At Vineyard Columbus, our value life ethic extends meaningfully in multiple directions: Toward protecting the unborn, whom we believe are made in the image of God just as much as their mamas. And at the same time, toward caring meaningfully for mothers caught in pregnancies they weren’t expecting or are struggling to support. Toward looking squarely at the truth and the pain found in those situations, and toward receiving with grace and welcome those who feel they have no options.
As the Supreme Court hears a seminal case regarding abortion law this week, the temperature is going to go up, along with the volume, around this conversation.
In the midst of that noise and heat, Vineyard Columbus is committed to staying steady on the course God has called us to for over three decades: both valuing the lives of the unborn and valuing the lives of mothers who find themselves in extremely difficult or unexpected circumstances. And valuing not just with words, but with practical, substantial, and gracious support.
As Christians, we are called to have a particular sort of relationship with life. Life, scripture tells us, is a gift. Life was given by God… Life is marked by God… Life belongs to God…. Life is filled with the purposes of God…
“In the beginning” Genesis kicks off, “God created”. For Christians, this is not just myth and not merely mystery. It’s our origin story. We find capital-T truth in these words. They’re what form our understanding of what it means to be a human being. A creature, made by and in the very likeness of God.
And life, because it’s created by God, is holy. Special. Sanctified. Which means life is something to be protected, provided for, and treated with dignity and respect regardless of capacity, regardless of ability, relative healthiness, regardless of market value or earning capacity or potentiality or even regardless of levels of goodness, virtue, or sinfulness.
Scripture tells us that humanity is made in the image of God. In the “Imago Dei”, if you prefer Latin. That means that when a Christian looks at any other human being, we see the other human being as having inherent dignity. It means we see them as having the same value as we might ascribe to our very self. It means that we are not the ultimate makers or the ultimate owners – even of our own children or our own lives: God is the ultimate maker. And because of that, Christians value life from conception to natural death.
Even outside of a Christian ethics, as Ross Douthat writes in the NY Times, “we know from embryology… not scripture or philosophy, that abortion kills a unique member of the species Homo sapiens.”
At the same time, as Christians we must remind ourselves that we care about all life – the unborn, yes. And also their mothers. We are called to face all the realities in this conversation, and we are called to face those too with the compassion and mercy of Christ. While we believe that abortion ends a human life, we also understand that far too many women experience that real, healthy, sustainable choices (aside from abortion) feel impossible to access.
Stephanie Ranade Krider, former vice president and executive director of Ohio Right to Life helps remind us of the bigger context and asks an important question to the pro-life movement:
“We know the reasons that women choose abortion. In 2005, the Guttmacher Institute published a peer-reviewed study finding that ‘the reasons most frequently cited were that having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (73%); and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%).’ In other words, these women felt that having a baby would hinder their livelihood or economic opportunity, and they feared — or already experienced — privation, financially or in their relationships. Women who obtain abortions are increasingly low-income, according to a 2017 Guttmacher study: 49 percent live below the federal poverty level. What would it look like for the pro-life movement to meaningfully address their reasons?”
At Vineyard Columbus, our value life ethic extends meaningfully in multiple directions: Toward protecting the unborn, whom we believe are made in the image of God just as much as their mamas. And at the same time, toward caring meaningfully for mothers caught in pregnancies they weren't expecting or are struggling to support. Toward looking squarely at the truth and the pain found in those situations, and toward receiving with grace and welcome those who feel they have no options.
We’re going to stay committed to valuing life not through hectic tweets or loud statements or blaming & shaming, but through direct service ministry to vulnerable families. We’re going to keep mentoring young moms. We’re going to keep supplying the basic essentials like diapers and car seats, and plenty of other practical helps. We’re going to keep supporting families who are serving children in foster care, keep supporting children who have been orphaned, keep investing in the next generation, and keep holding a grace-filled and humble posture while we hold up our ethic of life. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of moms in unexpected pregnancies are being served every single year. (You can listen to a podcast with our Value Life pastor Diane Bauman here. If you listen, you’ll also hear about ways to become meaningfully involved.)
Again, Ranade Krider points us to the big picture: “If Roe v. Wade falls — the scenario driving the most feverish and frantic rhetoric — the likely result is at best a patchwork of laws regulating abortion across the country. Some states, which have provisions that would be triggered by the end of Roe, would have no legal abortion except to save the life of the mother. Others, such as Vermont and Colorado, would allow abortions with no restrictions at all. The end of Roe would be a victory and a cause for celebration for those of us who oppose abortion, but it would not end the practice nationwide. Making progress toward that goal means broadening our focus from the law of abortion to its underlying reality. We can work to create a country where no woman feels as though abortion is her best, or only, choice.”
At Vineyard Columbus, part of our mission is to partner with Christ to bring healing into the world… and Jesus himself is our teacher for what it looks like to do that. He protected the vulnerable, elevated the marginalized, and modeled a revolutionary value of all life. We follow Him as we seek to face all the true stories, see all the pain that He sees, and seek to be His hands and His feet of compassion, grace, and dignity in a world that is searching for life… and life to the full.
This church has for decades held a both/and approach towards our value life ethic. We value the unborn. And we value women facing very real and very tough choices. We’re going to continue demonstrating our value life ethic through ministries that support the dignity of all.
We value staying connected in this conversation! If you’d like to find out more about getting involved in our Value Life ministry, or if you or someone you love needs support. If you disagree and want to do a bit of prayerful processing on the topic - or perhaps you’ve had an abortion in the past and would appreciate some pastoral conversation and prayer? Drop us an email and one of our pastors will be in touch. You can learn more about our Value Life ministry here.