Last Friday there was a march in Washington and in many other places. This coming Saturday there will be another march in Washington - and in many other places. The primary result of both marches will basically be that those who participated in them and supported them will be more committed to their previous stances, will feel good because they participated in them, and probably will change very few minds in the process. There will have been activism on both sides with self-imposed monickers like pro-choice, pro-life - while at the same time calling those who oppose them far less positive names like anti-choice and anti-life. But I am concerned that when it is all over what we will have is two groups who are more focused on the other side than they are on those caught in the middle.
Who are those who are caught in the middle? In regard to the question of abortion - it is several groups of people. First of all it is the women who face a pregnancy and what to do now that they know they are pregnant. There is also whatever is in their womb that is at stake. How is this being addressed? Here is where I will begin to make my main point. When Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 that we are to, “Let our light shine in such a way that people might see our good works and glorify our Father Who is in heaven,” I believe he meant something other than participating in a march. Honestly - considering what He said about the “least of these,” I believe He had in mind stuff more like rolling up your sleeves and serving those who are caught in the middle.
I’ve moved away, in my latter years, from marching much any more. Looking back over 50 plus years now, I see far more accomplished in addressing the abortion issue by rolling up my sleeves and working WITH the women who are caught in the middle of crisis pregnancies. There are plenty of them who have written and spoken saying how grateful they were for a place where they were loved and helped in the midst of their crisis. There are others who spoke through tears stating their gratefulness in having a place that loved them even after they had an abortion. Their thankfulness was for someone telling them and helping them find forgiveness when they thought it was not possible to be forgiven. At last count I don’t remember any women thanking me for marching - at least women who were caught in the middle. Do I think marching is wrong? No, I cannot say that. The right to express ourselves peacefully in a march - and even for some to carry signs with fairly incendiary messages on them (I’m speaking about both sides of the issue folks) is protected under our system of government. There are also times when a peaceful march is needed. But can I be perfectly candid with you who are reading this. Keeping an accurate count of those at a march - that is hard work - and often debated as soon as the numbers come out. Keeping an accurate count of those rolling up their sleeves and being dedicated over time to those women and whatever is in their womb in the middle? That, my friends is rather easy - because the number plummets to easily manageable numbers.
I do attend a rally every year. It is called "Sanctity of Life" day. On this day those of us who come together tend to shy away from street protests and marches. Our celebration of life focuses on God giving each of us, including developing babies in the womb, life. It focuses on the real needs of women who are facing the extremely hard decision of what do to in a crisis pregnancy. We focus on those who are hurting badly because they've had an abortion and wonder if they can be forgiven. We focus on people who have adopted children - and face many hard, day-to-day realities of rearing a child who has everything from reactive-detachment disorder to babies coming off the drugs their mothers were taking while pregnant. We want to encourage them - help them - and be respite families for them when they need a night together as a couple. We do this because we know this will help far more than holding signs with incendiary messages that honestly do far more to infuriate the opposition than win their hearts. It would not be inaccurate to say that these gatherings are about remembering those people who are still in the middle - and celebrating some who have rolled up their sleeves to help.
Oh that we would be able to see that being a "light set on a hill" has far more to do with choices to address the problems of our society with hands-on, very hard, action-oriented solutions - than it does with shouting at - and eventually shouting down those who disagree with us. According to our Lord, that light is visible as people see our good deeds. They see them not in light of how awesome we are (which will do little more than cause us to be proud of ourselves for that self-glorifying awesomeness). They see the motive for our works - as well as the works themselves - and glorify our Father Who is in heaven. At the end of such works there are no congratulations in order for us - because we know what our hearts were like before He saved and changed us. No! All congratulation and celebration is focus on such an incredible Father Who has given birth (through salvation) and reared (through teaching, encouragement, and discipline) such good kids. They honor and glory for the works belongs to God! In doing them our hope is that they will know that we are Jesus' disciples by our love for one another, our love for those who oppose us, our love for the "least of these," and even our love for our enemies. May our stand for life be seen far more often in these ways - than in holding a sign, yelling a phrase, and honestly - doing little or nothing to truly change our culture. If we want to make America great again . . . why don't we try rolling up our sleeves, wading into the mess within our culture, and getting our hands dirty serving, loving, and ministering (and I believe this includes sharing the gospel with them), to those who are hurting because of its problems. If you participate in a march - good! But if all you do is march - and there are not regular marching orders to follow to selflessly and sacrificially fix the problems, your march ended far too soon.
This past Sunday was “Sanctity of Life Sunday” in the United States. As a result I chose to teach on abortion and the need to speak up for life. It was a difficult message to preach – and yet one that needs to be heard. Yet in the midst of recognizing that there is a life other than the mother that is involved which needs to be protected, I also wanted to emphasize the need for us to be compassionate as we advance the pro-life message.
I am vitally invested in the ministry of the Pregnancy Resource Center. This is a group of people who are committed to sharing the love of Christ and the truth with women who are facing crisis pregnancies. One of the key things we emphasize again and again in this ministry is the need for every woman who walks through our doors to feel our love and the love of Christ. There is a very good reason for doing this. Let me explain.
The vast majority of the women who walk through our doors do so feeling like they have no other choice than to abort their child. The announcement that they are pregnant hits them like a ton of bricks. For those who are single (as well as some who are married) there is a panic that comes with an unplanned pregnancy. They may be on a career path or in the midst of getting a college education where a baby will seriously derail the plans that they had made. Often there is a sense of dread when family and others learn of their pregnancy. Some, who already are dealing with poverty in their life, are overwhelmed at the thought of how they will pay for a child – and in some cases – another child. These mind of these precious women are often flooded with many different conflicting thoughts.
Then there is the relational issue many of them face as this crisis hits. What about my boyfriend? How will he react? Will he stick around – or will this cause him to dump me? Let’s face a fact – many men are cowards who just turn and walk away from something they’ve helped to cause. And because they don’t have to carry the baby – they feel a freedom (albeit a perverse one) to walk away from the situation they’ve caused. So the young woman who walks through our door has this thought going through her head as well. While we are at it – there are also problems relationally with regard to parents. Will they freak out – even in some cases threatening to disown their daughter because of an unplanned pregnancy? How will friends receive this information? If they are religiously minded – they are also going to face the problem of shame and possibly be ostracized by those around them.
We’ve had women come through our doors who face possible medical problems due to diabetes or other conditions. And in very rare cases (most often not ever revealed to us) they were the victim of a rape or of incest. Since justice in these cases can often result in a court case where they are treated almost as badly as the actual crime, many of these women do not come forward. They simply suffer in silence as they have this horror added to their already emotionally overwhelming circumstances.
Then there are those women who call us because they’ve already had an abortion. What we hear the most from these precious women is that they feel like they will never be able to be forgiven for what they’ve done. They are plagued by a consistent depression over their choice to have an abortion. Some cannot even see a baby without a sense of loss and guilt. They suffer from a PTSD because of what has happened in their lives, but struggle to even tell anyone about it. Therefore many choose to suffer in silence, thinking there is nothing they can do about their abortion.
This is what we face as we advocate for life with the precious women that God sends us. We want them to know that we love them dearly – that Jesus loves them dearly – and that even though we believe abortion is the wrong choice – there is forgiveness available for those who have had an abortion. Make no mistake – I am pro-life all the way. But because of a desire to minister to those women who face the crisis of a decision about an unplanned pregnancy we choose to address every situation we face with a tremendous amount of mercy and compassion. We do this because we know that we may be the only ones who will have a chance to advocate for life in their lives.
Most of these articles are taken from the Calvary Courier, a weekly newsletter that is sent to the folks who attend Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. Due to the response to these articles, we've decided to print some of them which proved to be very helpful to God's people at the fellowship.
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