Pulling the trigger

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The other night I was watching the program, “Life Below Zero: The First Alaskans,” a spin-off from the original, “Life Below Zero” reality show.

While the original show had a native Alaskan family, with the exception of the father who was a Caucasian, this program is focused on “first peoples” and their survival in the harsh environs of our largest state.

In this segment, a man and his wife were hunting for moose to stock their freezer for the winter. After miles of walking, a glimpse of a moose was seen in the trees. The husband whispered, “I think it’s a bull,” and prepared his rifle. He waited until the moose emerged from the trees, his finger already beginning to squeeze the trigger. And then he stopped.

Coming out of the trees was not a bull moose but a cow and, with her, a large calf. The cow stopped to stare at the couple and the man lowered his rifle. He shared that he could not shoot the cow because, to do so, was to shoot not one moose but fifty or sixty. To shoot a bull was to shoot one male moose.

But, according to the native hunter, to shoot a cow was to eliminate generations of moose that would come from that one cow. It wasn’t just about filling the freezer for one winter … it was about preserving the future for the man’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

From that one cow would come generations of moose that would benefit the future people who would hunt the forest.

Certainly, I had never considered that reality. Most people that I know would have only seen the animal in front of them and would give little, if any, thought to the future generations and the world in which they would live. When the native man explained why he would not shoot the cow, it seemed so profound. Of course, from the cow would come generations — if the cow were allowed to live.

It is popular among many to view “first peoples” as more enlightened than modern man. The native peoples are seen to be more concerned about the earth, the environment, the balance of weighing the present against the future.

Their understanding of the world about them is seen in contrast to, for example, the European settlers who slaughtered the buffalo to near extinction with little or no thought to what that would mean.

I have lived long enough to know that the elimination of unborn children has a more serious effect on the future than even the shooting of a moose cow. Over the years, I have had the awesome privilege of having a part in walking alongside several mothers who were experiencing an “unwanted” pregnancy who made the decision to have their baby.

Five of those women come immediately to mind. Three of the children who were born were girls with two being boys. Three were adopted by parents who wanted children and two were kept by their mothers. All five children are adults now.

One of those children became a soldier and honorably served this nation in one of the desert wars. He is now a father himself. One of the girls graduated not too long ago from a major university. Another of the girls is married with children of her own. The other boy is now a husband and a father.

I lost touch with the mother of the other girl, but I do know that, once the decision was made and the child was born, the mother had no regrets and doted on her little daughter.

These are only a few of the real-life dramas that I have seen played out over the years. I have, over the decades, baptized many children who were born “out of wedlock.” I once had a person in a particular church raise strenuous objections to baptizing such children on a Sunday morning during a public service, saying that “it sent the wrong message.”

But I disagree. The message is that “all life is sacred.” When we Christians quote that passage from the Old Testament where God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” we must understand that it includes all the children, not just those who come from a “traditional” family.

Are not those children more valuable than moose cows? Are not their generations to come at least as significant as the moose who will be born because someone chose not to pull the trigger?

I understand that a large number of people will never agree with me. I am okay with that. I also understand that we live in a society where the eggs of sea turtles and eagles have more legal protection than our own children in the womb. And I am not okay with that.

So, I will continue to do my small part. I will continue to support crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life organizations, and I will continue to stand with and support mothers who face difficult days. I will encourage adoption rather than abortion and I will continue to baptize babies whether there are fathers in the home or not.

And whether these little ones are in my own family or in my church family, I will continue to love them and their mothers and pray for them and remind them of the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 which states: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.”

What I cannot and will not do is have a part in pulling that trigger.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life). He may contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.]

29 COMMENTS

    • Yes! How dare anyone provide rebuttal, to the hapless TSWL or any of the other pro-life, narrowminded males on this site. What gall! Women should just submit to their male counterparts and regress back to the days where men kept them barefoot, pregnant, and dragged them by their hair.

      At least try to evolve and if you can’t you could “fake it ’til you make it”?

      • Dawn, if your own selfish desires takes priority in that you would destroy the very life that you created, is what you call progress and evolution, you are one sick individual. Especially so since the contraceptives available today, there is little reason we should find ourselves with an unwanted pregnancy. We have far more control over our bodies than we have ever had anytime before, yet nearly a million women a year find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. This is what needs to be fixes, and not declaring open season on the unborn!

        This is the problem I have with you and the pro-homicide crowd. You promote abortion as the essential means of birth control. Read it in your own statement “… regress back to the days where men kept them barefoot, pregnant, and dragged them by their hair.” You are a walking disciple of the Death Industry.

        • 50%, give or take, of abortions are had by those that used some sort of contraception. It failed. 60% of women that have abortions are already mothers. They have kids of their own. They know what it takes to raise a child. If you spent the same amount of time making it easier for a mother to have a child and raise it, as you do wailing about abortion, you’d most definitely see abortion rates drop.

          “You promote abortion as the essential means of birth control.” No TSWL, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you and the pro-life loonies are using that line to make you feel better – as if what you think matters. I believe that women who make the decision to have an abortion are far smarter that you when faced with a difficult decision. They think well beyond bringing the fetus to term. They think about the quality of life it may or may not have – something you don’t care about after the fetus takes it’s first breath.

          • Dawn says “50%, give or take, of abortions are had by those that used some sort of contraception. It failed. ” The other 50% are women that are using abortion as their primary means of birth control.

            As for the failures… The pill, iud, implants and shots are all highly effective. Condoms not so good. Spermicides and some of the other methods are also not so good. If you can’t remember to take your pill, you shouldn’t consider yourself protected, and abstain till you can get back on track. If you are serious about not wanting kids right now, consider multiple methods.

            As for being smarter, if they know they couldn’t afford a kid or provide it the quality of life they need or want to, and would be safer in their use of contraceptives. If Planned Parenthood spent more time teaching the proper use of contraceptives and less trying to close down crisis pregnancy centers maybe they’d be doing a few less abortions. Oh silly me, abortions is their primary source of non-government money. That wouldn’t be good for business now would it.

    • ht, how dare I try and live with myself if I didn’t speak out for what I consider an atrocity.

      Take for example, Biden spoke of a 10 year old girl who was raped in Ohio, and was 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant and thus unable to get an abortion in Ohio, and was attempting to make arrangements for one in Indiana. This fact she might have to travel over state lines to get one is a national disaster. But not the fact that a 10 year old was raped in the first place. Perhaps he should be using the power of the DOJ to apprehend and prosecute rapist instead. But they must be all tied up investigating domestic terrorists in the Board of Education Meetings. The liberals have their priorities all screwed up as no body seems to care about getting this violent criminal off the streets, and preventing other young girls from having to such a trauma.

      • Just because you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, doesn’t mean everyone is afflicted with your deficit. How is capturing the violent criminal going to change the fact that the 10 year old is pregnant from the rape? Further, how do you know the rapist hasn’t been captured or police are not actively working on the case? Do you honestly believe you can turn back time by capturing the rapist? In trying to deflect, your little story tells us that you’d rather have the 10 year old carry the child to term. Eff that girl – do I have that right? The details of this story are a bit sketchy, but the scenario is most definitely plausible. You repeated, almost verbatim, what Kristi Noem said on the Sunday talk show circuit. Interesting that in her state of South Dakota, the girl would not be able to get an abortion either. You mentioned before that you were not able to have children. Did you adopt? If so, did you adopt a girl? Would you admit to everyone right now that if your child was raped and became pregnant that you would make her have the baby at the age of 10? I’d love to see your response.

        • No, I can’t turn back time and undo it. But I’d want to be darn sure it didn’t happen again so getting the person apprehended would be on the top of the list.
          Fighting the trauma and psychological impact of it would be my next concern. I’d take here anywhere in the country to find an expert on that. I’d likely take her to Indiana after discussions with her therapist.

          As for the media handling of this.
          The fact that someone impregnated a 10 year old is far more serious an issue. If I lived in Ohio and had a young daughter, seeing that this didn’t happen to my daughter would be my chief concern. It seems the media is only concerned with this story is the poor girl will have to go to Indiana for an abortion.

          Having to travel to get an abortion is not a major deal. In Mississippi there was only one clinic in the entire state, you might be going to another state anyhow depending on where you lived. In this country in 2017 89% of the counties in this country do not have an abortion clinic.

          A case like this turned up in Ohio a few years back involving an 11 year old run-a-way and a 26 year old. Juan Leon-Gomez pleaded guilty and is doing 10 years. Made national news.

          It turned up again in 2019 when Ohio passed its 6 week law.

          I personally believe that rape, incest and severe risk to the mothers life should be exceptions to the law, and severe birth defects. But since every state sees it a bit different, there are lots of options for people. As I said before, it might not be as convenient but still safe, legal and hopefully getting rarer. I hope it encourages people to take their contraceptive responsibilities a bit more seriously in the future. Not only for the life they take, but the life they live.

          As for Noem’s comments I’m glad to see someone else of national prominence thinks like I do.

          • That’s why my comment about walking and chewing gum at the same time. Aren’t all of those things being done? Don’t you think they have apprehended the person or are doing whatever they can to apprehend the person? You spend a lot of time pushing prevention and while that is smart, you’re only doing so because you’re having a hard time facing that the 10 year old girl is pregnant. Prevention is great – do it, but believing that prevention is the answer to all problems is denying the fact that there is no way to prevent yourself into a perfect world. Now that we have discovered that we do not live in a perfect world, what are you going to do about the 10 year old that is pregnant? Now you’ve made an admittance that in circumstances of rape, risk to mother’s health/life and incest is where it’s okay to have an abortion. Yippee! But, but, but, I thought all life is sacred? Even rapists that create life – right? I mean, the fetus doesn’t know it’s father was a rapist.

            Every single one of us has a line that we do not want crossed – even you. That line is different depending on the individual. Why do you believe you get to decide where that line needs to be for EVERYONE?

          • Kristi Noem stammered around her comments, deflecting all the while. You’re doing the same thing… I can see why you like her.

          • DH – I believe I’ve stated before that I don’t support a nationwide abortion ban. Life is sacred, however when it comes to a mother and an unborn child there are two lives involved. With abortion, one of those lives wishes to selfishly end the life of the other. For a non-viable child, if the mother dies, so does the baby. So if the life of the mother is in serious risk of death, the choice is rather obvious in my opinion.

            In the case of rape, the mother is an innocent victim, and was not out of her own negligence and don’t feel she should be held responsible.

            For serious birth defects and incest, I find myself torn as to what would be best.

            As a Christian, I would put the life of my child ahead of my own, but I realize that this is my faith, and the best I can do is set an example for others in the above cases and put my trust in the Lord. I would encourage lawmakers to make exceptions for those cases, for those that do share my faith.

            For the remainder, every time I have intimate relations, I realize there is a possibility of a new life being created. I am not forced to conceive and give birth to a child, it comes of my own volition. I make that choice knowing there is a risk. When I was young and didn’t want a child, I used contraceptives, and if a child would have resulted, I would have accepted the consequences of my actions, as another life is involved. That life deserves a chance just as Jax, you and I all had, wanted or unwanted.

            You and Jax seem to have missed the point Rev Epps was making about unwanted pregnancies producing wonderful people. It’s the fact that if their mother only thought of themselves, that a wonderful person wouldn’t be here. That baby deserved a chance rather than being served a death sentence for something it didn’t do.

            As for the argument you made elsewhere about just another welfare baby being brought into the world; don’t they deserve a chance too, or would you just as soon kill off all the welfare babies too since you seem to feel they don’t deserve a chance either?

            As for supporting those mothers that do choose to not abort their unwanted pregnancies, it’s the pro-abortion people trying to shutter the crisis pregnancy centers, and torch them. These are people trying to help women. These centers, and also domestic violence shelters are two of my pet charities.

            As for the 10 year old, I see they caught the creep, a 27 year old undocumented alien in this country illegally for 7 years. Thank goodness he is off the streets. Seems the 10 year old was likely 9 when she was raped.

            As it turns out, the little girl was only 3 hours away from the clinic which she received her abortion. The fact she had to travel 3 hours for a legal abortion makes international news, yet the fact that a 9 year old was raped and how this could have happened wasn’t worthy of any column inches. The way the press carried on, you would have thought getting to the moon would have been easier.

            And yes, I put a lot of emphasis on prevention, as NOBODY should have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy if they can avoid it. Be responsible.

  1. I was watching the TV show Swamp People the other day. It features several cajun men and women who make their living hunting alligators, and most come from families that have always hunted in the swamp for food and profit. Hunter Troy had been trying to catch and kill a gator he had named Methuselah because it had reportedly lived in this part of the swamp for centuries and was now huge and eating other alligators that Troy caught before he could check his lines! As he motored in his john boat to the place he had set the line for Methuselah, he saw he had not caught the destructive monster he was fishing for, but instead a feisty female who was thrashing like a mad thing on the line. Of course I assumed Troy would not shoot a female alligator, because from that one female would come generations of alligators that would benefit the future people who would hunt the swamps … but I was wrong. She was legal size, and Troy happily popped her and hauled her into the boat, and set the line to try to catch Methuselah next time. He is trying to make a living, and he knew that lady gator would as soon as bite off his arm as look at him.

    In that moment I realized that a heavily staged reality/nature show is a poor metaphor for a serious issue like abortion, but as long as we are extending poor metaphors, let’s consider the other side of what Fr Epps is saying. His argument seems to be: he knew women who were considering abortion, but they had their babies, and those babies grew up to be good people, so abortion is clearly wrong. But could we not also say … Sometimes women are pregnant with babies who will grow up to be criminals, psychopaths, abusers, dictators, serial killers, and if they were to abort those babies, the world would be a better place and everyone, probably including the mothers, would be happier?

    Of course that’s a ridiculous argument! We can’t know what a baby will grow up to be, so the decision of whether to carry a pregnancy to term or terminate it can’t be made on the basis of “many children who weren’t aborted turned out to be good people.” Lots of them turned out to be bad people, too. This argument is a non-sequitur to the real question of whether women ought to have bodily autonomy, which Fr Eps clearly opposes.

    • As usual, the real voice of reason. Thanks VisJax! I’ve often wondered, if men were the child bearers would they be so willing to have succumb to the regulations they impose on women?

    • VJax–
      I have been chuckling since I read your re-do of Fr. Epp’s column comparing responsible hunting to women’s reproductive rights. The profound lesson of Troy and The Swamp People! Priceless!

      You are correct, of course–the entire premise is a flawed metaphor for a serious issue. Forgive me for adding my further tongue-in-cheek silliness.

      The other night I was watching a classic hunting scene, originally aired in the 1940s. After years of frustration stalking his prey, Elmer Fudd finally finds himself with Bugs Bunny in the cross-hairs. Little does poor Elmer suspect, this is all a trick; a set-up orchestrated by Bugs.

      Jubilantly, Elmer fires his rifle. The “dying” rabbit gives an Oscar worthy performance, collapsing and opining, “I can’t hold out much longer…I’m all washed up…everything is going dark…don’t leave me…goodbye, pal…goodbye.”

      Immediately overcome with regret and grief, Elmer cries, “Mr. Rabbit! Say something! Speak to me! WHAAA!” He turns to a nearby tree and sobs, holding the trunk in despair.

      With Elmer’s back turned, of course Bugs has “regained consciousness”, is winding up one of his giant rabbit feet like an airplane propellor, and kicks wailing Elmer up the back-side, sending him into the treetop. His head rings the tallest branch like the gong of a circus strength game.

      Bugs Bunny, gracefully as any ballet dancer, pirouettes on point and disappears into the forest.

      So. Try as I may, I haven’t been able to find a parallel from this Looney Tunes moment to a woman’s right to choose. But I am betting Fr. Epps somehow can.

        • Jax — The kind of contraceptive you use is your business. But when you harm another human being it becomes a problem for society. Abortion isn’t a contraceptive, and it shouldn’t be used for birth control.

          • Obviously for a segment of society a life has little or no value just because it is inconvenient.

          • Two things …

            1) “The kind of contraceptive you use is your business. But when you harm another human being it becomes a problem for society.”

            Fortunately, abortion doesn’t harm living human beings. As a Christian, my first foundation in right and wrong was the Bible, where Genesis 2:7 says God formed man from the earth and then He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being.” Drawing his first breath made Adam human.

            In Ezekiel 37 God makes the dry bones live by breathing life into them — once again, breath indicates a living human. Even sadsack Job, who probably wished he were dead, says in Job 44:3 that “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

            In several Scriptures it seems that breath is the determiner of human life, and in zero instances in the Bible is a preborn baby breathing and/or considered alive. As Suz points out elsewhere, in fact, the Bible indicated a fetus is property and if you harm it you pay a fine, whereas a living. breathing person is an autonomous being, and if you kill them, you are to be put to death.

            While I don’t go for all the Old Testament laws, I do see the trend the Bible begins with, which is life, for a fetus, begins with the first breath. So, you need not worry that abortion as birth control (which no one wants and no one does!) is harming human beings.

            If, as we clearly see, abortion is not murder, then what can the rationale be for denying women abortions? It can only be that, whether it is acknowledged or not, powerful elements in our society want to control women’s bodies. If that’s what you want, go ahead and say so; stop hiding behind the idea that you care a thing for the preborn babies.

            2) If you did care about stopping abortion, you would be investing in the things which are KNOWN to decrease abortion rates: affordable/accessible birth control and moving women out of poverty.

            Abortion rates in the USA DECLINED steadily from 1973’s Roe v Wade decision until 2017 when we began to see decreased federal funding for contraceptive care.

            And outlawing abortion doesn’t make it go away: WHO and the Guttmacher Institute found abortion rates are about the same for countries where abortion is restricted and where it is broadly available. The difference was abortion was SAFER in those countries where it was legal. All that’s accomplished by making it illegal is that you make it more dangerous for women. The rate of abortions stays the same.

            So what have we learned? People who ACTUALLY care about stopping abortions support funding for contraception and programs that lift women out of poverty. People who actually care about CONTROLLING women support banning abortion. You can see which side you are on based on which programs/actions you support. Just saying.

            Ooops 3) also: Thanks again Dawn for fighting the good fight!

          • Jax — “Fortunately, abortion doesn’t harm living human beings”

            The unborn child is a product of the union of two humans genes. That makes it human. The fact that it grows and continues to develop in the womb attests to the fact that it is living.

            Time for the dictionary…

            Medical Definition of abortion · 1 the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus:

            Definition of fetus
            an unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind
            specifically a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth

            harm
            noun
            physical injury, especially that which is deliberately inflicted.
            “it’s fine as long as no one is inflicting harm on anyone else”

            living
            adjective
            alive.
            “living creatures”

            human being
            noun
            a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.

            Um, at this point I’m calling BS! It’s amazing the denial some people go through in an attempt to rationalize abortion like it is no worse than having a hang nail removed.

            Pulling out the bible…

            “says God formed man from the earth and then He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”

            “God makes the dry bones live by breathing life into them”

            “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

            Vax — In each of above examples you quoted it was God’s breath that gave life, not that of the individual.

            A person’s soul already exists at conception. In Jerimiah 1 5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I ave appointed you as a prophet to the nations”. A person’s soul already exists at conception.

            Human life is present in the womb from conception in Psalms 139 13-16. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”

            Luke 1 41-44 speaks to the lives of John the Baptist and Jesus in the womb.

            Job 31 15 “Did not He who made me in the womb make him?
            And did not one fashion us in the womb?”

            As for your BS about anybody attempting to control a woman’s body, Women do have full control of their body, always have and always will. The problem is when the woman wants full control over another life that they themselves created because they lost control of their body. That new life is not responsible for the woman’s poor decisions that created the new life. There are multiple ways to control their body and prevent the forming of a new life. Failure to do so should not be blamed on that innocent life. That new life… is not their body… it’s a new body growing inside of them.

            As for your straw man argument 2. I am all in favor of affordable contraceptives and training to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Prevention of unwanted pregnancy. I’d like to see the pill go OTC. As for lifting people out of poverty, instead we need to help them develop marketable skills so that they can lift themselves out of poverty. A hard concept for the progressive left to comprehend.

          • ToSirWithLove–
            May I steer you to an NPR show–1A (aired July 14).
            The guest was Rabbi Barry Silver from Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in South FLA. The synagogue is suing the state of FLA over it’s abortion ban citing a violation of Jewish people’s religious freedom.

            Rabbi Silver explains that the life of the mother is protected over the life of the fetus in the Jewish faith. Much like Vjax, he cites scriptures that teach that life begins at birth.

            I thought of you, attempting to correct a Rabbi’s theology with your dueling verses.

            Rabbi Silver put it so well–“These fundamentalists, who can’t even read Hebrew, who have the audacity to tell Jewish people what their Bible means, and to distort it, that’s just wrong!”

  2. Pastor you are so correct we are suffering because of the sins of our nation(abortion,slavery, racism,antisemitism and other sins) which have hindered God’s people from being all they can be in Christ Jesus. I hope one day we will do what God’s Holy Word says in 2 Chr. 7:14: God Bless America!!!!!

  3. Coming from a generation that straddled the Roe decision, I can look back at so many wonderful lives that wouldn’t exist if abortion was like it is today. I’ve watched so many of these kids grow up with kids of their own, and think about the great loss it is to this world. One is a biochemist, another an electrical engineer at NASA, several are teachers. I even married one. So very many of them likely wouldn’t exist today had their mother taken what might seems like the easy way out.

    One of my best friends thought she was taking the easy way out, but she still thinks about the child that never came to be.

    It’s a hard decision for someone to make, and it really shouldn’t be. But either way they choose, we need to stand by them and not be judgmental. They need our love and support.

    • ToSirWithLove–
      At last. Something you and I can agree on–“But either way they choose, we need to stand by them and not be judgmental.” However, surely you realize that your previous comments on reproduction/abortion rights do NOT inspire confidence in your stated intention, “They need our love and support”.

      Just referring to choosing and undergoing an abortion as “the easy way out” speaks volumes. Perhaps you would look back at some of your comments in the recent conversation after the Bad Tree/Bad Fruit letter and indicate where the love and support shine through.

      “I don’t feel abortion should be convenient, as it becomes too easy.”

      “…an unwanted pregnancy is the result of negligence.”

      “…when someone isn’t responsible enough to use adequate means of prevention.”

      “Since 75% of all abortions are done out of convenience…”

      “…give a person a right to destroy a life.”

      “…if your mother had disposed of you in th medical waste facility?”

      “Hopefully, the good side of this now there are more consequences for some.”

      And yes, I realize and admit that I am in turn being judgmental of you when I say, “From reading your choice of words in expressing your opinions…you are the last person I would turn to for love and support in considering an abortion.”

      I keep re-reading your final paragraph…but I hear “…they crimp her lifestyle…”.

      The tired old “Love the sinner…Hate the sin” never fooled a gay person back in the day. Stand by them, support them, love them. Full stop.