I’ve been an Adventist all my life, but I don’t recall ever attending a seminar or hearing a sermon on this topic. I’ve read a few articles about it, and it was addressed in a college ethics class, but it’s not something I hear Adventists talking about individually or publicly. Yet it has been one of the hottest topics in American Christianity for 40 years.
The issue we don’t talk about: abortion.
Antionette Duck and Dianne Wagner aim to change that. Their presentation at the ASI Convention in Grand Rapids, MI, last week urged Adventists to confront this challenging issue for the sake of redemption and restoration.
Both women have a strong personal interest in the topic. Duck’s mother was planning to abort her but changed her mind when she saw some of the first photos ever published of an unborn baby. Wagner shared her harrowing personal story of going through two abortions. The trauma of these decisions led her into a life of guilt, shame, and self-harm until she finally found forgiveness and healing through Jesus.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “silence and inconsistencies” on abortion made Duck, a former Southern Baptist, hesitate to join the church. Ultimately she chose to join and work for change through the ministry she founded, Mafgia. (You can read the Adventist Church’s official statement on abortion here.)
Speaking to a mostly female audience, Duck and Wagner made several key points:
1. Thousands of women in the church as well as outside are dealing with the pain brought on by choosing to end their pregnancy. We are called to help free them from their burden of guilt and sorrow by revealing the redemptive grace of Christ.
2. We can’t truly help post-abortive women (and men) find forgiveness unless we affirm that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of an innocent human being.
3. Humans’ value is established by God. If we are not intrinsically valuable from the point of conception, there is nothing to instill that value later on except our own achievements. In other words, our value would be derived from our human “works,” not from God—an unbiblical concept.
Perhaps the church has hesitated to address abortion for fear of being linked with Religious Right political activism. Perhaps we’ve felt that it isn’t part of our prophetic calling. However, those factors have not kept us from speaking out on homosexuality, a topic with similar moral and political components.
I hope that Duck and Wagner are part of a growing movement among Seventh-day Adventists to offer forthright moral guidance on crucial issues, including abortion—not to condemn people, but to redeem them.
(Photo: Antionette Duck speaks on “Abortion, Redemption, and Restoration” at the 2014 ASI International Convention.)