Perspective: Rose Day revisited
Because the Messenger gave coverage to Rose Day in last week’s issue, I did not write on the subject. However, I would be remiss if I did not speak of the wonderful progress we have made in the pro-life movement in Oklahoma. If someone would have told me 25 years ago that Oklahoma would be the second safest place in America for an unborn child, I would have had serious doubt about their sanity.
In those days, the legislature was very pro-abortion and powerful leaders stopped any piece of legislation that called for restrictions on abortion. Three very strategic things happened in our state that have brought about dramatic changes in the pro-life landscape. Let me address them because I think they will encourage us to apply steady pressure on other issues of our day.
First, the pro-abortion leaders did not plan on term limits. As these term limits became effective, liberals were replaced with pro-life conservatives in both parties. On Rose Day this year, the front of the chamber of the Oklahoma House of Representatives was overflowing with pro-life legislators waiting to be introduced to the crowd. In years past, it took little time to introduce them. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor both spoke powerfully regarding the protection of the unborn, and the Attorney General is a strong defender of the unborn. Oh, what a difference 30 years makes!
Second, the constant voice of the public through pro-life rallies, Rose Day, and printed materials has succeeded. The public, which initially rejected the pro-life movement thinking that it restricted the woman’s right to make decisions about her body and that the unborn child was only a mass of tissue, was awakened to the truth.
With the advent of the use of the sonogram, women were faced with the reality that the “blob of tissue” in their body was actually an unborn child separate and distinct from them. When sonogram pictures were shared with the public, it was clear that the little “blob” had a head, arms, and legs. Pro-abortionists could no longer use their lies.
Pro-lifers never gave up. They kept coming on Rose Day, making phone calls and sending letters to legislators, and we kept preaching the truth about the sanctity of life in our churches. People such as Tony Lauinger, Oklahomans for Life, and Heidi Wilburn, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, stayed in constant contact with legislators during the sessions and pressed the pro-life message at every turn.
Third, pro-lifers stopped condemning and started serving and loving women and men in crisis pregnancy situations. Instead of yelling at women entering an abortion clinic, pro-lifers started crisis pregnancy centers where women are loved, supported, and served. If these women chose life for their unborn children, they were offered classes on being mothers and given baby clothes, diapers, blankets, and many other necessities when the children were born. If they needed someone to go to the hospital with them, our volunteers went with them. And if they chose to abort, the volunteers at the clinic did not condemn, but told them they were loved and that there was a safe haven of hope when they needed it.
The lessons learned in the pro-life journey over the last 30 years should instruct us on a number of moral issues we face today. Constant pressure without being obnoxious and an unrelenting presentation of truth in the public arena will make a difference. For example, it seems that we are losing the debate over homosexuality and indeed we are. The public and the young often reject a strong stance for the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman or the biblical stance that homosexuality is a sin. This should not leave us hopeless.
We must love homosexuals in word and deed while not flinching in our biblical stand. We cannot be silent in regard to the truth of the Scripture on the subject, but our words must not be harsh, uncaring, or condemning. In the end, we are all sinners in need of the mercy and grace of God. If we hold to integrity, extend kindness, and serve those who reject the truth of Scripture, we will have a much better opportunity to turn the tide of public debate and belief. Never give up!