The overturn of Roe vs Wade in the USA has prompted some Christians to wave placards and write jubilant posts to celebrate the victory over abortion rights. Before you dance in the pulpit this weekend, I ask your pastor’s heart to consider those in your congregation who this week are triggered, retraumatized, and further silenced. Slogans and scriptures thrown about with gay abandon land like stones on the heads of unintended victims. They send a clear message that silence is safer than seeking help.
Don’t get me wrong, abortion is terrible. I believe in morality and sex within marriage. I also believe in the practical working out of the Gospel. Church attitudes towards a sin reveal how safe or unsafe a person is to confess their own and seek healing. Honest examination of church culture will determine whether this next season reveals your house as a beacon of hope or a spotlight on sin.
Is your church a safe place for a man or woman to reveal an abortion and seek healing? Before you answer, consider how many already have and if they are still with you. Contrary to the teenage stereotype, most women who have abortions are not teenagers but women in their 20’s who already have one child and almost half had been in a relationship for a year or longer with the man who made them pregnant.
When it comes to abortion, I’ve taken comfort in knowing every aborted baby goes straight into the arms of Jesus. If the change in the law is a victory, it will only be so if every life saved physically is also saved spiritually.
How will the church reach and love these unwanted children and their families moving forward? Lauren Green McAfee’s article “After Roe, How Do We Stand for Life?” offers some suggestions. Given the cost of time, prayer, emotion, and finances, I wonder if such suggestions will really be implemented once the noise dies down.
A 2015 Survey by Care-Net shows that 43% of post-abortive women were attending church at least once a month at the time of their first abortion. Only 7% said they discussed their decision with someone at church. Among Christian women who had abortions, 23% identified as evangelical. According to Lifeway Research, half of men (51%) say they were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of at least one of their partner’s abortions.
Here are some factors to consider that can affect a church’s effectiveness when it comes to preventing abortions. You may think of more.
- How do people in your church talk about those who have had abortions?
- Is your church just as concerned about the fate of unused IVF embryos? Has it even occurred to them?
- How often do you minister healing to women who have had an abortion? To the men involved?
- Are single mothers welcomed, supported, and empowered in their individual calling? Or are they viewed as a charity case or “church project”?
- Has teaching holiness included the fear of single motherhood to discourage sex outside marriage?
- Could purity culture actually drive a young woman to an abortion?
- Have statistics about fatherless homes been used to encourage morality? Have you considered how such warnings make fatherless families in your congregation feel?
- Are purity/modesty messages generally for girls, while lust/pornography addresses boys?
- Are all positions of leadership and authority held by men, while women, conditioned to obedience are blamed for “leading” men into moral failure?
- Have your leaders received “Trauma-Informed” training?
- What options would your church offer someone who came seeking help?
- Have you considered the ethics of the vulnerable being advised to give their child to more wealthy, childless couples?
God promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that when we are tempted, He will provide a way out so that we can endure it. By that example, if we are going to tell someone an action is a sin, we are obliged to offer genuine answers for a way out. “Jesus is the answer”, so what does that look like in your church?