You can picture the scene: Perched in a trademarked televangelist’s golden throne, full stained-glass window in the background, the sweater-set clad “Church Lady” sermonizes about some obscure cultural anomaly.
Regardless of the topic, the Church Lady, Dana Carvey’s staple in the great 1990s era of Saturday Night Live, was sure to deliver the sarcasm-laced verdict, “Well, isn’t that special…”
As a perfect blend of ridiculous oversimplification and—let’s face it—observation of the genuinely pervasive legalism that poses a threat to every local expression of the Body of Christ, the Church Lady was, well, quite special.
I grew up in the church during the Church Lady’s peak. I loved the church, and I love her much more now. I also loved the Church Lady. Still do, always and forever.
This brings us to the topic at hand: Should the church, as some have suggested, move to the sidelines of the pro-life movement? More to the point, should pregnancy help and the church keep their relationship on the down-low?
Must We Choose Between Compassion and Service?
Do we have to choose between, on the one hand biblical compassion or on the other hand meeting physical, emotional and psychological needs? Is this a true, helpful and necessary dichotomy?
Is the Church Lady holding us back from truly reaching the woman who thinks she has no choice but abortion?
Tweet This: Is there an essentially spiritual dimension to why women choose #abortion? If so, how does that inform our approach?
As we address this question, it’s helpful to define terms, starting with what, exactly, we mean by “the church.” If by “church” we’re thinking stain-glass windows, judgmental T.V. preacher-ladies and throwing Bibles from moving vehicles, this will end up being a pretty quick conversation. Picking up on a similar trend, Students for Life has a required training for its on-campus student volunteers called, “Don’t Be Weird.”
Surely, though, our understanding of “the church” goes beyond a mere building, extending to the very people of God—referred to in Ephesians as the Temple of the Living God, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, and the vehicle by which God intends to display His “manifold wisdom” forever.
Yes, let’s not be weird. We don’t want to be weird, and sadly, sometimes we are. We pro-life Christians can be strangely apologetic and uncomfortable talking about the sanctity of life, abortion and its life-affirming alternatives. I notice that in myself all the time. It’s a reality we should be glad is being addressed on high school and college campuses.
But the barrier of weirdness notwithstanding, the question remains: Are we hampering our own efforts to reach women with life-saving help because we’re too “churchy?” Is a robust, biblical conviction about the sanctity of every human life—along with a desire to reach women and families with the good news of the Gospel—the enemy of what it takes to get to a client before Planned Parenthood does?
It will always be fashionable to find fault in the church—to throw the Church Lady out with the baptismal—but we should always be wary of heeding a summons to forfeit the one weapon we know will succeed in favor of a more cleverly presented "new way forward."
And why? Because the church—this crazy, imperfect-yet-redeemed people of God—holds in our very nature and calling the compassionate tools every woman needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy.
The Battle for Life is Inherently Spiritual
To put it another way, if we assume that the battle for life is inherently spiritual, then we know the Spirit-empowered church is an indispensable conduit of God’s victorious grace in every life pregnancy help people ever touch.
Need evidence the battle is spiritual? Consider the very existence of the self-refuting argument that Planned Parenthood, the worldwide leader in abortion, is responsible for lowering the number of abortions. Or, ponder the significance, as many have, of national outrage over the poaching of a lion in Zimbabwe versus our culture’s simultaneous winking at the taxpayer-funded dismemberment and piece-by-piece profiteering of human beings.
Closer to the point, consider that the main reason women abort—74 percent—falls under the category of, “Having a baby would dramatically change my life.” Meanwhile, politicians and public figures are made and broken by their responses and views on highly nuanced sub-topics related to abortion that have statistically nothing to do the glaring majority of cases.
Spiritual blindness is what allows Big Abortion to perpetuate a ridiculous euphemism like “reproductive health.” This is a money-making industry that ends 1.2 million lives every year—an average of over 137 per hour, every hour, every day of every year in the U.S. alone. To call this “reproductive health” is nonsensical doublespeak, on the same level as a rifle manufacturer claiming its products “promote wildlife well-being.”
Bottom line, if the main problem were medical—at its core, that is—then we would expect to see more than 12 percent of aborting women cite that as a contributing factor in the same study cited above. If it were just a matter of slick marketing and branding, like an article posted today seems to imply, women wouldn’t go to abortion facilities that are routinely unsanitary and unsafe.
No, the problem of abortion is essentially spiritual. We are dealing with spiritual blindness. It figures, then, that the heart and soul of our work is intrinsically spiritual. At the fundamental level, the battle for life is spiritual.
The overarching goal of combatting spiritual blindness is why all of our services are anchored in grace and compassion. It's why we teach parenting and job skills in our pregnancy help centers. It’s why we take in moms and babies into our maternity homes. It’s why we care about policies and procedures and board governance to make sure all of the above happens as smoothly as possible.
Tweet This: The strongest #prolife weapon of all is the church herself. #DefundPP #PPSellsBabyParts
This is why we pull out all the stops to make sure that every woman has all the information and support she needs to care for herself and her precious child—both image-bearers of God. This is why we raise funds for ultrasounds on wheels and in offices, in affluent suburbs, near government projects and everywhere in between.
It’s why we do things like optimizing our web presence, so we can do our best to come alongside men and women at a point of crisis, but also in the throes of post-abortive grief that the world tells us does not exist in the first place.
The strongest weapon of all, the one weapon we simply cannot do without, is the church herself. We can’t do without her, without each other, without the invincible blood-bought Bride of our crucified, risen and reigning King.
“Well,” the Church Lady’s words ring, “isn’t that special?”