This post is written by Stacey Monaco.
Stacey has been speaking and writing since her first unpublished children’s book in the fifth grade. Her journey as a writer has taken her from the depths of blue water exploration, to the simplicity of crafting words to encourage and educate in the areas of loss, legacy, leadership, and living life passionately with purpose. Stacey received her Masters Degree in Christian Ministry and Leadership from Talbot School of Theology, and has worked in many roles from slinging coffee to pastoring women. To find more on living the Christian life with intention, head over to her website at StaceyMonaco.com.
The abortion crisis cuts straight to the heart of the American Christian. I myself have, for years, carefully researched and marked the ballot for any political candidate who would vote against the taking of an unborn life.
As a teen, I had been guided toward aborting an unexpected pregnancy. The decision to have an abortion marked me, with the full weight of its impact coming full force when I carried my oldest son to full term.
Every ultrasound and prenatal education class told me what I already knew to my core––I had silenced a beating heart. I had made a choice.
On May 19 of this year, the Governor of the state of Texas signed into law one of the nation’s strongest abortion measures, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks into gestation. As a woman living in Texas who is decidedly pro-life, I could stand up and raise my hands in victory.
But I’d be ignoring the greater question of what it is that brings a woman to the point of terminating a life growing inside of her, and whether this legislation fulfills the biblical mandate to love mankind.
The Freedom of Choice
Some of you read the title of this piece and have only continued reading to refute with anger every faulty logic and line of reasoning you believe I am about to present.
Trust me, I understand.
After all, the argument of pro-choice is faulty at it inception. By its very definition, the term pro-choice draws lines of liberty not to dignify human life, but rather to indulge our preoccupation with the particular freedoms that we, as individuals, most want at any given time.
As a young person, one may desire the freedom to drink alcohol and drive a vehicle, but later as a parent or elder adult, one may desire the freedom to traverse the streets of their community without fear of loss of life due to drunk driving.
Let me be deeply personal with this topic of abortion as it relates to freedom of choice: as a young woman of the age of consent, I had the choice to not have sex. But I wanted the freedom to do with my body what I pleased. I then had the choice to ensure that myself, my partner, or better yet, that both of us had taken safe measures to avoid an undesired pregnancy. But again, I wanted the freedom of spontaneity. My choices did not begin after the conception of life, but well prior.
Upon the realization that I had become pregnant, I had the choice to carry to term and release the child I had borne to someone else––perhaps a couple who were longing for a child and capable of raising one but were unable to conceive or carry one to full-term.
To be honest, as a pregnant teen, though still of the age of consent, this option never even made an appearance in my thoughts. Still, I would have longed for freedom; freedom from shame, freedom from the responsibility to treat my body well while I grew a life, freedom to carry on as I had prior to the revelation of being pregnant.
I had choices well before life began, as well as after conception.
In truth, we do not live in a world where we truly want everyone to have complete freedom of choice at all times.
When it comes to difficult topics such as life and death, somewhere in our core, most human beings would desire the preservation of life. And yet muddled up within the topic is still that pesky and oh-so-inflammatory discussion of personal freedom.
Christians who prescribe to a biblical concept of valuing human life should take the time to delve into and understand the construct of being pro-life, and how it works itself out in our personal commitment to Christ, our political stance, and our churches’ missional platform.
1. Laws Don’t Change Hearts. Love Does.
As Christians and citizens of this nation, I want to commend those who use their time and capabilities to engage in the political forum. To lobby on behalf of the unborn through abortion legislation is a worthy endeavor, as long as those who do so are deeply rooted in the whole of the gospel.
To lobby for the unborn means that you cannot act unilaterally, but that you stand in a fully-orbed concern for the mother and the father, as well as the condition of society and the Church, when it comes to the long-term support of life.
To stand on a corner picketing an abortion clinic may send a message about one aspect of how believing in the sanctity of life is defined, but the question remains as to whether it will change the hearts and minds of the human beings who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy.
On some level, we may believe this fulfills the call of our personal commitment to Christ. However, to shame someone into a choice will rarely lead him or her to the feet of Jesus. Though a picket sign in hand may assuage our own personal need to act on behalf of our belief system, it rarely does it actually serve the gospel message of loving God and loving people.Lobbying for the unborn means you stand in a fully-orbed concern for the mother and the father, as well as the condition of society and the Church, when it comes to the long-term support of life. Click To Tweet
This means that the Church must lobby for far reaching change as it relates to saving the lives of the unborn. It must inform legislation that will improve the lives of family units, in whatever shape they may come. It must consider childcare costs, mental health care, housing, and the actual day-to-day support of a mother or father who feels ill prepared to raise and financially care for a child.
Herein we find the down and dirty of truly working out our personal commitment to Christ, as it relates to being fully pro-life.
Picketing the capital or our local legislators can have the effect of putting into place laws that will protect the unborn, such as the current law enacted here in Texas. But again the question remains, has the church gotten to the crux of the issue? The hard truths must be faced when we ask ourselves questions of how we are personally willing to support a mother or father in the long-term care, feeding, and raising of a child.
It is an easy thing to march and picket in support of the unborn, but are we, as representatives of the Church, and Christ himself, willing to provide housing, affordable childcare, education, clothing, diapers, or nights awake rocking a newborn, or helping with a toddler, to the family who steps bravely away from the abortion clinic doors?
Love has consequences. It does not shame, and it does not leave someone hungry and out in the proverbial cold. A Church that radically loves an unborn child, mother, and father alike will lead with love and follow with wisely considered legislation.Love has consequences. It does not shame, and it does not leave someone hungry and out in the proverbial cold. Click To Tweet
2. A Political Stance That Promotes Shame Fails to Fully Promote Life
Morally, as Christians we desire to align ourselves with a political paradigm or stance that we believe most accurately defines how a holy God would desire that we behave in society. We want the Ten Commandments emblazoned in our school hallways and seats of government, all the while forgetting that the overarching purpose of the commands scribed by the finger of God, was to point his people to an awareness of their need for him.
It may feel orderly, and perhaps even Christian, to check off our list weekly church attendance, our morning bit of devotional reading, and our ability to avoid murdering our neighbor, or looking at their wife, as well as our yearly check written to the local pro-life agency, or a Saturday spent picketing an abortion clinic.
Yet at some core level we all know that we cannot attain to those commands in our hearts, or that once church became a thing to cross off the to-do list, we no longer were even sure if God was really there.Red-letter justice requires compassion, concern, and the personal responsibility of the Church to act with love and care toward the unborn child, the mother, and for a society plagued with poverty and abuse. Click To Tweet
Apart from Christ, we are all humans given to those things that at any given moment could slide us downward on the morality scale straight toward a scarlet letter, or an orange jumpsuit for that matter –– even as we struggle alongside the world with abstinence, loving mankind, and genuine care for society.
The red-letter justice of the words spoken by Jesus reveal compassion, concern, and, most of all, the personal responsibility of each individual member of the Church to act with love and care toward the unborn child, the woman with the unplanned pregnancy, and for a society plagued with poverty and abuse.
Where the law acts itself out in finger pointing and shame, red-letter justice creatively seeks to reveal life to those hungry and thirsty for hope.
Agencies such as Save the Storks and Corona Life Services reflect the heart of Jesus well, as they seek to lovingly lead a woman into the realization that there is a life worth saving inside of her body, and that there are people who will open their hands to help with the care and feeding of those in need.
3. Abortion Legislation Cannot Replace A Love-Filled Actively Missional Church
As I noted earlier, the Church must delve into the greater question of what it is that brings a woman to the point of terminating a life that is growing within her body.
The women who choose to end a pregnancy are not just teens who made a heated decision to have sex without the aide of a fully functioning pre-frontal cortex. They are not solely unmarried women, nor do they all come from a certain demographic or ethnicity. They are not all impoverished, nor are they all undereducated.
Yes, there are women who use abortion as a method of birth control, or as a back-up method, and of course there is a population of women who simply do not believe that what is growing inside of them is life. Abortion legislation may cause these women to take pause, but it may also send them packing to simply have the procedure they desire in a location that offers them the coveted “my body, my choice.”
Abortion is a hard topic, and while we can stand with a strong determination to fight for the unborn, we cannot take lightly the struggle of the woman who finds herself facing an unwanted pregnancy. And as citizens and Christ-followers we need to heed the call to love in the legislation we promote, seeking to understand and promote life-giving initiatives in ways that will offer hope and help to those who might consider abortion alternatives.We need to heed the call to love in the legislation we promote, seeking to understand and promote life-giving initiatives in ways that will offer hope and help to those who might consider abortion alternatives. Click To Tweet
Although the Church may point to adoption as a solution, and those unable to conceive hold their arms open in hope, they must also face the truth that to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is a sacrifice for the woman who chooses this noble path. Though she may walk away free from the hard work of raising a child, she will have dedicated nine months, and her own physical body to the task. It is likely that this woman may experience mental and emotional repercussions that may not present themselves until later in this woman’s life.
The truth is that life isn’t lived in the black and white, and neither is the gospel, and while political interventions may save an unborn life, it is the church living out its mission daily toward individuals in need that can bring a revival that can change entire communities. As a Church, we must develop mission-oriented outreach right in our own backyards to love on, develop, and financially care for potential parents, while showing mercy when a choice is made that wrenches our heart to the core.
We must heed the call to love without the hope of reward, with the clarity of understanding that where the law might bring death to our hearts, love can bring hope to the world. It is simply, not simple.
To love without hope of reward is the long game. It fulfills and defines the call to faith and sacrificial living.
So yes, go to the poll and vote, call your legislator, and lobby your capitol buildings for the pro-life cause, right after you get on your knees and pray and ask the Holy Spirit how you can make a difference. Yes, save a life right in your own backyard.To love without hope of reward is the long game. Click To Tweet
More than merely voting for abortion legislation, clean the house of a struggling mama, set up a foundation to pay for the medical fees of those who cannot afford to pay for birth, or medical visits. Create a registry of homes established by those who can give financially, where families choosing to bring an unexpected pregnancy to full-term can live, and be aided through kindness and education in the care of raising a child. And march, of course march, march right over to the house of a single parent in your church that needs a night off.
This is the gritty life where as believers we are called to get down in the depth of scripture and wrestle to find just exactly what Jesus was trying to teach us when it comes to truth, the gospel, and how we stay on mission, while living in a degraded and broken world. Tragic situations and depths of pain abound. Often we are right in the midst of it missing our cue to humble ourselves, pray, and love like Jesus.
As we wrestle for the lives of the unborn, may we fight for their families and communities. And when we are tempted to point the finger in our passion and anger, may we extend our hand, and bend our knees instead.
MORE FROM STACEY
In this post, Stacey explores how we can make the most of our opportunities, even in season when we are wearied from the challenges of our current season.
In this post, Stacey explains three reasons why she chose to receive the COVID-19 perspective, from a Christian perspective.
Stacey joins us on the podcast for a conversation about women in church leadership, sharing her wealth of wisdom and personal experience.
Connect with Stacey at StaceyMonaco.com.