There are not many issues I am more clearly opposed to than abortion. Recently as I consider what would constitute a gracious "new creation" response to divisive issues, as opposed to the typical "liberal/conservative" drivel, abortion presents a considerable challenge. Obviously I don't believe handing out contraceptives to students at local high schools is a legitimate solution. But I've never been to a pro-life rally, picketed a clinic, or stood along a busy street holding enlarged photographs of aborted fetuses. No one wants to see that. But how to prove I'm not a "fence-rider" without being dismissed as loony? The Pope would have me stop obsessing over it. What to do...what to do... The other morning while brushing my teeth I was covertly monitoring my wife's frustration level. She implored our daughter for the third, fourth, or maybe one hundred and fifty second time to put on her shoes and get ready to go to the bus stop. For some odd reason as the decibel levels inside my house began to rise it occurred to me that adopting our two children was the most profound and productive thing we had ever done in opposition to abortion. Of course combating abortion was nowhere in our rationale for adoption. We had simply grown weary of doctors and wanted to build our family. Adoption was the means to that end. But along the way I picked up a few simple points that if applied may help the church gain a wider audience in its efforts to discourage abortion and promote life.
1. Love kids even...no, especially when they are noisy and disruptive in church. During the worship service pick up the inappropriately noisy toy that the inappropriately noisy toddler behind you has dropped beneath your seat for the umpteenth time. Turn and hand it to his or her parents...with a smile...a genuine smile. Jesus never sent a baby to the nursery, quite the opposite in fact (Matt. 19:14), and if the parents don't choose to neither should you. Okay, you're right; Jesus didn't have the option of a nursery. Whatever. If it is wrong to consider the unborn as potentially inconvenient then it is even more wrong to regard the already born as such. Train your mind to appreciate and be reminded of God's grace in the occasional distractions caused by his more recent creations.
2. Don't demean or make assumptions about women who have had abortions. Have you considered the possibility that one of these women may be listening to our off-handed remarks about her? By all accounts an abortion is a traumatic event for the mother, if not physically then certainly emotionally. If you believe the life she aborted was created in the image of God then likewise believe the mother herself was created in the image of God and in need of redemption...just like the rest of us.
3. Don't demean or make assumptions about mothers who have placed a child for adoption. Have you considered the possibility that one of these women may be listening to our off-handed remarks about her? (I know...I just repeated myself.) Generally speaking there are a lot of assumptions regarding what kind of woman gives her child up for adoption, many of which are unwarranted. But regardless of her circumstances or lifestyle the birth mother has chosen to commit two selfless acts worthy of affirmation: carry her child to term and ensure that child has a secure family.
4. Love, care for, and support the unwed, single mothers in your midst. If there are none, find some. Support a women's shelter. Care for them and their children. Keep in mind that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that one day a high school student or other young unmarried woman who attends your church will find herself in an unenviable predicament. What could be more disheartening to an unexpectedly pregnant and frightened young woman than a church that does nothing more than cast suspicious glances toward single moms? Preventing one mistake from being compounded by a second mistake requires words and acts of love, not judgment.
5. Consider the ramifications of getting what you want. If abortion were eradicated then theoretically the result would be one million more live births in the United States every year. One. Million. Presumably a significant portion of those would involve birth defects or other complications. To be "pro-life" is to be for all of life, not just perfectly healthy, normal life, and not just the first day of it. While waiting for the tide to change be concerned about the unborn, but be equally concerned about the already born. Among other things consider supporting adoption, families with disabled children, free clinics, research, learn sign language...do something!
6. Pray not only for a change of law, but a change of heart. Certainly one should hope and pray that someday the practice of abortion will be outlawed, but as is always the case even in the Old Testament, the law is only able to do so much to stem human depravity. Pro-choice activists are right about one thing: If abortion is outlawed it won't cease to exist. It will only become an exponentially more dangerous enterprise. Thus one's prayers should be for a change of heart in both those who would consider performing and those who would consider receiving abortion, that they would see all of human life for what it is, "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14) by God himself.
7. Stop yelling. Maybe it's not much (the above thoughts), but despite all the protests, signs, and gruesome pictures, Roe v. Wade has been in place for 40 years now; longer than I've been alive. It's one thing to maintain awareness of the problem. And if politics, law, or medicine are what you do then by all means do what you can to continue pushing the legal envelope. Otherwise join me in politely and compassionately working to encourage and promote life. But control yourself. Yelling upsets the babies.