Today, as I read the Facebook comment string on this recent article from the Christian Post, I feel the need for a new Christian response to abortion even more deeply than usual.
Here is a sampling of some of the comments:
Tell that to God when you see him.
Hell holds a special place for unrepentant abortion providers and their “patients”.
Abortion is murder and the one who does must be punished with capital punishment. Repent and come to sense.
Read your Bible to see where unrepentant murderers go for all eternity… (hint: it’s VERY hot…)🔥🔥
It is murder, genocide, form of birth control for irresponsible people, and a holocaust.
GOD said thou shall not murder, all murders will have their part in the lake of 🔥 fire.
What’s a blessing in killing a child for the whim of convenience?
They will all pay one day.
Good luck discussing that with God on judgement day fools.
And you are on a fast track to burn eternally in Hell.
Understandably, Christians will be disturbed by the campaign’s phrase, “Abortion is a blessing.” We agree that God has a better plan for women and children than abortion, every time, even when the situation seems impossible.
But few people in these 300+ comments call attention to the possibility that Jesus might respond in a more gracious way, though I’m sure that’s what many Christians believe. My hunch is that that’s because we don’t feel we have an alternative way to talk about abortion that is God-honoring.
Our current mainstream vocabulary around abortion limits us to expressing care for the woman or the child, and in Christian circles, rarely takes in to account our own sins. If we look at who Jesus warned about the fires of hell, it wasn’t the people who were broken and hurting with obvious sin in their lives. It was primarily the religious people who were trying to hide their sin and pretend they were better than others.
So how would Jesus respond?
I’ve spent some time trying to put my finger more precisely on what bothers me so much about these responses, and the best way to explain it is to share a story from my friend Lavone. I met Lavone in my BSF group, where we’ve spent the year studying Romans. She regularly visits with female inmates at local prisons, building relationships and talking with them about Jesus’s love and grace.
Lavone told me about a time she was given the name of an inmate who was guilty of a horrific crime against a child. She told the Lord, “I can’t do it. I can’t go talk with her, Lord. This crime makes me sick. Please don’t ask me to visit her.” And she sensed the Lord tenderly answer back, “Lavone…your sins are just as grievous to me as her crime.”
Any of us who know Lavone can’t imagine her hurting a fly, but that word from God made all the difference for her. She has never had difficulty visiting with any inmate after that, regardless of the offense.
I get choked up every time I recount this story, because Lavone’s interaction with God exemplifies the Gospel we preach, that we all have sinned and fall short of God’s perfection, and only the precious sacrifice of Jesus saves any of us from the judgment we deserve. I believe He would say the same thing to me that he so kindly said to Lavone.
The Way of Grace
Jesus told us that in His eyes, lust is the same as adultery and hatred is the same as murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28). He leveled the playing field, so that the people posting these comments are just as guilty before the Lord as the abortion clinic staff who are running this campaign — and so am I!
Of course we are never to merely gloss over sin, but the fact that we continue to treat abortion as a “greater” sin is a big reason we haven’t seen much movement on this issue in the past 40 years. A recent Lifeway study showed that 4 out of 10 women who have abortions are attending church at the time. And yet, only 7% of them talk to anyone in their church about this decision. When asked why, many of them said they feared judgment from people at their church.
While we are shaking our fists and pronouncing judgment, countless women from our own churches are quietly going to the very abortion clinics we denounce. Why? Not because they want to “murder their child,” but because they are terrified of overwhelming shame and struggle as a single mom and feel abortion is their only choice.
I don’t believe most people in our churches are making comments like those on the Facebook string above. But these comments should shock us enough to take a look inside and ask God to reveal our hidden judgments. We have to ask Him what we might be doing or saying that contributes to the vast majority of women who don’t feel they can go to anyone in their church for help when they are considering abortion.
Until we address what is happening inside our churches, we can’t possibly have an answer for those outside the church. To create a culture where women in and outside of our churches no longer think abortion is their only option, we first have to learn to communicate with those who are hurting as Jesus did.