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Forty-seven years ago, when Roe v. Wade enshrined the legal right to abortion nationwide, a mission field was created in every town of America wherein Christians are called to take a stand to protect the unborn. Since then, pro-life groups have worked tirelessly in the political and legislative arena to outlaw abortion. But though we long to see Roe v. Wade overturned, just being against abortion is not enough to address the problem of abortion. In order for the church to see babies saved from abortion, it is paramount that we put love into action by ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Twenty years ago, God called me to take an active part in pro-life ministry as the director of a crisis pregnancy center. Every day, young women walk through our doors filled with fear and confusion, thinking, “I might be pregnant, and I don’t know what to do.” My prayer is always that we would love them well and would see each meeting as a divine appointment with a woman whom we may ultimately point to Christ.
Scripture tells us to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15). I’ve often pondered what it looks like for the church to “be prepared” when confronted with a woman in a crisis pregnancy. We can’t just hand her a Bible tract, presenting her with deep spiritual truth that she isn’t ready to hear. Done without grace, this merely feeds her fears of judgment and condemnation. We must listen and understand the heart of a mother facing a crisis pregnancy, realizing that in order to share the good news of Jesus, we need to take time to understand her. If we want what matters to us to matter to her, then what matters to her must first matter to us. In Philippians 2:5–11, we read about Christ’s humbling Himself by taking on the form of a servant. We are called to imitate Him in humility and service. When it comes to a woman who is facing a crisis pregnancy, this often entails gently and respectfully entering her world, feeling her desperation, and validating her struggle, being careful not to aim merely to “fix” her.
Who is this woman considering abortion? We may perceive her to be a proud marching feminist exercising her reproductive rights, but this does not represent the majority of women who are considering abortion. She may be someone we already know—our daughter, granddaughter, the girl in our youth group, the cashier in our checkout lane. She’s scared, ashamed, overwhelmed, and under enormous pressure. She had plans for her life, and getting pregnant was not one of them. Now, all she can think about is how to undo what she’s done.
Does she want an abortion? Not like she wants a new handbag or chocolate cake. Instead, like a trapped animal that is willing to gnaw off its leg to escape, she is thinking of getting out of her predicament by an act of violence and self-preservation. Seeking an abortion is often born of desperation, desperation that invites her to think an even greater sin is the only answer.
As those who bear the name of Christ and are His ambassadors to the world, we have the opportunity to slow down an emotionally charged decision and shed light on life-giving options. This is our chance to show her the great care and compassion of our loving heavenly Father.
LifeWay Research reported in 2015 that 36 percent of postabortive women attended a Christian church once a month or more. This statistic reminds me of what an abortionist once said after being invited to repent of his evil acts: “I’ll consider coming to church with you when the church stops coming to me.” If our desire is to save babies from abortion, a good place to start is in our churches.
I once received a call from a church secretary asking if we could help a pregnant single member with material needs. I said that we could, sharing that what the mother really needs is for her church family to rally around her and her unborn baby. Slightly embarrassed, the secretary said the pastor had forbidden the ladies in the church from throwing a baby shower, as it would give the impression that the church condoned premarital sex. While we must not condone premarital sex, we absolutely must celebrate the glorious gift of human life. Stories like this one demonstrate why many Christian women feel that they are under more pressure to abort than non-Christian women are. Thankfully, in the end, the church graciously came alongside her emotionally and materially, helping her make the next right decision. Years later, I met this mother and her son, and I still marvel at how her testimony truly reflects the grace of God in her life.
In order to effectively help women who are considering abortion, we must be clothed in the humility of Christ, love, genuineness, and empathy. When we meet people whose circumstances are different from our own—people with big problems that often have no ready or easy fix; people with broken families torn apart by drugs, alcohol, violence, and poverty—it can be easy to feel that we are better than they are and to look down at the choices they have made, forgetting that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). To love well a woman who is considering abortion, we meet her with the compassion of Christ, knowing that in order to save the baby, we must minister to her heart and pray that in our loving her, she will grow to love her baby.
Abortion devastates everyone it touches—baby, mother, the extended family, and even the church. Those who have had an abortion (including one out of four professing Christians—men and women) often suffer alone. They are in need of a place to take their shame, guilt, and regret. We can extend Christ’s love to the wounded among us—those deciding what to do about a crisis pregnancy and those who have already aborted—with the redeeming forgiveness that awaits them at the cross. Putting love into action is rarely easy. It is messy, often inconvenient, and costly. Yet, it is what we are called to do as servants of Christ. Let us not grow weary in doing good, and let us continue to display the love of Christ.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 1, 2020.