It’s been a long time since I held a newly born in my arms. This past Monday I had the privilege of holding grandson Austin. It’s hard to describe the wonder of a new life. One of the first things that strikes you is the fact that a baby is so helpless. He or she is totally dependent on adults for nurture and protection. Their lives are literally in your hands. It’s hard not to reflect afresh on the topic of abortion.

Since I am in Australia at the moment, I picked up some Australian stats on abortion. Apparently, there are 70,000 abortions done in Australia every year, of which 95% are done on healthy women carrying healthy babies. I wonder what are the stats for Malaysia and Singapore. I pray we never get too numbed to be deeply pained by such statistics.

One of the things God has tasked His people to do is to speak up on behalf of those who can’t speak up for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). Unborn children should be at the top of the list. The early church clearly understood this mandate. There were elements of Roman society who would get rid of unwanted newborns by dumping them in the open where they would die from exposure, starvation, dehydration, or be eaten by wild dogs. Christians would rescue these unwanted babies, adopt them, and raise them as their own. It might be useful to note that churches then were household communities of 30–40 people, so this was very much a personal initiative, not an institutional response.

It is also clear that this was a costly initiative demanding time and material resources. It is very easy for the church to be fighting political battles against the legalisation of abortion. But are we willing to do what is necessary to adopt unwanted children and to walk with frightened, desperate mothers? Indeed, are our churches communities of grace where those who find themselves pregnant out of wedlock are loved and helped to rebuild their lives? I am told that a large number of those who ask for abortions are Christians who are ashamed that they have failed morally and want to get rid of the problem.

Followers of Christ should and must be taking a clear stand against abortion. But if we are serious about following Christ in this mandate there is so much more that needs to be done than just political activism. And while we continue to fight the battles for public policy, where we might win or lose, there is nothing to stop us from loving the broken and the unwanted now. Or ensuring that our faith communities are safe havens for all.

Often, those who are advocates for abortion rights dismiss Christian campaigns against abortion as purely a religious response and that we shouldn’t impose our religious views on others. I beg to differ. The debate over abortion is a debate about what it means to be human. Are we a species that destroys that element of our society that is most helpless? Complicated though the issue may be, some answers should be clear, something that is crystal clear as I hold Austin in my arms.