pro-life, pro-choice: a painful paradox
i am pro-life. i believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity of human life, that each life is created by God, made in God’s image, and that there are no accidents. i do not, have not, nor will ever support abortion as a good idea. i believe it is a short-cut out of a complicated situation that has long-term consequences. it robs a life created by God of its possibility. it strips dignity. it devastates. when i was 17 i had one, and i can say without a doubt it was the worst decision of my life. the tied-for-best decision of my life is when i finally decided to accept God’s forgiveness for it and then forgive myself, too (the other best decision of my life was marrying my husband who stood by me when he heard the story i had kept hidden for years, even after having two children with him, because i was so ashamed).
for the past 16 years or so i have told my story freely. shame no longer has its power over me and who i was in my worst moment does not define me. at the same time, the scars still remain and no matter how much healing i have experienced, there will always be remnants of this pain in my story.
just this past week a friend misunderstood my blog post on the word “biblical” to think that i was somehow supportive of abortion and that i didn’t believe the bible addressed it as a core issue. nothing could be further from the truth. to me, the bible is a story of God’s love for humanity, his beloved creation; it’s also a story of the constant desire for our own control instead of trusting God, and how complicated that is.
abortion is traumatic. i know so many women who have had them and not one made this decision easily or without deep pain and grief. it jacks us up in all kinds of ways, emotionally, physically and spiritually. but thankfully, there is life and hope and healing on the other side of any of our decisions.
since i entered into healing for abortion many years ago, i have journeyed alongside women in the same boat. some have kept their babies. others had their babies and gave them up for adoption. others chose to abort their babies. others made this wrenchingly painful decision with their partners based on medical issues. i love them all. and i know this about the last two groups: not one of those women wanted to make that decision. not one of these women thought it was easy or simple. not one of these women made this choice flippantly. most all of us felt trapped, confused, overwhelmed, absolutely terrified. and not one of us is off the hook on the emotional and physical ramifications of our choice.
but despite all the reasons i am pro-life, i am also pro-choice. i do not believe that the government can force a woman to keep her unborn baby. i understand that life matters, that someone needs to defend it, that that little life needs an advocate, but i also firmly believe that you cannot make a mother carry her baby. it’s just not possible.
yes, i am a Christ-follower and am pro-life and pro-choice at the same time.
i am living in the messy and painful paradox.
and it’s hard, really hard.
this means i will always anger one side or the other. many pro-choicers will be frustrated right now with some of my strong feelings against abortion, and passionate pro-lifers will be angry that i agree with a woman’s right to choose.
i can’t win. and that’s okay.
i cry out to God not for clarity on which way i should vote or in which camp i should land, but rather on what i can do to participate in bringing Christ’s love to this world.
my hope is that we would be people of love & light & hope & justice & freedom that helped wipe out the need for abortions, so that even though women had the choice, they wouldn’t even go there because they weren’t in that situation in the first place or had the support and love they needed to walk through an unplanned pregnancy.
the way to start is to begin to bravely respect the issues far underneath abortion–issues of vulnerable women, unwise men, dysfunctional family systems, lack of proper birth control, horrible self-esteem, loneliness, violence against women, and the lack of healthy and honest education. and yes, patriarchy and what it has done to disempower women in cultures across the world.
on one hand, i have dreaded writing this post (it’s been in my head for a while) and on another hand, it’s so important for me to continue to live in the tension of not feeling the need to please one group or another, to be okay with not aligning with certain groups’ doctrinal demands, to not be afraid to say “this is what i believe”. you don’t have to agree, you don’t have to feel the same way.
but i do know this: there are a lot of us out here-dedicated Jesus-lovers who are wrestling in deep places of our hearts with this difficult issue and trying as best we can to live in the painful paradox of being pro-life and pro-choice at the same time.
we’re not stupid or unbiblical. we’re not blinded by the world or trapped in darkness. we’re not uneducated or closed-minded. we’re not just liberal or conservative. we’re not caricatured bible-believing-Christians or anything-goes-hippie ones.
we’re flawed human beings living out a messy faith as best we can.
God, give us tenderness, compassion, courage, strength and wisdom as we grapple with these painful realities.