Interview With Rick Hogaboam About Abortion and Adoption
Rick Hogaboam is a Christian, husband to Mimi, and father to five: Cody, Kira, Lexi, Zoey, and Ezra. Since 2008, he has served as the Senior Pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho and recently (2014) as the Executive Director of Lifeline Pregnancy Care Center in Nampa, Idaho.
T4L: Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview with Theology for Life Magazine, Pastor Rick. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, including the current ministries you are involved in?
Rick: I’m married to a tremendous woman and blessed to be a father to five children. I was born and raised in Torrance, CA, but have bounced around various cities in California, a move to New York, and now minister in Nampa, Idaho. I’ve served as the senior pastor at Sovereign Grace Fellowship since 2008 and as an executive director at Lifeline Pregnancy Care Center since 2014.
T4L: It must be a blessing to work at Lifeline Pregnancy Care Center. As someone who deals with the reality of pregnancy on a regular basis, how do you think the Church can speak to a post-Christian society about the biblical moral absolutes on abortion and adoption?
Rick: Great question. I’ve thought a lot about this and have addressed this very question on several occasions, so this is certainly a common inquiry and worthy of careful consideration. I think that we can look to the pre-Christian witness of the church in the Greco-Roman context and learn quite a bit about how to engage our current cultural context. Christians were a peculiar people in that day for several reasons: theologically, socially, and neighborly engagement. It was their charitable witness, based on an ethic of sacrificial love, which really caused people to scratch their heads and even at times assign ill motives to the Christians. Christians would help the poor and the sick. It made no sense then why the powerful, healthy, and strong would give of themselves for the outcasts, sick, and weak. We deal with the same devaluation of human life today when intrinsic value cedes more and more to a utilitarian model that values only those with capacities. Materialistic anthropology also perpetrates a view that humans are at the core physical entities, which also contributes to a diminishing of human value. But Christians cared for the outcasts and, quite literally, would save babies that were cast out to the dumps and ditches. Christian families would save these babies and adopt them into their own families. What they said, and what we need to say today, is that human life is precious, deserving of life and protection from womb to tomb. We also believe that human flourishing is best realized when every child is joyfully received by a loving father and mother. More than just saying, the church throughout the centuries has been engaged in the doing, in the founding of hospitals, orphanages, schools, adoption, and, in the modern context, the founding of pregnancy resource centers to assist men and women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
T4L: What kinds of assistance is available for women who have already had an abortion?
Rick: At Lifeline, and most pregnancy resource centers, we offer post-abortion care through gospel-centered studies designed to convey the assurance and healing God offers to every hurting soul who’s experienced the devastating consequences of sin. While we’re all culpable for our own sin, the abortion issue is quite complex in that many women often choose to abort their babies under the pressure of their partner and/or families; there’s often resentment and anger that accompany the guilt and shame one feels in such circumstances. But the gospel is big enough to deal with all of this, glory be to God!
T4L: Glory be to God, indeed! Are there any encouraging trends you see in the current adoption movement, as well as in the pro-life movement?
Rick: I think the most encouraging trends from the legislative side of things, which isn’t the mission of pregnancy resource centers, to be clear, is that many states have enacted more and more laws to protect the unborn. From the judicial standpoint, the legislation at the state level will continue to prompt adjudicating through the courts. It’ll be interesting to see how that will all play out. While I keep an eye on things politically, the most encouraging signs, I firmly believe, has occurred through the social witness of the church in charity and adoption. Regardless of the legal battle over abortion, we will also be dealing with unplanned, crisis pregnancies in our communities. We can’t just vote pro-life and then turn a blind eye to the needs around us. Again, this is how the early church gained credibility and transformed the culture, through their compassionate care for those in need. This isn’t to demean political engagement so much as an encouragement that Christians loving their neighbors always glorifies God, even when the early church had no political clout and when the Christians in the modern context feel marginalized more and more. This marginalizing has prompted the questions you ask. But the future is bright. God’s kingdom is advanced through the cruciform witness of the church. Crucifixion looked like a loss, but it was the pathway to victory. So, also, our deeds of mercy serve the infinite purposes of God, even if they appear weak and inconsequential in the moment. So, the positive trend is that we’ve done some reassessment of what our social witness should look like, and the fruit of this is a revived commitment to deeds of mercy. The holistic concern for the plight of humans has also broadened our engagement in healthy ways: we care about abortion, poverty, human-trafficking, and end of life care. The more and more we’re consistent in treating all human life with dignity helps the cause for life.
T4L: It’s good to hear that there are ministries aimed at a holistic approach. Are there support groups that help women who decide to keep their babies?
Rick: In the context of the church, there’s a growing ministry called Embrace Grace that I’ve been impressed with (http://embracegrace.com).
T4L: Why should the church be interested in this ministry? How can we help and/or become involved?
Rick: The church can often feel intimidated by larger churches than have lots of specialization ministries for people work through particular sin and life issues. While not denigrating such ministries, I want to encourage the smaller churches that they can effectively minister to women facing an unplanned pregnancy if they cultivate a culture of grace. I don’t mean to suggest that a church should ignore sin issues but that the culture of restoration and grace are so prominent that someone who’s made a mistake and is in need of support wouldn’t hesitate to open up about their needs. Ideally, the older women in the church can come alongside the younger women and help lead them. Men in the church can step up and play a paternal role in the life of a fatherless child.
T4L: So as active members in the Church body, what are some ways that Christians can individually be involved in helping their local Lifeline Pregnancy Centers?
Rick: Prayer is number one. Centers also need financial partners. Centers also often rely on volunteer labor, so that can be an option. The best thing to do is contact a local pregnancy center and ask how to help. Thanks, Dave, for the great questions. I also want to add that this issue of life and compassion are really personal for my family. My wife Mimi had Cody, my stepson, after an unplanned pregnancy while still a student in high school. She received the loving support of local Christians, which proved instrumental in her own conversion to Jesus. Cody also has Down Syndrome. Sadly, many Down Syndrome babies don’t see the light of day as they’re normally aborted. This is sad. Cody is a blessing to everyone who knows him. Also, Mimi went on to graduate high school and went on to graduate from college, all as a single mom. There’s a false narrative out there that tells such young women that they must choose between their personal goals and the baby. Women who abort are branded by some as being heroic for their independence. I say that true heroism is seen when parents embrace their children and their dream, in fact embrace their children as part of their dream. And Cody is a precious image-bearer of God, even if his capacities are more limited in certain regards. Cody has the capacity to love, which is also the greatest gift God gives us. And for me, I was born to parents who weren’t married, and grew up most of my life in a single parent family with my dad. It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that many babies conceived in such circumstances in the 70’s never saw the light of day. My parents didn’t choose the expedient route. A lot of people today also propagate a narrative that if you can’t give your baby the life they deserve, it would be better to abort and wait for a better time. It’s thought that the challenges of a broken home would be so detrimental for the child, it’s best to not bring them into the world. Well, I’ll be the first to admit that growing up in a broken family was challenging in many ways but not once did I wish myself dead. Not only was my life preserved, but I’m married with children, who would also not be here today if I was aborted. And to think of possible grandchildren and great grandchildren, and on and on, who wouldn’t exist if I was aborted. When a baby is saved, an entire legacy might be saved as well. I’m thankful for my life, for Mimi’s choice to have Cody, for Mimi coming to Christ, for our marriage, and for our children. This life matter really is a big deal because it more specifically affects our identity as a family. I’m thankful, most of all, for a Savior who came to give us abundant life through His sacrificial atonement. He laid down His life for us, the strong for the weak.
T4L: That’s a beautiful story, and I hope our readers will be as touched and motivated as Mimi and others like her have been. Your personal testimony on this subject has been very eye-opening. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us interview you, Rick.