If I’m honest, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade came as a complete surprise to me. Never in my lifetime did I think this would happen. As I took in the breaking news alert displayed on my phone, I immediately began to ponder the implications of what this meant for the local church — for God’s people — for me. I was raised in a pro-life home, and some of my earliest church memories include my family volunteering at pregnancy centers and witnessing pastoral advocacy for pro-life movements. I am unapologetically pro-life and believe that any reading of Scripture points us towards advocating for, caring for, providing for and protecting life — from womb to tomb.
Overturned and South Florida
God’s people in South Florida have a strong heritage and legacy of caring for and protecting life. From pregnancy centers to foster care prevention, foster care to homelessness, single mothers and the elderly, marriage ministries and Christian counseling, the Church in South Florida has been on the frontlines of a womb to tomb understanding of what it means and looks like to be pro-life. However, our work has been imperfect and in many ways is only just getting started.
Count the cost
Being pro-life is costly beyond finance. It’s messy. It’s inconvenient. It’s easy to post a statement on social media, to rally for the protection of the unborn, to write a check to a local pregnancy center or foster care agency. However, being pro-life costs time, sacrifice and the willingness to step out of our comfort zone and be inconvenienced for the sake of others. Christian businessmen and philanthropist Mart Green recently asked the question: “How has the greatest love story in all of human history become known as a hate group?” While the answer to that question is complicated, a simplistic answer is the Church is often known more for what we are against, rather than what we are for. We have often and at times unintentionally been callous with our words, cheap with our actions and have lacked empathy and grace for those who are lost and hurting. The watching world has taken notice. Despite our best efforts, we may have “won” the legal battle, but the war for hearts and minds continues.
South Florida is one of the most diverse regions of the country, and the expression of Church is no exception. The overturning of Roe. v. Wade exposes the challenge of diversity — not just in ethnicity, race and economics, but in the way we interpret the values we hold. Even the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel picked up on this and ran articles that showcased the division of local churches over this issue of Roe. v. Wade being overturned.
In a Sunday morning statement following the court’s ruling, Pastor DawnChere and Rich Wilkerson Jr. of Vous church in Miami said, “We’re pro-life, and that’s not a political statement for us by any means, it really comes into our interpretation of God’s Word. We understand that there are people in this room and part of our [church] community who see it differently, and today you’re hurting, today you’re confused, and we don’t take that lightly, and we definitely don’t just brush it to the side. This is your family. This is where you belong.” Here’s the thing though, family is messy. Forgiveness, grace, generosity, empathy and conversation are all requirements for family to function. In a family you can’t speak loud enough to speak over the volume of your example.
At the end of the day, you can’t win hearts with legislation. Only gospel-driven sacrificial love, grace, generosity and care towards our neighbors can. No matter where our neighbors stand on the issues of life they should feel welcome at our churches. They will know we are Christians by our love. Period. In the gospel, it is possible to have great concern for the unborn and at the same time carry great concern and love for women who have to battle against the very real challenge, and in some cases, crisis of unwanted pregnancies.
According to a recent study from Lifeway and Pew Research, one in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45. Seven out of 10 women who get abortions identify as Christians. Yet only 16 percent of church-going women speak to anyone at their church before making the decision to have an abortion. Whether you agree with these statistics or not, there are women in our local churches who are carrying deep pain, shame and guilt. They don’t feel safe or seen. Our efforts to win the legal battle have come at a cost — and the price has all too often been the hearts of these women. If that’s you, God’s word to you is – I see you. I love you. I am with you. You are not alone, forsaken or abandoned. You are more loved and cherished than you could ever dare dream or image.
We have much work to do and a strong foundation to build on. It’s time to get messy — to be inconvenienced and dig deep. No matter who you are or what your gifting is, we all have a role to play in seeing the number of abortions continue to decrease in our community. For some that means fighting for expanded access to healthcare, paid maternity and paternity leave, donating money, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, advocating for a single mother to keep custody of her child, becoming a foster parent, mentoring a student, babysitting a neighbor’s kid, serving a meal to the homeless or caring for the elderly. The time for action is now. This is what God’s people were made for.
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. To learn more about Church United, visit churchunitedfl.com
Read more articles by Edwin Copeland at: goodnewsfl.org/author/edwincopeland/