A Fellow Writer’s Endorsement

A big thank you to Melinda V. Inman for sharing this piece:

@nancyehead is a truth-telling #writer who pens facts that reveal the dark side of issues about which we may have covered our eyes. Her writing is candid, bracing, intellectual & informative, both blogging and published work.… https://melindainman.com/?p=27847 via @MelindaVInman

NANCY E. HEAD

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Nancy E. Head is an author, teacher, and activist who has also run for political office. She is staunchly pro-life and often writes on this topic as well as the moral condition of America and how we are losing many of the values that were common in the past.

Learn more about Nancy here: www.nancyehead.com.

Nancy blogs weekly. Over several years of reading her work, I’ve found her to be one of the most candid authors I’ve ever encountered. Her wealth of experiences give her a candor and yet kindness toward those in difficult situations, and her strength of character produces writing directed at those difficulties in ways that are straightforward and frank. I learn much from her weekly blog about where our nation is headed morally and ethically.

Boldly, she writes of the ugly side of the abortion issue, euthanasia, and the pressure on those who attempt to intervene. Her writing presents truth fearlessly, with no hiding of the details about which we may have covered our eyes. Bracing, intellectual, and informative — these descriptors encapsulate her work.@nancyehead is a truth-telling #writer who pens facts that reveal the dark side of issues about which we may have covered our eyes. Her writing is candid, bracing, intellectual & informative, both blogging and published work.…CLICK TO TWEET

Take a look at Nancy’s blog. This is one of her latest featured posts.

HEADLINES: THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANING

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, June 27, 2020.

“In the 1950s kids lost their innocence . . . In the 1960s, kids lost their authority [the means of direction]. . . In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. . . Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion… It made for a lonely world. . . In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. . . In the 1990s, kids lost their power to reason. . . In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination,” Ravi Zacharias.

Innocence, authority, love, hope, reason, imagination, all are necessary elements of a functioning people in a functioning society.

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1950—back when there was still innocence, hope, and imagination. The book is about a society that can no longer find itself. The people have no books, no imagination, and no sense of purpose and meaning.

Bradbury depicts these losses in one of the most chilling moments in literature. A man comes home from work to find his wife passed out—overdosed on sleeping pills. He calls for help assuming the 1950s practice that a doctor will actually come to the house to set her right.

Instead, help comes in the form of two cigarette smoking technicians with a snakelike vacuum cleaner of sorts. They sweep out the woman’s system. She’ll be fine in the morning. It’s no big deal, they say; it’s common. So common, in fact, that they get nine or ten calls a night. Every night. . . .

Find the rest of Nancy’s blog HERE.

Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. Currently, she is working on a middle reader children’s book, Jude and the Magic Birds (Working title).

RESTORING THE SHATTERED

Find Nancy book HERE on Amazon.

Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ's Love Through the Church in One Accord by [Nancy E. Head]

Written in an easy-to-understand, conversational style, Restoring the Shattered is an account of Nancy E. Head’s journey through single-motherhood and poverty. The permanent divide between her and her husband led to a shattering of their family as the children settled into separate camps.

The story begins when Nancy and her children have little to eat. Through a miraculous intervention, God provides—and leads them along their way. Other interventions and more guidance came from people of different denominations, illustrating Christ’s love through the larger Church.

When one of Nancy’s grown children became Catholic, she became more aware of the ways her own evangelical tradition often dismisses Catholic believers and misinterprets many of their doctrines. While doctrines may differ, so many essential beliefs are the same. Restoring the Shattered looks at the causes of the Reformation and other schisms, and how the original schism in Christianity happened because of a mistranslation.

Misunderstanding others’ faith languages feeds so much separation today. Nancy encourages pursuing accord among evangelical, Catholic, and Christian Orthodox communities in order to lead the Church to the kind of ministry that helped Nancy’s family so much and rebuild the ruins of society through obedience to Christ’s call for Christian accord.

During our years of need, Christians encouraged her as she earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Penn State and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Encouragement continued as she embarked on a career in journalism and later turned to a career in teaching, which has included two summers in China. She earned my master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Currently, Nancy is an instructor at Penn State Altoona and Great Commission Schools. When not teaching or writing, she restores antique quilts, craft projects for her grandchildren, and helps her husband lead a small group at their church devoted to ministering to the needy in their community.

Find Nancy E. Head on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

The Upside-Down World Is Becoming Our Own

Published in Mustard Seed Sentinel, August 22, 2020.

When the Roman Empire collapsed, the loss of basic knowledge of how to do ordinary things was immense. The Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins [says] that it took western Europeans something like 700 years to relearn how to build a roof as solid as the Romans knew how to build.” Rod Dreher~

When my husband retired from his office job, he leaped into a full-time vocation that he was already doing part-time–roof and chimney repair. And he added a ministry aspect.

When he needs a crew, he goes to a local drug rehab program and recruits workers for the day. A couple of them turned into long-term employees. They arrived with a new outlook and got a new set of skills.

But most of them don’t. After all, not everyone belongs on a roof. Not everyone can traverse a housetop in even a mild degree of comfort. And not everyone is willing to do the hot sweaty work required to finish the task at hand.

Some move on to other work. Others go back to the old way of life.

My husband sees two ways of thinking. One accepts responsibility for the past and doesn’t want to return to the old life. Those workers show promise and are willing to learn. They revel in a sense of accomplishment. They find success in fixing something that had been broken as they watch the broken pieces of their own lives mend also.

The other perspective shifts blame for the past. The shifting means they don’t move forward. They realize no great moments of accomplishment. Without accomplishment, there is nothing to celebrate, to pass on. There is no once-broken-now-fixed thing to see, to point to. And no set of skills attained to pass to others. They can only blame.

That is how we forget.

Decades ago, I was among an inaugural class of girls taking woodshop. I still have the finished cedar box I made complete with a crack across the top because I (apparently) hit the hammer too hard nailing the lid on.

I’m certain it was for reasons other than my cracked lid—or in addition to it—that the teacher swore he would never teach girls again. I assume he retired shortly thereafter. From then on, girls would work with wood and boys would navigate the formerly female-only domain of the kitchen.

Our more modern outlook did well to invite boys to pursue competence in the kitchen and girls to use tools. We taught skills and children accomplished meals and boxes–even those with cracks.

I read recently of schools eliminating home-economics classes–now named Family and Consumer Science.

And I remember the sense I felt a few years ago at seeing a sack lunch for sale in a grocery store. It’s hard to give that feeling a word. But “loss” comes the closest. Are some of us no longer willing to pass along the small accomplishment of packing one’s own lunch?

Think about the exchange so many of us have made. We’ve traded the ability to prepare our own food (let alone grow it ourselves) for going to the store or restaurant, or now to have it delivered.

We have to realize that we are teaching the young how to do things. We are showing them how to accomplish tasks themselves–or how to get others to do things for them. We are always teaching something.

We are missing important components of ourselves in these deficits of basic competencies. With such seemingly small losses come even bigger ones hidden under our radar.

Dreher writes about a conversation he had with someone who works with victims of sex trafficking. He calls the conversation “deeply shocking.”

“He said that in his line of work, he hears from fertility doctors — not one fertility doctor, but several — that they are having to teach married couples how to have normal sex . . . if they want to conceive. These young people have been so saturated in pornography, and have had their imaginations so thoroughly formed by it, that the idea of normal reproductive sex acts are bizarre to them.”

Bizarre. Can it really be that bad?

Yes. It can.

Porn use in America is pervasive. And more harmful than we may realize.

At the Thrive Summit Conference (warning, some images are suggestive), Don Brewster said that, depending on the survey, somewhere between 51 and 86 percent of American men aged 25 and older use porn at least occasionally.

Forty-six percent use it regularly. Males ages 13-24 use porn at a rate of 67 percent.

Younger people (females use it too) using porn affects brains, shapes brains that are still developing. Porn makes physical changes, objectifies others, and effectively makes sex only about self, never a sacred, exclusive, mutual connection.

These effects wire the brain in a way that is very difficult, but not impossible, to undo.

Using porn affects our view of the morality of porn. In The Porn Phenomenon, Barna says, “The more you use porn, the less you think it’s wrong.” For example, 97 percent of monthly porn users believe that porn involving children under 12 is wrong. Only 90 percent of daily users believe child porn is wrong.

Moreover, only 45 percent of monthly users believe porn that depicts someone in a demeaning way is wrong. The number drops to 28 percent of daily users. That’s a large number of people who think children participating in porn is morally neutral and putting someone else in a demeaning situation, not for their own pleasure, is just fine.

While 54 percent of those surveyed said using porn at all is wrong, 58 percent agreed that eating too much is always wrong. Stealing something is always wrong for 95 percent.

Our society is sexually off the rails when married couples don’t understand how to act in order to conceive a child, when young people lack moral discomfort about 11 year olds (or younger) having careers in porn, and when the perception that it’s okay to make others uncomfortable for your own pleasure is just fine.

For many, porn use isn’t just a series of unrelated acts strung together. It’s an addiction. Addicts feel shame. Wives (usually the partner) feel betrayed. There seems to be no way out of a cycle of triggering, failure, and shame resulting in the partner feeling betrayed and the user feeling rejected—usually prompting a new trigger, perhaps with periodic episodes of successful avoidance punctuating the in-between.

There will be those who blame others and perhaps dabble in solutions the way some of my husband’s short-term employees do. But there will be those who seek a way out of addiction.

Some will search for a way and never find it. A young man went to a local social service office seeking help in my town. “Looking at porn is normal” was the reply he got to his request.

I hope he kept looking. But it takes a great deal of work to overcome an addiction, and few people can do it by themselves.

The Church is where people should be able to find the help they need to escape the snares of addiction and loss of understanding. Because of the shame involved, addicts don’t want to admit their problem to a pastor or church leader while many church leaders seem averse to addressing the issue (perhaps because of their own issues with porn).

So it’s up to those who understand the problems and the solutions to step up and create safe, non-judgmental places where people feel they can bring this burden and find assistance.

There is help out there. The Conquer Series and other materials by kingdomworks.com are great resources for individuals or groups. Blazing Grace offers resources as well as online forums for a number of sexual issues.

There is no substitute for walking through tough times with someone who’s walking through or has already walked through such challenges themselves.

Imagine a world where the idea of having your leaky roof fixed is the stuff of fantasy. Where the idea of fixing your own sandwich is passé.

Now imagine a world where God’s intentions for sex, exclusive marital connection and procreation, are completely lost. Where the idea of the normal way to make babies happen is bizarre.

That world is becoming our own.

What will we do in response?

Photo Credit: Ethan Sykes, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Abortion and the Church

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, January 25, 2020~

I don’t know who she sat next to in church that week—or if she even went to church then. And for a long time after I met her, I had no idea what had happened in her life.

It all looked great from my viewpoint.

Then we went on a bus trip to the March for Life. That’s the annual Washington, DC, commemoration of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in all 50 states. I don’t know the moment that made a difference for her. I just know that she lived that moment and her life changed. She made a connection with someone she felt she could trust with her secret. And when she did, she found healing.

And I might not have ever known but for a chance meeting.

One Sunday morning, we were visiting a church in a neighboring community. And when we got out of our car, she got out of hers.

She was the guest speaker. She had come to tell us the secret she had carried for years. She had had an abortion.

And she told us about the someone who helped her. And the God who healed her.

Now she helps others. And those others are all around us. We just don’t know who they are or what they are living.

Perhaps one such person sat next to you last Sunday.

One in five women who reported that they’ve had an abortion were attending church weekly at the time. Four in ten said they attended church regularly when they aborted. Seven in ten aborting women identify themselves as Christians.

Only seven of 100 such women said they discussed their decision to abort with someone at their church.

Roland C. Warren of CareNet says, because the issue of abortion has been politicized, many pastors shy away from addressing it. So many women sit in the pews feeling that they cannot speak of their crisis pregnancies.

“[A]s a result of pastors’ withdrawal, there have not been broad-scale ministry on-ramps built around helping women and men make pregnancy decisions,” he writes.

It’s not about politicizing our churches. It’s about providing compassion to people who may hold pro-life convictions in their hearts even when they perceive that their desperate situation has no solution other than abortion. So we also must offer compassion for men who have made abortion decisions. Consider this story:

There is a Planned Parenthood facility in Montgomery County, Texas, that was the special focus of prisoners in the local jail during a 40 Days for Life campaign.

Forty Days for Life was meeting outside the PP at that location from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm daily during those 40 days. One of the participants also volunteered in the chaplaincy program at the local jail. He went to see whether the inmates of faith would be willing to cover the other 12 hours of each day in prayer.

A few days later he “returned to the Wynne unit and the offender heading up the unit prayer vigil gave me the sign-up list. It turned out to be 12 pages full of names. As I examined the list in semi-shock and asked several questions, I realized that each man on the list had agreed to pray for one hour each day for the whole 40 days. For example, 16 men are praying every day from 7 PM – 8 PM for the whole 40 days. Again, 16 different men from 8 PM – 9 PM. 15 men signed up for 3 AM – 4 AM and so it goes. Every hour is covered with at least 10 men who signed up to pray.”

I don’t know how abortion touched the lives of each of these inmates.

But Donna Gardner knows that abortion has touched the lives of many men incarcerated today. Gardner became involved in ministry to post-abortive, incarcerated men after an inmate spoke to a prison ministry about his guilt over participating in abortions.

“The inmate was feeling haunted because he had pressured three different women he had gotten pregnant into having abortions. Surprised that a man was talking about abortions, Lawlor invited Gardner to speak at the annual prison ministry meeting in 2011.”

Gardner believed many prisoners suffered from PTSD because of their involvement in abortions. Her research and instincts found support when “an anonymous survey issued to the inmates at both of the prisons [Martin and Okeechobee in Florida] indicated that 90 percent had been involved in an abortion experience that hurt them.”

She says, “It’s not what you think about men in prison. They longed for their children and somehow recognized that life went wrong after their abortion experience.”

It doesn’t seem like a natural progression of logic that men would find themselves in prison as a result of abortions in their lives. After all, these men had histories before and after their abortion experiences that may also have contributed to their incarceration.

It didn’t seem like a logical connection to the men either—at first. “Many men are unaware that their emotions are the direct result of an abortion experience,” according to Gardner.

Emotional wounding comes from all sorts of trauma. But with nearly 62 million abortions happening in the US since Roe, it’s time to acknowledge that the wounding is widespread.

Gardner’s program includes multiple classes. Men learn how to deal with the pain of the past. They find healing. They experience, she says, “the healing power of God.”

The men are building “this beautiful brotherhood of life . . . behind the wall.”

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Credit: Tim Marshall

Only God can form such a brotherhood. And only God can place a healing helper in our path after we’ve wounded ourselves in a way that seems insurmountable.

Whether the place of ministry is a prison or a church, it must be a place of transparent compassion that says, “We will love you no matter what you face, no matter what you’ve done because there is a great God who loved us and you too,” Gardner says.

That’s the same love that my friend found. And the love she now offers. That’s the love the men suffering after abortion offer.

That love is the Gospel.

And the Gospel is the message of Christ. The message of the Church—if we can be bold enough to share it.

Top Photo Credit: Maria Oswalt

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Emerging from the Cave–Moving from Darkness to Light

Published 12/28/19 in the Mustard Seed Sentinel.

Humans, history says, emerged from a cave. We drew pictures of animals on the walls around us.

A great thinker, Plato, told a story about a man in a cave. This man is bound. Unable to see anything except the shadows cast upon the wall in front of him. He perceives these shadows to be the sum total of reality.

As Plato’s story goes, the man one day escapes his bonds, leaves his cave, and goes out in broad daylight for the first time in his memory. The bright sunlight blinds him. He needs a guide to discern this place, this reality.

The man’s eyes adjust to the sunlight. He finds his way. And he decides to reenter the cave and tell the others still in bondage there what he has discovered: They are only looking at shadows.

They are missing all that is real.

But they are content. They call him a lunatic. They know what is real. It’s right in front of them. Plain as day.

They stew in the darkness of the cave.

Emerging from the cave makes a difference. We move from darkness into light. Into a blinding light to which the eyes of our souls must adjust.

British writer G.K. Chesterton pointed out that one man who was born in a cave grew up to an unjust death. Then He emerged from his cave tomb. At no point did his eyes need to acclimate to the light. He had created it. He spoke it real and it became reality.

People still inhabit the cave. They have their own “reality”. And their view of reality affects their view of Christmas.

When I was a radio news reporter, I wanted to do a special Christmas feature for the morning drive program.

I wrote a poem to record to music, but I wanted another voice along with my own on the piece. So I went to my kids’ elementary school and interviewed six first graders. I asked them, “What is Christmas?”

Three of them talked about Jesus. But the other three made no mention of Him. To them, Christmas was all about Santa and presents. Nothing more.

My sample was small and young. Hardly a statistical representation of first graders, let alone Americans in general.

But my results actually came close to how Americans view Christmas today. Pew has issued a study showing that only 55 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.

That’s down from 59 percent as recently as 2013.

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

(Credit: Walter Chavez)

Many of us bemoan such news. But our complaining about the de-sacralization of the holiday hasn’t changed the minds of those enjoying a holiday they deem secular. All our griping has not turned a tide toward keeping the day holy.

The Pew study investigates belief (or disbelief) in the details of the Christmas story: Jesus’ virgin birth, the shepherds, and angels.

Belief in those details, of course, reflects faith in who Christ is. Those details hold great meaning. Christ is sinless because he had no human father. God as his Father means he is perfect God as well.

When Christ was born, God the Father sent angels to the socially lowest of people–the disregarded, the outcasts–the shepherds. The presence of shepherds within walking distance of Bethlehem indicates that Christ was not born in December. Shepherds typically did not keep their flocks near villages because of the odor they caused. They would be nowhere near Bethlehem except during a 30 period before Passover–a period of preparation for the yearly sacrifice.

The shepherds outside Bethlehem were Levitical shepherds. Ironically, they were ritualistically unclean. They walked through feces. They touched dead things.

The angel told them to find a baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths. To shepherds raising sheep for Levitical sacrifice, swaddling cloths would be vastly significant. For a lamb to qualify for sacrifice it had to be perfect, without blemish.

The shepherds swaddled lambs intended for sacrifice–they wrapped them in cloths to protect them. The angel saying that they would find the infant wrapped in swaddling cloths indicated that the baby would be a sacrifice. That baby was the Messiah they had long awaited.

Many would have expected a Jewish king to be born in Jerusalem–the city of the king–not Bethlehem. But Bethlehem was the City of David–a keeper of sheep.

God’s choice of a birthplace for his son wasn’t just a fulfillment of prophecy–which it was. It was also a symbol that Christ the King would be the fulfillment of sacrifice on our behalf.

Christ was the sinless Son of God, the perfect Lamb to be sacrificed for the shepherds’ sins–for our sins. Those are details many today disregard.

If we find the cultural embrace of a secular Christmas disturbing, we can still keep the true Christmas in our hearts. We can heed the angels’ message of “Fear not.”

“Don’t take this sobering news [of the Pew study] as a reason to rend your garments and wail. Use it as reason to make your family’s celebration of Advent and Christmas more religious.” Rod Dreher.

As we do, we remember that, on that first Christmas, God invited the unclean to see His Son.

Those who reject him today—or ignore him—are yet among the invited. The invited who refuse to come out of the cave.

The baby’s birth in one cave, and the man’s emergence from another, marks a division in the history of humanity. G.K. Chesterton writes,

“There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present [for Christ’s birth]; for it was a cave used as a stable. . . . It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors . . . had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passers-by, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born. . . . God also was a Cave-Man, and had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously coloured, upon the wall of the world; but the pictures that he made had come to life.”

We are all creatures of a cave–a cave in which we hide from truth or an empty cave from which we have emerged. Every person we encounter is someone who has discovered reality, or is still in a cave, or has come out but cannot yet fully discern through blinding light.

Chesterton again: “Man is the microcosm; man is the measure of all things; man is the image of God. These are the only real lessons to be learnt in the cave, and it is time to leave it for the open road.”

Christ brings peace on earth–within our hearts. He is the perfect sacrifice for us. When we celebrate him, our silence can overwhelm the noise and darkness.

Embrace His peace. Celebrate him. Shine the true light. Keep faith in dark days and steep in his peace. Speak the glory of God to each person you meet. Celebrate his birthday throughout the year in awe of our great God.

Lead photo credit: Bruno Van Der Kraan, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Our Culture’s Perspective of Sex

Republished from Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, October 26, 2019

I remember watching a segment CBS journalist Harry Reasoner did—perhaps for one of those television news magazines—in the early or mid-1970s. It was about our changing perspective of sex. The most powerful words Reasoner said came at the end of his piece. They went something like this:

It may be that the head cheerleader would give in and have sex with the quarterback. But she knew she was giving away something important. And he knew he was getting something very valuable.

Reasoner bemoaned the shift in America’s thinking that told the young woman she was giving away something trivial. And the young man was not receiving something precious and irreplaceable.

That perspective shift turned into big changes in our culture. The cheerleader and the quarterback who had sex in the back seat of the car would likely marry and likely stay married.

In that back seat, he knew he wanted to. She knew she wasn’t supposed to. Often, they both understood the risks were grave—upset parents, loss of reputation, untimely pregnancy, disappointed hopes for the future.

Today, he still wants to. But she believes she’s supposed to want to also. And neither has any fear of consequences.

The key today is whether she wants to. Whether she consents. In theory, it sounds fair, sensible, progressive. But it doesn’t play out quite so simply in reality.

David French: “You can sum up the sexual ethic of the sexual revolutionary in one sentence: Except in the most extreme circumstances (such as incest), consenting adults define their own moral norms. . . . Desire is elevated over fidelity and certainly over propriety, so bosses bully, spouses stray, hearts break, and families fracture.”

Nearly 60 years after the birth control pill and 46 years of legal abortion in America, we may be waking up to the idea that casual sex has opened the door to exploitation on a level unseen since the dawn of Christianity.

Jennifer Joyner is one who has awakened. She had thought casual sex would be pleasurable and empowering. But it wasn’t. She calls it a “rigged game.”

“Whether we like it or not, sex is intrinsically biased against the woman: biological reality dictates that she carries the brunt of sexual risks while he wields the majority of sexual power.”

But women aren’t the only ones to lose at the rigged game. A male reader provides this insight into his post-abortion world.

As a man who found myself an un-knowing and un-willing participant in an abortion almost 25 years ago, my life became a very dark place. It was 20 years before I ever allowed myself to say the word and then God, somehow opened the floodgates of denial. The last 5 years or so have been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs (mostly downs), as I have tried to come to grips with the loss alone. There have been a few close friends that kept watch over me when I was in the deepest pits, and I am grateful they were there. . . . [Two] days before the anniversary) I found myself back in one of my pits. I walked to my closet and retrieved my 45 handgun, and stood there for a moment crying. I honestly couldn’t tell you if I was trying to decide whether to pull the trigger, or trying to talk myself out of it.

His situation began with human connection—perhaps a deep emotional connection. He still has a deep connection to his child. But he finds it difficult to work through his grief.

A typical situation begins with two people who come together in passing or in love–but always in passion.

She becomes pregnant.

He doesn’t resist when she says she’ll have an abortion—even though she may be hoping he will take a stand on behalf of their child—that he will choose to stand by her.

Or perhaps he pushes her to abort the baby. Or perhaps, like our reader, he will learn of the abortion only after it’s already happened.

Since before Roe v. Wade, we’ve heard that abortion is between a woman and her doctor. It’s nobody else’s business.

Except it doesn’t work that way–even though it may take some men years to understand that the wound from abortion is like a stone that has been weighing them down.

In The Tears of the Fisherman, Kevin Burke writes:

“[Many men] do not associate the symptoms they are suffering [depression, addiction, inability to maintain relationships] with that abortion event in their past. Even if a man is aware that he is hurting from participating in the death of his unborn child, there is no safe place to share that burden.”

He has no place to go–either because no one else knows about the abortion or because those who do know don’t want to discuss it. The reader quoted above was blessed to have people encouraging him to work through his pain to a better place of healing.

Burke explains why healing is so important:

“When you went through that abortion experience the natural need for you to grieve the loss of your child and your parental relationship with your son or daughter was also aborted. For some men and women, forgiving self and letting go of the burden of self-condemnation feels like letting go of the only real connection with their unborn child or children.”

Yet there is hope—for both women and men.

A pregnancy scare at 19 turned Jennifer Joyner’s thinking around. She realized that her sex partners were gaining all the pleasure of the act (which she often found painful) and she was carrying all the risk. Instead of playing a rigged game, she could change her behavior. She could play a “long game.” She writes:

What’s attractive to me today is the sort of romance that lasts a lifetime. Men who seek this know it requires patience, wisdom, and a firm grip on their own reins. Because he’s responsible, he restrains his sexuality until he’s ready to share her sexual risks—including that of parenthood. . . . Until then, he’s researching the contours of her character rather than those of her anatomy; he’s focused on the long game.

And more from our post-abortion male reader:

When I started this walk, I was completely alone, with no idea where to turn. I have friends who have supported me once I broke my silence, and I love them to death. But through no fault of their own, I really didn’t trust anyone with the storms that were constantly raging inside me.

I knew there were programs out there, but for a variety of reasons, (pride mostly, but I have to confess to a degree of distrust as well) I wouldn’t reach out. . . . I guess I was waiting on something to just fall in my lap. Once I took a few small steps that is exactly what happened.

There are other men like me out there, many of them probably less informed than I was. Still, it took a lot of searching before I knew what was out there. Anything, and anyone who helps get that message out is a tremendous blessing.

Women can play the long game instead of the rigged one. And men can find healing after the tragedy of abortion.

But that requires a supportive community and the right resources.

A woman seeking to pursue sexual purity (with or without an abortion in her past) will find a wonderful resource in Dannah Gresh’s And the Bride Wore White.

A helpful community comes in the form of Pregnancy Resource Centers and Clinics. CareNet is a network of such organizations who help with crisis pregnancy, STD diagnosis, post-abortion recovery, and wise counsel.

For post-abortion men and women, hope comes, not in forgetting, but in honoring and remembering. Healing ministries provide the opportunity to remember, to name the child, to repent, to find forgiveness. Burke’s book lists the following resources:

Abortionforgiveness.com is part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Menandabortion.net helps men find healing and works to raise awareness of men’s abortion pain in counselors, pro-life workers, and society at large.

And Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry for married couples, parents, and grandparents. This ministry provides the stone that symbolizes the burden of abortion.

The rigged game is a lie too many of us have bought into and lost. The foundational lie behind the game is that we belong to ourselves. We think our bodies are ours to do with as we please—and we seek only to please ourselves.

What happens to the other is not our concern.

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Yet the game’s prize for all players is emptiness and a devaluing of our very souls. Every selfish act brings an eventual negative return. Every selfish act is a refusal to let God own us.

Young people convince themselves—or our culture has convinced them—that their sexual purity is of little value. And even our nation’s laws have told them that the result of their casual unions is inconsequential.

In the forty-six years since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion from conception until birth, uncommitted sex has destroyed the lives of 60 million unborn and countless adults.

David French once more: “An ethic that indulges [the sex] drive while also denying the emotional significance of sex will inevitably wreck lives. The wise person understands that desire — even mutual desire — can be dangerous. How many happily married men and women look back on the momentary temptations of the past and wish they’d indulged? How many are grateful that they had the self-discipline and moral character to refuse to do what — at that moment — they wanted to do?”

And how many still carry the burden of an unwise choice during a moment of temptation?

It’s time for society to admit that the sexual revolution is over and our ownership of self has been only destructive.

It’s time for us to give up the lie of the rigged game, to give ourselves back to God.

It’s time for us stop living for ourselves—and in so doing—to make our lives even better than we thought they could be.

Photo Credit: Jared Sluyter and Aaron Burden, respectively

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: A Haunting for Humanity

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, September 28, 2019

“[G]hosts of dead men . . . have bequeathed a trust to us living men.” Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse was an Irish Republican (one who sought independence from the British) during the Easter Rising–the failed insurrection in 1916 that preceded eventual independence for Ireland.

His full name–Patrick Henry Pearse–might lead us to assume that he is the namesake solely of the great American orator who called the Virginia Assembly in America to liberty or death. America’s Henry survived our rebellion. Pearse did not survive the Rising. He gave his all to it.

But there is an older Patrick of Ireland whom Pearse’s parents may also have had in mind as they named their new babe.

It was Saint Patrick who chased the snakes out of Ireland, the Irish say. But the Irish admit that serpents didn’t inhabit the Emerald Isle in Patrick’s day. The snakes in Patrick’s metaphor refer to pagan practices of ancient, pre-Christian days.

Among those pagan practices was human sacrifice.

Today, Ireland is a beautiful paradise for tourists. Small farms and large ones dot the countryside between a few big cities–growing cities as the young begin to abandon the rural for the urban and urbane–as the country reaches perceived new heights of sophistication.

Ireland has come a long way from its pagan days and from its hungry days since the potato famine of 1845 and following. It’s now a land with a solid economy and a growing population.

However, population growth is from immigration not from the births of Irish babes.

In 2017, the Republic of Ireland had the highest birthrate in the European Union–yet it was still below replacement levels. That was before abortion became legal at the beginning of this year–an occurrence that seemed impossible to many even as it unfolded.

Even though Ireland has voted down its restrictive abortion laws, it seems unlikely that the Emerald Isle will become as lenient regarding “pregnancy termination” as England already is or America, which goes even further than both countries, further than most countries.

Yet perhaps someday, we’ll realize the UK and Ireland just took longer to get to the same place America inhabits today.

In most of the United Kingdom, including England, abortion regulations require two doctors to sign off before the procedure can happen. But the law grants doctors a conscience clause. They may refuse to sign on moral grounds. And the law prohibits abortion after 24 weeks–with later exceptions for health of the mother or when the unborn child may have “serious disabilities.”

So getting an abortion in the UK is more difficult than it is in the US–which requires no doctors’ signatures and has no gestational time limit. In America, a woman can get an abortion for no reason until “viability”–24 weeks–and for any reason after that—if she can find a willing doctor.

By comparison, France allows abortion for any reason for only 12 weeks–and later only in extreme cases.

The Irish vote last year did not affect the laws of its neighbor–Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK but has the right to self-government. Northern Ireland’s demographics are much different from the rest of the UK.

In the 2011 Census, some 82.3% of [Northern Ireland’s] residents described themselves as Christian compared with 59.4% in England, 53.8% in Scotland and 57.6% in Wales. Despite the peace process, the fact that Northern Ireland remains a ‘divided society’ along sectarian lines has deepened the influence of the churches . . . all the main denominations of which oppose abortion. ‘Although church attendance is dropping, it’s still the highest in the UK.’”

Northern Ireland is still a very divided nation–divided over religious tradition. But abortion may become a flashpoint–especially in light of the UK cases of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard. They were children who were British citizens—allowed to die due to lack of care from England’s National Health Service (NHS).

There isn’t a very big leap from killing children at one age and killing older people at another. Britain’s commitment to controlling the deaths of expensive patients already seems to know no bounds.

For example, there is the case of Simon Fitzmaurice–an Irish victim of ALS who continued to live after losing his ability to breathe without assistance. Yet he lived in violation of the will of the NHS. Fitzmaurice’s medical attendants did not know the rules when they placed him on life support.

Once they realized their mistake, he refused their urging to have himself removed from his breathing apparatus. A non-government agency provides such tools at no cost to patients or British taxpayers. Yet they urged him to let himself die. Fitzmaurice eventually died, sparing the UK further expense.

Rest assured there will be other Alfies, Charlies, and Simons. Unless we see Awakening.

From Irish Catholic journalist John Rodgers: “Unless we begin to awaken, this is the future: a place where the state alone will decide how long the human person will live, and in what circumstances his or her life will be deemed worth living. The courts and the medical profession will assume the place of God.”

John Waters cites C.S. Lewis’s prediction that “when God is abolished by man, He is never replaced by all men, but by a few men. This is where tyranny begins.”

Tyranny begins in small steps that slide into bigger ones.

In Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change, 1970-2000, R.F. Foster includes a chapter entitled “How the Catholics Became Protestants.” That chapter explains the country’s shift from Catholic values to secular ones.

“The notion of Catholicism as indivisible from Irish nationalism and even from Irish identity might be counted as one of the casualties of the last thirty years’ cultural upheaval,” he writes.

“[T]here is a point at which a la carte Catholicism becomes a kind of Protestantism.” It’s the same point at which any Christian decides he or she knows best. Whatever our denomination, it’s when we follow our own way.

Hence, legal abortion comes to Ireland and the rest of the West. And so we abandon some children to death and others to a different kind of desertion.

Michael Brendan Dougherty is an American-born man who grew up hardly knowing his father who eventually married and built a family in Ireland. Dougherty’s mother instilled in her son a deep understanding of his Irish roots. The boy grew into a man who would relish his Irishness and seek a deeper bond with his father.

In My Father Left Me Ireland: An American Son’s Search for Home, Dougherty explains the shift of heart that’s happened in the West. In the past, we revered and appreciated those who came before us. Our humility in light of sacrifices they made on our behalf would lead “to self-sacrifice in the present and new life and regeneration in the future. . .

[But now] when we do have children, we so often have them as consumable objects, as part of our lifestyle choices. We do not receive them as gifts, as living things, inviolate and inviolable. We calculate about them, not worried over what we might give them, but what they take from us. . .

We are great consumers. We are useless as conservators. Useless in this way, we deepen the pattern, failing to have children, or failing the ones we have.”

Legal abortion for Ireland—for us all—was another step on the path to today. A form of human sacrifice to convenience, to cost-effectiveness–ultimately to self.

Dougherty, however, has found humility and respect for those in the past. He is breaking the pattern in which he grew up. He and his wife together are raising two young children. He intends to pass Ireland onto them. But he will pass along more than that.

He is chasing away the snake of selfishness and embracing self-sacrifice.

The ghost of Ireland’s Patrick Pearse speaks through Dougherty. “[T]he past reproaches the present on behalf of the future. . . The ghosts of a nation reproach the living on behalf of posterity” (204).

Those same ghosts of Ireland speak to us today–even those of us an ocean away in Dougherty’s America. They call to us to chase away the snakes of selfishness once more–to cleanse our land by washing ourselves in humility and self-sacrifice.

Dougherty again quoting Pearse: “There is only one way to appease a ghost. You must do the thing that it asks you.”

About the Author

HEADlines by Nancy E. Head at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Author Nancy E. Head was a single mother with five children under the age of 14 when many in the Church came to her aid. Her story illustrates common problems in our society such as the fracturing of families and communities, reflecting a splintering Church.

Alienated families and a riven Church cannot minister as effectively to their own members or others until they find accord.

Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. She leads a small group ministering to the needy in her community.

Connect with Nancy on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

You can read Nancy’s HEADlines column on the 4th Saturday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

Jaime Casap, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”