Rapidly making the rounds since The Blaze reported it yesterday is a Cleveland Plain Dealer story about ministers that gathered last week to bless an abortion clinic. Were the subject slightly less serious, the temptation to make a Cleveland wisecrack would be completely irresistible, but this just is not something to joke about.
From the Plain Dealer:
The Rev. Laura Young, a United Methodist minister, organized the gathering as executive director of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
“We’re doing this because too many religious people are hurling shame and hate at women seeking abortion, when we should be offering compassion, care and spiritual healing,” she said.
Who can argue with what she said? Seriously – compassion and healing is precisely what Christianity offers, but how does that become a prayer to, “‘Bless this building,’ the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, said in a litany of supplications. ‘May its walls stand strong against the onslaught of shame thrown at it. May it be a beacon of hope for those who need its services.'”
The gospel of Jesus offers compassion in the face of sin and healing from it, it does not bless sin and make it acceptable.
The ministers that gathered for this deeply misguided event talked a lot about shaming. They have a point, shame could demotivate someone from Christianity if it is not counterbalanced with the deep love of Jesus. But if shame is proving to be a demotivator, the answer is not to destygmatize the behavior in question, but rather to dig deeper in ourselves to find the love of Christ that should counterbalance the shame.
Such situations always make me think of Jesus with the Samaritan women at the well in John 4. I cannot begin to explain how Jesus was able to confront this woman with her own sexual misconduct and at the same time make her feel loved and welcomed, but He did it. That is what we have to strive for. He did not condemn her for He knew her shame did that. He did not tell her what she did was “OK.” Rather He invited her to living waters that spring from Him – making the past shame disappear despite the wrong and giving resources to avoid future misfortune.
In other words the silly people that stand outside abortion clinics and hurl shame are just as wrong and as outside of God’s example as are the fools that try to say abortion is OK. To borrow a phrase that is pretty popular around here these days, “A pox on both their houses.”
These liberal ministers in Cleveland are very, very wrong. But so have been many of us of the conservative side. Before we start hurling stones, we better make sure we are without sin.