Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Our worship life is rightly to be focused on Jesus Christ and his way and teachings rather than being driven by current events. And yet there are moments that demand some kind of pastoral word from your pastor. To be silent is to fail Christ and to fail you.
Before we begin worship this morning, I want to take just a moment to speak to the recent ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Without speaking to the merits of the case, or the arguments presented in the majority opinion or the minority dissent, I want to share with you the position of the United Methodist Church regarding the complex and difficult issue of abortion and reproductive rights. It is a nuanced and prayerful position, developed over years of discussion in the church, recognizing the sanctity of unborn life but also recognizing that there are tragic moments when the life of the fetus or unborn child may threaten the life and well-being of the mother.
Here is what the United Methodist Church has to say about the issue of abortion, choice, and the sometimes terribly difficult decision about when (or if) to end a pregnancy:
“Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.
“But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.
“We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics (see Resolution 3184).
“We oppose the use of late-term abortion...and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. This procedure shall be performed only by certified medical providers.
“We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion. We entrust God to provide guidance, wisdom, and discernment to those facing an unintended pregnancy.
“The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth.
“We mourn and are committed to promoting the diminishment of high abortion rates. The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.”
I thought it might be helpful for you to know our position on this very personal, painful, and complicated issue. We are for the freedom of a woman to choose, but we believe abortion is something we can support only reluctantly and in special cases.
My comments will necessarily fall short of any kind of comprehensive statement, but please allow me to say this:
First, it is possible for persons of faith to pray, study this issue, read our holy texts, consult the best medical science, and come down on opposite sides of this issue.
Second, while some welcome this verdict others are deeply disappointed and alarmed. It is important for us to be in prayer for both those who welcome the ruling and those who grieve this government decision about what they consider to be an intensely personal decision.
Third, I invite you to be in prayer for those women who may find themselves in the middle of a life crisis because of this ruling. Many women who oppose abortion may also feel like the ruling has taken from them a significant degree of freedom and failed to respect their autonomy. I am mindful of the terrible choices women and their partners must sometimes make with an unwanted pregnancy or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities. I encourage the Christian community to reach out in love and offersupport to those women thrown into crisis by this ruling.
Fourth, I invite you to be in prayer for our country as the debate over this issue and others threaten to undo the fabric that holds us together as a nation. Let us do all we can to speak the truth in love, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us hear one another and respect one another, and let us each do what we can to bind up the wounds of those scalded by the overheated rhetoric over this issue and others. Some commentators talk about our nation becoming two, one blue and one red, and yet I believe God calls us to be healers as well as sharing our own truth. So pray for our country and do all you can to lower the walls and build bridges.
Fifth, let us make a commitment to be a faith community that is always advocating for children’s health and well being. Let us be a voice for children as our society decides how children are to be educated, sheltered, given outstanding health care, etc. Let us not only advocate for unborn life but for children in general.
There are all kinds of signs that children are increasingly at risk in our country, whether due to poverty, family system dysfunction, inadequate health care, pollution, food insecurity, and rising rates of emotional and mental illness. Jesus noticed children and welcomed them so let us never be silent when our society is tempted to be indifferent to the needs of children.
Sixth, and finally, if you are looking for a Biblical framework which may be helpful to you in understanding how we use our freedom in a Christlike way, look at chapters 8 and 9 in 1st Corinthians as Paul discusses how Christians can use their freedom faithfully without hurting their neighbors.
We may be able to do something, but that doesn’t make it right. Something may be lawful and not be helpful.
Also, in Galatians 5:15, St Paul, warns us against using our freedom to go against one another, acting like wild beasts trying to destroy one another.
Thank you for allowing me to share these few thoughts with you this morning. I thought it might be helpful for you to know what the United Methodist Church, after prayer, consulting best medical practices, and the study of scripture, believes about his difficult issue. And I trust that you will be a people of prayer as we go forward, advocating for the health and well being of women as well as children both unborn and born.
In Christ,Pastor Mark
First United Methodist Church1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN email@example.com | 260.925.0885