How To Respond to #ShoutYourAbortion

angry-computer-guy-1024x683Wow. To quote the movie Anchorman, 'that escalated quickly'.

The hastag 'shoutyourabortion' started trending today, and already I'm seeing one side angrily shaming the 'feminazis' who are also angrily lashing out at the 'trolls' who are condemning them.

As a Christian who doesn't let any political party tell me what I should think and what position I should take, how do I handle something like this?

I like to think in terms of stories, and I've been trying to think of a good story in the scriptures that helps me frame this argument. Is it John 8 where an adulterous woman is dragged before Jesus to be stoned?

I don't think that's a perfect representation, because in this case, there's not a silent party who knows they have been caught doing wrong. Both sides are pointing at the other and shouting for the rest of us to stone them.

Is it like 1 Kings 3 where King Solomon is asked to determine the real mother of a certain baby and he cleverly suggests cutting the baby in half to determine the true mother when she, in compassion for her baby, offers to surrender her rights?

This doesn't seem to fit either, as neither side seems to have a great deal of compassion for the other side.

I settled on a story in Luke 12. It's also quite imperfect in some ways, but the principle may help us here.

Jesus has literally just finished speaking about how each person has great value to God when a man shouts out, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” (v.13)

Jesus responds to the man in the next verse. “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” He then starts to talk about how dangerous greed is.

Here are the principles in that story that I think are very meaningful to us as we process our modern day arguement:

1.Jesus isn't going to let us play the game of putting him in the middle of our arguments.

It's hilarious to me that Jesus asks, 'who made me a judge over you to decide such things'. I mean, come on, he's God in the flesh. There's no one more qualified, yet he refuses to play this game of 'take my side against him'.

When we argue for or against abortion on moral grounds (is it better to have an abortion than to let a child live in a home with unfit parents or poverty, etc), we're essentially trying to get Jesus on our side and against the other side. He is Lord and Savior, not a pawn in our own personal chess game.

2.Get rid of your desire to condemn people and choose to love them instead.

Jesus' warning to the man who asked about greed doesn't exactly apply here, but I believe our willingness to arrogantly condemn others would receive a similar reaction. Jesus was telling the man in question that he valued money more than a relationship with his brother.

Do we value 'being right' more than showing love and compassion and acceptance to a son or daughter of God?

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul makes it crystal clear that our enemy is never other people. Even if somebody else is completely wrong or immoral or evil, you are not excused from treating them with love.

If you do not believe abortion is healthy for anyone involved, then look for ways to resolve the underlying problems rather than using shame as a tool which can never actually improve anything:

  • Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center
  • Teach literacy and job skills at a local school or youth center
  • Look into adoption

Give people hope and assistance instead of scorn. Follow the example of Jesus who did not condemn us, but rather called us to something better.

The old saying says that honey catches more flies than vinegar. Father Greg Boyle says that 'nothing stops a bullet better than a job.'

What are you doing to reduce abortions in a way that gives dignity to women rather than attempting to disgrace them?

Please do not go on social media and express pity for the women who have had an abortion. Pity is a form of arrogance. Instead offer compassion. Compassion cares about people whereas pity is thinly veiled scorn.

Ask people to share their story. Learn about why they made their choice, and see if there are ways you can bring healing in places of hurt.

Even if you don't agree with choices people make, you can care about them and what challenges they have had to face.

I doubt anybody goes to get an abortion because 'it seems like fun'. I bet most people take the decision very seriously. I think Jesus would listen to stories of hurt, like he did in Luke 8 with the woman who had a serious health issue before responding with compassion.

This is the Jesus who offered compassion to the people who murdered him. There is no one beyond his compassion, and if we are his ambassadors, we are tasked with sharing that message.

Here's one last story that we should remember: Luke 15 where God compares himself to a Father who RUNS to his child that is returning from a life far from himself.

At one time, we've all been the prodigal. Those of us who have used shame and scorn and condemnation need to be first to return to the home of our Father. Only then can we celebrate the return of others who are seeking an environment of love and rejoicing.

So here's the side I hope you choose in this arguement: Love. Loving the people who are made in the image of God. Let us seek together how to continue inviting the Kingdom of God into our midst

And may the church be the loudest voice of love in our society.

March for Life

I couple weeks ago, on my commute home, I found it was crazy busy at the train station. Union Station (Washington, D.C.) was packed with people heading to the March for Life.

There were a great deal of college kids, several groups from Catholic Churches, lots of people holding signs, and crowds of people everywhere as commuters tried to make their way through the station.

When I see these people, I am torn on how to feel about them. Here’s why:

I hate the fact that babies are being killed in large numbers in our country. Hate it. I have three children, one of which will be born in about 6 months. I can’t imagine any of my kids being killed before or after birth. Life is an amazing miracle. Seeing your own child born brings this home in a way I can’t begin to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it.

However, I believe that making abortion illegal is a horrible way to approach this issue.  If you ask me to choose whether I want a child killed before birth, or I want a child to be born into a household that doesn’t want that child, I can’t. Neither of those options is acceptable. A mistreated, neglected or abused child doesn’t make me happy.

Saying that adoption is a better choice is a nice line. But with the number of orphans and kids in foster care already in this country alone, let alone the world, you can’t convince me that the addition of another million+ kids a year into that system won’t overwhelm it and cause more difficult conditions.

I worry that people who go to such rallies believe that making a big noise about being pro-life and advocating for legislative changes is a fulfillment of our responsibility. I’m sure most people there would agree that it doesn’t stop at attending a rally, but I would also bet most don’t actually do anything beyond attending a rally.

What good is it for us to be mad at the end result (abortion) if we aren’t working to fix the process that creates them?

How useful would it be to yell at a chicken farm to stop selling eggs, but not to help it acquire goats or cows or some other form of subsistence?

Rather than just getting mad at the result, maybe we need to get to work on the conditions that produce the results.

Once an unwanted child has been conceived, all we have left are imperfect solutions. We need to be at work in the causes of these pregnancies. Why are teenage girls using their body to gain the affections of teenage boys? Why are teenage boys seeking their own pleasure at the expense of any consideration for the girls they get involved with?

Large swaths of the youthful generations today believe their actions are normal and that the choices they make are the best of what’s available.

Isn’t it our job to tell them about the better options? To help them discover the abundant life Jesus offers? I don’t see how yelling about their terrible actions helps that.

Shame doesn’t fix anything.

Scorn doesn’t lead to acceptance.

As David Kinnaman says in unChristian, “We [Christians] have become more famous for what we oppose rather than who we are for.”

Jesus was a champion of the downtrodden, of the ‘dirty sinner’. People say that they are speaking up for the babies who can’t speak for themselves. How about giving love to those who have never known it? Undeserved, unearned love for those that find themselves being chewed up by the hardships of life.

If you want to go to a rally, fine. But please, see if your church can reach out to the people who need the love of God at a crisis pregnancy center. Instead of taking an option away from people who are in desperate places, maybe we can give them a new one: being loved by a community who will do anything they need.