by Katie Schuermann
“[W]ith an unusual passion they slaughter their own children like butchers.” Luther’s Works, Volume 17.272
“To date,” Pastor Schmidt preached from the pulpit, “an estimated 58 million children have been aborted in this country.”
Claire, sitting in the seventh pew on the lectern side of the nave, rolled her eyes. There went Pastor again, off on one of his self-righteous rants. Abortion, abortion, abortion. What did the man know about it, anyway? He’d never had to face a life of working a full-time job while raising a daughter as a single mom, that’s for sure. No one was standing in a pulpit and telling him what to do with his own body. Claire instinctively put a protective arm around her daughter Lisa’s shoulders.
Lisa, home from college for winter break, pressed her lips together and clenched her teeth. She felt herself choking on her own breath. What exactly had Pastor meant by “children”? Her mother had assured her last month that it was just a fetus, a mere blob of tissue. “We’ll get it taken care of,” her mother had soothed her on the drive to the clinic. “You’re too young to take on this responsibility. Listen to me, honey, I know. You and I have worked too hard to give up on your college dreams, now.”
“This is not a new sin,” Pastor continued. “The Israelites slew their own children as well, sacrificing them to the false god, Molech. Today, we sacrifice our children in the womb to the gods of career, wealth, fame, vanity, and convenience. We treat children as a commodity to be planned for and controlled rather than as a gift from God to be received and celebrated.”
Olivia let go of Doug’s hand and dug around in her purse for a tissue. She was glad they had decided to sit in the back this morning. She could never keep it together on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and this year was the worst. Just last Tuesday, the child of their heart—the precious baby boy they had prayed for and prepared their home for and helped pay for his prenatal care and even held in their arms at the hospital—was taken away from them by a social worker. The biological father had decided not to give up his parental rights in the end. Olivia’s larynx constricted with pain at the memory. “At least he’s alive,” she whispered, half to herself and half to the Omniscient One who giveth and taketh away. Yes, at least his birth mother hadn’t aborted him. That was good.
“The Israelites slaughtered their children in the clefts of the rocks,” Pastor expounded. “Martin Luther explains that they ‘picked out the choicest places for the best and choicest works.’ Today, hidden clefts have been exchanged for hospitals and clinics. The very places which were built to promote health and shelter the sick are now the choicest places for the choicest work of abortion.”
Trudy sat in her usual spot in the second pew, pulpit-side. Her eyes were glued to the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, extending his arms to her in the stained glass window hanging above the altar. She did her best to look attentive, but she wasn’t actually listening to the sermon her husband was preaching. Instead, she was doing the thing he had told her to do whenever she heard him preach on the sin of abortion: she recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed over and over again in her head to tune out the taunting gibes of the devil and his minions.
“In his Exposition of Psalm 127,” Pastor pressed on, “Luther warns us about the solemn effects of scorning and disposing of our children. ‘[I]f there were no children,’ he writes, ‘neither household nor city would endure. So the very reward and “heritage from the Lord,” about which you are so terribly anxious, are actually the gift and boon of God.’ When we despise and destroy this ‘gift and boon of God,’ we are succeeding in bringing about our own demise. Every abortion eliminates someone from our family, our congregation, and our community.” Pastor Schmidt rapped his knuckles lightly against the podium for emphasis.
Trudy started. That was her cue, the one her husband had told her to listen for to begin paying attention, again.
“And yet,” Pastor smiled tenderly at his congregation, his gaze lingering on the face of his wife, “abortion may be a sin, but it is a sin for which Christ died. Mothers, do you have regrets? Do you suffer in private over choices made in the past? Remember, your help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Christ, the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. ‘Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’” Pastor Martin looked his wife in the eye. “God has forgiven you, and He remembers your abortion no more.”
Four women stirred in the pews. Claire lifted her chin in defiance. Lisa bowed her head in repentance. Olivia wept for all of the unwanted children. And Trudy—overcome with sweet relief in hearing once again of the forgiveness of her sins—made the sign of the cross and boldly confessed, “Amen!”
Mrs. Katie Schuermann is a member at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sherman, IL.
 Luther’s Works, Volume 17.272
 Luther’s Works, Volume 45.333-45.334
 Psalm 124:8
 Acts 3:19-20a, ESV