Why our hearts matter when talking about abortion

November 18, 2019

Nearly one in four women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45 (Jonas, Jerman, and Guttmacher Institute, 2017). This statistic is probably familiar. And while statistics are useful for painting a picture of the world we live in, we can’t reduce people to statistics. As Christians, we know our God doesn’t view us as a number. Instead, he views us as unique individuals whom he has fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa. 139:14).

Statistics can also help us understand what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. For example:

These reveal that most women don’t need you to tell them that abortion is wrong; they know it is. God’s Word tells us that the law is written on our hearts, so that when we sin our conscience bears witness (Rom. 2:15). What women with abortion in their past, or who are considering an abortion now, need to hear most is that Jesus came, conquered their sin, and offers healing and eternal life. It’s what we all need to hear most.

Up close and personal 

There is a woman I’ve known for a long time. She’s a strong believer and one of the best witnesses of Jesus that I have ever met. Most people are shocked to hear her testimony.

When she was 16, she was sexually active and became pregnant. Her boyfriend at the time left, and was out of the picture. Her parents approached her to ask if she wanted to have an abortion. She told them no, she wanted to keep her baby. Her parents agreed to support her. She gave birth to her daughter, was engaged to her new boyfriend, and worked hard to finish high school early. 

One day when she was at work, she got a call from her mother. She needed to go to the hospital immediately. When she got there, she found out that her fiancé had sexually assaulted and shaken to death her daughter. Her daughter was legally brain dead. She held her as they turned the machine off. 

What women with abortion in their past, or who are considering an abortion now, need to hear most is that Jesus came, conquered their sin, and offers healing and eternal life. It’s what we all need to hear most.

At the time of her daughter’s death and her ex-fiancé’s arrest, she was pregnant with his child. Her parents approached her again to ask if she wanted to have an abortion. In grief and anger, she agreed. They flew her from her hometown to have an abortion and then flew her back home when it was done. She went to her room and cried. 

That young woman is my mother. 

I cannot fully convey her loss, nor can I begin to explain mine. My siblings should be here, but they aren’t. There may have been no stopping my sister’s death, but if Roe v. Wade hadn’t existed, my brother would still be here. 

So, you don’t have to post internet memes and videos, display bumper stickers, or make rude comments to tell me how terrible abortion is. Nor do you need to shout it from street corners or pulpits—I know. My mother knows. Over 66% of women know. 

There is undoubtedly a woman around you who has had an abortion or is considering one now. And, there’s probably a man in your community who pressured his partner to have an abortion. There might even be a family member who pressured someone to have an abortion. What we need to bring to them, first and foremost, is Jesus and the hope and healing he offers. 

An approach of compassion

There are many ways we can point women who have had or are considering an abortion to the love of Jesus. Here are a few areas where compassion can be on display: 

Humility: Since, we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), our hearts must be humble when we talk to others. Although I have never had an abortion, I am no better than someone who has. I fall short of God’s glory as much as they do. Yes, abortion is a sin, but we cannot put ourselves in separate categories when talking about abortion, as if there are degrees of sinners. We are all in need of the forgiveness Jesus purchased on the cross.  

Do you think of yourself as better than someone who has had an abortion or is abortion-minded? Do you address the sin of abortion with a broken, humble heart? Are you broken for your own sins against the Lord? 

Speech: Our words should come from a position of humility. When talking with someone who has had an abortion or is considering one, it is important that we remember that the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21). Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Our words matter and should be a reflection of who Jesus is. 

As we advocate for human dignity, let’s do so in ways that speak the truth in love and give grace to those who hear. So, believer, are you speaking life, or are you speaking death? When someone has had an abortion or is considering one, are you telling her how terrible she is, or are you pointing her to eternal life?

Actions: God’s Word tells us that we are to love not just in words, but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18). We not only need to love one another in how we speak, but also in how we act. For example, our God keeps track of all our sorrows, collects our tears, and knows all the hairs on our heads (Psa. 56:8; Matt. 10:30). He is a personal, loving God and not some distant, unbothered, supernatural being. 

Our actions should show that we genuinely care for these women. Are we being imitators of God (Eph. 5:1-2) by showing this kind of love to our fellow image-bearers? We should seek to know the sorrows, the tears of those who are considering abortion or have abortion in their past. And we’re called to love your neighbor by drawing near to the brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit (Psa. 34:18). Are you more than a noisy gong? Are you entering into a personal, loving relationship with post-abortive women and those vulnerable to abortion, or are you distant and unbothered?

As we fight for human dignity, let’s strive for human compassion as well. God calls us to love one another (Eph.4:2; 1 Peter 4:8; John 15:12), but it can be a challenge to love others in everything we do (1 Cor. 16:14). It’s one worth fighting for, though. So, look for ways to care for the single mom in your small group, serve the young, pregnant woman in your church, and love the woman in your life who has abortion in her past. 

Phoebe Cates

Phoebe Cates has interned with the ERLC Nashville office. She is from the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Metro area and is a senior at Northern Kentucky University. She will graduate in Spring 2020 with a degree in public relations and journalism. Her goals include attending law school in Fall 2020 and pursuing … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24