was never his life to live. It was God’s all along.
If you get anything out of reading this, remember one thing: My wife and I wouldn’t trade the pain, the heartache or the difficulty of the last 16 years for anything if it meant abandoning God and his sovereignty in the process. We are better people because of the anvil he placed us on, and he has proved his redemptive power by placing a couple, such as us, who started so wrong, in ministry at a magazine like HomeLife.
This is an age of choice. Abortionists didn’t create that idea. God did — it’s called free will. But in this dark age I stand, weary and worn, to say my choice is this: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Amen.
Note: Jeremy Clark Walker died Aug. 5, 1999, 12 hours after this article was written.
Walker is editor of HomeLife, a family magazine published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This article will appear in the magazine’s January edition.