Christian Mythbusters

Christian Mythbusters

Abortion and Words that Wound

May 11, 2022

This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith. 

Last week I talked about some of the Scriptural and theological reasons why there is room for a nuanced view of abortion in Christianity. Having been raised with strict views on this question, I know I was surprised to learn in graduate school that there was room to think differently, to honor a woman’s right to make this difficult choice on her own, and that honoring a women’s right to choose could be based in both a careful reading of the Biblical text and in the theology of the church.

But this week in Christian Mythbusters, I’d like to do something different. I’d like to talk about the way Christians so often talk about abortion, the words they use and the arguments they make. Because they think they are speaking in favor of life, but so often their words and rhetoric bring pain, death, and suffering to countless women. 

I know I didn’t understand much of this myself until my wife and I struggled to conceive. After the long journey of work with fertility doctors, we were able to have one child, our daughter… but we were unable to have any more after that. We both still carry that pain to this day.

And so, when I know when I am driving down the road and I see an anti-abortion billboard that claims that an embryo is the equivalent of a human being, my heart sinks into my stomach. Because, like many couples who struggled with infertility, we lost embryos in the process. And to be told that those were my children, the equivalent of my own daughter running around in our back yard… to be told that the embryo is the same as that, that the embryo was my child… this is not only scientifically false, it’s not only lacking any basis in Scripture or theology… it is painful and it’s cruel. It piles unnecessary sorrow and guilt on top of already-existing pain. 

And, you see, that’s the key that is so often missed in these debates: how the language you use will impact women who have been touched by questions surrounding not just abortion, but fertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Because all of those women carry deep pain and the language Christians use doesn’t heal that pain; it pours salt upon the wounds.

The day that the news of the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade came out, I sat in my truck listening to a story on the radio, an interview with an elected state representative. The reporter was asking about laws in Oklahoma, laws that would go into effect if Roe v. Wade is indeed overturned, laws that would not only criminalize abortion but would not even make an exception for cases of rape or incest. After hemming and hawing a bit, the representative said that, well, these laws were important because as horrible as rape and incest is, it doesn’t justify murder.

I immediately thought of any woman who was impregnated by her rapist, or a girl who was impregnated by a family member, and who was listening to the radio right now. And if that woman had an abortion because of the horror forced upon her by a man, I wondered about how massively wounding it must be to be told that after being raped, or being the victim of incest, that they should have carried that embryo to full-term birth, that an abortion was making her a murderer. 

Shame. Shame on Christians for equating abortion with murder. Make no mistake, abortion always has tragic dimensions, but nowhere in Scripture is abortion treated the same as murder. In fact, quite the opposite. As I said last week, Exodus 21 is very clear that if violence causes a miscarriage, the penalty is different than it would be for murder. 

And I hope you will listen to me, if you are a religious leader or just a passionate advocate for the so-called Pro-Life movement, I hope you will listen to me when I tell you that your language is what is killing life. By calling women who were faced with the tragic and difficult decisions surround abortion murderers, you are plunging a dagger deep in their soul. 

You are the reason that women in your churches who have had abortions, or who have struggled with issues of pregnancy, you are the reason they don’t talk about it. You are the reason they make the journey to the abortion clinic alone, while so-called Christian protestors hurl insults and sometimes physical objects at them as they walk that lonely sidewalk. You are the reason they make that journey alone and then they hold shame that is not theirs to bear the rest of their lives. You are the ones who have done that.

In Matthew 23, Jesus had this to say to the religious leaders of his own time, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” That is what is happening today, right now, in much of Christianity. Christians are tying heavy burdens on the backs of women and are unwilling to actually lift a finger to move them.

So, stop. Stop. Stop with the bad theology and a false reading of Scripture. Stop calling people murderers and saying that a clump of cells, though valuable, is the same as a child. And stop telling women who are in the impossible experience of contemplating what to do with a pregnancy they did not choose to have… or a pregnancy they wanted but which has gone horribly wrong… stop using your words and rhetoric to traumatize them all over again. It has nothing to do with the way of Jesus. Because the way of Jesus is to lift burdens and to heal with compassion.

And if you’re listening, and you’re a woman facing these questions, or one who has faced them in the past, feel free contact me at or call me at the church, St. John’s Episcopal, Grand Haven, Michigan. I’ll walk this road with you, no matter what you choose and no matter what you have chosen. I’ll walk this road with you as a priest and as a follower of Jesus that believes that compassion is what is key. 

Thanks for being with me. To find out more about my parish, you can go to Until next time, remember, protest like Jesus, love recklessly, and live your faith out in a community that accepts you but also challenges you to be better tomorrow than you are today.