Heath Lambert: We are continuing to devote the month of August to the Planned Parenthood crisis that It has really gripped our nation and has forced a fresh conversation among Christians and the wider culture about issues of the sanctity of life. And in the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood Revelations, many Christians have expressed their horror at the reality of abortion. That horror is well-founded because abortion truly is horrible. And yet, it’s one thing to express shock as we address the culture. And it’s another thing to draw near to women who are wrestling with whether or not to have an abortion. We need understanding and so we don’t want to just talk about how to address the culture, we want to talk about how to help women who are struggling with this decision. To help us answer this question, I’ve asked Camille Cate to join us on the podcast today. She’s the Youth Division Director of Healing Hearts, a ministry that helps post-abortive women. And one of the things that I want to ask you Camille is to help us understand some of the reasons that a woman would seek out an abortion.
Camille Cates: Thank you Heath for having me. I think there’s two kinds of areas or reasons why women would seek an abortion. The first would be more of a situational, you know, it’s what they see kind of in their face. So a woman might seek an abortion because she finds herself pregnant, but she’s not married and she is thinking about single parenting and deciding in her own mind that she cannot do that on her own. A pregnancy she might feel gets in the way of her educational or career goals. So, she would seek an abortion. A couple might be diagnosed with medical problems in a pregnancy and the doctor is encouraging them or pressuring them even to have an abortion. Could be family or partner pressure that they’re not ready or they’re worried about their reputation or their goals and then it would interfere with them. So, there are a lot of situational reasons that a young woman or a woman might find herself, abortion-minded or pursuing an abortion. But then something that we like to address as a ministry is really not just the situation but the heart because there’s a heart behind why we would desire, why any woman would desire or seek out an abortion. And at the root of those things are usually three things in particular. One would be fear. A lot of women are just fearful they’re afraid of partners leaving, they’re afraid of losing an educational opportunity, fear of what loved ones are going to say or do. They may be in a bad situation, in a bad relationship. So in their mind an abortion is going to solve or ease that fear. Selfishness I hate to say it, but I’ve heard young women in this day and age I mean, they don’t want to stop their party lifestyle. I heard of a young woman, she was hoping to get a tattoo and that area. So she didn’t want a pregnancy to disrupt that. So as much as that kind of shocks us, selfishness is another root. And then pride and really all of those forms really boiled down to pride. And I’m post-abortive myself and looking back and see and point to some of those things. Fear, selfishness in my own pride at the heart of that. But my situation really clouded that. So it’s helping women get to the heart of why they think that they need an abortion.
Heath Lambert: You know, that’s really helpful. And it sounds like when we are doing ministry to women who are considering an abortion, we need to think about a couple of realities. On the one hand, there is the sanctity of life, which we want to fight to preserve. But on the other hand, there are practical realities in a woman’s life that would lead her to undermine the sanctity of life. And we need to be equipped to help her address those realities. So let’s talk about the sanctity of life first. We obviously need to emphasize the importance of life, but how can we talk about that with a woman considering an abortion, in a way that will really mean the most to her?
Camille Cates: You know, I think grace-filled truth from God’s word is the best source, the best go to. You know, most women that are seeking or pursuing an abortion have been lied to or have believed lies. Maybe their own imaginings about what life in the womb is really like, or what they think it’s not. So when they hear things like oh it’s just a blob of tissue, or it’s not really life yet, it’s not life until the heart starts beating, those kind of things. They don’t understand and they will justify and rationalize things that will ultimately, like you said, undermine the importance of life. I think of passages like Psalm 139 that are key, a lot of people use that to talk about life. But I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to help somebody from God’s word, and I think oftentimes we can throw out what I call scripture bombs or grenades that we just think we can lob out there into somebody’s heart and life and think that they’re going to explode and do something great. But God’s word is more like medicine to our hearts. And so if I was talking with somebody or ministering to somebody who was abortion minded, I would go to passages like Psalm 139 and walk through some of those verses. Verses 1 through 12 are really great passages about the sovereignty of God and how he’s our Creator and he knows us intimately. No one else truly on the planet knows what that woman is going through, where she’s at, where she’s been, or even her future like God does. And so to walk her through some of those verses there in Psalm 139 would bring comfort to her, to know that somebody else knows exactly what she’s going through at the time if you go onto verses 13 through 16 talks about how he knits life together in the womb. Those are really powerful passages that really can’t be ignored. And I like to instead of just reading those to somebody, I’ll turn my Bible around and say, “why don’t you read that to me?” And reading God’s word is so powerful when the Holy Spirit is also there to help convict and in speak to life, because he is the author of life. So, taking them through those scriptures, I also talked about how we were created as image-bearers of God. I mean that’s why he is the author of life and the one who determines life is because he’s created, he’s put his mark on people as his image bearer. And so, the woman that you’re ministering to she needs to realize she’s an image-bearer. And you can go back to Genesis or James chapter 3 and show her from those scriptures. But also this new life created in her womb is also an image-bearer and therefore, has the right to life.
Heath Lambert: We said we need to emphasize the importance of life. We also talked about how there’s these practical realities that we want to address. The last church that I pastored, we had what we called a blank check policy. And if there was a woman considering an abortion, we were just going to start writing checks. I mean if she needed transportation, we were going to get transportation, if she needed a place to live, we were going to do it. What are practical things that churches can do to minister to those practical concerns that women are having that leads them to have an abortion makes sense to them?
Camille Cates: Well, I think it’s great. I admire that your church does that. I think it would be great if every Church would budget that and, in their budget make it part of their missions because there’s the physical need. I mean people who are used to only having to clothe the one body, feed one mouth you know now they’ve got to consider how am I going to provide for this other life that I’m now responsible for; and they may not have the means to meet those practical needs. So if the church can come around and support and supply those physical needs that’s great. The spiritual need is also great, obviously sometimes we don’t know where these women are coming from. Some of them may have come out of a domestic violence situation, or a rape, or their loved ones have kicked them out of the home. They need a place to go. They need counseling for their heart. I love what ACBC does in equipping churches and laypeople to counsel from God’s word on any issue. Places like Vision of Hope in Lafayette, Indiana, great place for women to go that need residential care, and they can be helped with their education. That’s important. The statistic is that one out of three young women that find themselves pregnant, only one of them finishes their high school education. So really helping them to continue on and be a life learner is a great goal.
Heath Lambert: So we have brothers and sisters all across the world who share a commitment to life and protecting the unborn. And yet, they a talk about that in ways that are really ineffective and really harmful, what are some of the stupid things that well-intended Christians do to try to protect life but undermine their efforts?
Camille Cates: Some of the things that I have seen that are not very effective to someone who is either abortion-minded or who’s had an abortion, that needs to be ministered to. Social media posts can get a little crazy and very opinionated and sometimes you’re out there and you’re not thinking about the audience at large that you’re speaking to. So you may be thinking that you’re talking to like-minded people who are on some political agenda with you and forgetting that the statistic is one out of three women had an abortion by the time they’re middle age in our country. So you may very well be giving that same message that is hurtful to a post-abortive person or someone who is abortion minded who’s reading it. Billboards, I’ve seen billboards, I’ve seen bumper stickers, that probably well-intended and speaking the truth about life, but not in love and not filled with God’s grace. So I remember seeing a bumper sticker that said, abortion equals murder, any questions. Well yeah, I have some questions. I have a lot of questions, in fact are you just going to drive by with your bumper sticker or do you want to sit down and talk with me, and hear my side, and my story, and what I’m going through, and be willing to help in the in the situation that I’ve found myself in. And so, you know, I think that those are some things that people do that maybe are well-meaning but need to be rethought through.
Heath Lambert: Our concerns about abortion aren’t just limited to the unborn baby. We are truly concerned about this woman who is considering an abortion and so how can we as Christians best communicate our care to women who are thinking about this?
Camille Cates: I think that’s great to think of it as both, we’re ministering to both. You know, Jesus said the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. You have to realize that you’re dealing with two neighbors. You’re trying to love two people. The woman standing in front of you and the baby that is being carried in their womb. And we can’t forget sometimes their husband or their boyfriend also. So there can be several people that you’re trying to minister to. I think one of the greatest ways that you can communicate care to them and concern for them, is expressing commitment. Are you going to be there to help them through this pregnancy if they choose life? Are you going to be there from beginning to end and be there as a support as a church? Whether that’s finding resources for them at a local pregnancy care center, your church is going to provide clothing, help with rides to doctors’ appointments. Some people don’t have means. So they need support to be able to give care for their pregnancy and beyond. And I think that’s the thing is we got to remember, we’re not just about saving babies were about life and sharing the gospel. We can’t forget that their spiritual needs there as well. And so, we’re ministering to them practically and spiritually. At the same time knowing that, they have our utmost commitment to them.