Several years ago, I sat in a hot tub relaxing with a girlfriend my age who was not a Christian. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she confided in me, “I had an abortion a few years ago.” Her face was blank, numb even. I could not tell if she felt shame or regret, but I could see that she nervously awaited my Christian response.
As a conservative evangelical at the time, I felt a little sick to my stomach. I was raised to look at this one issue as a horror. I mean, is there anything worse than a mother “murdering” her own baby?
I am not judgmental by nature; probably because I am so messed up by nature and need a lot of grace, so I hid my disgust and simply listened. She needed to get it off her chest, and I needed to hear someone say it. My innocent evangelical ears had never even heard a woman admit to an abortion.
This was an introduction to what real women are facing, and I would soon be working with real women and advocating for their rights in the home, Church, and world.
I have always had a passion for defending women, even with my very conservative background. Once when Luke and I first started dating we were enjoying a nice dinner with friends on a party street in Norfolk, Virginia. Young women were walking up and down the street with club clothes on, and grown men had large signs that said, “Repent, Whores. Or burn in hell.” Or something of that nature.
I could not focus on Luke, my friends, or my dinner. All I could do was focus on those men demeaning and condemning those young women to hell.
The Spirit came over me, and I stood up without telling anyone at the table what I was doing, marched outside, grabbed a Bible out of one of the men’s hands, and started preaching at him about Jesus’ love for women – even women who are dressed like whores.
I despise when Christians shame women.
It makes my blood boil, because it will only turn them away from Jesus, and then they will not only continue to dress like whores, but perhaps they will actually become whores. Condemnation is the worst way to win souls to Christ. Only God’s amazing love and kindness leads humans to repentance (Romans 2:4).
This is why I am beyond disturbed by the Christian pro-life movement; especially in the evangelical church.
This video by Jeff Durbin, who is a neo-Calvinist pastor and prides himself on being an advocate for the pro-life movement, is a prime example of why the world wants nothing to do with Jesus when they see how we deal with our pro-life stance:
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some beautiful Christians who advocate for the pro-life movement and do it with love, but even they often take a self-righteous approach.
Last year, when I decided that I would vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump (because I am not a single-issue voter), these loving, sweet ladies unfriended me on Facebook because they could not stand that I would vote for a pro-choice candidate. This is not right. This is self-righteous behavior and it is finding our identity in one political issue.
There are many moral issues in politics and I happen to be more passionate about gender equality than abortion, and I will tell you why:
1. I believe that gender equality will lead to many fewer abortions.
2. I don’t believe abortion will ever be outlawed, so why fight a losing battle?
3. Even if abortion was outlawed, women will still get them at the same rate (Source) and die from procedures gone wrong (and so will their babies).
4. I believe the Christian pro-life movement is doing more damage than good for the salvation message, and laws don’t change hearts, JESUS DOES.
When I was writing my master’s thesis, I learned that both abortion and infanticide both were normal and acceptable practices among the Pagan Roman and Greek cultures that the early church was set in. Baby boys were highly desirable and baby girls were not.
Therefore, it was common for married couples to keep only one baby girl. If it was thought that a second baby would probably be a girl, the mother would have an abortion, and if the child was born and turned out to be female, the child would be exposed outdoors to die.
Abortion was far from taboo, and even murdering one’s own baby girl was far from controversial. One can see this in a letter written by Hilarion in 1 B.C.E. to his wife, Alis, who was pregnant.
Know that I am still in Alexandria. And do not worry if they all come back and I remain in Alexandria. I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I receive payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered of a child [before I come home], if it is a boy keep it, if a girl discard it. You have sent me word, “Don’t forget me.” How can I forget you. I beg you not to worry. (The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark).
It is obvious that Hilarion is far more concerned with his wife’s feelings than the murdering of their possible daughter. This was the culture that they lived in. This was the law of their land.
When the new sect of Christianity started to spread throughout the Roman empire and into the Greek cities, a light began to shine into the darkness. There is great sociological evidence that women were far more attracted to Christianity than men at first, because it offered much more equality and respect towards women than pagan cultures did.
Of course, this began with Jesus Christ, the man who let Mary of Bethany out of a “woman’s place” and treated women as His equal partners in ministry and friendship. His example trickled down, and women flocked to the men who followed Jesus’s lead, by empowering them as equals; by assuring them over and over – “Dear sisters, there is neither male nor female in Jesus Christ, for we are all one.” (Galatians 3:28).
And so, the women came and they came by the masses, until they outnumbered the men. They left behind the pagan gods that told them that they were second class citizens, deserving of death even in the womb and as an infant. They left behind the pagan religions that told them they were not welcome to participate at the decision-making tables or in the pulpits. They found freedom. They found equality. They found Jesus, and they would never, ever go back.
THESE CHRISTIAN WOMEN HAD A HEART CHANGE.
The law said that they could get as many abortions as they wanted and they could throw their babies in the trash can if they felt like it, but oh no, these ladies were feminists, and they were going to save their lives and the lives of their baby girls.
They did not need to go around advocating to change laws. They had ZERO political power to do that. But they did have a much greater power. They had the power of the Holy Spirit inside of them and they let their light shine as bright as the morning sun.
Because they did this, many pagan women desired to know Christ too and their hearts were changed. In time, they felt abortion was not the right choice for them or their babies, so they made a moral decision on their own to keep their babies.
There is not one implication in the Bible of Christian men and women trying to make the Pagan empire surrounding them change their laws on abortion and infanticide. Instead, the Christians simply practiced their convictions and let their light of life and love and gender equality shine.
While men and boys continued to outnumber women and girls in the pagan communities due to killing off baby girls and abortions gone wrong on women, women and girls began to flourish in Christian communities because their lives were considered equally valuable and worthy of breath.
Laws can never bring about redemption; if we are truly pro-life, may we focus our efforts on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gender equality and freedom that He offers women and baby girls – inside and outside of the womb.
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Jory Micah Holds Her Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies: Christian Doctrine and Church History. She Wrote Her MA Thesis on Women in Church Leadership During the 1st & 2nd Centuries, Which You Can Read Here: