So how do we end abortions in our country?
Having traveled across the United States, talking to those who are fierce advocates, both for and against a woman’s right to legally accessing an abortion, we’ve recognized a few areas in the conversation that would benefit from dissection. Not for the purpose of refuting one side over the other, but merely to help us shine a light on how we can effectively communicate our thoughts, even when it comes to the most incendiary topics. In most cases, we’ve found it boils down to three things: 1) talking past one another, specifically having absolutely no interest in listening to what the other person has to say; 2) using and applying a belief system not held by the other party; and/or 3) as a follow up of the second point, applying a doctrinal belief to someone’s life who has absolutely no desire for you to do so.
I want to take each of these points, dissecting them from both sides of the debate, and suggest a way to engage in HEALTHY conversations that will move us towards a Christlike posture reflecting the love of our Savior, and not the hatred and condemnation of the Pharisees.
The first point is actually the easiest to address and it takes us straight to scripture. The world will know we belong to Jesus by the expression of our love for one another. (John 13:34-35) I have raised this point during many of my conversations with those holding an anti-abortion position and, without fail, 100 percent of the time, their response is always the same: I’m loving the baby. And while I appreciate the heart behind this response, there’s a glaring flaw in the rationale: Loving the baby doesn’t preclude us from loving the woman carrying the baby. As Christians, we don’t get to choose who we’re called to love and equally important, the laws of man should never dictate the limits of our love.
To hold a “pro-life” stance means you not only advocate for the life of the unborn, you chase after the heart of the woman carrying the child. You advocate for the life of the prisoner on death row because you believe in the power of redemption, and you never settle for children being detained in cages, separated from their parents… no matter which administration created the laws, implemented the laws or upholds the laws. Because when we label ourselves “pro-life,” we don’t get to pick and choose which lives are worthy of advocacy. As Christians, we hold that God is the judge. (Yet, so often we like to step into those shoes. Some of us walk in them quite frequently… to the point we’ve worn holes into them.)
And PLEASE hear me out. I’m not advocating for those who oppose abortion to stop opposing it. What I’m asking is for you to take a hard look at HOW you’re opposing it. What I’m asking is for ALL of us to look at what a TRUE “pro-life” stance entails. And then filter that through the absolute radical existence of Jesus and the gospel… and his call on our lives to love others. This is an important conversation the church needs to have. Desperately. One of the more interesting points of contention on our trip thus far has been the level of defensiveness (and divisiveness) surrounding this topic… on both sides of the issue. But, if we can get to a place where we’re willing to listen to opposing views, be open to the possibility (*cough, cough* PROBABILITY) that we all have something to learn, and remind ourselves that Jesus calls us to care for EVERY life, no matter the circumstances… if nothing else…. the tone of our conversation will change. As will the witness we are providing to a watching world.
Points two and three go hand in hand… and this has, by far, been the MOST contentious point of discussion across all topics we’ve dissected. From a Christian perspective, the “pro-life” stance is based on the belief of life beginning at conception. As a Christian, I hold this belief. But I also recognize that many people don’t, including many in the church. (Again, check your response to my last sentence.) But, here’s something I find incredibly interesting: None of those people, despite being “pro-choice” believed in elective abortions being performed in the third trimester. And most had a hard time with elective abortions in the second trimester. And, on the flip side, not every anti-abortion proponent referred to abortions as infanticide. (And, as a point of clarification, abortion is not infanticide. While I understand the heart behind this argument, I would contend that using the verbiage is intentionally inflammatory and does very little, if anything, to spur on any helpful dialogue.)
As I close, I want to revisit the first sentence in this post: So how do we end abortions in our country? It wasn’t really a fair question because the truth is simple. We won’t. Even if the Supreme Court reverses Roe V. Wade, and every judge appointed to the bench is a staunch, “pro-life” conservative, abortions will never end. But that doesn’t mean the circumstances surrounding a woman’s (or a couple’s) choice can’t change.
And I believe this is where the Church can have the most profound impact when it comes to drastically reducing the number of abortions taking place here… and around the world. My next post, will be the final one in this series. I will share my own personal views and will propose a solution to help us move in the direction of Christ’s love.