The Abortion Debate Part 2: What Now Church?
Hello everyone! I have been mulling over this writing since yesterday. You may recall I wrote about the abortion debate before yesterday's ruling in another blog in late May 2022 entitled: The Abortion Debate Part 1: Is it About Love and Protection, or Control? Where is Our Compassion? I have since changed the title to reflect this as Part 1 of my thoughts. Today's blog will be Part 2 in reflection of the final decision. I will post them together so readers will have the complete picture of my thinking on this matter. I would ask you to have an open mind and heart as you read these blogs. I want you to hear my heart and Jesus' for you and others. He understands more than you know about the troubles, disappointments, and the hard decisions this life brings to all of us – both inside and outside the church.
I will have to admit yesterday's ruling gave me a plethora of emotion – surprise, disbelief, happiness, and uncertainty to name a few. I have spent some time reading the judgment and praying about what is next for me personally, and as part of the greater Christian community. I have also spent some time thinking about us as women, who this ruling affects most profoundly. I want to remind my readers to remember this affects real people today and will affect real people in years to come, other image-bearers. Regardless of your stance or what you thought of the ruling yesterday, we must be compassionate with the people this will affect in the coming days. Now is not the time for gloating Church. Now is not the time for “we told you so.” This disconnects us from real people with real problems and real decisions to make – in fact it makes us look arrogant, conceited, and hypocritical to many in our world. Optics can be everything Church. Don't underestimate the power of our response (and the look) in the coming weeks and months to those who are watching.
From my perspective, I never want any baby to be unwanted and their life taken. As I have said before, all things that come from the Father of Light are inherently good (James 1:17). He formed us and knows us, even before we are born and He loves us too (Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:13-17). I don't want abortion used for birth control. We have safe, free birth control and emergency contraception for birth control needs. I abhor partial birth abortion as a means of birth control. It is cruel, violent, and inhumane. I would ask you to read my Part 1 blog if you want to know what is involved in partial birth abortion and learn more about fetal pain - what you don't know might surprise and sadden you. In this ruling, I see good in that these types of things will no longer be protected by the federal government in any way, shape, or form.
Now to the other side of this coin. I never want any woman to be frightened to have a child for any reason. I never want women raped or abused. I never want children abused or molested. I never want children to go hungry. I don't want any evil to befall any image-bearer. The reality is, however, evil does befall humans in our fallen world. Women, teen, and preteen girls can be in situations where they are taken advantage of, abused, raped, and manipulated for sex by men. Women, teen, and preteen girls can be at the mercy of abusers – be they parents (men or women), traffickers (men or women), intimate partners (men or women) or strangers (men or women). Do you really see where their fear comes from when they learn they are pregnant? Do you really see why they would not want to have an abuser's, a rapist's, or a parent/guardian's baby? Do you really see the woman facing an emergency or a miscarriage because something has gone terribly wrong with either her reproductive system or the child? Do we criminalize these women and their physicians? Do you really see these women and girls as people? I do.
On the other hand, do you really see the baby in these situations? Do you really see a child that is innocent who did not cause these situations (in the case of rape/incest), they are simply a product of them? Do you see these babies as people too? I do. I also have to understand that not everyone will see such situations as I do. My love, care, and understanding can change people's hearts but there are no guarantees when it comes to such personal things in people's lives.
My point in the above monologue is abortion is not as simple sometimes as we think it is – and that is where compassion, nuance, support, and Godly wisdom are necessary. Church, we have to see this from a Jesus-centered, people-centered viewpoint regardless of how our politicians see it. Church, we are to love the people (women) and the babies (boys and girls)! We don't get to love the baby and not the woman or the family! We have to care what happens to all of them! It's not always as simple as what we're for or against (e.g., pro-abortion vs. pro-life). We have to ensure our state laws on abortion think of women and children now that this falls to them. State laws must be compassionate and people-centered. State laws for abortion must be willing to consider medical emergencies, rape, incest, and correct science in their writing of such laws. State laws must also be put before the people of the state, not unilaterally written and decided by state legislatures. I will briefly discuss Oklahoma's abortion law as an example of what to do and what not to do.
Oklahoma's abortion law was unilaterally written and decided upon by the Oklahoma legislature – the people of Oklahoma had no say. We never saw it on a ballet - this is unacceptable. Oklahoma's abortion law is correct in the fact that it does take into consideration rape/incest, and medical emergencies that threaten the life of the mother. However, in regards to rape/incest, it only makes the exception for reported rape/incest. My concern is many instances of rape and incest go unreported because women and young girls are afraid or they simply can't get to law enforcement because of their situation. Making the exception tied to reporting shames someone who has already been made to feel shame by rape and incest. How is that justice or love? Oklahoma's abortion law does not criminalize nor expose the mother to lawsuits but will criminalize the doctor who performed the abortion (prison up to 5 years) for any other reason other than rape/incest/medical emergency. Oklahoma's abortion law is incorrect in that it does not take into consideration good science as it states abortion is illegal after 6 weeks. Most women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks! Oklahoma's law is also incorrect in that it allows suing anyone who takes a women for an abortion which is tantamount to tattle telling on your neighbor and asking adults to act like 5-year-olds. What if my neighbor is hemorrhaging from a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy and I take her to the hospital or call an ambulance so she doesn't die? As an RN, am I in danger of a lawsuit until they prove she had a medical emergency? Clauses like the one I just described do not belong in any state law and undermine our trust in one another.
The fact of the matter is the Supreme Court has made the decision for all of us based on a legal argument. I don't know if they took these kinds of situations into account or looked at the nuances. What I want to ask the Church is this (and I echo a Voxology podcast on Roe vs Wade that I was listening to yesterday): did we have to let the Supreme Court and the political process do this for us? Where have we been? How could we have affected our culture to lessen the perceived need for abortion and cared for women, children, and families better? I am also asking myself this same question. Church, we must step up (I am also talking to myself)! But will we as whole? We don't have a good track record, especially in the Protestant Evangelical world, in doing so in several areas. We don't support policies (nor do we expect our politicians to) that would strengthen single-parent homes, families, and lessen the effects of poverty (this is whole-person, whole-life, pro-life Church). I don't see the Church as involved in anti-trafficking work, except for a select few organizations or individuals (I work in this world so I know). I don't see the Church opening and running crisis-pregnancy centers in every city and town in the nation. I don't see the Church leading the charge to adopt unwanted children that we didn't want aborted – with the exception of some individual families or organizations. I don't see the Church running orphanages for said children either – with the exception of a few denominations. I don't see the Church involved in a lot of abortion after-care, with the exception of the Catholic Church (who does a fantastic job with this aspect). A few can't do it all my Protestant Evangelical friends. Where have we been? What are you going to do individually and in your church to “go from here” so to speak? It will take all of us working with and in our communities. It will take all of us laying down our politics to do what is best for women and families, especially the poor. Where we go from here Church is up to us – whether we make a relevant impact will be decided within the next 5 to 10 years. I also expect with the changing national political landscapes and state laws, we will have one of our biggest challenges yet. Are we up for it? Only we can decide.
I love the Church. I want to see the church stop being political and start being the hands and feet of Jesus in this area. Now, this will upset our politicians but last I checked they didn't die for any of us or save our souls so what they think really does not matter. They are simply tools in our society, they are not our gods (as much as some of them would love to be). I say to the Church today, do not seek power. Seek the King of the Kingdom. In Him, is all the wisdom and compassion to love women, children, and families. If we seek Him, and do the hard things in our communities and leave behind power; we will end abortion because women and families will have hope and know they are loved. Many wounds will be healed. When this happens, even the Elephant and the Donkey will be amazed at what we have done.
I will leave you with two verses today about love. Love is greater than power. Love is the foundation of all we must do in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.
1 Corinthians 16:14; “Do everything in love.” (emphasis mine)
Leviticus 19:18b; “…..love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (emphasis mine)
With much love,