By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
As the courts have decided to change the way we approach the legalities of abortion, many are wondering the obvious: What should a woman do if she is facing an unplanned pregnancy?
There are heated debates going on about the need for more support from both the government, church, community, and our culture in general for women who are graciously carrying new life into this world. As a mom of three biological children and a foster mom in the process of adopting our foster son, I wholeheartedly believe we need to build a more pro-mom, pro-child, and pro-family world. Paid leave, a culture that honors women who are expecting, more support for adoption, support for birth moms, better mental health services, improved healthcare, more equitable pay, and the list goes on how we can work to create a life-honoring society.
Obviously, we have a long way to go in our country before Motherhood becomes a well-supported endeavor. Bringing life into this world takes work, and it surely requires sacrifice on the part of mothers and fathers everywhere. Supporting the family unit, the most basic building block of our society, is so important to the Christian faith.
Yet, think back to the time of the early church. None of these systems, supports, or mandates existed in the ancient world. Infanticide was a common practice. The first Christians were known for going to the garbage and dung heaps that these infants were disposed of and caring for them as their own. Even those that were ill or unable to survive for long were cared for until their last breaths. In a society that saw children as entirely disposable, they lived out the Christian ideal that each person has worth because they are created by God in His own image (Genesis 1:27).
As a believer then, how do we reconcile God's call to protect all life as each human is "fearfully and wonderfully made" and the fact that we live in a fallen world?
1. Do What You Are Able
The term "it takes a village" as applied to parenthood is 100% true! It takes a village to love, nurture, support, and come alongside parents and children. Everyone can do something to be a part of creating space for mothers grappling with how to handle an unplanned pregnancy or to support vulnerable families in our community.
Maybe you aren't called to foster or adopt, but perhaps you could start a support group in your church for young moms. You could be the one that brings home-cooked meals to an expecting mom or a foster family. Mentoring youth in vulnerable situations is a wonderful way to inspire hope and pass on life skills to those who may desperately need them. Ask God what role you play in his work of caring for the vulnerable, hopeless, and anxious around us, and start doing it. The time is now.
2. Offer Unconditional Support and Encouragement to Expectant Mothers
It may feel easy to start getting your soapbox out when you hear of less than ideal pregnancy circumstances. We all should know how babies are made, right? How'd they let that happen? 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us, "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." The biblical response to pain and uncertainty is encouragement and love. A harsh spirit pushes mothers into dark corners that make them feel that carrying an unplanned pregnancy to term is impossible. Judgment, hopelessness, stigmas, and a lack of support contribute to increased abortion numbers.
Believers should be a soft place for those struggling with the grief and fear that comes with an unexpected pregnancy. We don't need to push our own ideas of what we think is the best way to handle this tough situation; instead, we need to offer options, support, unconditional love, encouragement, honest information, and more.
3. Offer Practical Support to Under-Resourced Families
1 Peter 4:9-11 says, "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
We must be those who show hospitality to those in need. Opening your home to those with different worldviews so they can experience God's love in a tangible way can be one way to infuse value and hope into someone's life. We should be those who speak God's truth and that serve as he would serve. This is how we bring God glory and work to bring Heaven down to Earth.
How can your church, home, and life be a good steward of God's grace? Drawing tough hard lines may not be the best way to respond to those grappling with the pain that is felt when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Speaking life, truth, grace, hope, and just being available to offer your life for the sake of another feels a lot more like the gospel truth that Jesus teaches us.
4. Pray for Those Facing Unplanned Pregnancies
Psalm 20:7 says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." God reminds us that our trust is in him, not in the powers of this world. Ultimately God knits together every person in the mother's womb, he has a story for their lives, and he is the one that can speak peace and life into any situation. The Christian response to sin, death, and pain is one that cries out to our God for help. We know God is working, even in the darkest corners of our world.
Psalm 34:17 tells us, "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles." Trust that God can provide and speak to the hearts of those in difficult places. He is able to debunk the lies of the enemy that would want to lead us away from life, grace, hope, and family.
My mom tells the story of when her sister became unexpectedly pregnant at 13. This was during the era when girls were often quietly sent away to have their babies without the world ever knowing what they had gone through. My grandparents followed Jesus and did all they could to live by his Word. She tells of how he held a family meeting, sat down with his seven kids, and shared the news of the pregnancy. He said with tears in his eyes; we are here for this mom and baby. We understand if mom wants to opt for adoption, but he loves this baby and hopes to help raise them in this home. There was not an ounce of shame, hesitation, or doubt that God had given them a gift through this unexpected and difficult situation.
What a lesson in this loving response! It went against fear, the culture, and even set aside his own feelings of disappointment and confusion. He grabbed onto the God-centered truth that life is precious and matters, no matter what leads to its existence. He and my grandma helped raise my cousin for several years until my aunt was able to support them both on her own. None of us can imagine a world without these lives being shared. My mom remembers the sweetness of tucking her little niece in at night and watching her grow. So much joy came from an unexpected situation.
Let's embrace love and grace, the core of who our God is when it comes to pregnancy, mothers, family, and politics. Lives are changed when we live God's way.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Violeta Stoimenova
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.