So Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to change our Constitution by repealing the 8th Amendment. This leaves the way open for unrestricted abortion. It is a sad and tragic day for our nation. I know that compassion motivated many on both sides, but I fear that compassion for those outside the womb has overshadowed compassion for those inside the womb, and that something which up until now has been a last resort will increasingly become a first resort.
People celebrated Saturday as a day of change, but the magnitude of the vote only revealed that seismic change has already happened in Ireland. Yet, despite those seismic changes, there are some things which remain unchanged.
God is still sovereign. To those who are in despair at the result, remember God is still on his throne. He is not in crisis management mode because of a referendum on a small island. Yes, our nation has once again voted to reject his ways. That is serious, but it is even more serious when God allows a nation to go its own way. It is a moment of judgment, a terrible freedom. We have thrown off what we thought were shackles, and one day we will discover it was a safety harness. But God is still sovereign.
Abortion is still wrong. Democracy does not decide morality. Elective abortion is and continues to be wrong. Only now by cloaking it in a veneer of legality we have given it an air of legitimacy. But we cannot put a veneer over our consciences. A guilty conscience cannot be legislated away. And I am deeply burdened at the prospect of the many who will now suffer as a result.
God’s people still offer help. Over the last few weeks others and I in a variety of churches have sought to be a voice for the voiceless. But we want also to be a voice for the hurting. Those hurting and afraid, and think that an abortion is the only way out. Those hurt by others and are trying to reclaim control of a life that was ripped from their control. Those hurting and broken-hearted at a diagnosis of an imperfect life. If you find yourself struggling or hurting we want to be a voice to you. To provide better choices, support and help.
Christ still offers forgiveness. There is another set of hurting people we want to be a voice to. Those who have had an abortion and are finding out now that it has left a legacy of pain. Do not mistake our passion for life, for hostility to you. We understand that regret, hurt and guilt are often part and parcel of abortion. As a pastor I hold out to you Christ’s offer of hope, healing and forgiveness if you will come to him in repentance and trust. Whilst I proclaim that abortion is wrong, I proclaim with even greater passion that forgiveness is real. There is cleansing from the hurt of the past, and a washing away of the guilt of our actions. I know, because I have been forgiven.
Some things have changed in Ireland, but some things are constant. And it is in the constants that we find help and strength to live, as well as value and meaning and dignity for life.