June 2001 -- A quarterly news letter for United Methodists


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Guest Column:


There was a time in my life when I believed there were two kinds of people in the world—good and bad. Until I had an abortion, I believed I was good. Sure, I had my flaws. But overall, I thought I was a good person.

The abortion screamed otherwise of me. I was suddenly aware that I was a bad, really bad, person. I was the kind of person who could end a pregnancy by abortion. Furthermore, I realized I was a coward and a failure. The most painful part of this realization was that those around me did not know. I kept the abortion a secret, so the facade of the "good me" lived on. I began to feel a deep detachment from those around me. The fear that they would find out was overwhelming. I had convinced myself that if they knew who I really was, they would not love me anymore. After all, I had already stopped loving myself.

Some days were fine. Some weeks were fine. But always the pain would return. Years passed as I often cried myself to sleep or became angry over the slightest thing. The pain was always sneaking up on me. It was always an inch away from ruining my life.

The Journey Begins

In the meantime, God began to speak to my heart. Actually, I know now that He had been speaking to me all of my life. But only then did I really start to listen. I visited a church near my home. There I was told the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the pastor, Reverend David Wentz. I hung on every word from his mouth and gratefully received the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can provide. I felt alive again and renewed! God so loved me, even though I had aborted my child. What an awesome God! I began to read the Bible with fervor. I was so thrilled with my new life in Christ that, for the first time, the pain of the abortion was silenced. However, as the next two years passed, the pain beneath the surface tried to break free. My new strategy was to bury it with busyness and service for Christ. The louder the voice of pain, the more I devoted myself to church service.

Then in 1998, the Lord spoke to me as clearly as He ever has. I began to weep during a church service. These were the same tears of regret and heartache I had shed a thousand times before. When a friend asked me if there was anything he could do, I responded that I would be fine. It was old pain. I told him that it comes and goes, that it would eventually pass. He was not convinced, so he prayed with me. After the prayer, he pointed over to his sister, who was dancing in the Spirit. She was in complete joy. As I turned to look at her, the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, "This is how your daughter is. She is not hurting. She is whole, and she is dancing in heaven."

Before that moment, I had not known whether my child was a boy or a girl. I cried tears of pain and joy. The Lord told me that, although I had received His forgiveness long ago, I had never been willing to receive His healing. I knew it was true. And I knew that I did not want the Lord to open up the wounds deep inside me. I had worked so hard to keep them locked away. I did not want to be healed, because I felt I did not deserve to be. I left the service bewildered.

The next morning I remained stunned by the events of the previous night, so I poured out my heart in a journal. I wrote to my daughter, asked her to forgive me, and told her that I love her. I finally gave her a name. I cried most of that day, but I knew that the Lord was working in my heart. For once, I did not stifle the pain. Instead, I surrendered to the steady stream of grief flowing from within me. That day was the beginning of a very difficult, but incredible, year of healing for my family and me. I learned that I did not have to cling to the pain in order to have a connection with my daughter in heaven. I could let go of the pain and trust Jesus for an eternal communion with her. How great is the love of Jesus that He cares even for me!

Since that time, I have been given the honor of sharing my testimony with others. Breaking my silence has become a great source of strength. I am currently involved in post-abortion ministry with Reverend Laurie Tingley and Mrs. Kim Campbell. Rev. Tingley is the assistant pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Arnold, MD, while Mrs. Campbell and I are members of Magothy United Methodist Church in Pasadena, MD. Together we have had the privilege of leading a post-abortion healing support and study group. Also, we have been guests on the "Setting the Captives Free" prison ministry radio program, which is hosted by Roxanne Anderson. The Lord continues to open doors for the truth to be heard, and the truth is setting people free!

Questions That Challenge

If the churches remain silent about abortion, hurting men and women in our midst will not find the peace they so desperately need. By breaking the silence, we are helping others break free from their pain. We can no longer assume abortion happens only to those outside the churches. We must begin to offer forgiving hands to those who have already experienced abortion.

“If the churches remain silent about abortion, hurting men and women in our midst will not find the peace they so desperately need.”

Where is your voice? In the last two years, how many times has a message concerning abortion been given at your church? Did the message offer forgiveness? Did it offer post-abortion healing? In your congregation is someone considering, or has someone experienced, an abortion? Would she know where to turn for help? Could she come to you? How could she know that? Do your church’s teenagers, if they have been involved in an unplanned pregnancy, know what they could expect from their church family? How do they know?

I still believe there are two kinds of people in the world. But I have learned that the two kinds of people are not good and bad. Instead, we are either lost or found, saved or unsaved. I once was lost, but now I am found! Please seek the Lord concerning abortion, and what He would have you do to break the silence. We must know the truth about abortion, and then tell others this truth in love. Silence spares no one. May God grant you mercy, wisdom, and courage as you approach His throne in prayer.

If you or someone you know has had an abortion, healing is available through our Lord Jesus Christ. The following resources are available to help you on your journey:

—Kathryn Leight, who can be reached at forgivenandhealed@home.com or at (410)437-4693, is available to speak to your congregation.♥


Within a congregation, the pastor’s teaching and preaching on life and abortion is always a challenge. A tough challenge. However, it is a challenge that, by the grace of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit, must and can be met. What follows is a brief essay on why the pastor must teach and preach on abortion, and how the pastor might best accomplish the same task.

Why Address Life and Abortion

Pastoral silence allows the general culture … to shape the morals of the congregation on the matter of life and death.

But why, you might ask, is faithful teaching and preaching on life and abortion so important, so pressing, so essential, today? Four reasons immediately come to mind, though others could be listed.

First, truthful teaching and preaching on this matter are mandated by the Gospel itself. The Gospel is the Gospel of Life, and the Gospel of Life is for the lives of "the least of these" (Matthew 25), including the unborn child and mother. From the beginnings of primitive Christianity to the present, post-modern days of Christianity, the Church catholic has consistently taught and preached the Gospel of Life, practiced solidarity with the unborn child and mother, and opposed abortion because it involves the total destruction of one innocent life and the severe harming of another. Therefore, United Methodists, as part of the Church catholic, have the same privilege and duty. To serve the Gospel is to offer the Gospel of Life. Likewise, to refuse to offer the Gospel of Life is to refuse to serve the Gospel in its fullness. Faithfulness to the Gospel is the first and most important reason for the pastor teaching and preaching on life and abortion. Second, instruction on life and abortion is important because abortion is such a prevalent temptation throughout American society today. In our society, for example, there will be around 1,300,000 abortions performed this year. Put more crassly, nearly 400 abortions will be marketed each day as the choice that will best respond to difficult circumstances. In other words, ours is an abortion culture. In this kind of environment, the Church’s word on life and abortion can and must be clearly spoken.

Third, if the pastor of the local church is silent on life and abortion, then the pastor suggests this to the congregation: on life and abortion, each of you can and should make up your own mind, follow your own conscience, make your own decision. Maintaining silence on life and abortion, the pastor, without saying so, is actually advancing a pro-choice position within a congregation. That is, pastoral silence allows the general culture—the prestige media, the entertainment industry, and the educational establishment (all of which are generally pro-abortion)—to shape the morals of the congregation on the matter of life and death.

And fourth, if a pastor refuses to address life and abortion, a kind of moral vacuum is created in a congregation. Into that vacuum more strident voices can and will rush to try to establish their positions. Confronting pastoral silence, well-meaning, pro-life laity can become overly zealous in trying to advance an anti-abortion agenda. Their zealotry will ignite the fires of the pro-choice and pro-abortion elements in the congregation. This can result in unfortunate, destructive conflict in the congregation.

For these reasons—the Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of Life, the nearly omnipresent temptation of abortion, the fact that pastoral silence serves the pro-choice agenda, and the fact that pastoral timidity can radicalize the laity on abortion—the pastor of the congregation must teach and preach on abortion.

How to Address Life and Abortion

Though knowing in our heads and hearts the reasons for the necessity of teaching and preaching on life and abortion, we pastors still hesitate to follow through. Oh yes, we have our reasons—flimsy though they might be. We want to be liked by as many of our church members as possible. We do not want to offend anyone. We fear that such teaching and preaching will stir up conflict, and we despise avoidable congregational conflict. Personally speaking, we do not want to be identified as culturally close-minded, morally rigid, theologically conservative, politically right wing—the conventional, but nonetheless intimidating, charges made against the pro-life pastor by the politically correct. For these reasons and others, we become just plain timid, maybe downright afraid, to tackle this somewhat explosive subject. Therefore, we tend to stay away from the matters of life and abortion.

However, we should be not timid. We should be not afraid. Instead, we should seek knowledge, wisdom, and patience. To be sure, the pastor in a new appointment should not preach on life and abortion during his or her first sermon. But after serving a congregation long enough to have built up a sufficient level of trust and a sense of trustworthiness, the pastor is ready to begin faithfully preaching and teaching on life and abortion.

The pastor’s first and most important step is simply to inform the congregation what historic Christianity, through the ages, has taught and preached about life and abortion. This can be accomplished through an extended comment during a sermon, a part of a Bible study or a church school class, or an editorial in the parish newsletter. This can and should be done matter of factly, with love, and without polemics, condemnation, and mean-spiritedness. It need not be done defensively. By taking this first step, the pastor clearly indicates to the congregation that he or she stands with historic Christian teaching—even if The United Methodist Church is not yet fully on board. (After all, while Paragraph 161J of the 2000 Book of Discipline clearly opposes partial-birth abortion, it remains ambiguous enough on abortion in general to allow United Methodist institutions to affiliate with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a pro-abortion, political lobby.) That is, the pastor declares that this teaching is not a matter of personal opinion or preference; rather, this teaching is offered as a matter of Church instruction, as a matter of the Church’s Gospel, as a matter for ordained-ministerial transmission that is not open to revision.

This kind of honest, loving, pastoral forthrightness—which is, to be honest, often preceded by more than a little pastoral apprehension

—is usually appreciated by the laity. After all, the laity respect pastoral courage and leadership, especially when pastoral courage and leadership serve the Gospel and connect with the congregation. When such courageous, pastoral leadership is practiced, many members of the congregation will respond with support for the pastor. Some will begin to have their hearts and minds, on life and abortion, changed. Furthermore, when standing for the Gospel of Life, and with the Church catholic on life and abortion, the pastor will find the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the pastor’s ministry and in the midst of the congregation. The Holy Spirit will even bring the mystery of the Communion of the Saints to bear on the pastor and the congregation. And God’s Spirit will bless the pastor with increasing freedom to speak the truth, in love, on this matter and others.

An Emerging Ethos

Over time, the Gospel of Life, with the power of the Spirit, will lead a congregation to consider ways to minister to those who are threatened, and to those who have been tricked, by abortion.

Once the pastor declares, even briefly, historic Christianity’s teaching, a theological-moral ethos on life and abortion will begin to emerge, develop, and mature in the congregation. Among themselves and among members of the community at large, the members of the local church can be counted on to discuss the pastor’s instruction. Through their many conversations, the laity will reinforce the teaching of the pastor and, at the same time, will help establish the emerging pro-life ethos of the congregation.

Certainly, disagreements with the pastor’s teaching on life and abortion are likely to occur. However, it should be remembered that such disagreements are the dissent of individual members over against the mind of the Church catholic, over against the office of the ordained clergy, and over against the moral consensus of the congregation that is in formation. Moreover, constructive disagreements should be allowed, even encouraged, by the pastor. The pastor might well note that such disagreements are best aired and engaged in personal conversation. In these conversations, the pastor’s task is not so much to win arguments as to continue to propose the truth of Christian teaching—and that includes the responsibility to listen to those who disagree and to respond thoughtfully. All involved should recall that these conversations take place within the strong bonds of baptismal fellowship, eucharistic unity, and Christian love. Again, the pastor’s privilege and duty involve truthful witness, not the scoring of debate points.

Additional Steps

After the pastor has taken this first and most important step of clearly stating historic Christian teaching on life and abortion, other steps can and should follow. Future sermons, Bible studies, church school lessons, and newsletter articles should contain occasional references to the Gospel of Life, to the forgiveness of God for those involved in abortion, to the protection of the unborn child and mother, to the Christian consensus for life and against abortion. The congregation can also be informed about how abortion has become a means of birth control in American society. These references will serve to reinforce the congregation’s knowledge.

Once the Gospel of Life is nearly taken for granted in a congregation, that congregation will more intentionally and exuberantly celebrate God’s gift of children. Further-more, the pastor will not be embarrassed to teach Christianly and clearly on matters related to human sexuality. Even in counseling those planning to marry, the pastor will lift up the gift of children and discourage the use of "contraceptives" that destroy the human embryo created by God.

Over time, the Gospel of Life, with the power of the Spirit, will lead a congregation to consider ways to minister to those who are threatened, and to those who have been tricked, by abortion. Such works of mercy will, by the grace of God, be the fruit of truthful preaching and teaching of the Gospel of Life. But it all begins with the pastor simply asserting the basic truth that the faithful Church, through the ages and now, stands with the God who stands with the unborn child and mother, and against abortion.

For the pastor of our day, the "principalities and powers" of this age seem to have constructed a veil of fear around the problem of abortion. Even so, the faithful pastor, ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and in continuity with historic Christianity, has nothing to fear.

So from you, the pastor, let the word on historic Christian teaching on life and abortion go forth. The Gospel will be more faithfully served. Your congregation will be transformed. Hearts and minds will be changed. Lives will be saved. Wounded lives will be healed. And all of this will not be by accident, but by the powerful grace of God. (PTS)♥


President Bush speaks with (left to right) Cardinals Maida and Law at the dedication of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center on March 22.
                   Official White House Photo by Eric Draper

The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, which is located in Washington, DC, celebrated its grand opening on March 22. The $60 million, 100,000 square foot building is located on a 12 acre campus near Catholic University. Originally, the center was planned to be a papal equivalent of a presidential library. Presently, in the words of Detroit Cardinal Adam J. Maida, the center will strive to "inspire, and motivate, form, and shape a whole new generation of Christian leaders who will bring their faith values to the marketplace and to all the professions." In other words, the center will work to bring the culture of the Gospel to American public life.

President George W. Bush offered some important remarks during the dedication of the center. President Bush observed that John Paul II "has spoken with wisdom and feeling about our strengths and our flaws, our successes and our needs. The pope reminds us that while freedom defines our nation, responsibility must define our lives. He challenges us to live up to our aspirations, to be a fair and just society where all are welcomed, all are valued, and all are protected. And he is never more eloquent than when he speaks for a culture of life."

The last sentence drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,000 people assembled for the dedication. Though it should be noted that AP reported that US Senator Edward Kennedy, a staunchly pro-choice politician, and family, situated in the second row, "remained seated and did not clap." (Life Advocacy Briefing, #8-12, March 26, 2001)

Bush continued: "The culture of life is a welcoming culture, never excluding, never dividing, never despairing, and always affirming the goodness of life in all its seasons. In the culture of life, we must make room for the stranger. We must comfort the sick. We must care for the aged. We must welcome the immigrant. We must teach our children to be gentle with one another. We must defend in love the innocent child waiting to be born."

Bush then turned to the ministry of John Paul II, for which the president expressed gratitude. "We are also thankful for the messenger, for his personal warmth and prophetic strength; for his good humor and his bracing honesty; for his spiritual and intellectual gifts; for his moral courage, tested against tyranny and against our own complacency. Always, the pope points us to the things that last and the love that saves. We thank God for this rare man, a servant of God and a hero of history. And I thank all of you for building this center of conscience and reflection in our nation’s capital."

"To those with power, the pope carries a message of justice and human rights. And that message has caused dictators to fear and to fall. His is not the power of armies or technology or wealth. It is the unexpected power of a baby in a stable, of a man on a cross, of a simple fisherman who carried a message of hope to Rome." (Catholic New York, 3/29/01; and The Oklahoman, 3/28/01 and 3/31/01)

Unfortunately and not surprisingly, the main media outlets in the United States more or less neglected this story. Even so, the words of President Bush bear repeating again and again. Indeed, they served as a devotional for at least one Church Council meeting in a United Methodist church back in April. We can and should thank God that President George W. Bush, a United Methodist layman, is displaying ecumenical wisdom, and is articulating a vision for civil society that lifts high the culture of life and that praises that culture’s leading proponent in the world today. (PTS)♥


If you do not routinely save all the back issues of Lifewatch, you might want to clip and save this particular article for future reference.

“Bishops are in a position to reflect theologically upon the issues and challenges….”

In the months to come, there will be some very important matters related to abortion that will be voted on by the 107th United States Congress. When such matters surface, we should be prepared to write the United Methodist members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate to encourage them to vote in ways that protect the unborn child and mother from abortion. For example, if and when legislation on partial-birth abortion arises, we will want to remind our US Representatives and US Senators that The United Methodist Church now teaches: "We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life." (Paragraph 161J, The Book of Discipline [2000])

For your information, letters to US Representatives should be addressed in this way: The Honorable [name]/House of Representatives/Washington, DC 20515/Dear Mr. or Ms. [name]. Letters to US Senators should be addressed in this way: The Honorable [name]/United States Senate/Washington, DC 20510/Dear Senator [name].

United Methodists in the US House of Representatives are: Robert Cramer (D-AL), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Marion Berry (D-AR), Mike Ross (D-AR), Robert Matsui (D-CA), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Ric Keller (R-FL), Bill Young (R-FL), Mac Collins (R-GA), Bob Barr (R-GA), Charlie Norwood (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Steve Buyer (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Edward Whitfield (R-KY), Jim McCrery (R-LA), John Cooksey (R-LA), Richard Baker (R-LA), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Robert Ehrlich (R-MD), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Lee Terry (R-NE), Tom Osborne (R-NE), James Saxton (R-NJ), Heather Wilson (R-NM), Richard Burr (R-NC), Paul Gilmor (R-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ted Strickland (D-OH), David Hobson (R-OH), Steven LaTourette (R-OH), John Peterson (R-PA), Donald L. Sherwood (R-PA), Bob Clement (D-TN), Bart Gordon (D-TN), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Ralph Hall (D-TX), Joe Barton (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chet Edwards (D-TX), Kay Granger (R-TX), Larry Combest (R-TX), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Gene Green (D-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Rick Boucher (D-VA), and Rick Larsen (D-WA).

United Methodists in the United States Senate are: Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Zell Miller (D-GA), Max Cleland (D-GA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Larry Craig (R-ID), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), John Edwards (D-NC), and Craig Thomas (R-WY).

Finally, correspondence to two other United Methodists, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, can be addressed to: The President/The White House/ Washington, DC 20500/Dear Mr. President and The Vice President/The White House/Washington, DC 20500/Dear Mr. Vice President. (Register Citizen Opinion 2001: A Congressional Directory & Action Guide from the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church; and The United Methodist Reporter, Jan. 5, 2001) (PTS)♥


● The Reverend Timothy W. Whitaker was elected to episcopal office by a special session of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference back in February. Though Rev. Whitaker had withdrawn from the elective process on the first ballot, the conference brought him back into the running on the thirteenth ballot and elected him on the seventeenth. Centuries ago, around 374, Ambrose was drafted to become the bishop of Milan. In a similar way, in 2001, Rev. Whitaker was drafted to become a bishop of The United Methodist Church. Therefore, it could be said this was an "Ambrosian" moment for our denomination. Bishop Whitaker has the extraordinary gifts to become a particularly strong bishop in The United Methodist Church, in the Florida Area (to which he has been assigned), and in the Council of Bishops. For example, upon election, he displayed remarkable theological wisdom by asserting: "Bishops are in a position to reflect theologically upon the issues and challenges that the church faces in the world today. They can offer reflection on current experience in light of the catholic, apostolic Christian faith. That would make the church more likely to develop under the leadership of the Holy Spirit." (Newscope, March 9, 2001) Furthermore, he has demonstrated the ability to make persuasive theological, doctrinal, and moral arguments in our church’s conferences and committees. Thanks be to God for the episcopal election and ministry of Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker.

● As of April 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation to legalize "mercy killing" and assisted suicide. Under the new Dutch law, the terminally ill, who are enduring "lasting and unbearable suffering," may now request death from their doctors and legally receive it. Responding to the new Dutch law, church leaders and newspapers in Germany expressed horror. For example, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the chairman of Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops, stated that the Netherlands was legally adopting a "culture of death." Furthermore, he declared that it was "inconceivable" that Dutch doctors would "deliver sick patients to their deaths rather than help them through a difficult situation." In addition, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warned that the Dutch had "breached a dike" that would bring on dangerous medical, moral, and cultural results. Die Welt, a German daily, recalled that under Hitler: "The government thugs that went into institutions for the handicapped to select who was unworthy for life were very careful not to broadcast their intentions. At some level, the old scruples linked to the commandment against killing were present... The scandal in The Hague is that a Parliament has imposed a state norm in place of the freedom to uphold such scruples." As reporter Roger Cohen of The New York Times recounted: "Between 1939 and 1941, using gassing in many cases, the Nazis proceeded with the clandestine elimination of about 100,000 men, women, and children who were physically or mentally handicapped. The aim was to improve what they called the Aryan race by eradicating those whom doctors decided had congenital defects." Because of the Nazi nightmare, Germans, above all others, have the duty to protest a law which permits and even encourages doctors to kill. By the grace of God, may their protest be multiplied and amplified. (NYT, 4/12/01)

● Back on May 7th of last year, the Faith and Order Committee of the 2000 General Conference passed legislation that opposed partial-birth abortion. (For the exact wording, see the article "Get Ready to Write" above.) This legislative action moved The Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, the president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), to respond with ferocity. He blamed Faith and Order’s action on "the conservative movement in the church to undermine the church’s historic support for a woman’s moral and medical right to choose abortion." This might be called "the vast, right-wing conspiracy" charge, which had been used in other venues in American politics. Before the final General Conference vote on this piece of legislation, Rev. Veazey continued: "[W]e are convinced the vote in the Faith and Order Committee does not reflect the view of the General Conference and that the General Conference will reject the amendment regarding abortion, in the tradition of social justice and compassion for which Methodists are so rightly known." As a matter of historical fact, General Conference did overwhelmingly adopt Faith and Order’s amendment on partial-birth abortion. And it did so in "the tradition of social justice and compassion for which Methodists are so rightly known." Yes, United Methodist social justice and compassion protect the mother and the child nearly delivered from the horrible procedure known as partial-birth abortion. (RCRC Statement Regarding May 9 Abortion Vote)

 ● Princeton University’s DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Dr. Peter Singer, is doing what he can to lower the dignity of man. You will remember that, in his writing, Dr. Singer routinely opposes the placing of human dignity above the dignity of animals. According to Singer, the placing of humans above animals is an intolerable "speciesism." Not surprisingly, this perspective has led him to treat the unborn child as having very little dignity of any kind. Now, in reviewing Midas Dockers’ Dearest Pet: On Bestiality, Dr. Singer is arguing that, regarding sex with farm animals, the determining issues are the consent of the animals and the human refusal to kill the animals as part of the pleasure. What is the lesson here? Perhaps that very bad philosophical premises lead to very bad ethics. (Wall Street Journal, 3/30/01)

 ● Dr. Bernard Nathanson knows the abortion beat in America. He has personally participated in over 60,000 abortion procedures, served as a strategist for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and directed the largest abortion clinic in the world. Now, by the grace of God, he is an articulate spokesman for the Gospel of Life. Speaking about abortion and society, Dr. Nathanson recently observed: "I have been in the abortion wars for 30 years. And I must tell you that abortion itself is not the source of all the other ills we have in this society, such as euthanasia or embryo research or genetic manipulation or artificial intelligence or any of these things—pornography, crime, violence, drugs. It is not that.

"Abortion comes from the same source all these other things spring from. It is what I call the perversion of autonomy. ‘Autonomy’ means free will or free choice. And I am also, in addition to being a physician, a bioethicist, a moral philosopher. I have a degree from Vanderbilt University.... And I must tell you that autonomy, the concept of free choice, the concept of self-governance, has been elevated in recent years to a deified status. It trumps everything. And if you want to crush your opposition, you say, ‘Well, I have a free choice about this. I don’t have to listen to you or anyone else. I’m free, and I can make my choice.’

This is where abortion has come from, and that is where many, many of these social ills we have come from. It is the concept of choice, free choice, cut away from all the normal bonds and ligatures which tie it to our society." (Signs and Wonders, Spring 2000)

The autonomous individualism that concerns Dr. Nathanson probably has something to do with the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, and original sin. What is new today is that the autonomy demonstrated by Adam and Eve, in taking and eating the forbidden fruit, has been raised to a societal ideal and norm.♥

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Our Mission:

Out of obedience to Jesus Christ, the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS) "will work to create in church and society esteem for human life at its most vulnerable/e, specifically for the unborn child and for the woman who contemplates abortion." Therefore, TUMAS's first goal is "to win the hearts and minds of United Methodists, to engage in abortion-prevention through theological, pastoral, and social emphases that support human life."


Lifewatch is published by the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality, a network of United Methodist clergy, laity, and congregations.

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