The other day, I was driving on Wards Road in Lynchburg trying to escape the lunch-hour traffic as it crawled along at an irritatingly slow pace, and something caught my eye. In front of me was a gold, four-door sedan with a black bumper sticker on it that said “Abortion is Murder”. I’ve always hated this specific line of pro-life slogans. It’s not that I don’t believe they are true or that I’m not pro-life. I am pro-life and do believe that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of an innocent child that has barely had a chance to live. I’m not pro-choice, but I do recognize that because of our country’s current laws, the mother DOES have a CHOICE. We as Christians have the ability, as well as the responsibility, to help influence these women towards the right choice. As I was sitting at the light, waiting for it to turn green I started thinking about the message of this bumper sticker and questioning its purpose and effectiveness in actually preventing abortions. I started off questioning the purpose and effectiveness of these slogans, and then I began to think about the women and young girls reading these phrases. I wondered what the slogans would accomplish when read by a young teenage girl who already had an abortion because her parents forced her to, believing she was too young to raise a child. I wondered how they would affect a battered and broken woman who got an abortion because her pregnancy was the result of a violent rape. Or how these slogans would affect a pregnant teenage girl’s decision as she considers abortion because her boyfriend dumped her and refuses to take part in supporting the child he had a part in creating. As I thought about these stereotypical stories of the women and young girls who seek out the "solution" of abortion, I realized that while there is truth in these types of pro-life slogans, they miss the vital command given to Christians in Ephesians 4:15a which is to “…speak the truth in love.”
While these marketed slogans may occasionally cause a woman or teenage girl to think twice before they decide to get an abortion, overall it seems that these types of moral “Christian” judgments either push these women away from the church because they do not want to feel judged or criticized; or they push women away who have already gotten abortions because these women only feel guilt and judgment from the truth of these statements. This truth is then received without the gracious, relational and forgiving love that is necessary in order to recover from the pain, grief, and guilt they carry around for their mistake.
In scripture it says that, “God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance” (Romans 2:4b). That as Christians we are to, “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15a) to one another. Throwing around judgmental slogans on T-shirts and Bumper-Stickers that say, “Abortion is murder” or “Abortion is homicide” does not reflect God’s kindness or accomplish the Biblical instruction of speaking truth in love. While these slogans may very well be true, the person reading them who does not know the individual sporting them, does not have a context of relational love from which they can hear this type of harsh truth. Without this relational love, these types of truths spoken will only be received as non-loving judgments. Now, I’m not saying that just because you do speak the truth in love it will be well-received by someone you do have a loving relationship with. They may very well receive this truth spoken in love as a judgment from you. However, there is a difference between this type of perceived judgment within the context of an actual loving relationship, and the perceived judgment when a loving relationship does not exist.
Throughout my graduate counseling courses I have been learning that as a counselor, it is important for me to be non-judgmental towards a client when they reveal something to me that does not align with my personal convictions or beliefs. Our job as counselors is to look past the sins or offenses the person has committed and to show them true Christ-like love in the context of the counseling relationship. It is only after we have shown them that love that we will be effective in reaching them with the truth and correction needed in their life. And true Christ-like love is only made complete through speaking truth and correction into the life of the one we claim to love.