In his darkened office, Pastor Stan put his head in his hands. It had been a difficult phone call, and Marcia was beginning to cry when he hung up. Usually the baptism of a baby is a joyful part of the Sunday service, but this time Pastor Stan had said no. Marcia was not married, and so he had told her it would have to be a private ceremony. To put her and her baby up in front of everybody just seemed wrong. The church would be practicing make-believe morality. It would mean pretending sin wasn't wrapped all around this situation.
The desk lamp cast a pool of light over his sermon notes. It was not as if he was going to call Marcia to the front and pin a scarlet A on her dress. He wasn't going to point at her from the pulpit and accuse her of iniquity; the Lord knows, we all have plenty to repent about. But most of the time, the sin is not so public, so visible. You had to draw the line somewhere. Pastor Stan pressed his fingers to his aching temples. He just wished he was sure this was where the line should be drawn.
While there is no lack of voices insisting, "The church should oppose abortion," Pastor Stan's dilemma illustrates how complex a situation can be. Marcia's situation tells only one of the many possible and perplexing stories facing a pastor in an age of sexual revolution. The most bitter fruit is abortion, but there are other branches, good and bad: premarital sex, single parenting, "shotgun" weddings, postabortion grief, adoption counseling, child-care problems, abstinence education, divorce, welfare, and child-support enforcement. It is not just a matter of Pastor Stan being goaded to "do the right thing" on the abortion issue alone.
Yet, whatever the church has been doing to combat abortion, ...1