This past Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a series of Texas laws restricting the operation of abortion clinics. Here’s the short version: Texas law required abortion clinics to meet the standards of stand-alone surgery centers and doctors performing the abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Most clinics in Texas were unable to comply with the new requirements and a lot of them closed. Because access to abortions was limited by the smaller number of clinics, lawsuits followed.
On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down those laws ruling that these laws did, in fact, unlawfully restrict a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.
The point of my writing is not to debate whether or not the ruling was right or wrong. There have been enough experts and pundits doing that. I don’t want to go back and talk again about whether or not Roe v. Wade is correct.
What I’d like to do is talk to the church about 1. Where we are now and 2. What we can do to move forward.
So, where are we? First, like it or not, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. In some form or another, it has survived numerous challenges, and given the make up of the court, will likely survive any challenges in the future. Certainly if Hillary Clinton is elected president, any judges she appoints will be vetted and shown to be supporters of Roe V. Wade.
For that reason—and several others—I really don’t think we’ll be successful in continuing to legally challenge the law as it stands. I’m not a lawyer, and I know there are those who consider it their calling to try and find a way to change the law. I’m not saying that we don’t continue to challenge the law.
I know abortion is a complicated issue. I’m not talking about abortions where the mother’s health is in question or the result of rape or incest. These issues need to be addressed in different ways. I’m talking about abortion as post-conception birth control. This is the vast majority of abortions in America.
I am saying, as a pastor, I believe it’s time for the church to address the issue in a different way.
How do we do that?
First, we need to be mindful of how we talk about abortion. On any given Sunday, our congregations will have women in attendance who have had an abortion. There will be men there who in some way participated in an abortion. You will have women who are considering an abortion. Like it or not, with very few exceptions, people dealing with this issue will be attending our worship services.
And what they most need to hear is a word of grace. I know, we’re called to speak the truth, but we’re called to speak it in love. I’m not sure we get that last part across. Yes, I’m pro-life. Yes, I want every mother to choose to have her child, but that’s not reality. Reality is broken, ugly, and filled with guilt and remorse. Grace is the only thing that gets us through.
Second, we need to be sure women in this situation knows there’s a way out. That’s why our church is so excited to be in partnership with Hope Clinic for Women in Nashville (www.hopeclinicforwomen.org). Hope Clinic offers the full range of medical care, counseling, and support needed for any woman or couple experiencing a crisis pregnancy. It’s not enough to be against abortion. We have to stand for life. We’ve worked very closely with Renee Rizzo and her team toward several happy endings to stories that didn’t necessarily start out so happily.
Third, churches must become centers of adoption and foster parenting. Too many times, we’ve been accused of being pro-life until the child is born. We have to make sure we put the same energy into children and mothers after the child is born as we do before they’re born. What shows the power and love of God more than adoption? A child is given a name and a chance with a family who is called by God to love that child for His sake.
Here’s the brutal truth: The world doesn’t care for the woman or her child. They’re simply pawns in a political argument. The church has to be different. We have to be part of the loving solution. Christ calls us to be more for the sake of the “least of these.”
I may be wrong. Perhaps Roe V. Wade will be overturned. I don’t think it will be, but it might. Until then, the church must address this issue with an opened arm of grace and a love that just won’t quit. This is a tough issue…and Christ followers are just going to be have to be tougher in love.