The Last Place to Go
I saw this article on the LifeWay Research website this morning. After reading only the title – “Women Distrust Church on Abortion” my first reaction was to say “You needed a survey to figure that out?” I couldn’t imagine many women who have had an abortion want to talk about it in church and I suspect even fewer contemplating an abortion would talk to their church. But the statistics were interesting. Among them:
- More than 4 in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy.
- Only 7 percent of women discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church.
- Two-thirds (65%) 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.
- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe church members are more likely to gossip about a woman considering abortion than to help her understand options.
- More than half of churchgoers who have had an abortion (52 percent) say no one at church knows it.
- Nearly half of women who have had an abortion (49 percent) say pastors’ teachings on forgiveness don’t seem to apply to terminated pregnancies.
A good summary statement from LifeWay was this: “That tells you the environment of the church. You can’t say you’ve had an abortion, you can’t say you’re considering one—it’s completely taboo to discuss.”
In other words, for women who have had an abortion or are considering one, the church is the last place they want to go. This is sad enough all by itself but the reality is that it is not alone. The church has often become the last place to go for –
- Someone addicted to pornography.
- Women who have been abused by their husbands or others.
- Someone considering a divorce.
- Singles who have been, or are considering becoming, sexually active.
That list could go on and on. How did we get to be seen so badly? We can explain it away; we can blame the women (or men); we can justify our stance. But when the only common denominator in all these cases is the church itself we must look inward for an answer.
My guess is that we, who should own and display grace more than anyone; who have received so much mercy, are better at judging than at comforting and that is just tragic.