Her name is Norma

Her name is Norma McCorvey. Just a few years ago she was baptized into Christ. It became a national story, with interviews by ABC News and other media outlets.

Normally the faith response of a single mother in Dallas, Texas does not warrant national attention. She came to Christ bruised and beaten by life’s cruelties. Today the Lord Jesus is binding the bruises, and pouring salve on to the wounds, for that is what he does.

In the early 1970’s she was pregnant and unmarried. She made the harrowing, heartbreaking decision to end the unborn child’s life. Close to fifty million children have perished because their mothers “had the right to choose.” For perspective, the Vietnam conflict accounted for 58 thousand deaths, and World War II almost half a million. Please allow that figure to sink in. Fifty million. The most terrifying weapons of war man could devise, designed to tear into the bodies of young men, wielded by yet more young men trained specifically to take those lives, failed to kill as many as have been lost to the surgeon’s knife.

No one questions the enormity of the decision for a scared eighteen year old who feels as if she has been abandoned by her family, her sexual partner (where are the men responsible when the decision comes down?) and her church. I am sure that the presence of a child represents a significant inconvenience to the young mother’s lifestyle. It’s not easy for a once freewheeling young woman to contemplate the burden of motherhood, especially if she faces those responsibilities alone.

And it should be said that the damage was not limited to Norma’s unborn child. Norma herself spent the next twenty years beaten and broken by the magnitude of what she had done. Guilt tore away the lining of her soul. Her heartbreak drove her to drugs, drink and a broken family. Yet the same Jesus who forbade her action also sought to forgive her sin!

She rose from a watery grave in a suburban Dallas swimming pool. Then she faced the unblinking lights of the nation’s media and the antagonistic questioning of its journalists.

But why did they do this to Norma, whose mistakes, and whose return to her Lord was certainly not unique?

Television anchors implied that she was mentally disturbed, emotionally troubled and that she was being exploited by the religious right. So why did Norma decide to endure the glare of the media, the hostility of its powerful spokespersons?

Because though her given name is Norma, you know her as Jane. Jane Roe, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Roe versus Wade decision to legalize abortion. Norma understood that her action then had a national effect; now she wanted her latest decision to begin to reverse that effect.

Now that you know her name is Norma, I want you to know something else, something that transcends politics, “personal” decisions, one’s own body, and the body of the dying infant.

I want you to know that whatever you have done, no matter how horrifying, no matter how deep a hole you have dug yourself into, that Jesus Christ can, and what is more, deeply desires to forgive you.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

The Lord forgave Norma; he wants to forgive you, too.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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