It’s no surprise that last year’s Planned Parenthood videos started wave after wave of outrage. In one of the videos, a Planned Parenthood “procurement technician” confesses that she was instructed to cut open a baby’s face while its heart was still beating, post-birth. The goal: procuring an intact brain that can be used for medical research.
First, before I get on my soapbox, let me say that I understand the outrage of my fellow Christians. I myself teared up, caught my breath, and prayed after reading the article.
For those of you who may not subscribe to Christianity, this is where the outrage comes from.
See, as believers, we believe that little, twenty-something-week-old baby was known by God in his mother’s womb, with its every day planned out. We believe he was fearfully and wonderfully made. We believe that his soul, like every soul, had fingerprints of the Divine on it. We believe that his whole being was knit together and seen by God, even in the moments that seem insignificant to the world. We believe that he was given a personality and unique gift-sets and passions that would light him up inside when he got to do them and even little, funny quirks crafted by the hand of the Lord.
I believe that very same thing of every human being I know.
Those are the things that incite all the outrage — the idea that this is a human with built-in, uniquepersonhood that was cut short. I am one who understands and believes in the sanctity of human life, and I’m in favor of shutting down Planned Parenthood, and abortion in general. But I’m also one who wants to understand what that will mean for us all.
Now, let me tell you what I don’t understand about the outrage after seeing the pictures of a huge Christian protest to defund Planned Parenthood.
I was drifting off to sleep, with the images of the rally in my mind. I saw the signs and replayed the prayer that the pastor prayed in my mind. Things started blurring together and the haze of shouts and posters were starting to quiet down as I fell further into sleep.
And then the Lord, as He always does, prodded a bit. He, as usual, asked a question.
I was annoyed and tired and didn’t feel like going there. Come on, I’m half asleep.
Ugh, how many what? People were there? I don’t know. Thousands.
Whyyyyyyyyy do you ask ambiguous questions like this?
I tried to sleep some more but the question was plastered across my mind, in big bold letters. He wasn’t letting up.
I resituated myself. Sometimes he lets me do my thing, but this time, He clearly wanted to talk.
Okay. How many what? Abortions were there last year? 327,000 or something like that. I think something like 31,000 in North Carolina.
How many WHAT? Times are you going to ask this question?! I just told you the number of people at the rally and the number of abortions. I have no other numbers for you. And you already know them anyway because you’re God.
So you asked those … for me to put them together. But…why?
He went silent as he often does when he wants me to put pieces together for myself.
And then it came to me — clear as day.
If we protest for a baby’s life, it will cost us ours.
Christians want the baby to be born, sure. They care about the birth of the baby. But do they really care about the actual life of the baby or mother?
It seems most pro-lifers are really just pro-birthers. They simply want the baby to be born, but when it comes to involvement in the quality of life for the baby or the mom, the majority of Christians don’t really care in an obvious or measureable way.
Let’s say Planned Parenthood did get defunded. No, wait. Let’s say abortion at large gets eradicated. Hooray for the Christians. A burden lifted off, right?
That’s a burden loaded on.
See that’s the big question God had for me —
How many? How many of the great and mighty thousands at the protest were going to be standing in line at the adoption center if Planned Parenthood every truly got defunded, or more — if abortion ever became illegal?
Let me be clear: Places like Planned Parenthood exist because the average woman in crisis doesn’t feel safe or comfortable approaching people in the church for help or guidance.
There was a huge need among a massive group of women in our country — the need to process sexual questions, get advice on pregnancy, and deal with the very real factors that contribute to her desire for abortion. Instead of meeting that need in a personal way, it was easier for the church to act like it wasn’t happening. We stayed in our white picket fences and our prayer circles and our Sunday night potlucks and we never personally befriended women in that situation. So, like any rational person would, women found and advice help elsewhere.
Listen, we never engaged the issue, and that’s on us.
So how should we change?
If we really want Planned Parenthood defunded or abortion to end, then we better get really familiar with our age-old buddy Isaac Newton. Every action has a reaction, remember? Both abortion and birth have consequences.
If the action is abortion, the reaction or consequence is the loss of 1,050,000 human lives per year in the U.S. (This is the total amount of abortions in the U.S. annually. Planned Parenthood’s contribution is 327,000 abortions last year.)
If the action is birth instead of abortion, the reaction or consequence is the gain of 1,050,000 human lives per year.
If you are holding up a pro-life sign, then you’d better be ready for 1.05 million new babies in our country on a yearly basis, and you’d better have a better plan than just “have the baby and see you later.”
If we are brazen enough to demand abortion be ended, then we must be willing to take on those new lives with care and compassion, which leads me to a huge conclusion:
The end of mass abortion to the Christian can only mean the commitment to either serious mother-mentorship or mass adoption.
And this isn’t going to be volunteering at the pregnancy crisis center every, you know, 6 months. This is going to be 31,000 new babies in my state alone that either need a new home or a mother who has been mentored and supported to keep her baby post-birth. This will require changing the life of every Christian family in every church. This will mean a lot more mouths to feed and mothers to mentor, and a lot less time for excuses on how busy we are.
This personally challenges me when I look around at my life, at my house even. We have an extra bedroom. It was originally intended for guests to have their own separate room and bathroom. But guess what? If the end of abortion ever comes, then I’d better be ready to have that room permanently filled with a mom in crisis or an adopted child. Sorry guests, you may have to — gasp! — travel a few extra feet to the bathroom next time or maybe even — how insane! — stay in a hotel for the weekend.
See, this abortion thing is more than just opening up a sign at a protest. It’s opening up your home, your whole life.
Are we willing to do that?
I’d exhort you, friends, who are picketing for the end of abortion — are you willing to take on the new burden of more than a million babies on yearly basis should abortion end in our country? Because that’s what’s going to happen if all pregnancies are legally required to carry to term.
Think about it. If abortion ends, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers won’t be the only one losing funds. We will, too. Our responsibility will be to invest in these new lives we fought so hard to keep. Our wallets will be strained, our comfort zones will be obliterated, our racial IQ will have to go up, our schedules wrecked for the better, our lifestyle will be seriously cramped, and our homes will have new children in them who will change our whole view of family.
Oh, and just for good measure, since affordable pap smears, STD testing, and checkups will be defunded along with Planned Parenthood, we will be driving a lot of moms to the doctor and more than likely helping her pay the bill out of our own pocket on a monthly basis.
Pro-life says, “don’t kill them.” Christianity says, “we want them.”
If the life of abortion as we know it ends, so will life as we know it. And I mean that in a good way. The end of abortion would change everything. Our comfortable little lives would be over in favor of a very uncomfortable, but glorious new, Gospel-soaked path. If the lights of all the Planned Parenthood practices and other abortion providers shut off for good, then the lights in our homes will have to turn on.
Cole and I have spoken at length about pursuing this over the next 2 years. And we have decided that our light? It’s turning on, regardless of whether abortion stays or goes in our country.
Christians have been so removed from this issue in general for way too long. If we say we care about life, then why are we not already adopting kids that have a horrible life right now? Why are we not fostering unwanted children? Why should we even wait for some organization to be defunded before we engage the need happening in our backyard?
The sad truth is that Planned Parenthood has been meeting a need that the church has ignored. Yes, we have some amazing pregnancy crisis centers and noble adoptive parents out there, and I’m overwhelmingly thankful for them. They are leading the charge and setting the pace for the rest of us. They are our trail blazers and we should join their valiant efforts. But the rest of us, if we’re honest, haven’t loved our neighbor in pregnancy distress on an individual basis as friends. The American church at large for the most part has either pitied or shamed her, and subsequently sent her elsewhere for her needs. We have not been the number she dialed or the friends she asked for advice. We may refer her to a good program somewhere, but we aren’t good neighbors to her. We aren’t her safe place.
What woman do you know, this moment, who is struggling over whether she should have an abortion or not? What women do you know, right now, who is opening up about her sex life and trusting you with sexual questions? For most of us, it’s none. Or maybe we know them as a client at a center we volunteer in, but my point remains: they aren’t our neighbors. They aren’t our friends. They aren’t gathering around our dinner table like they did with Jesus.
Listen, we have to own up to that. I have to own up to that. And then we have to start acting like New Testament Christians who actually befriend and love others and follow in the way of Christ. The early church itself was known for loving the marginalized and rescuing unwanted Roman babies from dumpsters and doorsteps all over their cities, bringing them up as their own, even with very limited resources. And they weren’t complaining that the Roman government wouldn’t fund their religious efforts. Why? Because Rome was never going to fund a Christian agenda; in fact, Rome was quite literally feeding Christians to lions or crucifying them in the gladiator arena during that time of Roman history. The last thing on Rome’s mind was to help the Christians in their baby-saving causes. Yet somehow, in the midst of being cruelly persecuted, the early church rescued babies and lived out a valuable principle that is high-time to be dusted off:
If we protest for a baby’s life, it will cost us ours.
It will cost us our time, our energy, our resources, our lifestyle, our preferences, our daily routines, our guest bedrooms, our extra money, our lives. It will cost us everything. And that’s a good thing because Matthew 10:39 says it’s biblical. It’s high time we join the other brave souls out there who are applying this Gospel-paradigm when it comes to abortion.
So, I ask all those against abortion, like he asked me:
How many are willing to sign up for that?
How many of you sign-openers will be home-openers? How many will be sharing more meals and rooms than posts on social media? How many rioters will be adoptive mothers and fathers and mentors to moms in crisis? How many of those gathered on the streets are actually willing to get to know the women living in their city that they usually ignore, and give her a safe place to process sexual questions and pregnancy issues? How many well-meaning protestors will actually take on the issues that contribute to the abortion conversation — issues like the effect of pornography on our youth, human trafficking and sex-slavery, lack of sex education, and health care affordability? How many of our hands are working in those causes instead of simply holding a sign? How many of us really care about why these women want abortions and what happens to those mothers and babies after the birthing process?
God’s plan for his loved ones involve more than a whole Saturday with a sign. It requires our whole life. Jesus doesn’t just offer us a chance at life, but a chance at life abundant. Psalm 68:5 and Psalm 146:9 tell us that the Lord is the parent to the parentless, supporter of the marginalized women, and defender of the orphan. And so should we be to the marginalized and unwanted children in our culture.
Before this message scares you away from the picket line, understand that I’m not saying don’t protest a belief you consider dear to you. Of course we should band together and fight to change the system. Protest away on this issue, because after all, it is a reflection of our very Gospel — God setting his protective love on those deemed insignificant and unworthy, and adopting them as His own. So sure, protest. But know that protesting simply makes you a pro-lifer, not a Christian.
There’s a difference.
The goal of a pro-lifer is to give a chance to an unborn baby to be welcomed in the world. The goal of a Christian is for an unborn baby to be welcomed in a home — whether that’s the home of a supported and mentored mother or an adoptive parent. The mission of a pro-lifer is to lobby until the system changes for unborn babies. The mission of a Christian is to, sure, try to do the same, but furthermore, astound the society by using its own resources to take in those children regardless if the system changes or not.
The cry of a pro-lifer is “don’t kill them.” The cry of a Christian is “we want them.”
So, I’ll ask you again.
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control what you say and do, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:26-27
A version of this post was originally published at Ashley Gorman’s blog.