Choice And Church

Choice And Church May 6, 2022

A friend told me she is avoiding church this week. She is making a choice for her own sanity. I do not blame her. Many women avoid church on Mother’s Day. What will make it worse is the news from the Supreme Court this week. My friend does not expect to hear something about overturning Roe v. Wade from the pulpit. She expects there will be a general overtone of discussion she wants to avoid.

Bad Choice

Christians who take a pro-choice position are not always vocal about it. There are many conservative Christians who are pro-choice and oppose abortion. It is a strange combination for our polarized times. But it is real. Christians  opposed to banning abortions know recognize having abortions are difficult decisions. No woman I ever met had unprotected sex with the attitude of, “I can always have an abortion.” Many men have pressured women into having abortions after being sexually reckless.

The sad truth is that the burden is placed on the woman. If the issue is her health, her life plans, her career or education, it is her burden. It is always hers. Too many of us forget this fact. Reproduction is not a level playing field. Men have a choice to accept or reject responsibility. If Roe is overturned, State governments will take a similar choice from women.

Post-Roe Pastoral Care

Women and men who have chosen to abort a fetus do not often seek pastoral care. They fear being stigmatized. Unfortunately, some ministers can not keep their mouths shut. Others cannot accept anything less than perfection in other people and feel the need to condemn. But I know of cases where people drive for hours to find a sympathetic pastoral ear.

Clergy in some states will be put into the position of counseling people in a decision about an illegal act. I have yet to be offered a continuing education class on pastoral care for people who contemplate having abortion or deal with guilt feelings for having an abortion.

Preaching is another matter. Too many times clergy who offer “abortion counseling” are doing the exact opposite. How do we publicly make ourselves available to people who are suspicious of our intentions? I have followed colleagues who preached and taught illogical, tortured, and condemning opposition to abortion that caused spiritual harm to people. How do we overcome and heal in such situations? It will be tempting to allow people harmed by the church never to hear an offer of healing.

Making A Choice Easier

One other problem for pastors in churches, is to cast a vision for an easier choice. This is not about making choosing adoption easier. It is about making the choice to give birth easier. Conservative Christians like to admonish people to “choose life.” I want to take them up on this choice. Let’s make healthcare a right. Our culture could be a culture that considers all human life sacred and humanity made in the image of God. We can become a culture of health that seeks to nurture every child. We can as many countries have done and choose to make the burden of parenting lighter. Nothing could be more evil than forcing children to experience abusive, unloving, and impoverished homes that only make for a culture of poverty and condemnation for merely existing.

Either a culture of life or a culture of death is before us. We are not for babies if we are not also for helping them be the best and healthiest adults they can become. Clergy should not be arguing against a choice. We should call prophetically for making a difficult choice easier.

My friend might find attendance more encouraging then.

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