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What is the church's responsibility in the pro-life movement?

by Stephen Davey

According to a survey conducted by Care Net, 70 percent of women who reported having an abortion identified as “Christian” and 43 percent of women who had an abortion in 2021 regularly attended church. 

More than likely, when you attend church on the Lord’s Day, sitting near you are people that have chosen to abort a baby at some point in their life. Women sitting in the sanctuary are struggling over this decision. Perhaps you’re reading this article right now and this statistic is personal; it’s talking about you. Maybe you’ve had an abortion in your past or are currently dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and you don’t know what to do. 

Unfortunately, that same Care Net survey also found that only 7 percent of churchgoing women who had an abortion discussed their abortion with their pastor or parishioners. Reasons given for this silence included: 

  • 65 percent of the women believed church members judged single women who are pregnant. 
  • 59 percent of the women believed their church wasn’t prepared to help them in decisions about unwanted pregnancies. 

More women last year reported experiencing feelings of condemnation rather than a sense of care from their local church. 

It’s time to take a realistic look at tangible ministry opportunities to physically, spiritually, and financially help women who are experiencing unwanted pregnancies—for whatever reason. I’d like to suggest we begin with two action points. 

Create a culture of compassion. 

This culture of compassion extends to those who have had an abortion in their past and those who are considering abortion due to an unwanted pregnancy in the present. 

Many women who have had an abortion, and men who have encouraged an abortion, fear being open about their past, even in their accountability groups and close circles. Have you ever thought about the fact that a church is a congregation where everyone has a past? We are all sinners, we are all equally incapable of justifying ourselves through righteousness, and we are all equally dependent on Jesus Christ for our salvation. The church should be a gathering place for humble and honest transparency, which leads to godly encouragement and counsel. 

And remember too that we follow the example of God, who does not hold our sins against us, but removes our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Compassion, acceptance, and love should be the attitude of our heart toward another believer with an abortion in their past, as we seek to reflect God’s attitude toward us. 

Compassion must also be the posture of the church toward women who face unwanted pregnancy. Rather than shame a woman for even considering an abortion, or gossiping about a single woman’s pregnancy, seek to better understand her circumstance for the purpose of providing help. What financial, social, or emotional reasons have caused this pregnancy to be unwanted? Is abuse, or sexual assault, a factor in this decision? By asking these questions, we can better learn how to help in tangible ways. 

As a church, we can’t rightly care for a person until we know them. My prayer is that any woman who came to our churches for help due to a pregnancy would say of us what the apostle James encouraged the church: to let “mercy trump over judgment” (James 2:13). 

Be willing to provide financial, emotional, or adoptive care. 

I appreciate the challenge by former Vice President Mike Pence, who told a South Carolina church earlier this year that “if you’re going to be pro-life, you need to be pro-adoption.” This a profoundly simple, yet biblical perspective. Isaiah wrote: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17). This command to seek justice and to care for those in need is echoed through the entire Bible, and this command is for us

One of the American church’s greatest witnesses is the fact that the adoption rate among Christian families is twice as high as the rate among the total population. Five percent of practicing Christians in the United States have adopted, including many families at the church I pastor. 

The youth group at my church reflects a multi-ethnic, adoption-oriented church family, as we have been able to minister to Christians who have opened their families to children in need. 

I pray that the church’s reputation when it comes to the unborn will cause women to look to their local church—not their local Planned Pregnancy Center—as the only source for resources, help and encouragement. To improve our testimony in the community, we need churches committed to providing these tangible resources to woman to help them decide they not only should keep their baby, but they can

The truth is, many women seeking abortions want to be mothers, but can’t see past the financial burden that will arrive on their due date. Does your congregation have a fund to help them? 

Many women worry about finding childcare, emotional support, and community as a prospective mother. Who in your church will step up to meet those needs? Perhaps that’s the ministry God is leading you to begin today in your local church. 

Finally, let’s offer adoption as an alternative to abortion. Adoption can be a significant financial undertaking, so perhaps the church can partner financially with families to help meet those costs. And let’s not forget to make adopted children feel loved and welcomed in our children’s ministries and youth groups. 

It’s time to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ on this issue. Let’s make our churches a place of refuge, not rejection, for all who are in need. 

Add a Comment


Vicki says:
I thank you for the article about the church's responsiblity in the pro-life movement and applaud it's tone and content. It's long overdue. I also want to thank Stephen for his ministry; it has saved my life.

I grew up in a legalistic church and couldn't comphend a loving God and only understood comdemnation and fear. Thank you for introducing me to a God that is not only loving but loves me.

I have spent decades pondering the abortion issue. I know God's stance on abortion and I do not debate it. However, the women caught in the morass of the problem break my heart. My early church made an example of one of my classmates caught in an unplanned teenage pregnancy. She was forced to go in front of her church which was attended by several hundered congregants and confess her sins (of course her partner in crime was not treated similarly). This is not an isolated event; I have spoken with many other women in my lifetime who were made to do the same thing followed by expulsion from their church. The shame and the pain I felt from these women always brings tears to my eyes.

I also had a cousin who had an unplanned pregnancy. She became the object of scorn and derision in my Christian family (nuclear and extended). My family loved to gossip endlessly about her and the continual difficulties she faced in her life. I learned very young and very quickly, that unwed pregnancy was a unforgivable sin from which the sinner will never gain absolution. Not surprisingly, I developed a rather pathological fear of pregnancy and chose to remain childless.

I strongly believe the church is the only solution to the problem of abortion. History shows that where great need exists; it is the church that steps in for aid and comfort, not the government. I am beyond weary of the uninformed and uncaring rhectoric that I so often hear from government officials. Compassion, care, financial support and adoption can and should be the cornerstone to changing devastation to hope. Two lives can be saved and these lives can tangibly see, hear, feel, touch and taste the love of God. Sadly many of the women I previously discussed are not in close relationship with God. . .why would they be?

Beverley says:
Dear Dr. Davey:

I truly value your teachings. I find them engaging, biblically based and scholarly. However, I find your exposition on the abortion topic is somewhat myopic.

The abortion issue is rather complex and is not basic to people who want to be rid of an unwanted pregnancy or to unmarried women. I find many Christians will call themselves pro life will go to the last degree to defend the unborn but will impose undue cruelty on immigrants and starving children here in the USA.

God gave us all free will and abortion should not be a political or court decision. Morality and Christian conduct cannot be legislated, only Jesus Christ can transform and bring about wholeness.

I appreciate some of recommendation you are making for the body of Christ to undertake, but from my point of view former Vice President is no model for a Christian response. When we as Christians see all life as valuable. Widows, orphans, immigrants those yet to be born and from all races and nations, then and only then we will have a glimpse of the people God intended us to be.

May God bless your ministry and provide wisdom as to how to determine and understand how to navigate the kingdom of the world by bringing the kingdom of God’s principles to bear on it.

George says:

All biblical scholars do not share your view. I have personally spoken to other biblical scholars that say there is nothing in the Bible to substantiate your interpretation.

Secondly, God has given everyone of his children “freedom of choice”. I do not believe we can can take that right of freedom of choice away. It is given by God, let’s leave the decision to Him.

God is the supreme judge who makes that judgement.
Karen Chambers says:
Thank you so much for shining a light on what people go through during these tough times and a reminder that often times, to the shame of the church, they do not feel like they can bring this to the church for support. Growing up in legalism, I totally understand their fear and shame. Shame for their decisions, and fear that if they open up, the church will shun them, instead of circling around them. It's such a hard, hard place to be.

One of the things our charity does is help moms and dads in infant loss, but we would also love to expand to help moms who want to keep their babies but need encouragement and support. Our charity is Bearing Others Burdens. Time is so short for us to help build the kingdom and this article really resonated with me. Thank you for your faithfulness to the scriptures. Karen Karen
Rebecca Cox says:
I feel like if our goal is for the mothers to come to us instead of Planned Parenthood, we should be offering the same services, or at least the services that draw them there initially.

Then, we need to continue caring by offering free or reduced childcare and food/clothing vouchers, at least. Also, information campaigns about successful people throughout history that grew up with poor single mothers would be inspiring and hopefully stir the mom's confidence in being able to do this.