Living Columns & Blogs

Are we as divided as we think we are?

We are living in very divisive times.

Not to sound too pie-in-the-sky, warm and fuzzy, but maybe we aren’t as divided as we think.

Take abortion, for instance. Few issues are as divisive as abortion.

Many years ago, a friend of mine volunteered to escort women into an abortion clinic, through lines of pro-life and pro-choice protesters.

One day he was escorting a frightened young woman through the lines when some pro-life protesters grabbed her by the arm to speak with her and try to prevent her from entering the clinic. Some pro-choice protesters grabbed her other arm to speak to her and ensure she could enter the clinic, he said.

My friend said that a demented “tug-of-war” ensued, with a lot of screaming from both groups of protesters, with the young woman begging both sides to let her go. But neither would, until her shoulder was finally wrenched and she needed medical care.

My friend realized at that point that neither extreme cared about the young woman. They just cared about being right.

I think the vast majority of us can and do reject thinking like that. I think the vast majority of us, whether we’re pro-choice or pro-life, reject those kind of extremists; but, unfortunately, all too often they represent the pro-choice or the pro-life believers to the other side.

I think most of us in the middle have some pro-choice and pro-life sympathies.

I think many of us believe the choice of whether to have an abortion can be one of the worst choices someone would have to make in their life. And so, many of us come out emphatically in favor of birth control, to avoid as many unwanted pregnancies and potential abortion choices, as possible.

I think many of us intuitively recognize the complexity of the question about when life begins. A microscopic egg only fertilized for a few hours is not the same as a baby who has gone to term and is about to be born. And I think many of us recognize our legal system shouldn’t treat them the same.

Those who lean pro-choice need to remember that the vast majority of people who lean pro-life don’t hold up signs on street corners and shout ugly things at people passing by.

When I lived in Indiana, I heard about a network that quietly supplied young women who chose not to have an abortion with free medical care and support to help them get started as single parents or to place the child up for adoption.

When I was visiting China, I met a family from Texas who talked about how, after many years of work, the churches in their rural community had closed down the local foster care system — by finding adoptive homes for all the children.

And those who lean pro-life need to remember that the vast majority of the people who lean pro-choice don’t celebrate abortion.

The vast majority of those who lean pro-choice I’ve met recognize the amazing, extraordinary potential and invaluable worth of a fertilized egg that can potentially become a human being. But they also recognize the invaluable worth of the woman involved, and believe she should be the primary decider of these difficult and complex decisions — not the government — especially the earlier she is in the pregnancy.

No, I don’t think we are as divided as we think we are. Yes, there is still division, but I believe the vast majority of us should be able to recognize the pro-choice and pro-life sympathies we share.

Personally, speaking to the Christian community, I believe we can and should consider how Jesus Christ would respond to those considering an abortion.

No one can know for sure what Christ would do, but I believe he would welcome any woman considering an abortion and take care and love her, no matter what she decided. Her struggle and pain would be his too. I think he would hold her close through the birth and the raising of the child, and he would hold her just as close through an abortion too.

Craig Rose is the pastor at Howard United Methodist Church.