Michael Ashcraft –
Four out of 10 women who received an abortion, according to a 2015 Care Net study, got pregnant out of wedlock and had also been attending church. They said the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
How could this be when the church is at the heart of the Pro-Life movement?
A new documentary attempts to resolve this dark paradox. “The Matter of Life,” in theaters May 16 and 17 only, suggests that the church needs to work on a secondary message. Without easing off the preaching against abortion, it needs to strengthen its message of extending grace to people who slip up.
“I thought all of them were going to judge me,” one young woman says in the film.
“My expectation was that everyone was going to look at me and not see a ring on my finger,” another says.
“These people are going to look at me and say, ‘Uh oh, somebody messed up,’” still another says.
“The Matter of Life” searches the soul of the church.
“Many American churches – including those considered to be Pro-Life – are not considered to be welcoming places for pregnant single women,” the narrator says.
Lisa Cannon Green, who reported the findings, also said:
- Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.
- A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
- Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
- Only 3 in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options.
This is ammo for the pro-abortion forces, who attempt to project a moral high ground from the church’s failings: They say they provide abortions to everyone, even church-goers.
“This is the log in our eye,” says Roland Warren, president of Care Net. The numbers are distressing. An estimated 400,000 Christian women are getting abortions annually, at total price tag of $200 million, he adds.
“We need to challenge the church to overturn Roe v. Wade in the church,” Warren says. “If a woman wakes up and takes a pregnancy test and is pregnant, who is she supposed to talk to in your church? She has to know that her church is not going to treat her life the way the Pharisees treated the woman caught in adultery. She has to know that her church is going to treat her the way that Jesus did. The church needs to offer compassion, hope and help.”
The issue can’t be swept under the rug. The root causes need to be addressed by every church.
“That’s a huge opportunity for the church to have an impact on those decisions,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. “Women are perceiving judgment from the church, and that’s probably partly because there are clear teachings in the Bible including about how and why we make judgments. However, if they don’t start experiencing something different than what they’ve seen in the past, these numbers aren’t going to change.”
It is a task that “The Matter of Life” undertakes.
Movie director Tracy Robinson was herself a “pro-choice” Christian who didn’t want to “force my beliefs onto others.”
But then she heard a discussion that demonstrated the fetus is a fully-alive, a separate human being. All of sudden, the issue wasn’t forcing “her beliefs onto others.”
If the fetus was a human, then “terminating” it was murder.
“I was shocked that I had never heard this information until that point,” says Tracy. “And I knew there were many young adults out there like me who were still in the dark about the abortion issue.”
With a background in editing videos, Tracy decided to bring this message to the church.
Much of the movie covers what Tracy didn’t know: the fetus is more than a clump of cells.
“If the unborn is not a human being, then no justification is necessary for abortion,” says Alan Shlemon, author of Stand to Reason. “But if the unborn is a human being, then no justification for an abortion is adequate. If it’s no different than having a tooth pulled or an appendix taken out, then go ahead a kill it; it doesn’t matter.”
It traces the legalization of abortion through the efforts of a few radical lawyers and culminated in Roe v. Wade.
Madeline Martinez grew up in a Christian home, but the family didn’t discuss hot topics like sex. So she got her information from the media and caught the buzzword: “my body my choice.” When she got pregnant out of wedlock, she thought abortion would preserve her blossoming career.
When she asked her sister to take her to the clinic, however, her sister took her to Embrace Grace, a non-profit that trains churches to help pregnant singles at every step in their decision to keep the child.
“They walked me through one of the loneliest seasons of my life,” Madeline says.” I have this amazing little boy now, and I can’t even imagine an abortion was going through my mind.”
Says Amy Ford, president of Embrace Grace, “We inspire the church to be the first place that a girl runs to and not the last because of shame and guilt. When a girl gets pregnant, she needs support. She needs a family. She needs a place where she feels like she belongs.”
Michael Ashcraft teaches journalism at the Lighthouse Christian Academy near Westchester in Los Angeles.