Abortion has been legal at the federal level for nearly 50 years. Being a millennial, that means that for my whole life, abortion has been legal in America. With over 62 million abortions nationally since that time, the impact that the Roe case has had cannot be understated. With the June 24th announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe V. Wade on its ruling of Dobbs. V. Jackson, the abortion conversation and debate is reigniting.
As you probably already know, abortion is not outlawed throughout the whole country but it does return the power to make abortion laws back to the states. It also returns the conversation freshly to local churches. I can feel the angst already. With national conversations around racial justice, school safety, the environment and so forth, how does the Church prioritize this conversation and neither deny other gospel issues nor raise it above them? If you have been on social media at all, you’ll notice that many Christians are split on what the church should and should not be doing in response.
What is there to say in this cultural moment for a believer and follower of Jesus? I think the first conversation any of us should have is with Jesus Himself to cast on the emotional burden on His shoulders. He is the only One who can take on the smallest to greatest of issues of the whole world and not crumble under its weight. He is infinitely wise and we can find solace, strength and perspective in prayer.
We ought to lament at the lost and broken lives left in the wake of 62 million lives lost and the tens of millions of lives that may not have processed the impact of their own abortion decisions but who now are coming to grips with the personal impact. We ought to rejoice that more lives will have the basic right to be born. We ought to rejoice that many parents will be spared the impact of the long-lasting trauma of a past abortion experience.
We also ought to reflect with great sobriety the days that are ahead.
Not everyone is rejoicing that Roe V Wade has been overturned. Not everyone is happy. How do we maintain Christian unity when there will be great cultural conflict in our nation? The sober reality is that there will be loud voices, protests, and probably violence in the days ahead. The polarization will continue to escalate.
Churches and believers will be challenged to view the abortion issue as a distraction to the gospel. I might ask, is it a distraction from the gospel or an implication of the gospel? Is it merely and exclusively a “political issue”?
For this cultural moment, believers ought to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. There is a reason that some people are sad or mad who share an alternative opinion than yours or mine. These people- even the protestors (on either side)- are people that Jesus died for and is actively pursuing. We ought not to demonize or dehumanize people in the midst of our social, political, and biblical views. We ought to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
We ought to be present with those opposing voices through listening and serving their needs. We ought to listen to their stories. This is counter cultural to care about people who believe differently. My personal conviction is that some of the loudest voices that are angry are some of the ones with the most unresolved grief.
I do have a have a concern. Some Christian leaders, knowing that there is great nuance and the potential to be misheard, might be silent as to either preserve unity or not upset people of differing views. If we, as Christians, do not talk about the very real issue of abortion and the impact it has on people, we may preserve the peace in part. However, with the current statistics being around one in four women who have had an abortion in America, our silence may be counterproductive and actually betray the best interests of a group bigger than we realize exists. It is imperative that we stand for the freedom of many silent people who have been impacted by something that was perceived as legal, morally neutral or even good until now.
That leads me to one redemptive element of the national conversation: There may be people who are stirred up to wrestle with their past abortion decisions that have been and are affecting them negatively. If we are silent OR apparently mostly angry, we might not be in tune with Jesus’ healing heart. Have you considered that not only have 62 million + lives been lost through abortion, but at least that many lives (many in our congregations) have potentially abortion wounded hearts and are not walking in the freedom that Christ died for?
In my experience of working at an organization that meets men and women facing unexpected pregnancies or who have made past abortion decisions, the opinion of our clients is that relatively few churches actually talk about abortion. I have found from listening to those who are finding freedom and healing from past abortion experiences, they actually viewed their churches as silent on the matter. This meant to them that their past abortions were not welcomed topics of discussion. When we do not talk about issues, it communicates loudly the notion that “we don’t talk about that here” and it creates inherent shame. In order to be conduits of freedom to those audiences, it is important to open up the conversation proactively.
Yes, there is and will be conflict. But Jesus has called us to be grace and truth people who are humble servants of his to the “others” of society.
Whether you agree with me or not on the outcome of Friday’s decision, I hope that you agree with me that God can bring needed healing in light of great pain. I think we all ought to pray for the many millions of men and women who have never grieved the the loss of a child from a past abortion experience and that healing and forgiveness would be theirs in Jesus.
If you are one who is rejoicing at the ruling, please hear my caution to be sensitive in the way that you celebrate and condemn abortion as the great injustice that grieves God’s heart that it is. Have you ever considered what the abortion wounded heart has heard when you speak? Do you have the heart of God for both the preborn child and the parents of that child? Do they see the heart of God for them or only for the child that they lost? They need to hear the message of redemption.
There is much, much more that could be shared and will be shared beyond what I have mentioned. My encouragement for this moment is to consider not perpetuating the sin of devaluing the life of the person who is arguing contrary.
While I personally am rejoicing at the US Supreme Court decision, I am committed to helping believers create a narrative that is balanced, biblical, and helpful to see Jesus’ name honored in how we process and respond to the implications of the decision.
Development and Communications Director
Hands of Hope Tucson