Today I had the privilege of meeting with some leaders from Assure Pregnancy Clinic in Ontario. We had a great conversation about their ministry and about the current state of the pro-life movement.
At one point I asked Sharon Sparks, the director, what she thought was the main message that needed to be heard by women seeking abortions. She said many wonderful things, but the first thing that she said was, "You are valued."
It is important to talk about the biblical teaching on abortion and the worldview issues that follow. It is important to talk about the medical issues surrounding abortion. It is important to talk about the guilt and shame and regret that so often follow the choice to abort a child.
At the same time, according to the staff of Assure, many of the women coming to the clinic believe that abortion is wrong (at least in most cases). The problem is not simply lack of education. The problem is that women feel cornered. Their parents or boyfriends (or sometimes husbands) are pressuring them to abort. Many times financial concerns enter into the decision. These pressures and concerns often drown out the ethical questions surrounding abortion. It can create a situation in which medical and Scriptural arguments fall on deaf ears.
But then there is Sharon's message. You are valued. You are important. You matter.
When we believe that we are important and valuable, an amazing thing happens. Suddenly, we feel empowered not to take the easy path, but the more difficult one.
There are times when my wife gives me encouragement as a husband, a father, a pastor, and a man. She speaks words that reinforce a deep value that I have in all of these roles. When I hear these life-giving words I am not inspired to sleep in, sit on the couch, watch TV, and overeat. Instead I am inspired to seek Christ more powerfully, invest in my kids more personally, pursue my wife more vigorously, and live for Christ more holistically. Her words of value make me want to take the more challenging path because this is more consistent with that idea that I am valued.
When we believe that we matter, we are empowered to make difficult decisions instead of taking the path of least resistance. We suddenly want to get off the couch and work hard at something. We suddenly want to recover from our addictions. And we suddenly want to care for a needy child instead of escaping from a difficult situation.
The Gospel of Jesus gives us the powerful situation that we are valued. We are not valued because we decide that we are. We are valued because God values us! he values us so much that he parted with his beloved Son in order to rescue us from sin and death! We are treasured by the Creator of the entire universe.
If we are going to make a difference in the lives of women, men, and unborn children, we must communicate the gospel value that they are treasured by God himself. I pray that we can boldly and joyfully embrace and communicate this truth. And I pray that this truth will drive all of us to choose the more challenging path of living as people who are deeply valued, rather than settling for the mediocre life of people who believe they are forgotten or ignored.