Thanksgiving. Whether you celebrate with turkey and stuffing, or early Black Friday shopping, chances are you will be with extended family for a few days. Unfortunately, such reunions are not always happy ones. The other day, I was speaking with a friend and he asked for prayer for his family as they gathered together for the holiday. Relationships were tense, and he wanted things to go smoothly.
I understood. I’ve been there. Families can be difficult. Loving someone is hard, often even harder if you’re related to them. Yet, as pro abundant life people, that’s what God has called us to do. To love, not just in word, but deed.
But, what if someone in our family is pro-choice? What then?
Unfortunately for many, abortion is just another in a laundry list of political debates. It goes next to gun control or reforming social security. It’s a conversation ender. So then, how can we as pro abundant life people embody Christ’s love while engaging our friends and family on this topic?
Here are a few suggestions.
Don’t make it about politics
At its heart, abortion isn’t a political issue, it’s a cultural one. Abortions took place before Roe v. Wade and experts on both sides of the debate agree that they will take place in some form after it’s overturned. It’s not about Trump or Hillary, Republican or Democrat – it runs deeper than those debates. Care Net pregnancy center clients cross all socio-economic and political boundaries.
Unplanned pregnancy impacts people regardless of who they vote for.
Most people, pro-life or pro-choice, would agree that women deserve realistic alternatives to abortion. They deserve accurate medical information. That they shouldn’t be coerced into an abortion. Each of these points of agreement is a reason for the existence of the pro abundant life movement. Care Net affiliated pregnancy centers have a higher satisfaction rating than Netflix or the iPhone. 80% of clients freely choose life after visiting a center. The reality is that few women want an abortion. They simply feel that there’s no other choice.
Indeed, if someone is pro-choice, then they should actively support pregnancy center ministry as it ensures that women are empowered to make a choice, rather than pressured by people and circumstances into a decision they didn’t want at all.
Remember it’s about people
Growing up in the church, I heard a lot of statements about abortion and the women who have them. “Abortion is murder and women who choose abortion will be judged by God.” There was much discussion on the depravity of the act, but little grace offered to those whose lives were impacted by abortion decisions. As pro abundant life people, we know we can’t make that mistake.
God’s grace and forgiveness is greater than any sin, no matter how grave it may be. Christ hung on the cross next to a murderer and He offered grace and forgiveness, not judgement and criticism. Our goal should not be to put pro-choice people “in their place,” but rather to help them get to a place of forgiveness and redemption.
After all, we need it too.
That means that we don’t spend our conversation focusing on how bad people who have abortions are. Instead, our focus is on how broken our hearts and culture are. How important it is to surround expectant parents with compassion, hope, and help so that they don’t feel that abortion is their only way out of a difficult pregnancy.
Our role model in these conversations is Christ. In His quest for eternal justice, he did not break “the bruised reed” and never snuffed out the “smoldering wick.” (Matthew 12:20) There’s a distinct possibility that someone we share dinner with on Thursday has been impacted by abortion. If so, we must not let our passion to protect unborn lives drown out our compassion for the moms and dads who are also abortion’s victims.
Be ready to help someone in a difficult pregnancy
Experts say that there will be 2,500 abortions a day this Thanksgiving week. What if someone at your Thanksgiving celebration is in the middle of a difficult pregnancy decision? Will you be ready to offer them the help they need?
“But no one in my family would ever choose abortion!” Every day, our centers and the coaches on our national hotline speak with parents who say that they’d never thought they’d choose abortion, but now see no other way forward. Unplanned pregnancy has a way of isolating people, of causing them to feel trapped. If we aren’t ready to offer them realistic alternatives to abortion and material support, who will?
If you feel unprepared for a conversation about an unplanned pregnancy, we have a free eBook Ten Things Not to Do When a Woman Says She Wants and Abortion. We also have an 8-week free online course called Choosing Life. It will help you learn some of the same skills used to have life-saving conversations in our pregnancy centers.
These are some of the most difficult conversations we could ever face, but also some of the most rewarding. We could have the opportunity to empower someone to choose life for their unborn child and introduce them to the abundant life found in Christ.
What could be better than that?
So this Thanksgiving, as we “talk turkey” with our families, I pray that God grants us the grace and wisdom to engage in important conversations. Conversations about the sanctity of life, about empowering women and men in difficult situations, and most importantly, about the abundant life God wants for each one of us.