Several years ago, I visited my parents for a holiday family get-together. At one point, I went downstairs to peruse the endless shelves of books in the basement.
I zeroed in on a book titled "To Hell and Back" by a Chattanooga doctor, Maurice Rawlings, published in September 1993. I thumbed through the opening pages, which were signed by Rawlings. "A collectable!" I thought.
I found the dedication page, which had these words:
"To the courage of a friend, Mary Schum Cosby, who declined recommended abortion, knowing that carrying her only child near term could spread an early cancer of the breast."
I had never read or heard this before. Then it hit me: I am that "only child." My mom's cancer, in fact, did spread to her lungs and, eventually, her brain. And on a cold, February day in 1996, she finished her battle here on earth. I was 14.
Quite literally, my mom gave her life for mine.
Today the dust jackets are disappearing, and our culture has marched on to the beat of its own secular drum. I can't help but think of all the children, the moms and dads, the brides and firefighters, the engineers and grandfathers — of all backgrounds and walks of life — aborted because of a lie. A lie that exchanges the dignity and value of life in the womb for mere convenience. A lie that sees detached baby body parts with a price tag. A lie that sees abortion as a respectable form of population control. Our culture has embraced this lie because, deep down, it would be too overwhelming and painful to admit to what we've sanctioned since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
But abortion is a symptom of a much greater tragedy in America. Today, children are seen as an inconvenience, another mouth to feed. That's one of the reasons why the current birth rate in the United States is less than 1.9 percent (we need at least 2.1 percent to be self-sustaining). In politically-correct terms, you hear this as an "aging population." By comparison, the country of Niger has a birth rate of 6.9 percent. Couples today are waiting longer than ever to have children and, when they eventually do have them, they merrily quip: "A boy for me, a girl for you, praise the Lord we're finally through!"
For years, children have suffered the brunt of our noncommittal culture. We "commit" to a relationship only so long as we're happy. And when we become unhappy, we leave it in the dust, along with our children. That's why nearly 40 percent of children today are raised in single-parent homes, most of them without a father.
As we outsource our jobs to China, our finances to CPAs and even oil changes to mechanics, so also we outsource parenting to coaches, teachers, youth directors, math tutors, nannies, mentors — everyone but us. We will spend through the roof making sure our children get into the right college but fail to teach them how to be good husbands, wives, moms and dads.
Oh that we would see the beauty and blessing of children again in our land! Would we be quick to confess past mistakes and become better equipped to shape future generations? Would we see the joy and responsibility of parenting and offer hope and encouragement to young moms and couples wrestling with the decision to abort or to invest their love and their life in their children?
As a pastor, I am sensitive to the guilt of those who have had an abortion, knowing that God is a God of forgiveness and healing. My prayer is that more families, single moms and confused couples would have the courage and selflessness that my mom displayed to reach out for help. May we reclaim the truth and dignity of life and speak for those without a voice, those most vulnerable in the womb. I, for one, am grateful that my parents did.
Brian H. Cosby, an author and teacher, serves as senior pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) on Signal Mountain.