Dear Christian Sisters,
I wonder how often our words unintentionally tell young women to abort.
While on a short-term mission trip to Uganda over New Year’s, I met a man who is studying to be a pastor. He sat at the dinner table with our team as we discussed abortion in Uganda and in the U.S.
One of our pastors pointed out that when we tell our daughters not to come home pregnant, we are essentially telling them to go have abortions.
The Ugandan man realized that he had said that very thing to his daughters, so he went home to change the conversation.
A parent’s words are powerful.
That got me thinking. We need to have these same discussions in the U.S. as well as in Uganda about abortion and what we’re saying to women. The mission field is not just outside of the U.S. (See part 1 of this blog series, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”)
Changing the Way We Talk
As followers of Christ, we need to change the way that we talk and to encourage others to do the same because we are unintentionally telling women to have abortions.
When we pro-lifers talk about abortion, we typically talk about the babies who are dying. U.S. politics are so polarized on the abortion issue that pro-choicers hear everything we have to say as yelling.
When has yelling convinced anyone to accept Christ’s gift of eternal salvation?
From their perspective, all we seem to care about are saving babies, but what about the women?
Are we caring for them through the pregnancy?
Are we supporting them as single moms?
Are we walking alongside them through open adoption?
After all, who is making the decision to abort?
The women, of course!
So, let’s consider how we might be telling women to have abortions.
How We Unintentionally Tell Teens to Have Abortions
My best friend in high school got pregnant about the same time that I did. I was at the top of my high school class. My best friend who is smarter than me and graduated ahead of me chose life. I didn’t.
For her, standing up for her daughter was her ticket out of her parents’ house. She wasn’t going to let her daughter grow up in an abusive home. So, she moved out and into an apartment and finished high school by doing all her classes as dual enrollment at the local university. She advocated for herself and for her daughter.
Her high school counselor told her she had to go to the district’s alternative school—top of the class and they wanted to send her away. Let me ask you—How is that different than saying “If you want to stay here, you have to have an abortion”?
Want another example of sending the wrong message? Here’s one that’s more recent: “A Christian school banned a pregnant teen from graduation because she was immoral”:
“We teach our students about the beauty of marriage and that sex inside of marriage is one of the things that is beautiful about marriage,” he said.
But while the school reaffirmed its decision, antiabortion groups have rallied to support Runkles. They argue that by singling out a pregnant student, the school is making it more likely that young women will choose abortion rather than suffer embarrassment and punishment.
Yes, exactly that.
And then there’s the inequality:
“It’s because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake,” Runkles said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
“There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year.
As for me and my story, I was hard hearted. It was my decision. No one pressured me to have an abortion, but no one told me not to, either.
So, let me ask you. What have you said to your children about abortion? You may not have children of your own, but you may have children by volunteering in the children’s ministry or with youth or young adults at your church—because your church is a family, right?
Maybe we are so rigid about “no sex before marriage” that our kids are afraid to tell us that they are pregnant.
Maybe we say, “Don’t ruin your life” by having children when you’re young as if being a mom or putting a child up for adoption is the end of your education and career—because it’s not! God’s strength in us is bigger!
How do we need to change the conversation in our homes and in our churches?
In order to change the conversation, we need to talk about our messy lives, shed light on them—get them out of the darkness and into the light. Take away the power of Satan.
Telling Our Stories to Our Children
Last spring on Good Friday, my husband and I sat down with our boys, ages 13 and 9, and told them our stories of choosing Jesus, including what our lives were like before and how we have changed. **And let me be clear: Abortion is my story, not my husband’s. My husband is the Christian hero in my story!**
Until that night, our boys only knew us as we are now and what we value today. Before we told them, they did not know that we were not always moral people.
It was hard. It was embarrassing. But they were very understanding and forgiving.
I told them that I felt like I had been keeping secrets from them and that I didn’t like that feeling. They both hugged me!
Now that it’s all out in the open, there’s no shame. We took our sins out of the darkness and brought them into the light where Satan no longer has power.
And guess what? Now our boys ask us more questions. We have frank conversations through our bible studies (because the Bible has a lot to say about sex!). Through our discussions of tough questions, we guide them into being the men whom God wants them to be.
With the love of Christ,