Dear Mill City Church,

Last week, after 50 years of legal standing, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, pushing abortion laws back to a state level. There is hardly an issue as contentious as abortion, so this decision is both monumental and controversial in our current cultural moment. In a world of continual newsfeeds and the politicization and weaponization of every issue, I dislike the expectation that a pastor “make a statement.” My role in our community is not to choose “sides,” be a political pundit, culture warrior, legal analyst, or medical expert, but rather to help our church think and act biblically and compassionately.

It’s important to remember that abortion touches the lives of people with whom we work, live, and worship, and it may even be a part of your story. This topic is deeply personal and painful, and it necessitates humility and grace. I acknowledge that within our church, there are unique stories, questions, and opinions surrounding this decision. As with any personal or societal issue we face, we must ask, “What does it look like to follow the way of Jesus in this moment?” or, in Dallas Willard’s words, “What would Jesus do if He were me?”

First, we look to the Scriptures and the example of Jesus, which teach us that God is the author of life, hates death, and makes each human being in His image, thus making each life inherently valuable (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-16, 1 Corinthians 15:24-26). As a result, Christians have historically placed a sacred value on life before and after birth. Scripture also teaches, contrary to cultural norms, that we have a responsibility to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Apprenticeship to Jesus includes how we think about the creation of life, our bodies, and the kind of world that honors God’s original design and creational intent.

We may be tempted to see this only as a theological issue, but we miss the point if we don’t embody an ethic of love toward all of our neighbors. Scripture’s teaching should not lead to judgment or contempt but compassion and sacrificial action (1 John 3:16-18). Throughout the centuries, Christians have been at the forefront of caring about every life and providing for those whom society has often disregarded by protecting the vulnerable, welcoming the refugee, building orphanages, funding hospitals, stocking food pantries, and creating adoption agencies. That said, I agree with the statement by Pastor Jon Tyson, “Though the church has had a consistent vision of the sacredness of life, it has at times failed to live up to that vision in a holistic manner. The church has at times moralized where it should have empathized and sermonized where it should have sacrificed. The church is at its best when it cares about all of life, not just birth.”

We strive to be a church that has a whole-life vision and is consistent in our care for the safety of the womb and the safety of the classroom, for black lives, white lives, and every person of color, for women and men, for documented and undocumented immigrants, for refugees and widows, and all who are marginalized with the same passion, value, and spirit. We desire to see our world experience God’s justice, love, and peace, and we recognize that we are a part of God’s plan to make Northern Colorado look more like heaven. So, we work to be a church where the heart of God is experienced in spiritual, emotional, and practical ways. Therefore, we will continue to provide funds and support for families interested in adoption or foster care, partner with The Alpha Center (a local pregnancy center), facilitate post-abortion support groups, and provide care and support for single-parent families, to name a few.

Secondly, we must resist the temptation to get sucked into a political ideology. When we do so, our hope gets misplaced in politicians, legislation, and verdicts; our witness is diminished, and we miss Jesus’ teaching to be better citizens of the Kingdom of God than of any earthly nation. Political ideologies cultivate either/or scenarios that create enemies and undermine unity. We have to guard against the temptation to see this issue as either caring for unborn babies or for women. Jesus’ resurrection affirms His value of life, and He was the greatest advocate for women. In a world where women are often made to prove their value, we seek to follow Jesus by loving, empowering, and blessing the God-given dignity, gifts, and worth of every woman.

Finally, in John 13:35, Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” My encouragement to you is to ask yourself the question, “In what ways am I failing to love others?” then take a step toward loving well. Maybe, that looks like reconsidering sending a harsh response on social media, giving support to a family in need, engaging in the journey of adopting or fostering a child, or having coffee with someone who has a differing view on this topic and listening with humility and grace.

If you are a part of Mill City or in Northern Colorado and find yourself struggling with the difficulties of an unexpected pregnancy, we are a safe place you can come to for care, resources, and support. We will welcome you and journey with you; you will not be met with shame but with love. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

I realize this letter is not comprehensive, but I pray we fight for unity and hope it provides handles for how to think and what to do as we follow Jesus together. Jossie and I love you and are praying that the Holy Spirit gives us all wisdom and grace as we navigate these issues as a community.

I am honored to be your pastor,

Aaron Stern

For further study, I highly recommend Love Thy Body (chapters 1 and 2) by Nancy Pearcy, Seculosity(chapter 8) by David Zahl, and Morality by Jonathan Sacks.