“Ain’t Skeered!” is a Southern takeoff on the once popular “No Fear” emblems paraded on sweatshirts and automobiles. Yet, when it comes to certain words, I am afraid. We live in an age when using the wrong word could mean the end of one’s good reputation, career, or, at least, God-pleasing relations with others. It’s sort of like the ol’ joke: “What’s the last words out of a redneck’s mouth?” – “Hey y’all, watch-isss!” Our words often precede our demise. For instance, using a certain “A” word might be lethal. So, instead, I’ll stick with some safe “A” words while talking about the “N” word: Noitroba.
When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin in Nazareth, she was sore afraid. She was scared. Yet, even though he had some truly frightening news for her, she found comfort in these words “Do not be afraid.” Then he told her she was with child. Do not be afraid. Then he told her that the father of her child was none other than God. Do not be afraid. The son she was to bear would be king forever. Do not be afraid. And when she was bewildered as to how all of this — including the news that her aged and barren cousin Elizabeth was with child — could happen, the Archangel said these words “For with God nothing will be impossible.” [Luke 1:37] But, the world continually speaks backwards to us “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” Wanting a quick fix for everything the worldly mantra rings out “No pain! No struggle! No accountability!”
Fidelity to God is the first requirement of the people of God. If we are God’s people, we are marked first and foremost by our allegiance to Him. It’s not simple. If it were, God would not have had to command such allegiance: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” [Exodus 20:3]. Of the Ten Commandments, this is the first. Then, a few rules down, there is another commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” We lose a bit in the translation from Hebrew to English. These words actually mean “Thou shalt do no murder on the innocent.” Humanly speaking, there is nothing — nothing — more innocent than the babe in the womb. All life belongs to God and those whose individual actions lead to the destruction of innocent life place themselves before God. This transgresses the first commandment, not to mention the sixth! It’s another version of the Serpent’s words to Adam and Eve “Eat this fruit and ye shall be like gods.” Heeding this backwards advice has continually led mankind into every sort of abomination.
Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has been held captive to the ways of the world and the lie of the Serpent. Yet God, in His mercy, sent the Law and the Prophets as an aid. In the fullness of time, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, (born of a woman), as the Savior. If you are a Christian, you’re probably saying “Well, yeah. I know this and this I believe.” Good. Then, I must ask you: Why do some Christians follow the backward ways of the world and utter such words as, “I’m Pro-Choice”? There is no choice in Pro-Choice. There is only the murdering of innocent life which, for the people of God, should never be seen as a good choice. It is backwards thinking. It is an abomination. Christians must first look to the Lord and His ways in order to act according to His commandments. We must also take care in what we say.
We don’t come by these things naturally. For example, loving and honoring one’s parents is difficult. It does not come naturally. God commands us to do it: “Honor your father and your mother” [Exodus 20:12a]. But, even though many people grow up with strained parental relationships, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m Pro-Choice” when it comes to whether one should struggle to love their Mom or not. Even though we may fall and utter words which we shouldn’t, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m Pro-Choice” when it comes to taking the Lord’s name in vain. And although adultery is as old as the hills, how many Christians ever say “I’m Pro-Choice” when it comes to sleeping around? “I’m Pro-Choice” when it comes to pornography?
Words mean things. We should choose them carefully. As stated earlier, we live in an age when using the wrong word could mean the end of our God-pleasing relations with others. In our Christian witness, we should struggle to never lead someone astray. The backwards thinking that noitroba is merely a political issue is wrong. It is a moral issue that, unfortunately, has been politicized. The backwards thinking that noitroba is a woman’s right is wrong. It is a painful, life-scarring sin. Just ask most any woman, or man, who has borne the wrongs of this “right”. The backwards thinking that being “Pro-Choice” is anything other than being Pro-Sin, murder of innocent life, is a fallacy. The backwards thinking that noitroba is ever a God-pleasing alternative to life is just plain demonic.
We must struggle to love one another and, when necessary, to reprove others in Christian love. We can begin by using the words allegiance and accountability the next time the abominable topic of the “A” word comes up. Aside from being backwards thinking, noitroba ain’t even good spelling. We should be able to spell it like it is. But I was afraid that if I did, some of you might not read this article.
Christians should not be afraid to speak the truth in love. Actually, where God is concerned, truth and love are synonymous. Many people in our communities, male and female, have been scarred by bad decisions and backwards thinking. Being judged and condemned by their fellow Christians resembles the ol’ joke about the fiery preacher’s message: “I’ve got the good news! And the good news is … you’re going to hell!” Rather, our message must be tainted with another “A” word, agape. Our Pro-Life witness should include all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We’re all scarred by sin. When one suffers, we all suffer. We’re all scarred by the sin of noitroba. But backwards thinking – past, present, and future – is a dead end. Who knows? With love and God’s grace, our witness may be able to move someone away from backwards thinking toward Life. Don’t be afraid to proclaim the Good News that was once announced to a virgin in Nazareth.
Do not be afraid.
For with God nothing will be impossible.
This piece is excerpted from one that ran in a Mission newsletter back in the mid-90s. Top pic: one of the Marches for Life that we attended (me in the lower right corner); bottom pic: me and my oldest when we were both younger.