As a Christian, the inherent value of life is fundamental to my understanding of what it means to be a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. James 3:9 and Genesis 1:26 remind us that every human life is created in the image of God and bears His likeness. Life is sacred, and we must seek to protect all human life: children (both born and unborn), youth, adult and elderly. Many more Bible verses can be referenced to speak to the sacredness of life and the subject of abortion itself. For decades we’ve seen the legislative stalemate that the topic of abortion becomes, and both sides could argue that they’ve seen small “wins” along the way. However, the epidemic of abortion remains, and legislation is only part of the solution.
Angie Weszely, a lifelong anti-abortion advocate and leader in Christian pregnancy organizations, puts it like this when speaking about the legislative stalemate surrounding this issue: “Maybe this will force us as Christians to ask God for a solution that accurately reflects His heart. After all, a political platform can never fully articulate the depths of God’s compassion for both the woman and the child impacted by an unplanned pregnancy. That is up to us, the body of Christ.”
In a 2015 study led by Care Net, a nonprofit organization supporting more than 1,100 pregnancy centers across North America, results showed that more than 4 in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy. “That’s a huge opportunity for the church to have an impact on those decisions,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. That same study went on to find that only 7 percent of women discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church. Three-fourths (76 percent) said the church had no influence on their decision. “The results point to a church culture that often lacks grace,” McConnell went on to say.
If you, like many of us are deeply grieved by the continuous killing of the unborn, we must remember that our faith compels us to tell a different story about the value and dignity of every human life. However, our faith also compels us to live our lives in such a way that the response of the watching world moves beyond offense to intrigue and attraction.
The late Billy Graham once said, “The spiritual condition of man is at the root of the abortion issue. Until man’s spiritual condition is changed by the power of Jesus Christ, we will not find a solution to this problem.” In his wisdom, I believe Billy Graham was speaking not only to the mothers and children impacted by abortion, but also to all who profess faith in Jesus Christ.
When asked why the early church exploded like wildfire, many Church historians are quick to point out that Christians had a view of life that both offended and attracted people. In a recent Gospel Coalition article Tim Keller noted that, “Christians were allied into a unique social project. Christians forbade both abortion and the practice of “infant exposure,” in which unwanted babies were simply thrown out. Christians were also a sexual counterculture in that they abstained from any sex outside of heterosexual marriage. This was in the midst of a society that thought, especially for married men, sex with prostitutes, slaves and children was perfectly fine.”
He goes onto say, “Yet Christians were also unusually generous with their money, particularly to the poor and needy, and not just to their own family and racial group. Another striking difference was that Christian communities were multi-ethnic, since their common identity in Christ was more fundamental than their racial identities and, therefore, created a multi-ethnic diversity, which was unprecedented for a religion. Finally, Christians believed in non-retaliation, in forgiving their enemies, even those who were killing them.”
What would happen if we started to look at what it means to be pro-life through the lens of the great commandant to love our neighbor? What if we began to use our voice, our resources, our time, and our energy to run towards the pain, the lostness and the brokenness of this region?
According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, last year (2018) 9,647 unborn children, (26 per day) lost their lives through abortion in Broward County alone. In God’s Kingdom those numbers would be zero. However, I believe that in God’s economy the desire to reduce and eliminate the number of abortions wouldn’t be driven by numbers but by radical grace, hospitality and holistic care. Employment, housing, healthcare, community and unconditional love should all be fundamental hallmarks to how Gods people speak to this issue.
In our quest to unify for the sake of God’s kingdom, we seek to spread faith, hope and love as a unified Church. We have a core goal of seeing the number of committed Christians double from 3 percent to 6 percent through 2023 as we lay the groundwork for a tipping point of Christ followers in South Florida. We believe that as more people find newfound faith in Jesus Christ and discover their calling, their voice and power of deploying their divine-design to breathe life to a dark and hurting world, the fabric of our communities will begin to change. As Christ followers begin to live lives that demonstrate the reality of God’s Kingdom, stronger families will be formed, the number of kids in foster care will decrease, the homeless will be cared for, and the number of abortions will steadily decline. All of these are examples of what happens when the ethics and values of God’s kingdom begins to take root in a region. As Christians we believe that the gospel changes everything. Perhaps the first thing it changes is our hearts towards the value of each and every life — born and unborn.
Edwin Copeland serves as the Director of Church United with the National Christian Foundation of South Florida where he works to unify the Church through collaboration and celebration to see faith, hope, and love spread throughout South Florida.