Abortion, #standwithpp, and the local church

In the recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about Planned Parenthood. I have friends who are pro-PP and others who are anti-PP. So I’m really not here to write about positions on Planned Parenthood. I simply want to address the deepest part of what grieves me the most and has probably affected the Bettis household. Before I begin, let me address a few things:

 1    I am for providing the best health care for women. I have a wife and daughter I love deeply, and want the best possible care for them.

 2    I do not, nor does our church believe that PP hates God…these are the stupid things that well-intended Christians say...but it's dumb.

3    I’m not PRO-Life because I am a Christian and a pastor. I held these convictions a long time prior to becoming a Christian. I’ve been a Christian for 13 years now, and held these views since I was a child.
4    I don’t think abortion is a political issue. It’s a spiritual issue. I’m not a crazy religious person nor am I trying to mix politics with belief. I just believe that life is a spiritual issue. 

5    I’m for women’s rights. I believe that the gospel, when understood, properly gives women the highest level of right and equality. Women carry the image of God as image bearers. God deeply loves women, values them, and cares for them. 

I think we should be for women’s rights and providing the best health care possible, but those aren’t the main issue…It’s 2015 and we shouldn’t be arguing about equality for women. Instead, we should be valuing and honoring them as they deserve! But sadly, I know this isn’t the case. And I think we as a church need to lead and demonstrate from the gospel how deeply loved and valued women are for the world to see. 

But for me the issue is abortion.
And I think we need to own the fact of what abortion actually is. In all the conversations going on, I feel like the one question we are not really engaging in is the actual discussion about abortion. Everything else is just a way to ignore the hard conversations about the actual subject.

I’ve read, watched, and studied every possible opinion about abortion from both sides. Here’s my take: I think avoiding the actual question in the deepest possible way is our way of avoiding the fact that abortion is the actual killing of a life. 

Call it a fetus.
Call it a non-human yet formed.
Call it what we’d like. 

But at some point, we all need to own the fact that it’s an actual human who has life inside. At some point the fetus turns into a baby, then a child, and then an adult. 

I’m going to submit to you though, regardless if we call it a fetus or baby…

It is a human. It has a soul. It has significant value. It is loved by God. 

As I think about scripture, I can’t seem to ignore Proverbs 31:8-9, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” This is a situation in which we need to speak for those who have no voice. I believe the church will be accountable for this. 

With all that to say, let me offer a few ways of how we should respond as The District Church:

1    We need to be a little more sensitive to how we talk about people who differ in opinion from us. When we say stuff like, “PP hates God and loves Satan!” It makes Christians look like idiots. So, stop. (I don't think anyone in our church has or would say this.) I'm addressing the broader Christian community... 
2    Remember, every person you label and rip apart represents a family, has friends, and co-workers. When we are quick to make public statements about people in degrading ways, remember their kids and spouses have access to read the stuff you write. 

3    We need to love deeply and share the gospel with those who are grieved and carry guilt and shame because of past decisions of abortion. We are called to grieve with those who grieve. Not condemn them. 

4    We need to be the quickest to offer solutions. If we are going to be known as people that are for life, then we need to be the first to offer support to women who decide to keep their babies. We need to be the first to model what God did with us, when he adopted us into his family, by adopting children in our city. The church should be filled with kids who have been adopted. I’d even be daring to submit to you it’s biblical and non-negotiable for the church…

5    Whether you are PRO-Life or PRO-Choice, each needs to engage in actual conversations about abortion and work together. It does no good to keep drawing lines in the sand. The further we divide, the further we go from actual solutions. 

I know this is lengthy and there are plenty more conversations to be had. My prayer is that we’ll stop the division about it and offer solutions. My prayer for those who have had abortions is that you’ll see the gospel and that God has forgiven you and loves you deeply in your pain. For those who are zealous for either side, I pray for deep humility for how we all respond.