We are more than a "safe place." We’re a refuge where a woman can slow down and get accurate information, a place where she knows she’s not alone.
Coming out west together was supposed to be their great adventure. Instead, he landed in jail, leaving her homeless –and then she discovered she was pregnant. When she came to see us, she had already scheduled an abortion appointment.
Why did this young woman choose life in the end? The answer lies in the kind of environment pregnancy centers provide –an environment critical to our mission.
For clarity, let’s contrast two types of environments, both of which claim to provide a sanctuary for those overwhelmed by the storms of life.
Safe spaces are areas on university campuses that are set aside for students who fear they could be victims of harassment or discrimination. In these groups, disagreement is rarely tolerated. You can only talk about “agreeable” things that reinforce their feelings and beliefs.
Critics have pointed out that there’s little room for healthy debate, critical thinking, or honest feedback in these groups. The goal is for people to feel comfortable, often at the expense of reality.
What happens on these university campuses both reflects and impacts our culture as a whole, starting with a worldview that rejects the ethics, teachings, and saving grace found in Jesus Christ. All too often, the word “safe” stands for the notion that each individual's feelings somehow define their truth.
Here’s the thing: truth is true, no matter how we feel about it.
Tweet this: Truth is truth, no matter how we feel about it.
Rather than a “safe space,” God’s Word speaks about a refuge– and that refuge is God himself. Psalm 18:1 says, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge...” (NIV)
This truth—that God is our refuge—is why we do what we do through pregnancy centers. We serve people and touch our communities in the name of Jesus. Jesus, who sacrificed his own safety to secure ours. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus, full of grace and truth. Jesus, bringing healing and restoration to those who were judged and rejected by their culture.
We represent Christ. Therefore, we speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We love, not only in word, but in deed and in truth (I John 3:18). This is what makes us a refuge for those distressed by an unplanned pregnancy.
Not just a “safe space” but a refuge.
Here’s the critical difference: A “safe space” often suppresses the truth for the sake of false comfort (Romans 1:18). A refuge is built on the truth and therefore offers real security and real hope.
The world creates an illusion of comfort for the woman considering abortion by telling her abortion is a morally neutral choice. The result is that some do not even think women deserve to know the facts about what happens during an abortion. But pregnancy centers provide a spiritual refuge where the Holy Spirit can reveal the truth.
The mission of local pregnancy centers and medical clinics is based on the truth that every human being is created by God as His precious, sacred image-bearer, and that each life should be protected.
This truth about what’s at stake in a pregnancy decision is the foundation from which we serve our communities..
Here is how that service might look in practice:
- We stand for life, even though our culture says it’s politically incorrect.
- We invest ourselves in emotionally strenuous support for our clients so they can lay their burdens down.
- We are compassionate and empathetic, while being honest about what abortion can do to a woman’s body and soul.
- We discuss abortion as a legal option, but we don’t preach that it is a woman’s right.
- We welcome those who are pursuing abortion without condemnation, but we don’t refer to abortion providers.
- We provide a sanctuary where women and men can come when they’re in shock, trying to make a critical decision while confusing voices shout in their ears.
- We’re a safe haven where a woman can slow down and get accurate information, a place where she knows she’s not alone.
Fear makes a terrible counselor. Within the sanctuary of the pregnancy center clients can make a decision from their best selves – a decision they can be proud of, rather than a desperate decision that may bring future regrets.
We’ve often heard women who have aborted a baby, “I wish I’d had a place like this to go to. If I had known then what I know now, I would have made a different choice.”
These women likely had a “safe space” in their lives when they faced that unplanned pregnancy --
the friend who said, “I’ll give you a ride to the abortion clinic;”
the boyfriend who said, “I’ll pay to take care of the problem;”
the mother who told her, “Honey, I’ll support you whatever you decide.”
All those voices are saying agreeable things. They’re offering support based on moral relativism. They’re preaching the politically correct message that abortion is no big deal.
Problem is, that message offers false comfort, putting this woman on a road leading to death – not only the death of her baby, but the death of something in her own heart.
When a woman stands at the crossroads of a pregnancy decision, she needs to hear more than, “I’ll support you whatever you decide.” She needs compassion and wisdom. She needs the kind of help which is based on the truth that every human life is sacred.
This is what pregnancy centers provide. Not just a nice social service, not a worldly “safe space,” but a place of refuge under the very wings of Almighty God (Ruth 1:12).
Now that’s what I call a safe place.
About the guest blogger: Susanne Maynes is the Counseling Director at Life Choices Clinic in Lewiston, Idaho and the author of Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion: 40 Reflections on Rescuing the Unborn. She blogs on church and culture, spiritual growth, and Christian parenting at susannemaynes.com.