“You are anti-abortion and anti-gay,” she said. Five words to define me.
She knew me from brief classroom conversations and my writing, including my personal history as a reader. I wrote that history for her graduate class in literacy in 2006, before same sex marriage was a national argument. In it, I mentioned Bernard Nathanson’s book Aborting America. Nathanson’s account of his journey from abortion doctor (his term) to pro-life advocate.
I included books I felt had shaped me. Nathanson’s had carved conviction for life into my heart. But there was also William Barrett’s Lilies of the Field, the first book I remember reading because I wanted to, not because I had to. And Laurel Lee’s Walking through the Fire: A Hospital Journal, her story of single motherhood that I read before I embarked on a similar experience only without the threat of serious illness.
I had made no effort to hide my Christianity explaining the change it produced in my life had also changed my choice of reading materials. I hadn’t thought to include a couple books I had read on the Christian perspective about homosexuality. I had an opinion on the subject but not one that defined who I was. Nonetheless, my history as a reader was a woven trail that led to a complex me.
But she boiled me down to five words.
In that moment, I struggled to define myself. “I am more pro-life and pro-family,” I stammered.
With the clarity that comes all too often after an uncomfortable encounter, I can state that I am an advocate for human life in the womb and later (which is why ‘anti-abortion’ is an incomplete term to describe the pro-life perspective). And for me, speaking up on behalf of families has related more to the pain divorce causes than it has to the legality of same-sex relationships.
But with my awkward self-definition still hanging in the air and my clearer definition to be formulated later on as I drove home, we moved on to the purpose of our meeting, a discussion of my work throughout the course. Her opinion of my views did not negatively affect her evaluation of my work. I suffered no injustice because she and I disagreed. We have since had other meetings, always pleasant.
She may consider me somewhat of a friend. If she does, I am her anti-abortion, anti-gay friend.
It’s hard to convince others that we deserve a label that positively states a principle instead of one that negatively threatens to restrict freedom. Rather than simply wanting to end women’s freedom to choose abortion, we want women to be free of the nightmare memories of having killed their own children, free from the physical ramifications, such as infertility, that sometimes result from abortion. We really do care for mother, child, father, siblings, grandparents.
We want to be free from the sin of not speaking up on behalf of the innocent.
We also want to be free from the sin of not speaking up on behalf of the family. It is our duty to speak up in favor of children having two parents of opposite sexes. We want people’s relationships to be holy and healthy. Even if there are those who disagree with us. Even if we would rather not, Even if they call us hateful bigots.
It is our duty to speak up on behalf of holiness, yet always to do so in love.
We may not be able to change the opinions of those who disagree with us, of those who put wrong labels on us. But the burden is not on those who look at us through a skewed worldview lens.
It is on us to show love, speak love, live the love of Christ so that they see Him instead of us.
Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!
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