Dear Saints, The decision of the Supreme Court last week has sparked intense debate on the topics of abortion, life, women’s health and biblical interpretation. It has likely inspired you to engage in conversations or thoughts about your own views on the issue. Perhaps your views have remained the same over time, or perhaps they have evolved during these debates.
What does the Lutheran Church teach about abortion? A social statement on the topic was released by the ELCA in 1991 (read the full statement here: https://elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Abortion). Although one social statement cannot encompass the individual beliefs of every member (or even leader) of a denomination, here is a summary of is included in the statement:
- We recognize that faithful believers come to different conclusions on this complicated topic.
- Weighing the good of a developing life and with life of the pregnant person cannot be boiled down to simple rhetoric.
- Human life is created by God.
- Human life is entangled in sin, including the sins of neglect, abuse, violence and injustice.
- God deals with sin through the gift of Grace in Jesus Christ, who modeled love for the most vulnerable, including both children and women.
- The church teaches that abortion ought to be an option only of last resort.
- The church is called to support pregnant people, people who have had abortions, people who have chosen adoption and people raising children.
- The church is called to work for just systems that support life.
- Abortion is morally responsible in cases where a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.
- A person should not be obligated to carry a pregnancy as a result of domestic abuse, rape or incest.
- Abortion in cases of extreme fetal abnormality should be the choice of the parents and their medical provider.
- Abortion should not be considered past the point when the baby’s life is medically viable (with the support of reasonable technology).
- We engage this debate in a way that keeps us focused on love of God and neighbor, relying always on the grace of God.
- Although laws cannot enforce Christian love, the church should advocate for just laws and work to change those which are unjust.
- Sex education and contraception are key to reducing the need for abortion.
- The church must protect children from abuse or neglect through caring action as well as advocacy.
- The church opposes both a total lack of regulation of abortion as well as a total ban on abortion.
Thank you for taking the time to read and prayerfully consider this issue in the context of our faith in God and love for one another. We respect that there are a wide range of opinions on this topic. If you have questions about the ELCA’s teachings or disagreements with the above statements, the pastors will be happy to talk with you. The question of abortion is not a simple one, but we do believe that it is possible to continue to be faithful even without knowing all the answers. We trust in God, we rely on God’s grace, and we pray for God’s guidance.
+ Pastor Kris and Pastor Ginger +