Pastoral Response to Roe v Wade
We wanted to speak to the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade and send this decision about abortion rights back to the states. As you all know this is an explosive issue, arguably one of the most divisive issues in politics and culture today. And like all issues, it affects real lives. So we share this with sensitivity knowing this issue is very personal for many.
We wanted to briefly share three important things with you today and we can discuss and pray through this more in other spaces. Our mission in sharing this is to help us better love, think, and act like Jesus.
- We Must Remember Our Role. In the midst of explosive issues like this, it can be very easy for Christians to forget the unique role we play as the church and end up reflecting more of the culture. Different groups in society are focused on playing different roles and therefore focused on answering different questions. For example, the Supreme Court is charged to answer the question of what does the Constitution say on this issue? Elected officials are focused on addressing the question of what do the people I have been elected to serve, believe on this issue? Policymakers are focused on answering the question of what legislation will best achieve the common good for those in our society? Doctors and scientists are answering questions such as when does a heart start beating, when do organs form, and at what point can a child live outside of the womb? The answers to these questions often change over time based on new data and based on who is in office and what our culture values most. These debates are not going away on this issue, and we know that many of you live in the midst of these debates in your professional lives in your calling to public service.
For us as the church, we must know what God says on issues like this. When does God say life begins? And then we must have the courage, humility, and wisdom, like Daniel, to be a moral voice when given the opportunity. To answer the questions that politics, culture, and science cannot or will not answer. To display the fruit of the Spirit and love people in such tangible ways that no institution can. So as you read the news and discuss this issue with your friends, let’s not forget that our role is to go upstream from politics. Good and honest Christians will debate about policy particulars about what will save the most lives, but let’s go upstream and believe in the principles that God has revealed in His Word that are bigger than any nation, any Supreme Court makeup, any elected official, or any latest scientific study. There are some things that never change, and let us not forget that as we pray through these times.
2. We Must Remember the Scriptures. The Bible is not vague or unclear about this issue. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart” (1:5). There is so much in the Bible about how God is miraculously involved in the life of the womb. From Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, and even Mary, the mother of our Lord. The Scriptures teach us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, the place where His presence dwells and ministry flows. They teach us that we are all created in the image of God, that the imago Dei applies to those in the womb as well.
It is because of what the Scriptures teach that we believe life begins at conception and all life is sacred. In fact, we believe that God had you in mind, imagined you, and had a purpose for your life before you were even conceived. Therefore, we believe we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect unborn lives. Throughout our time at The District Church and throughout our pastoral ministry, we have always sought to articulate a biblical position that values life from “womb to tomb,” as well as a “consistent ethic of life,” which promotes the value of life for all people at all stages. This means advocating for the unborn, it means standing for life for those in prison awaiting the death penalty, standing for life for those affected by gun violence, standing for life for those fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, standing for women and people of color who often face racial and economic disparities, etc… It is easy to be selective on certain issues to fit better into our political party of choice, but God’s agenda is bigger and broader than any earthly Kingdom agenda.
Finally, and this may be the most important thing to emphasize for us moving forward as a church:
3. We Must Be the Hands and Feet of Christ. Our job as the body of Christ is to be the hands and feet of Christ, starting right here in DC. We refuse this bifurcation in our culture that we are either for women or for the unborn. We are committed to both and will show it in our actions. So let us increase our efforts to support women who are facing extremely difficult and unexpected situations. Let us love people in our small groups and families that may see differently from us on this issue or who may be facing an unexpected pregnancy. Let’s keep adopting, fostering, and walking with children and families in crisis as we have been doing for the last nine years since we founded DC127. Let’s keep offering counseling and care to those in need. Let’s be known as a place where people can come find freedom and healing.
The statistics say that one in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45. And that four out of ten women who get abortions are regular church attenders. Yet only 16 percent of church-going women speak to anyone at their church before making that decision (because sadly, it rarely feels safe). If these statistics are accurate, that means that many in our congregation may be carrying deep pain. Our church should be the safest place that women can go in the city. And our message is this: We love you. We see you. God loves you. God sees you. God will not withhold his love from you. And we will not withhold our love from you. You have a place here in our church where you can belong, regardless of your past or policy position.
Wherever you find yourself in this current climate we pray that you can lean in with your church family and be real about your questions and struggles and dreams.
We love you and we are here as your pastors to love and support you.