How to Respond to a Colleague Mourning Roe – Charlie Self

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, I was thrilled. But I work in a liberal corporate setting, and I’m not sure how to address it at work. For example, there are times when my boss asks how everyone is doing, and a colleague or two bemoans the ruling. Do I just stay quiet and let them vent? Do I say I’m actually celebrating it? I don’t want to unnecessarily create a stir, but on the other hand, I do want to be faithful to the gospel.

Thank you for asking an important question that millions of believers will face for years to come. Few issues evoke passions like abortion. Being holy and hospitable, adhering to biblical convictions while aspiring for the common good—these are necessary tensions in our world.

Both the spirit and substance of your question are important. In fact, your multifaceted question actually contains biblical answers that offer wisdom.

Do I Let Them Vent?

“Do I just stay quiet and let them vent?” Most of the time, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Venting is rarely a good foundation for serious conversation or the presentation of an opposite view. Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) exhorts us, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” Proverbs 11:9 captures the evil around us: “With his mouth [and the internet!] the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.”

While you wait for the best moments to respond, preparing an articulate position is of paramount importance. I recommend an ascending scale of insight for those who are willing to listen:

The actual decision returns abortion laws to the states. It does not outlaw abortion nationwide.
In the original 1973 decision, there was deliberate ambiguity about the personhood and viability of the developing child. Instead, the ruling depended largely on a “right to privacy” the court created out of whole cloth. For the next 25 years, even liberal thinkers admitted there were legal and scientific problems with the ruling.
There are thousands of agencies and millions of people ready to help mothers and couples with unwanted pregnancies. It is not true that pro-life people don’t care about the expecting mother and her emotional and economic welfare. You might mention how you and your church express compassion.
Even after all this mediating wisdom, at some point you may have to say, “Abortion is the destruction of human life, and with rare exceptions, it’s morally unacceptable.” Such a declaration is best reserved for serious discussion, not off-hand remarks in the heat of the moment.

Do I Say I’m Celebrating?

“Do I say I’m actually celebrating it?” Again, in the right context or when directly confronted, be ready with conviction and nuance.

Your patience will be rewarded: “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (Prov. 12:16, NIV). Be ready with a thoughtful response such as, “I’m pleased that such issues are in the hands of the states. I’m in favor of protecting the vulnerable at every stage of their life, which begins at conception. So lessening the destruction of vulnerable life in the womb is a moral good.”

Being holy and hospitable, adhering to biblical convictions while aspiring for the common good—these are necessary tensions in our world.

Any moral affirmation you make will likely evoke emotional reactions, from “You’re imposing your religion!” to “You hate women (or pregnant people).” You must meet this subjective perspective directly and kindly: “We live in a pluralistic society and liberty of conscience is the first freedom. I am not imposing my beliefs, but I do have the right to bring them to all I do at work and in the public square.”

Do I Cause a Stir?

Your final phrase about not unnecessarily causing a stir is an opportunity to heed Scripture and to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit.

After sharing about the beautiful fruit of the Spirit, Paul says to the Galatians, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). The general experience of God’s presence and power is united with specific direction.

This is an echo of Jesus’s promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence (John 14:15–27) and particular guidance as we’re serving the kingdom:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. . . . But when they arrest [or in our case, confront] you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matt. 10:16, 19–20, NIV)

Knowing the Word provides a treasure chest of material the Spirit can use. Personal preparation, united with maturing sensitivity to the Spirit in the moment, is the paradoxical power of God’s kingdom at work.

Being prepared with clear information and insights, refusing to be reactive, and cultivating attentiveness to the Spirit’s leading will help you winsomely present the gospel at work. You have already established a reputation as a kind and thoughtful colleague, and this social credit will help when you must be uncompromising in your moral position. May God’s peace be the arbiter of your spirit as you faithfully navigate these turbulent waters.

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