Much controversy has surrounded this past week. Then again, controversy has filled our news feeds for a good while now, hasn’t it? But the particular focus on the issue of abortion has emotions running high.
The two camps are, as always, at odds. Each has carried their signs and shared their posts that support their views, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think either side is interested in listening to the other.
When I was the Executive Director of a crisis pregnancy center, I didn’t personally know anyone who was pro-choice. All of my circles supported my view. I prayed for things like the installation of the Mexico City policy. I wanted to end the federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
My stance on these things hasn’t changed, but my perspective has. I now have friends who are pro-choice. I’ve listened to them share their reasons why. I can no longer stereotype “the other side,” because the other side is made up of individuals whose life experiences and beliefs have shaped their ethics, as have mine. The issue is more complex than I once believed.
Whereas the Jennifer of 15 years ago would have only celebrated the end of the funding of abortions overseas, the Jennifer of today is still grateful for this executive order, but I can also understand why women in favor of choice are balking at legislation signed by a man who has demeaned and objectified women, both on tape and in print. Some women who support abortion rights have had male power used against them, so this kind of president signing this kind of law only adds fuel to the fire. I get that.
We’re living in interesting times when opinions are loud, fear is high, and trust is low. The world is craving authenticity, and it will snuff out insincerity or hypocrisy in a heartbeat. In light of this reality, I have one brief charge to the pro-life community as we tread this oh-so-tender topic. It’s not a new idea, but one that’s important to remember: Love them both. Love and protect the unborn, and love and protect the mother as well. Love those in the womb, and love with extravagant love the woman who is fighting for choice. If our only plan forward is to cheer on legislation led by a man who is so deeply flawed, we will lose credibility, and lose it quickly. And if abortion laws are overturned like we’re saying we want them to be, then we’d better be ready to jump into action to serve women and children in crisis.
The world is watching; the stakes are high. What can we do?
–Volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center. Places like Sav-A-Life provide free counseling, prenatal care, clothing, and other resources to women facing crisis pregnancies.
–Foster or adopt. As an adoptive mom, I’m obviously passionate about this issue. If we’re going to encourage women with unwanted pregnancies to bravely place their children for adoption, then we need to bravely consider becoming family for these children. If you can’t do this, then offer support for adoptive or foster families you know, or give to wonderful agencies like Lifeline Children’s Services who are caring for birth mothers and orphans well.
–Serve the struggling single mother. Bring meals. Babysit. Offer rides for her kids. Give her a gift certificate for a pedicure. Ask, “What’s it like to live a day in your shoes? How can I help?”
–Consider your stance on issues like immigration and the refugee crisis; healthcare and social justice. If you want to stand up for the vulnerable and voiceless, this desire should not be limited to the unborn. I’ve been pushed past my comfort zone on these issues, and I’m still trying to flesh out where I stand, but I want to be consistent. Life is sacred—all life. What’s our responsibility to this truth? How are we practically valuing all life, from the embryo to the homeless man to the mentally disabled to the family of six who lives down the street and happens to be in the States illegally? How do we love them all well? These are all good questions to ask.
–Befriend someone who is pro-choice. Listen to them. Hear their story. If there’s anger there, why? Have they been hurt by people in your camp or even by the church? What are their practical reasons for thinking abortion should remain legal, and is that something you can help with? Maybe it’s not. Love them well, with respect. I’ve learned that listening doesn’t compromise my values; instead, it deepens and defines them as I learn from others who think differently than me.
–Pray. Pray for teenaged girls who are terrified and alone. Pray for parents who need wisdom to know how to walk forward with love and grace. Pray for women who right now, at this very moment, are trying to decide whether or not to carry their pregnancies. Pray for women who want more than anything to be mothers, yet their wombs remain empty. Pray for organizations on the front lines, offering cups of cold water and gospel truths to women in crisis. Pray forever families for the orphans who wait. Pray for your own heart, that you would set aside comfort and serve, whatever that may look like.
These are just a few of my ideas—I’d love to hear yours! I realize this topic is heated and tender, so let’s lead with love, friends, and never forget that humility begets humility. Hearts are never changed by harsh, angry words, especially when spoken over the internet, for crying out loud.