“dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? for instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “good morning, friend! be clothed in Christ! be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”
– james 2:14-17, the message
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after the strong response to pro-life, pro-choice: a painful paradox, it was clear that one of the biggest gaps in the conversation is “what can we actually do to prevent abortions?” i feel pretty certain that picketing and spending hours online talking about it won’t change anything. i also know that we can’t throw up our hands and say “it’s a reality of this broken world.” there are tangible things we can do to participate in change. in many ways, they dovetail 5 nonviolent ways we can win the war against women and always center on relationship & support. this is why incarnational Jesus-with-skin-on living matters!
i wanted to clarify that this list is about preventing abortions that stem from unwanted pregnancies, not the complicated issues related to medically-related decisions parents and mothers sometimes have to make.
i am sure there are many others to add, but here’s a start.
10 things we can do to help eliminate abortions:
1. value women, value women, value women. one of the reasons i am passionate about breaking down patriarchy & advocating for women is that women’s less-than-ness is the root of many problems in the world. the way we value women in the systems we are part of matters. the messages we send about women’s worth form and shape us. if we are taught from the beginning that our primary role is to serve and defer to men, we end up with all kinds of painful fallout. anything we can do to strengthen a woman’s value & worth & dignity makes a difference.
2. support a local pregnancy care center with resources, time, and support. these agencies are doing amazing work supporting girls and women who make the decision to place their babies in an adoptive family or raise their babies themselves. they help connect them to proper medical care, housing, food, and ongoing care. these agencies always need more help!
3. learn to talk freely and honestly about sex & birth control as a natural part of our lives. we have to create better ongoing conversations about these important issues, not only with young people but across all ages & beliefs, men & women alike.
4. journey with a vulnerable woman for the long haul. a lot of us already know these women from the circles we are in; others might need some help to open our eyes to the need. but whether you are single or married, young or old, you can invest in her life some how, some way over a long period of time. be the person she can call. be a stable force. call out her dignity. it provides a sense of security & love that is desperately needed.
5. foster or adopt (or support someone who is). there are a lot of kids, all ages & shapes & sizes who need homes! i know many amazing people who are called to foster care & adoption. for some, that may be a calling, and for others, that’s not our passion. but what we can all do is help support people who are, not just with “it’s so amazing that you are doing that” but with practical help.
6. teach boys & men respect for women. there are many who would never have sex in the ways they are if true respect was learned and fostered. that involves giving boys and men the chance to develop self esteem, good character and good boundaries in a world that provides precious little of that. otherwise, our unrefined desperation for love and connection gets us into all kinds of trouble.
7. be safe, kind and loving so that when women & men get in trouble they will come to you. often, the last place people will go to when they are in a rough situation is the church because they are afraid of being judged, controlled, or misunderstood. the safer we are, the more likely hurting people will be drawn to us and we can journey alongside them in their struggles, whatever they may be.
8. provide love & tangible care for single moms. whether they have resources or not, all these mommies need love and ongoing support for the difficult task of raising babies on their own. helping in small ways by watching kids, bringing food, supporting their education & the education of their kids, showing up at school events, all help.
9. support local agencies that advocate for women. there are many agencies–non-faith & faith based–who care deeply about women. find out what they need, how you can support their work, encourage your church to collaborate & partner. do anything to come alongside them because they are on the front lines helping women find housing, food, education, safety, and movement forward.
10. create little pockets of love where people can talk about their real struggles, real life, so they don’t have to hide. i don’t think we need more bible studies and places to talk about what we think. we need more safe places to talk about our real lives and what we are feeling, places where shame’s power can be broken, places we can be loved–by God & other people, places we can learn to become healthier, better human beings. love, safety, friendship & connection can change the course of history for people.
as i write these things, i am reminded how real change always starts first through relationship. someone loving. someone caring . someone present. and if we can’t do that directly, we can support people who are.
the question is what is God stirring up in each of our hearts on how can we play our part in supporting life for vulnerable women & children with actions, not only words.
i’d also love to hear what you’d add to the list. remember, this is a good place to practice dignified dialogue, too. anytime the word “abortion” is used, things can go haywire if we’re not careful.