Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing the strong case for the right to life of the unborn and why abortion is morally wrong. As an apologist logic, reason, and sound arguments are the tools of the trade. Pro-Choice advocates often try to give arguments as well. But, as Christians, our job isn’t done simply by giving someone all the evidence regarding when life begins and talking about how much value the unborn has. There is more work to be done.
If you pick any hot button topic that comes up, little is usually done apart from arguing about it on Facetok or Instabook. Clever memes are posted, snarky comments are made, and name-calling is done. In the case of abortion, this is done by both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life advocates.
Christians Need to Be Different
I want to first start by acknowledging a few things regarding those who advocate for abortion rights. First off, many people who want women to have the right to choose are well-intentioned. They are thinking about the life of the mother. It’s important to keep this in mind when discussing the issue with those who disagree with you. If all we see on the other side are Bad Arguments and not the person behind them, it becomes really easy to demonize the opposition. So, here is the first place we can be different. By loving our neighbor as ourselves and turning the other cheek if things get ugly.
The second thing I want to acknowledge is that I, personally, will never be put in the position to have to make the decision to have an abortion. Regardless of what the statistics show for reasons why women have abortions, I don’t want to come off as dismissive. I want to give women who have decided to have abortions the benefit of the doubt and presume that it was something they put a lot of thought into. I 100% agree that the life of a child has way more impact on a mother than on a father. And, it’s easy for me to sit back and tell someone what they ought to do (or not do) since I don’t have to be affected by the consequences of the decision.
It’s important to keep these two things in mind before we can begin to be different on the issue of abortion. We have to be different by having a heart for the unborn and for the mother. It shouldn’t be an either/or debate. You don’t have to pick the unborn or the mother. It has to be both. Now, I’m not suggesting that Pro-Life people are only “for” the unborn. But, the arguments and discussions focus primarily on the life of the unborn. So, it can come off like we don’t care for the other person involved – the mother. In fact, one accusation often leveled at Pro-Life advocates is that we would choose the life of the baby over the life of the mother if giving birth would put the mother’s life at risk. This is, of course, false. But, it shows that maybe we need to talk more and show more concern for the needs of the mother in our discussions.
Approach the Issue With Gentleness and Respect
Before I enter into a discussion with someone, I try to ask myself this question; what is the desired outcome of this conversation? More often than not, I find that I want to have conversations for selfish reasons; to make myself feel better, to feel validated, to feel heard, to “be right”. But, if we truly want to change the hearts of people regarding abortion, we have to have a different motive in mind. The goal of the conversation with someone who has had an abortion can’t be to win an argument. The goal is for them to seek forgiveness and be reconciled to God.
I would imagine that it can be hard for someone who has had an abortion to discuss it with someone who has spoken out against abortion. I know, personally, there are a lot of conversations I want to have with people I disagree with, but if their tone seems confrontational, I just avoid the conversation altogether.
Given the statistics on how many abortions have been performed since Roe v. Wade, I’m sure we all know people who have had abortions. Also, given how adamant people get over this topic, I’m sure there are plenty of people who feel uncomfortable bringing it up if they know you are against abortions. So, always remember that your tone in conversations matters.
Also, remember that there is forgiveness available to those who have had abortions. There is also forgiveness available to those who have performed abortions. We know this because Jesus turned one of the biggest persecutors of early Christians into the most prolific author of the New Testament – Saul of Tarsus (who would later be renamed, Paul). In Acts 22:4, Paul tells his audience “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women”. Paul – the person who wrote 13 books found in the New Testament (14 if you count Hebrews) – would hunt down Christians, toss them in prison, and see that they were put to death. If Paul’s sins could be forgiven, and Paul could be turned into a powerful force for the Gospel, then anyone else’s sins can be forgiven, too. Only one sin is unforgivable and that is to deny the forgiveness that God has offered. So even as repulsive as we may think abortion is, there is forgiveness for those who have had one and those who have performed them. Just like there is forgiveness available to you and me for all the things we have done (and continue to do).
We need to approach this issue with a heart of compassion and not one of condemnation. Remember, acceptance doesn’t mean approval or agreement. It means wherever you are in life, you are welcome into God’s family so that the healing can begin. If you really want people to know the love of Christ that you, yourself feel, then you need to show them that love from the beginning.
How Christians Can Be Different
So what can we do to be different? How do we move past all the arguing and debating? Well, the first thing we can do is to listen. Listen to the stories of the women who have made the choice to have an abortion. And, I admit that this is really hard to do. When I spend a lot of time researching an issue, my instinct is to listen just enough to be forming a response in my head for when it’s my turn to talk. But, when someone – especially someone you don’t know very well – is telling you part of their life story, just let them tell it. No need for commentary initially. That can come later. Even if you think their reasoning is completely off and they are telling a tall tale. Be a good listener and let them open up to you.
The next thing we should do is to continue doing what the church has been doing for 2000 years and that’s supporting mothers and children who need help with our resources. Christians have been serving the unwanted since the time of the Ancient Roman Empire. Meeting the needs of mothers and children continues today. But, because most Christians don’t make a big fuss over it, the popular media and the culture think we don’t care about the life of the baby or the mother after the baby has been born. The truth is, though, Crisis Pregnancy Centers and organizations like them outnumber abortion clinics 3 to 1 in most cities. These are places where mothers can go to get counseling, training, emotional support, and resources like diapers, formula, and clothing. So, the next thing Christians need to do to be different on the issue of abortion is to support mothers and newborns through these types of organizations with their time and financial resources.
One of the most common reasons given for the need for abortion rights is the case of rape. The Pro-Choice people say they are concerned for the mother’s emotional well-being and her ability to support a child that was forced upon her. So, Christians can be different on the issue of abortion by supporting places like women’s shelters and supporting the victims of rape.
I don’t want to make it sound like Christians aren’t already supporting these organizations. Christians tend to be the most giving demographic in the US. When the offering is collected at most churches, a good chunk of it goes towards supporting places like these. Oftentimes, churches will take up special collections for various causes as well. If your church doesn’t support a local CPC or similar organization, encourage them to do so.
The last thing that Christians can do to affect the number of abortions performed is to promote the benefits of the traditional family structure and to raise up men of responsibility and good character. One very real fear that a lot of mothers have is that they will be raising up a baby on their own and won’t have the support they need from the father. It’s really easy for a man to split once he hears he got a woman pregnant. We need to raise up our sons to take responsibility for their actions. We need to talk about how children who grow up in a home with their biological parents who are in a low-conflict relationship have a much greater chance of success in life. Low conflict means finding a partner you work well with and can be committed to for the rest of your life before deciding to sleep with them and potentially getting pregnant.
Live Out The Gospel Through Word And Deed
Christians are called to be different than the world we live in. Debating the issue on Facebook is easy. Writing these articles has been easy. Putting in the work that needs to be done in order to support those in need is the hard part. We are called to show the world a better way; one that is loving to those we disagree with and to those who need it the most. Let us share the good news that no matter what someone has done, there is a place for them in God’s Kingdom. And, let’s show them that we mean it by action and deed.
Great article Dave! Thanks!