In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision to repeal Roe vs. Wade, a young lady said to me, “I know where you stand on this issue!” I was slightly startled, and I said: “Do you indeed know what my position is?” We started to talk about my position and her position, and we found out that we actually had some shared opinions. 

One of the commonalities we discovered between us was that we both believed that the Christian community has varying positions on mothers and children at the time of birth. One position was that at birth, if there is danger of losing both the mother and the child, one should save the child because that is a new life that will continue, while the mother has already had a number of years here on earth. In some places this is thought of as sacrificing the mother for the future of the child. However, other people believe that if there is an opportunity to save only one of the two, it should be the mother because she will have the opportunity to go on and have more children.  

Surprisingly, this young lady and I found out that we also agreed in two other specific areas. The first one was the idea that we as Christians are not actually the sole owners of our bodies. This is because when we become Christians, our redemption extends to our whole person, including the physical. Apostles Peter and Paul remind us that we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for the One who has redeemed us, namely Christ.

We also found out that both of us were uneasy over the sentiment that a woman can do whatever she wants with her body, because once she is pregnant, there is no longer the monarchy of one, but the consideration of two. It will be much more honest for us to say that a woman can do whatever she wants with her own body and with the other person that she carries within it. Our English language transforms the baby into a nondescript “it,” but it is, of course, a he or she. 

Through our conversation, we realized that we did disagree over the ethical and legal implications of abortions in the instances of incest and rape. I explained that I originally shared the position that those factors created an exceptional situation. However, the more I listened to people that had abortions and the more I listened and read about the people that had carried to full term, even those pregnancies that resulted from incest and rape, I came to the conclusion that every life is sacred and needs to be preserved.  

All this to say, the ideological distance between this young lady and I ended up being actually rather narrow and we could work together to easily find common ground. 

One of the Reformers, Martin Luther, said that the one who is for the death penalty should be willing to do the hanging. Jerry Falwell, one of the often-maligned people on the right, said the one who is against abortion should be willing to adopt the babies.  He preached that Christians should be able to demonstrate they are for life by adopting and providing a great life for as many unwanted babies as they are able, even if they have to do it sacrificially. It is just the opposite belief held by another friend of mine – they argued that it was better to be aborted than to come into this world and not have a good life. 

That perspective was rather shocking to me, especially since, as a pastor, I have been surprised to find out how many people were adopted in the churches I serve. One time I listened to a lady tell a couple that they were blessed to have one daughter look like the mother and one look like the father. The couple’s surprise was because both daughters were adopted! I looked at the parents and the three of us just smiled. 

It was an opportunity to marvel at the way that God puts families together. I find myself equally marveling when I experience the unique joy of seeing children today whose parents wanted to abort them and knowing that God used me to persuade those parents that they and their children would be blessed if they were born. 

This is a time of great division and dissension, but, just as my friend and I found unexpected commonalities in our considerations of God, autonomy, and the body, I pray you find the patience and compassion to meet your family and friends somewhere in the middle of these extremes to consider views similar and different from your own. 

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...