As with most of the issues that have arisen in today’s world, this one is messy. So-called pro-choice advocates believe that a woman should have full control over her own body to include ending a developing life inside that body if that is her choice. So-called pro-life advocates believe that fetuses are human life and that we should err on the side of protecting that life over the convenience of the woman carrying it. Opinions on this issue aren’t completely binary. Many people’s stances on this issue don’t exactly fall completely on one side or the other. For example, some that generally discourage abortions also believe it should be an option for cases like pregnancies that result from rape or pregnancies that place the mother’s life in danger. Others that generally support the right of women to have an abortion are willing to concede that at some point in a pregnancy (i.e., late term), abortion should no longer be allowed.
So where should Christians stand on this matter? That’s a tricky question to answer. Many of the pro-choice advocates use Christianity as their primary reasoning for being pro-life. That is somewhat problematic since the Bible doesn’t take anywhere near as definitive a stance on abortion as some would have everyone believe. In fact, the Bible doesn’t really give any direct instruction on abortion one way or the other despite the fact that we know that people in Biblical times had methods for ending pregnancies prematurely. Such a method may have even been used at God’s command (Numbers 5:11-31).*
That is not to say that there is nothing in the Bible that would indicate that Christians should be more aligned towards the pro-life side than the pro-choice side. The Bible tells us that those that believe in God should also believe that children are a gift from God.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. – Psalm 127:3
All life comes from God, so no life is a mistake in his eyes. That fact should be enough to give any Christian pause when contemplating having or supporting an abortion, but is it enough to take a hardcore stance against abortion the way many are now? Maybe. However, as this blog has pointed out several times, it’s not the job of Jesus’ followers to force others to adhere to Christian ideals. We haven’t been tasked with saving this world or making it reflect what we believe God wants. Jesus did not instruct his disciples to work to legislate away sin or actions they believed to be sinful. That’s simply not the Christian the calling.
We are called to spread the Gospel and do our best to help people find the Lord. We are also called to love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
The love that God expects from us should be shown universally, not just to other Christians or people we like or people that live their lives the way we believe they should. When the Bible tells us to “love our neighbors” it means all our fellow human beings.
That brings us right back around to mothers because what better example of love do we have here on earth than that shown by mothers? Their ability to love so deeply and genuinely is part of the reason we value them so much. Still, as much as they might sometimes seem like angels, they are still human beings susceptible to all the pressures and stresses the world can deliver. While the Bible tells us that children are a gift from God, that doesn’t mean that an unexpected pregnancy might not feel like a curse depending on a woman’s circumstances. That’s something that gets lost in this debate. We can argue about whether or not a fetus is a person, but there is no question about the mothers. They are humans and, as willing as they are to give support, sometimes they are the ones that need it the most. Those women that are on the precipice of motherhood and don’t know what to do deserve our love and understanding not our condemnation and judgment.
We don’t always know what people are going through when they make the decisions they do. Maybe a lack of love is the exact reason why some women seek to have abortions. Maybe instead of attacking them, we should be loving them and ensuring them that no matter what happens we will do our best to support them. Maybe if we did more of that, then fewer women would feel like they are unable to handle bearing a child.
Jesus came to the world under unusual circumstances. Mary certainly wasn’t expecting to become pregnant with the savior of the world. God knew that. That’s why he sent her an angel to comfort her.
The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said, “You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.” – Luke 1:27-28
None of us are angels, but when we see a mother-to-be that that is conflicted or unsure. We can deliver the same message: “The Lord is with you.” Maybe she will decide to keep the baby, maybe she won’t. What’s important is that she understands who Jesus is and what he did for her.
Mothers have to sacrifice a lot for their children, even at the beginning. Simply being pregnant is an act of sacrifice. Even if we Christians are meant to be pro-life, we should still be able to acknowledge the sacrifice women make to bring children into this world. If we think it’s a sacrifice they should make, then maybe we can best help by sharing about Jesus’ sacrifice and letting him do the rest.