No matter the law, Christians need to be transformed firstApr 27, 2022
This is the third in our 4-month series about our Christian response to abortion in light of the decision the Supreme Court is currently making on Dobbs v. Jackson that could ultimately impact Roe v. Wade.
I write in part 2 of this series that while we as Christians have put effort and emphasis on the law, we have neglected to engage in ways that could bring transformation to those impacted by unintended pregnancy and abortion.
So often, Christians try to address outside forces, such as the law and abortion providers. Or try to make it all about the woman and this one decision she is making at this specific moment in her life.
Instead, the ProGrace theory of change is rooted in the idea that Christians must be transformed first before we see God bring healing to the abortion issue. We must examine how we’ve contributed to our current reality that the Church is one of the last places people turn to for support. This is why we urge church leadership to actively engage in ProGrace training as they set the culture of their church. And having them engage is only becoming more important to us as we all continue to witness the secret destructive and abusive behavior of numerous Christian leaders come into the light.
From her research, Brene Brown says that shame is the root of much of our destructive behavior, and that it grows exponentially in secrecy, silence, and judgment. She says that if you douse it with empathy, however, it can’t survive.
Some of the most memorable moments in my time at ProGrace have been the sessions where church leaders speak up about their experiences with abortion. The ripple effect that has on their community is immeasurable as it shows tremendous vulnerability. At the same time, the impact of those in leadership who remain in shame and hiding over any issue, not just experiences with abortion, has an equally powerful effect on their communities. It impacts how compassionate we can be with others in struggle, including those experiencing unintended pregnancy and abortion. It’s not safe for any of us to bring our struggle or suffering.
This is why the mandate for Christians to be transformed first is so strong. Our culture is watching us, waiting to see if we’ll be courageous enough to do our own work to become more like Jesus.
What would it take for us to feel safe opening up to each other in our churches? Grace and support in community. While this is not permission to keep hurting others, it does defuse the perceived threat that we either need to be perfect or be thrown out.
Grace and support in community is what we dream will happen when Christians embrace a third option to abortion that values the woman and child equally. Here are some snapshots of what that looks like:
- Just recently in Arizona, in a group of 20 congregants participating our Transform course, two men stood up voluntarily and told the group about their experience with abortion.
- One pastor who was an early adopter of ProGrace talked with his church about his experience with both abortion and pornography and God’s healing journey. Under his leadership, his church became a family to a woman facing an unintended pregnancy and continues to walk alongside her.
- At another church group, a woman shared how her daughter silently and on her own had an abortion 30 years ago, due to the rhetoric in their home around abortion. She implored her church to be transformed in the way they framed abortion so they could become a safe place.
- A pastor used the ProGrace approach to walk a grieving father through healing after he coerced his daughter to have an abortion to avoid the shame he would feel as a leader in their church.
Abortion isn’t just a women’s issue. We can honor the uniqueness of the woman and child being intertwined during pregnancy and the complexity of what a woman carries through this experience, while also involving the men who are their partners and their families and support systems.
When we understand that we all have a part to play in creating an environment that consistently demonstrates that it’s safe to show up just as we are, we can engage.
We want to be a community of people who take the posture that, as Christians, we need to be transformed first before God can bring healing to the abortion issue. This is our responsibility, regardless of whether Roe v. Wade stands, or is overturned this summer.
On our journey to embrace grace as the only path to God’s transformation, may we have the courage to open up our lives more to each other and believe God to do a mighty work.
Grateful for your courage and partnership,
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