Perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes in the 2009 film The Blind Side is when Sandra Bullock’s character finds Big Mike walking on the side of the road clutching a paper bag. She makes her husband stop the car and gets out to see what’s going on.
Leigh Anne Tuohy didn’t ask anything of Michael, didn’t seek any conditions, she simply offered him a place to stay, some food, and the rest is history.
We make movies about situations like this and praise people who invest themselves in others’ lives so deeply. And these things should be praised.
But they should be a lot more common. It’s what Scripture commands us to do:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27).
But when it comes to dealing with those who choose to have abortions, rarely ever do we see a case where the Christian community rallies to take the same approach as Leigh Anne Tuohy.
I did some research this morning about women who choose to have abortions, and I found some interesting numbers (source here):
- Women who have never married and are not cohabitating account for 45 percent of all abortions.
- 42 percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100 percent of the poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children).
- 18 percent of US women obtaining abortions are teenagers.
- “The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”
- Half of the pregnancies among American women are unintended, and 4 in 10 are terminated by abortion.
Of course you can’t fully rely on statistics, but even if half of these are accurate, there reveals a deeper problem, and one that the Church is more responsible to take care of. If we are to live out the command in James 1:27, we will help those considering abortions.
A widow is a woman who previously had a man in her life, but he is no longer there. That first number, the 45 percent who have never married and aren’t cohabitating (read: don’t have a man in their life consistently), are like widows. They need our aid.
An orphan is a child who is without parents, without someone to take care of them. A child destined for abortion is basically an orphan already.
If our command is to “visit widows and orphans in their affliction,” couldn’t we be doing a lot more than simply bashing Planned Parenthood? It’s a “Christian thing” nowadays to go around and criticize everything that “needs” criticizing. Instead of rallying together to help those women who are considering abortions, we rally together to protest an organization.
Also, side note: Have you ever sold anything that would be considered a sin to sell? Have you ever given anything away that would be considered a sin to give away? Have you ever sinned? I have. Good gracious, I have. I’m no better than Planned Parenthood. So if you’re going to condemn them, condemn me too.
I know there are many organizations and churches who do help women who have had an abortion or are considering abortions. Surrendering the Secret is a book and study curriculum used by women around the country to deal with the effects of having an abortion. Churches like Saddleback Church in California have similar groups to help women.
But wouldn’t that be a better thing to offer the world than our vitriol over Planned Parenthood? Let’s be real for a second: we get fulfillment and contentment from condemning things. It’s like the Church can’t go a week without making sure they criticize what “needs to be criticized.” Are we putting so much effort into our criticism that we’re missing out on real opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus and care about people?
Let’s reconsider where we put our energies.
I want to close by liberally quoting Teddy Ray, a Methodist pastor in Lexington, Kentucky, whose blog I found online. Read something he wrote about abortion and women (full post linked here):
First, if you’ve experienced any sort of emotional trauma, can I encourage you to find some help? It’s not surprising that some intense emotions would follow such a big event in your life. And yet while we have opportunities to talk through so many other traumatic events, it seems that women who have had abortions are more likely to suffer through those emotions in silence. If you search “abortion recovery” and a city near you, you should be able to find someone offering services.
Second, if you’ve felt judged or condemned by the church, I apologize on our behalf. If you’ve felt like you can’t be a Christian or a church member because of your abortion, it’s not true. If you’re a church member and kept your abortion(s) a secret for fear of the repercussions, I’m sorry you’ve gone through this in silence, or in fear of what would happen if anyone found out. If you’ve struggled with an inability to forgive yourself, I can assure you that God still loves you, still offers forgiveness, has not written you off or condemned you.
The church isn’t intended to be a place where everyone comes, puts their smiles on, and keeps all the skeletons in the closet. Nor is it intended to be a gathering of people who have never done wrong. At our best, the church must be a place where people can come with their full histories, where we can console and forgive and help each other recover. At its best, the church probably would have a lot of similarities to a recovery program.
In that light, I hope you won’t consider the church a place that’s off-limits, or where truth about your abortion(s) is off-limits. I hope you might find a church and a pastor that you can tell about your experience––especially if you’re dealing with any emotional or spiritual trauma related to it.