27 November 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

Why is it that Adventists make it so difficult for young people who have unwanted pregnancies to choose life? Our church is pro-life on paper, but in reality, members who choose to keep a baby that is, for example, out of wedlock may be ostracized or even removed from membership—while those who choose abortion move on with life as if nothing happened. 

Signed: Where’s the Compassion?

Dear Compassion,

This is an excellent question, and one that highlights the cognitive dissonance on this matter in Christianity. Being pro-life needs to be about more than protecting a womb. It needs to be about protecting babies and their families even after they are born. Even if their mother is single. 

Some churches talk about reducing abortion rates, which Aunt Sevvy is in favor of. But somehow all the things that have been proven to reduce abortion are opposed by a good number of Christians: things such as easy and affordable access to a wide variety of birth control, social programs to support working mothers, affordable daycare options, and comprehensive sexual education. This appears to be as true for Seventh-day Adventists as for many evangelical churches. 

This leads Aunt Sevvy to think that the church doesn’t really want to reduce abortion so much as it wants to uphold a sexual ethic for everyone—especially women. Politically, this even appears to extend to those who aren’t church members.

While refusing to do the social and political things we could do to reduce abortion, the church instead uses another powerful tool: shame. When a young church member becomes pregnant, she must choose what to do. As you aptly pointed out, if she chooses abortion, she can move on with her life as if nothing happened. If she chooses the option the church professes to support, she is facing shame, judgment, and possible rejection from the church. That’s not much of a choice. 

Church members who really want to support life will decide right now that any woman who is pregnant or parenting without a partner needs support and compassion, not judgment and shame. If our church learned to embrace those who were struggling rather than reject them, it would go a long way toward being “pro-life.”

Aunt Sevvy

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