|A Format for Small Group Congregational Study of Abortion|
For basic adult education classes and small groups, consider PPL's video series including discussion questions, called "Created, Loved, and Called."
For a congregationally-based study to explore the subject, particularly when there is outspoken division on the subject, and an emphasis on reading and discussion is needed:
1. Create a session-approved study group that will be open and advertised to the congregation, with a regular meeting time and place, preferably at the church.
2. Create a study agenda
a. Establish the areas of study essential for a study of the issue by Christians
The role of moral teaching in the Christian life
b. Set a study agenda
Abortion in America: the statistical data compiled.
The Bible's Relevant Teaching: identify the passages, analyze and draw conclusions about the biblical message
on when a human life begins
Presbyterian History and Doctrine pertinent to abortion: Is the current position consistent with the historical? If not, what changed; when and why?
Historically, did Presbyterians deviate from other streams of the Christian church on the issue?
The Unborn from a Biological Perspective: when a human life begins and how it develops toward birth
The Unborn from a Philosophical Perspective: what is the meaning of humanness or personhood from a biblical perspective?
Where do Biology and Philosophy Intersect?
Sociological and Political Views; analyze in a biblical context
The Church's Response: The General Assembly policy statement on abortion
Summarize the General Assembly's policy and critique it from your previous study of Scripture, history, biology, sociology, and politics
How would you formulate a response by the Church to abortion? For example:
What are the "Difficult Cases" and How Shall We Understand Abortion in Those Cases?
The above is an outline of subject matter that could be covered. Each group should establish the parameters of its own study and begin assembling the study materials needed.
c. Decide which materials and documents the whole group needs to read and study together and who will lead each discussion.
d. Decide which subjects will be assigned to individuals for their own exploration and reporting back to the group for discussion. If you have members on both sides of the issue, you should assign the same topic to two people, one from each perspective.
3. Identify the resources for your study
The Book of Confessions
Historical documents of the Church on abortion
The General Assembly policy on abortion, called "Problem Pregnancies and Abortion, 1992 (available from PPL or from the Office of the General Assembly (OGA-92-017)
Statistical information is available from the Alan Guttmacher Institute
Consult a basic biology textbook in its section on reproduction for information on when and how a human life begins. There are various views about the meaning and personhood of those in the womb. Here is where biblical study is important to distinguish between views. Views that contrast with Scripture may be found in the writings of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics, Westminster Press, 1966) and Peter Singer (Practical Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 1993)
Effects of abortion on women: Women's Health after Abortion, by Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles (The deVeber institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2002); Detrimental Effects of Abortion, edited by Thomas W. Strahan (Acorn Books, 2001).
Alternatives to abortion: More Than Kindness, by Marvin and Susan Olasky (Crossway Books, 1990).
More materials available on the PPL website at www.ppl.org. Search other websites as well.
A sample study and report to a session, results of a year-long study, is available from PPL.
4. If you can see that the group is coming to some basic agreements, begin to formulate your final report to session. Tell the session what you have learned and what you recommend that they do. Possibilities include:
A statement of position for the session to adopt.
Preparation of an adult education series on the subject, using the resources discovered by the study group
Preaching on abortion or incorporating abortion into sermons
Support for ministries in your community offering alternatives to abortion
Provision of ministry by your church support women in difficulty pregnancies, support adoptions, gospel-based counseling and support for women and men who have made abortion decisions.
Youth education on sexual purity and decisions that affirm life.
Teaching young children about the development of human life and its value to God and the church.
Consideration of ways to encourage the General Assembly toward a godly response to abortion in its proclamation and in its service.
For further assistance, contact PPL.