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The need for spiritual discernment in complex times

One may assume that for a Christian nurse-writer, writing about healthcare topics would be a benign thing to do that would easily align with biblical values.

But increasingly, I find that may not be the case.

This conundrum started back in Spring of 2015, when I was working as the senior content editor for a global digital health—aka healthcare technology—company.

I’ve always been a bit of a tech nerd, and believe it can be quite beneficial when it comes to healthcare, so this position was a great fit for me. I loved the people I worked with and the role itself, but occasionally, I had concerns about what God’s perspective may be about some of the biotechnology topics crossing my desk.

One day, while conducting research for a project, I came across a blog post from the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (CBHD). I don’t even remember the specific topic I was working on, except that it was something controversial-enough to make me question what the Christian stance would be.

“Aha!” I thought. The Bible-based insights I found there regarding various biotech topics opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t considered and confirmed my growing unease with some of the evolving trends within this space.

When I stumbled onto the resources at CBHD, I felt like a layer of film had been peeled back from the window of my perspective—and gained a new appreciation for the need for spiritual discernment in our increasingly complex times.

What an understatement

To say that we’re living in complex times is certainly a massive understatement. There are more ethical conundrums swirling around us today than we can shake a stick at.

Recently, I wrote about the need to understand the organizational intent behind various causes, because the Deceiver often uses what may appear to be a good thing to further dark purposes. When this is the case, it’s important to dig in our heels and stand for Jesus, rather than passively agreeing to support the evolving “norms” around us.

Ephesians 6:10-18 describes these nuances, noting that our struggle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (v.12, NIV).

Which is why we’re called to “put on the full armor of God, so that when [not if] the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground” (v.13, NIV).

Uncovering hidden evil

Evil hides in all kinds of seemingly beneficial corners of our society, using the persuasive language of the common good to lure in those who are vulnerable.

A prime example of this is the abortion industry, in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies are terminated legally in our country each year. Although the data is from 2016, here’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported from that year:

“In 2016, 623,471 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 48 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2016 was 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.”

Within this dynamic, desperate women who feel they have no other choice are often marketed to under the guise of “women’s health” and “women’s rights” which certainly sound like noble intents.

And many of those who seek to help women within this seemingly positive framework become employees of such “women’s health” providers and later regret what they signed up for when they realize what’s happening within their employers’ walls.

No matter what kind of window dressing is applied, the details and realities of abortion are incomprehensible in what is supposed to be a civilized and humane society.

A compassionate approach

Now, I don’t say any of that as a matter of judging women who’ve had abortions, because there is a great deal of healing needed there—and Jesus is ready, willing, and able to provide it. In fact, the main character of my upcoming novel, Final Moment, is desperate 16-year-old Charlie who is introduced to readers as she is walking into a clinic to have an abortion—and I love her dearly.

None of wants to have others judge us for our mistakes—and Jesus says we shouldn’t do that to them, either. In Matthew 7:1-2, his admonition along those lines is crystal clear: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (NIV). Instead, we need to offer the same compassion, love, and forgiveness God has provided for each of us.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ministries that provide the compassionate support that’s needed within this particular context.

For women who feel as if abortion is their only choice, ministries such as Heartbeat International are ready and able to step in with the options that are needed. In fact, even if a woman has started the process of chemical abortion, Heartbeat’s Abortion Pill Rescue ministry can provide the medical support needed to help reverse those effects and potentially save the baby’s life if accessed within a certain timeframe.

We all need the loving, prayerful support of others—which can move mountains in any context, including abortion. That’s why the peaceful, compassionate, and prayer-focused efforts of the 40 Days For Life ministry have been so effective.

This ministry had such an impact on Abby Johnson that she left the abortion industry to join efforts with their team. Abby is the author of Unplanned, which details her work within the abortion industry and her journey of leaving. If you haven’t seen the movie, Unplanned, I encourage you to grab your tissues and then sit down and witness the reality of the abortion industry from the perspective of someone who was knee-deep in it for years. I’m pretty sure you’ll never be the same.

Like Abby, there are many who work in this industry who long to get out—which is why her ministry, And Then There Were None (ATTWN), is so vital. This ministry provides an array of supportive services for abortion workers who want to leave but don’t feel they can do it on their own.

Asking questions

All of that brings me back to my opening about being a Christian who is a healthcare writer in the context of the evolving nuances of today’s world.

In our COVID-19 era, one facet of healthcare technology that’s growing by leaps and bounds is telemedicine—which allows a virtual connection with a healthcare provider rather than trekking to an office where potential virus exposure may occur.

Telemedicine has been around for a long time, and I love the benefits it can provide. But, there’s a sad new rub to this wonderful technology: it’s now being touted as a way to increase access to chemical abortions.

Which is why, when I was recently contacted by a prospective client who wanted to pay me well for writing about their telemedicine platform, I specifically asked about the “Women’s Health” topic that was included in the outline.

“What do you mean by women’s health?” I asked.

The reply was quite innocuous and something I would have been comfortable writing about. However, when I responded along those lines and added, “I know telemedicine is being used to access chemical abortions, but I’m pro-life and it would break my heart if I realized I had inadvertently supported that practice…”, I never heard from that prospect again.

Of course, this may have been someone who didn’t agree with my stance—but it could also be possible that there was an agenda at play that wasn’t transparently communicated.

My takeaway from that—and from other experiences I’ve had—is that we need to ask a lot of questions in such dicey times, and then use what we learn to apply the spiritual discernment needed to act in a way that’s pleasing to Jesus.

In this context, Dave reminded me of the clear direction of Romans 12:2—“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

More than ever, this world needs to see God’s people taking a stand for Him—undaunted and undeterred by the seemingly benign and beneficial that can be powerful, persuasive, and not always what it seems.

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