[Beginning note – This blog is directed at a general audience. Yet for those of you who have an abortion story, we at In This With You acknowledge this political season can be very difficult emotionally as you may have seen a lot of flippant thoughts posted and said about abortion that are not seasoned with the grace of Jesus. While what is written below hopes to be different, the post below will inevitably be imperfect. So we ask for your grace as we attempt to speak to a broader audience. But in that, please know that we see you, we love you, and that you matter to Jesus and to us.]
Believe it or not, but In This With You is nonpolitical. We seek no influence on the way someone may vote and do not contend for legislative reform regarding abortion. With that said, the following blog post acknowledges the unique political season we find the nation in. We acknowledge this season because we have hope that what is written will give the reader a view of fantastic opportunities to be compassionate in this place of God’s heart outside the often muddy world of politics.
So let’s begin…
If there was a poll on voter excitement for the current presidential campaign, perhaps there would be some among you who would check the box that reads:
☐ I’m excited about Generic Presidential Candidate #1
☐ I’m thrilled about Generic Presidential Candidate #2
☒ “I would rather be punched in the stomach than have to vote for either of the two leading candidates!”
For those of you who would take a punch to the gut, perhaps there are at least two things going one. One, you may distrust and/or be opposed to the candidates’ character and/or stances. Two, what you uniquely feel about the range of issues (abortion, poverty, racial injustice, taxes, security, immigration, and others) may not align with any one candidate/party. You feel strongly about one issue that is held up by one side. And you feel strongly about another issue that is held up by the other side. [Note – While the “punch” pun is used for a bit of humor, it’s purpose is not belittle or judge any candidate’s actual character, as both Clinton, Trump, and any human being for that matter are people worthy of respect. Rather it’s use is to creatively highlight the real tension many people feel in this election season.]
Accordingly, many (but not all) Jesus followers have too felt confused on how to respond to this election when the various stances they may hold dear are separated between two camps (or no camps) and when both candidates may seem like compromising options. Either way they vote (or perhaps you), their consciences could be violated for a number of reasons, convictions, and beliefs.
This tension is very real.
To add to the tension, there has been an increase of social media posts and blogs to contend for your vote, whether from your roommate, your third cousin, or the guy who hangs out in the coffee shop sporting a very unique mustache. And you might find many of these posts touch on the abortion conversation. While healthy dialogue on the topic is very important, many posts out there seem to be fixated on laying out a rational argument on why it is justified or unjustified to vote a certain way, often using shame as a tactic to get you to come to either side. One problem with these many of these posts is that they mostly fail to show the reader any practical action beyond voting, having a stance, or a reason to oppose a certain candidate.
So, let’s pretend for a moment that you are living in a different set of circumstances, an alternate reality. Imagine that you are a non-citizen resident of the USA. You live here, but you have no vote. Some of you might actually love this to be your “opt-out” excuse for this election! 😉
But in all seriousness, would this scenario of having no vote actually change an individual’s ability to manifest God’s kingdom as it relates to abortion?
In short, In This With You’s answer is “no.” Even more, having no vote might actually give a person an edge to bring real change. How is this so? Because when one has no vote, they are actually forced to explore what other actions they can take when their once-every-four-year political stance is no longer a viable option. Here the principle that scarcity and necessity breed innovation can come to life. For when one’s vote is no longer an option (or perhaps an excuse), they are actually put to the test to see if they will work towards what they say is important.
So continuing in this hypothetical scenario, we have listed a few clear and practical pathways to invest in Jesus’ heart in this area (or rather Jesus’ heart for those in real need in this area) that have nothing to do with politics. So whether you are an individual, a church community, a classmate, a friend, a Canadian, or even a minister, here are a few ways to make a difference in real people in the name of Jesus and not of politics:
- Identify Yourself as a Safe Person/Community – Abortion should not be seen primarily as an “issue” but as a very real decision that many of the closest people you know (your friends, siblings, children, classmates, etc.) have or will have to face. Statistically, about 3 in 10 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. The trouble is that often the abortion decision is made by our loved ones in social isolation because of shame, fear of our judgment, and stigma. One study revealed that only 29% percent of the time did women discuss their potential abortion with a friend before the termination of their pregnancy. Countering this, In This With You wants to address this tendency towards social isolation by building a community of “Banner Raisers” who preemptively identify themselves on social media as safe, nonjudgmental people to open up to for their friends who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy or struggling after an abortion. Click here for the 3 Steps to “Raise Your Banner” to become one of these safe people!
- Invest in a Crisis Pregnancy Support Group – Want to practically build relationships and serve those in a crisis pregnancy situations who live in your community? Two great organizations have community groups for women in these situations. Embrace Grace works with local churches to set up groups for unmarried pregnant women to be celebrated, discipled, supported and loved on during and after their pregnancy. You can serve an existing group in your area or start a new one! YoungLives is YoungLife for mothers (or soon to be mothers) still in high school. YoungLives has a range of activities like a regular club meeting and a summer camp experience.
- Participate In and Celebrate Adoption, Foster Care, and Birth Parents – If we are compassionately encouraging society away from the abortion choice, we must face the reality that many soon-to-be parents living through difficult crisis pregnancy scenarios do not always have the means, ability, healthy home life, or perhaps even desire to care for their babies. Thus, a greater participation in and celebration of adoption and foster care must be realized among Jesus followers and congregations. The church and it’s people must take the lead in promoting adoption and foster care by partnering with efforts like World Adoption Day (Nov 15th), Orphan Sunday (Nov 13th), and the Foster Movement Network while equipping and taking care of adoptive and foster parents through resources like Empowered to Connect. In addition, we must spend energy serving the needs of birth parents and recognizing their courageous and selfless choice to place their child with another family like the organization BraveLove does so well.
- Financially Support and Volunteer at Your Local Pregnancy Resource Centers – For decades, pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) have been the backbone of compassionate care for individuals in crisis pregnancy situations. Yet, often these centers are left unsupported by local churches and Jesus followers who have the means to make sure they have the funds and volunteers needed for such an important work. To locate and find the contact information for your local PRC, click here. Also, check out the great work of Save the Storks as they reimagine how PRCs can best engage those seeking out pregnancy options.
- Compassionately Care for Those with an Abortion Story – For many with an abortion story, life after an abortion can come with very real challenges. Whether it be depression, overwhelming shame, flashbacks, numbness, or other emotional hardships, many females and males struggle after an abortion. In response, church staff and Christian individuals need to know that many within their friend circles and faith communities have these stories and need God’s healing and compassionate friends to walk alongside them. Yet, often these individuals are met with a lack of awareness of their need by their community and unhelpful and insensitive dialogue about abortion from the pulpit or social media (especially during election season) that further trigger the emotional hardship. To actively partner with God’s healing work in this area, a church can host and promote a SaveOne chapter for people with an abortion story in your church and community who are needing an intentional pathway and community for spiritual healing after an abortion.
So whether you are a passionate voter or a decided nonvoter this year, know that there are practical nonpolitical ways to engage and love real people who are in deep need of friendship, compassion, and practical support in areas of struggle that often come with situations of crisis pregnancy or walking forward after an abortion. Blessings in the name of Jesus!
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