This is what I shared in church on Sunday – with a few tweaks for this context.
Why should we mention a ruling like this on a Sunday morning at all? The calling of a pastor is to apply the whole counsel of God to all aspects of life. Clearly, the political realm falls within the purview of “all aspects of life”. Whether it’s through social media or headlines, we’re all being confronted with perspectives on this ruling. Part of my role as a pastor is to help you think through these perspectives and be equipped to think and live in a Christlike manner in the midst of them. Therefore, while speaking about such issues is fraught, we must speak about them.
With that in mind, here are five quick points on how to think about this ruling:
1) As Christians, we celebrate life, including life in the womb.
We affirm that life in the womb is made in the image of God, and therefore, deserving of all the rights and protections due to people everywhere. We also acknowledge the vulnerability and voicelessness of children in the womb, and therefore, seek to protect their cause as one aspect of our work to bring about the justice and generosity of God’s kingdom on earth.
2) We recognize political complexity and diversity among Christians.
We acknowledge that the moment we take a fairly clear ethic like (1) above and enter it into the fray of a fallen world and a deeply dysfunctional political context, things get very messy very quickly.
We acknowledge that it is possible for a Christian to affirm (1) above, yet not think it is the role of a secular government over a pluralistic society to enforce Christian morality.
We acknowledge it is possible for a Christian to affirm (1) above and yet, for practical or utilitarian reasons, to believe it is not beneficial to remove access to abortion on a societal level. It could be they are convinced by sets of data that outlawing abortion brings more harm than good, whether to unborn children, to mothers, to women generally, or to all of the above.
We also acknowledge minority cases, where the life of the mother may be in danger due to pregnancy, or a whole host of other minority cases where the simplicity of ethic (1) above becomes immediately complex and challenging, and we pray for the medical professionals, families, and individuals who must navigate such difficult moral terrain.
In all of this, then, we are to be charitable toward one another, not vindictive nor boastful, in our discussions and disagreements around this ruling.
3) We recognize the compassionate element of the fury of those who disagree with this ruling.
While we will, in a moment, mention the human centered and distorted elements of those who disagree, we first recognize the laudable compassion that is behind the fury of many who disagree.
Many who disagree with this ruling do so because of compassion and concern, especially for women, especially for women from low income or otherwise vulnerable situations such as domestic abuse or violence. We should recognize that almost anyone entering into a request for an abortion probably finds themselves in a dire situation.
We can see this compassion, and while we disagree with the ethic of on-demand abortion that it leads to, we can appreciate the sincere concern for others that underlies this perspective.
4) We recognize the human centered, self-protective element of the fury of those who disagree with this ruling.
Alongside compassion, at the heart of support for abortion there is also present a supremely human-centered view of the world consisting of a demand to be able to do what we want with our bodies, whenever we want, with whoever we want, without consequences. But as those created by God, we know that we are not autonomous creatures. We are supremely dependent and intertwined.
Moreover, underneath the support for abortion is a broader, and more deeply deceptive “Contraceptive Ideology” – this is the notion that it is possible to separate sex and babies. The Contraceptive Ideology attempts to convince people that sex without consequences is not only possible, but is in fact the simple truth about sex in a birth-control-saturated society, and a society with ready access to on-demand abortion.
To remove easy access to abortion is to threaten the entire project of the Contraceptive Ideology. To remove access to abortion is to threaten the idea that anyone can have sex without consequences. It forces the issues of sex and babies back into connection.
As Christians, and simply as intelligent humans able to observe how the world works, we declare that sex and babies go together. Period. Ask any woman who has become pregnant while on birth control (I could introduce you to several!). The contraceptive ideology is a rejection of God’s good design and a rejection of reality as we find it.
In this way, removal of abortion is frightening to those who reject God because it is a reminder of our finitude as human beings who are Created with limitations and dependencies. We do not create our own destiny. We live within the design of a world made by Another.
As Christians, we recognize these philosophical perspectives behind the demand for easy access abortion, and we reject them.
5) We redouble our efforts to support the life and flourishing of young mothers and children.
As followers of Christ, the man who gave his life for the good of others, we earnestly seek to serve others in love. We aim to be particularly attuned to the presence of vulnerable young women in our communities, and we advocate for their ultimate good. We should continue to be active in crisis pregnancy centers, in adoption, and in foster care. We should also pay attention to societal structures and institutions which perpetuate cycles of poverty or increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies, and labor toward their rectification.
As we affirm an ethic of life, we should strive to make this ethic evident in our lives, our finances, our professions, our political involvement, and in our communities.
Toward this end, let us pray together.
NOTE: I will not be engaging (much) with comments on this post. Any comments not made in good faith will be promptly deleted.