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Next week, legal abortion will be 56 years old in America. Every January 22 the cultural conversation about pro-life and pro-choice movements pick up steam. This year is bound to be even more cacophonous since it is an election year. Much of the conversation centers around who is to blame, who is more evil, or who is trying to destroy our country. It’s often dehumanizing and rarely productive.
A Different Approach
I wanted to try something different this year. Instead of trying to convince others to be better, I wanted to look at the ways we can be better and learn from “them.” Why?
Well, almost all of us know someone who has had an abortion. Because of that, we should be more thoughtful when we speak about abortion because it’s not “those women over there.” “Those women” live in our homes, work in our workplace, and gather in our churches. And they’ve been faced with real-life and heavy decisions.
That should change the way we think about it.
Now, when I engage in conversations about abortion, I think of the women I know – some in my family and some friends – who still struggle with the decision they made to have an abortion. I think of the guilt some of them carry around. But I also think about the women, and their friends and family, who are thankful and glad they had the option to get an abortion.
As shocking as it may be to some of us, millions of Americans are thankful for abortions. And I believe the the Good News of Jesus has more to contribute to the conversation than condemnation, shock, and judgement.
What should a group of Jesus followers have to say to women who have had abortions, but do not believe they need forgiveness?
Our words should be full kindness, gentleness, patience, mercy, and love. But how do we offer those to people we strongly disagree with? I’m offering you a list of 3 things you might say. This list is not complete or comprehensive, but it’s a good first step in creating reconciliation and helping to curb the abortion epidemic in our country.
3 Things Christians Should Say
1. I’m sorry we’ve been quick to speak and slow to listen.
Abortion has been a central issue to Evangelicals for the last 40+ years. We’ve tried many different methods to stop abortion. We’ve blown up clinics. We’ve marched. We’ve put duct tape on our mouths. And we’ve voted against our conscience. There are exceptions to what I’m about to write, like pregnancy centers, but most Christians have failed to understand and listen to the women who are getting abortions.
For much of my life I believed women who got abortions were simply being selfish and doing it out of convenience. They simply didn’t want a baby, so they chose not to have a baby. I’ve began to learn this is rarely the whole story.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the vast majority of abortions are sought because of financial and relational fears. Pregnant women can feel inadequate, insufficient, or just plain insecure. If we stopped and listened, if we met with them, rubbed shoulders with them, stopped calling them “them,” then maybe we could understand the real reasons for abortions.
Unless we begin to know, accept, and love the women who are having abortions personally, our pro-life marches and Facebook memes are just clanging cymbals.What should a group of Jesus followers have to say to women who have had abortions, but do not believe they need forgiveness? Click To Tweet
2. I’m sorry we’ve been so judgmental.
While this one finds its roots in our failure to listen, listening is not enough. We must be willing to listen without condemning. I realize there is very little ground shared between pro-life and pro-choice advocates, yet our King calls us to be known for gentleness and self-control.
When we finally hear the story of someone who had an abortion and remains thankful it was an option for them, our role isn’t to pronounce judgment or disapproval. Instead, we should respond with love and mercy. Maybe a hug. Maybe we should respond with some empathy about how hard it is to be in a world where women are forced to make these decisions.
Showing compassion for the circumstances leading up to the abortion, no matter how offensive or backwards they seem to you, will go a long way toward healing the rift that exists between us.
3. What can we learn from you, and how can we work together?
I know this one might be hard for many of us to believe, but very few, if any, people are pro-abortion. Most pro-choice advocates would probably disagree with me on this at first, but let me explain a little further.
No one is pro-chemotherapy. People are for using it. Many people believe it is the best way to treat cancer, yet no one is out there promoting the benefits of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is simply a means to an end. It’s an ugly and painful means, but it can save lives like almost nothing else out there.
Chemotherapy is a treatment for an unwanted and negative circumstance in your life. If we could stop cancer, no one would need chemo anymore. No one, even the most ardent supporters of chemotherapy, believe it has intrinsic good. It is good only in so much as it stops cancer and promotes life.
Abortion, for every pro-choice advocate I’ve talked with or read, is the same. It is not an intrinsically good thing, but a necessary thing to solve unwanted circumstances. They aren’t pro-abortion. They are pro-woman and pro-self empowerment.
Making abortion unnecessary is something we can all work towards without sacrificing our ethics or morals.
Stance of Humility
We Christians should always choose a stance of humility and learn from neighbors who have been working to empower women through education, advocacy, and legislation while also inadvertently decreasing the need for abortions.
Abortion rates have been falling for decades, and much of that credit belongs to the pro-choice movement. Things like sexual education, free contraceptives, and better access to healthcare have contributed to women having fewer abortions. I believe they have done more than our marches, votes, or statements.
We all have a lot to learn about defeating abortion through love and care, and we can learn a lot about that from our pro-choice neighbors.Making abortion unnecessary is something we can all work towards without sacrificing our ethics or morals Click To Tweet
We can continue our work to legislate abortion, yet we must also face the facts that it will probably not be very consequential. In the two decades before Roe v. Wade made abortion federally legal, there were between 200,000 and 1.2 million abortions performed illegally. Women have been getting abortions for as long as they have been pregnant. In fact, countries with abortion restrictions typically have higher rates of abortion than countries that have legalized it.
May we continue to fight for the unborn without forgetting the women who carry them in their womb. May we offer a listening ear and a gentle response when we are confronted with stories that we disagree with. May we offer the hope and forgiveness of Jesus to those that seek it, and His grace and love to those that do not.
After looking it up, he decided to take it as a compliment.
Latest posts by Jude Hawkins
- 3 Things Christians Should Say to the Pro-Choice Movement - January 15, 2020
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