At this moment in history and American culture, the topic of Roe v. Wade impacts any conversation in which it is dropped like water hitting hot oil. So instead of arguing for one side or the other, perhaps a better use of “blog ink” is to address some of the hard questions that have been bubbling to the surface in the last few days. For instance…
WHO HAS VALUE: MOM OR UNBORN BABY?
Jesus’ answer is BOTH, or rather, ALL. Mom, the unborn baby, the father, and every other human being is made “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) Some measure of the essence of God is encapsulated in every person, no matter their age, ability, potential or perspective relative to the birth canal. As human beings, we are God’s crowning creation. God declared all other parts of creation, “Good.” However, when He created the first humans, He declared them, “Very Good.” (Genesis 1:31)
The Bible makes it clear that babies have value – born or unborn — and that Jesus loves them. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” (Psalm 127:3-5a) Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) Finally, scripture speaks to the very Hand of God being involved in a baby’s creation. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Jesus, Himself, highly values women. What is often overlooked is that Jesus did a lot to elevate women during His life on earth as recorded in scripture, despite living in a completely male-dominated time and culture. Jesus stood between the woman caught in adultery and men who wanted to stone her, eventually rescuing her from that fate. (John 8:1-11) Jesus broke cultural norms to actually speak with the outcast Samaritan woman at the well, and even revealed to her His true divine identity. (John 4:7-27) The woman, Mary, is not only given the honor of being named in the Bible, but she is notably praised by Jesus who reprimands his male disciples for condemning her gift of perfume. (Matthew 26:6-13) The privilege of first discovering Jesus’ empty tomb was given — not to his male disciples — but to women with whom Jesus then personally and compassionately interacted. (John 20:11-16) If the Bible had been written by men apart from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, they certainly would have overlooked women (whom they considered mere property). They definitely would not have recorded their own chastisement by Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God inspired men to write the Bible in a way that elevated and honored women.
TO IMITATE JESUS, WE VALUE AND CARE ABOUT BOTH WOMEN AND BABIES. BUT HOW?
HOW NOT TO RESPOND: Attack Mode
How not to respond is clear. Arson attacks on places offering abortions are wrong, not to mention illegal. This is not how Jesus would respond; He respected human law unless it conflicted with His divine law. Similarly, verbal attacks with an “I told you so” tone are insensitive, inflammatory and also just plain wrong. Jesus was the most “right” or righteous person ever to walk the planet. He encountered people with radically opposite views and ways of thinking daily. His response? He initially met each one with compassion and the offer of gentle, hope-giving truth. He truly cared for the wholistic wellbeing of each person He met, especially their spiritual wellbeing. Jesus hated evil, which He also called sin, but He did not hate sinners. These things need to be true of Christians today as we respond in this moment. We are all sinners; some are just saved by grace.
RESPECT: CRITICAL TO ANY RESPONSE
Christians are quick to point to “Imago Dei,” every person being made in God’s image, when speaking about unborn babies. We need to be equally quick to stand on this truth when interacting with people who already have birthdates, regardless of their stance on issues. People who disagree with us are still made in God’s image. Women who have had abortions and others who pressed them to do so are still made in God’s image. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been disturbed by TV images of young girls — themselves only 10-12 years out from being babies — holding signs about abortion being a “right.” Consider that these girls have grown up in a world that idolizes sex and pressures them to be “sexy” at younger and younger ages just to fit in. The only “norm” they have known in their lifetime is that many women see babies as inconvenient and that it is no big deal to end a pregnancy. These girls are also made in God’s image. All of these people all need compassion and gentle truth offered in love, not emotional rants of criticism. It is difficult to respond in healthy ways if we do not first choose to respect every individual made in God’s image…which means…every individual.
ESSENTIALS: ACKNOWLEDGE AND EMPATHIZE
It is also arrogant, if not ignorant, to assume we are personally aware of every kind of situation that leads a woman to consider abortion. As caring Christians, we need to open our minds and hearts to women who do not have the resources to prevent pregnancy, but are trapped in relationships with men who want intimacy when they want it and take no responsibility for the ramifications. This may not be the norm in your community, but your community isn’t the only kind of community. We need to empathize with families who are fearful about bringing another child into the world when they are already struggling to support and care for those they have. Yes. Research shows that the majority of abortions are the result of babies simply being considered “inconvenient” and that abortions performed in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life are less than 2% of all abortions. (www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html; What Does the Bible Say About Abortion, accessed July 1, 2022) In no way do I want to give the impression that I condone abortion. It is murder. However, neither can I condone turning a cold, uncaring shoulder to women who now feel an added burden of fear because of a life situation over which they do not have control, or perceive they do not have control.
ACTIONS: Tangible Responses
What can Christians and or churches do? Keep fostering and adopting children. Statistics show Christians are more active than the general population in both areas. (www.goodfaithmedia.org/christians-more-than-twice-as-likely-to-adopt-a-child-cms-21267; Nov. 8, 2013; accessed July 1, 2022). Gather information about resources (foster care and adoption agencies, homes to support pregnant women and young moms, etc.) in the community so we’re ready to help those in need. Churches across metropolitan areas can link arms to offer education and counseling on both prevention and support options. And perhaps it is time for pastors and Christian fathers, brothers, neighbors and mentors to speak boldly into the lives of young men. Women need to know their options; men need to know their responsibilities.
This is not a time to point fingers and say, “I told you so.” This is not a time to say, “We won,” and walk away from women whose life situations right now make them fearful or feel trapped. For years, we Christians have accused abortion advocates of discounting the wellbeing of the unborn baby. Going forward, we must act on the truth that it’s no less wrong to discount the wellbeing of women. Jesus cherishes them all. Let’s be an extension of His love and compassion.