Written by Molly (Petrey) Jones (former Executive Director at The Hope Center) on June 28, 2022.
For eight years I served in a pregnancy center as both the director of operations and eventually the executive director. During my time there the team of skilled nurses, counselors, administrative professionals, and I ministered to women and men who were processing the shock of a pregnancy they hadn’t expected. The topics of Roe v. Wade, abortion, unexpected pregnancies, and the church’s response are not new to me.
Many of the women who came through the doors were in conflict about what to do with their pregnancy, most did not want an abortion but believed it was the only way out. Most felt pressure from outside forces to have an abortion and were afraid of the ramifications (being cut off financially, homelessness, poverty, being left, etc.…) of choosing to carry their pregnancy. With each passing year, the Lord grew my love for these women, men, and their babies as people made in his image in need of his saving grace in their lives.
In the days following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade I have observed the varied responses from my fellow Christians. Social media has been ablaze with a myriad of videos, memes, quotes from various thought leaders, and hot takes. The constant flurry of activity and responses to this decision can leave one disoriented and unsure of the path forward. I believe this is a moment in history where the church has been given a monumental opportunity for the furtherance of the gospel. My prayer is that we would shun political talking points and rather proclaim the gospel with our words and actions to a watching world.
The following are three areas for you to consider as you navigate the current cultural landscape on how to best respond in a manner that’s worthy of the gospel.
Love your opposing neighbor
When the news of the decision hit, I turned on the news to watch live coverage from outside the Supreme Court. As I watched, I noticed two young women, with Christian pro-life messages on their signs and shirts, posing for a picture in front of a pro-abortion protester. It struck me that as they posed, they had a look of victory and arrogance on their face. I was grieved. Brothers and sisters, this should not be. We are called in scripture to love with patience, kindness, and without arrogance (1 Corinthians 13). Are we so entrenched in an “us against them” mentality that we have forgotten the Imago Dei each of those who oppose us carry? Have we forgotten that instead of seeking to best our opposing neighbor in a debate and strike a victory pose, we’re called to reach out in humility with the gospel? As we enter conversations both online and in person may we remember that the gospel is what is needed and be faithful to share it.
Love your post-abortive neighbor
Statistically, one in four women in our churches have had an abortion. According to a survey conducted by Lifeway 52% have not told anyone in their church about their abortion. For many women the fear of judgement, and ostracization keep them in silence as they believe their abortion is an unforgiveable sin that marks them with a scarlet letter in their church. Many women and men suffer in silence due to a past abortion, and the current news cycle, social media, and conversations on abortion can be triggering causing more suffering with feelings of isolation, shame, and guilt. Rather than reaching out to those who can and should help them, most stay silent, stuck in grief and shame. There is a tremendous opportunity to reach these men and women with hope, healing, and forgiveness through Jesus, to show them his mercy and heart towards them. May we be known as a people who open our arms wide to our brothers and sisters, walking alongside them by lending a compassionate, listening ear, proclaiming to them the hope we have through the gospel, and connecting them with post abortive resources that will help them to properly grieve and heal. Jesus provides freedom and forgiveness; may we be faithful bearers of that message.
Love your unexpectedly pregnant neighbor
Now that Roe is overturned, there will be a need to double down on our efforts to help women and men with unexpected pregnancies thrive and flourish. We can do this by supporting the work of pregnancy centers, who provide immediate assistance to men and women who have recently discovered they’re pregnant and help secure housing, childcare, healthcare, transportation, needed baby supplies, food, jobs, scholarships, and a community that advocates for them and their baby. We can do this by opening our homes, hosting young mothers and fathers, investing in their lives by caring for them and their children and the various emotional and physical needs that come with pregnancy and parenting. We can do this through foster care and adoption helping to alleviate the potential influx of children into an already overburdened system.
In my experience this is the hardest point to consider as it requires a willingness to enter the messiness of another’s life, requiring us to look beyond ourselves, beyond our comforts and put others’ needs before our own. Yet is not this what Christ did for us? We are reminded in Philippians of Jesus’ emptying of himself and taking the form of a servant, being born into the likeness of men. (Phil. 2:7) By entering another’s pain, hardship, and mess we are imaging Christ and his heart for them. Let’s not waste this opportunity for the sake of our own comfort.
In the coming days, may we be faithful to proclaim the truth of the gospel with our words, actions, and love for our opposing, post-abortive, and unexpectedly pregnant neighbors. May our love be genuine while we abhor what is evil and cling to what is good all while being fervent in spirit and serving the Lord. (Romans 12: 9, 11) May God find us faithful in this moment of time and history.