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Behind the Headlines

The best way to address abortion is to overwhelm our culture with love.


I'd like to begin with a reading from John 8:2-11.

At dawn Jesus appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Last week I began an occasional series on contemporary issues—one designed to address some of the more vexing topics of our day: racism, divorce, abortion, war, environmentalism, consumerism, homosexuality, living together.

Most of these are topics I'd actually rather avoid. In fact, I'd rather chew sand than weigh in on some of them. But, occasionally, we will focus on one of them because I not only think that is the right thing to do—if a pastor is unwilling to take a moral stand I'm not exactly sure who is supposed ...

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Mike Woodruff is senior pastor of Christ Church Lake Forest in Lake Forest, Illinois.

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Sermon Outline:

Editor's Note: We normally do not include footnotes in our sermons, but Woodruff's endnotes provide some excellent resource material for further study and thinking on this subject.

The Story Behind the Sermon (By Mike Woodruff)

It's been a long time since I've dreaded preaching on a topic as much as I did this one. It's not that I feared the comments of those who disagreed with my position; it's that I feared hurting those who already live with shame and regret. In light of the risk, I worked hard to write a message that could stand up against criticism and to write a message I could preach to the woman who has had an abortion and has felt shamed by the church. (I also asked a number of people to read over a couple early drafts and help me strike the right tone.)

The response was a bit surprising: 1) I was surprised by how much email this sermon generated; 2) I was surprised by how many women who had had abortions (or men who had paid for them) thanked me for speaking out on the topic; 3) I was sobered by how many not only pulled me aside to tell me—confess really—that they had or recommended an abortion, but by how many of them said something like, "Next Tuesday it will be 38 years since the worst decision of my life."

I will not speak on this topic frequently, but I believe it's critical for pastors to take a public stand on this issue, and to do so with the right blend of conviction and grace.


I. The classic Christian position

II. The current reality

III. A pastoral response