The following Statement has been adopted by the Judson Reproductive Justice Task Force. It is currently being presented to the entire Judson community as a draft for comment and congregational approval.

Statement of Principles of the Judson Reproductive Justice Task Force

We affirm that abortion is a compassionate and moral option for women not in spite of our Christianity, but because of it. We hold the following beliefs, rooted in our biblical understanding and the embodiment of our Christian values:

  • Sex is a most treasured gift that God has generously given.
  • A woman is created with the inalienable right and the moral capacity to make decisions about her own body.
  • Legislating restrictions on women’s reproductive choices based primarily on the legislators' religious or philosophical views violates the U.S. Constitution.
  • Legislating any interpretation of scripture violates our religious freedom.

Abortion can be a highly moral choice for a woman, much more so than compelling a woman to bear and raise a child even though she lacks the emotional or material resources to sustain herself or her family. We reject the usurpation of our faiths in service to rhetoric which is anti-woman and anti-scientific and anti-medicine. That rhetoric has proven catastrophic for women and children and their families. We deplore the way this argument demeans the sexuality of women and treats them like children with adult bodies.

Just as Jesus advocated for those oppressed by society in his day, we too stand with women oppressed in our day by deep rooted misogyny and poverty. We see the denial of safe, affordable health care, including reproductive health care, as an unjust assault on those who cannot afford the medical care they deserve and that is available to others. As Christians we are called to counter oppression with alternatives based in compassion, equality, respect, and love.

Woman As a Moral Agent

Women are capable of making soulful, moral decisions about their own bodies. It demeans women to assume that a woman cannot decide for herself if and when to bear a child. Mandatory childbearing makes of the woman a hostage to the will of others—those unfamiliar with her story, her life experience and her needs and may have disastrous consequences for the children. To be forced to have a child against one’s will is onerous and intolerable in a free society.

Our Faith Tradition Teaches Soul Competency

Judson Memorial Church seeks to be a faithful and justice-seeking community founded in the Baptist tradition. Our forebears suffered greatly, even to the point of death, to express their conviction that no one stands between the individual and God. Furthermore, it is a God-given right to hold own belief and to reject state-sponsored religion. This is the core Baptist principle of soul competency—belief in the ability of each person to “rightly divide the word of God” (2 Timothy 2:15) and act accordingly. Each person and each community of believers has the right to follow the dictates of their conscience, without compulsion from authoritative structures. Therefore, current legislation restricting women’s reproductive choice also restricts moral choice. To restrict a woman's choice is to refuse her soul freedom.

Our Faith Tradition Teaches Freedom for Religion and Freedom from Religion

As powerful as the U.S. Constitution must have seemed at its inception, Baptists were not satisfied that it would protect their most deeply held principles. “We, as a society,” they wrote President Washington, “feared that the liberty of conscience, dearer to us than property or life, was not sufficiently secured.” The pressure they brought resulted in the adoption of the Bill of Rights, in which the very first amendment defines two critical tenets of our society: the separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion. To privilege one spiritual belief over another violates religious freedom. Theocratic legislation is neither Baptist nor American.

Our foundation of Baptist principles and our Christian call to advocate for justice provide a powerful theological grounding for our unwavering support for a woman's individual freedom to choose whether and how to bear children. As a result, we affirm:

  • Non-coercive sexual relations are holy, spiritual exchanges, and as such, should be entered into with consent, respect, and a joyous heart.
  • Consenting adults are free to decide whether or not to have sex.
  • Consenting adults are free to have sex that is not procreative.
  • Pregnant women and girls are free to determine whether or not to carry their pregnancies to term.
  • No one should be coerced to have sex, to carry a fetus to term, or to abort.
  • The state should not dictate reproductive decisions, either in favor of or in opposition to carrying a child to term.
  • Support of a pregnancy includes support of the pregnant woman and the family who will care for a new person after birth.
  • Support for the unborn necessitates equal support for the born.

 
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