Today, the danger of passing by those in need on the issue of abortion has to be continually emphasized in the church. Consider the following data, collected and published by CareNet:
- 4 in 10 women who had an abortion were churchgoers at the time of their decision
- Only 7% of women discussed their abortion with anyone at church
- Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.
- A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
- Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
- Only 3 in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options
Clearly, abortion happens far more within church congregations than many are comfortable admitting. However, there are many within the church today who think that this issue is overly discussed, and needs to be talked about less in contrast with other issues. Consider the following comments from Pastor A.R. Bernard. He asserts that the church should focus less on "personal sins" like abortion and same-sex marriage, because black evangelicals like himself are more concerned with other issues, like police shootings and "income inequality".
Aside from the debates over whether those are major problems today(For more on these topics, see Walter E. Williams "Race and Economics" and Thomas Sowell's "Discrimination and Disparities") the moral problem of abortion still remains for the church: If 900,000 women are having abortions in America per year, and 4 in 10 women who have abortions were attending church at the time, then 225,000 or more abortion minded women were sitting in church pews across our nation in one year's time. That is not a small number.
What leads many church leaders to shy away from discussing abortion? I'm convinced it's because the church doesn't want to talk about the act of abortion itself. Many will talk about it in terms of an abstract, political issue(And many then go on to add "But we don't talk about politics here") But most will never show their congregations just what an abortion does. In fact, I am convinced that many leaders aren't aware of the horrific nature of the abortion act itself.
This is a wrong approach, I think. If congregations and church members are not aware of just what abortion does to the unborn child(And to her mother) then if follows that they won't stop to consider the ramifications of that decision, both morally and spiritually. This is why I think, now more than ever, congregations must compassionately address the issue today by showing abortion, exactly as it is, through pictures of what it actually does. If 225,000 preborn children a year are at risk of being killed, then to not address this issue is to pass by on the "other side of the road" when our neighbors are in the most need.
I think the method of showing abortion imagery that is used by pro-life speakers at LTI and elsewhere, such as Scott Klusendorf, Greg Koukl, and Dr. Mike Adams, among others, is the best method for doing this. They will give the context for showing the images, and will make the viewing optional by dimming lights or cutting out the sound from the video. Children who are under the age of 13 are sometimes encouraged to leave the room, but parents can make the decision to let them watch if they so choose. If in front of a church audience, they will show how the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives the best answer and hope to those in the congregation who have experienced abortion, or know someone who has. Even more so, having a post-abortion healing ministry present at the church or resources on hand can help those who most need help. Groups like Silent No More and Surrendering the Secret are phenomenal in helping post-abortive men and women find the hope and forgiveness that is offered by Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, there are some pro-life speakers who have sprung the images on audiences without warning; however, if appropriate warning is given, congregations will not only know the need for engaging on the abortion issue, they will know what exactly is at stake with abortion itself: The intentional killing of an innocent human being.
Some may object and will raise the concern that this will cause guilt for those who have experienced abortion, which is a valid concern. However, I think the better question to be asked is: Are we really helping anyone by not addressing the issue? You may remember several years ago when a French Court banned a video of Down's Syndrome children because it may unintentionally cause guilt for women who had made the decision to abort their child because he or she had been diagnosed with the disorder. That should raise a question: How far are we willing to go to spare someone guilt? Should we hide the truth so as to ensure that no one experiences pain? Or should we show the truth in a manner that will obviously raise pain, but in such a way that can help bring those in pain to find healing? And if showing that truth can help others avoid the future pain of a bad decision, is it worth the risk? I think the answer is obvious.
Jesus called out those who pass by on the other side of the road when their neighbors are in the most need of their life. When our neighbors' lives are at stake, avoiding truth is not an option.