What We Are For Is More Than What We Are Against

“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 AmericaNathanson’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!

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.”

Truth, Beauty, and Light for a Hardened World

We are created in the image and likeness of God, and as such our nature refers us to Him. The battle begins, therefore, against human nature. Ideologies, naturalisms, materialisms, sexual revolutions… Everything is one assault after another on the very concept of the human, to deny the obvious: our transcendence, the immortality of our souls, our need for God, our masculine-female complementarity.” (Qtd. by Rod Dreher)

It was a moment etched in memory for me when I was in graduate school. We had class that day in a local restaurant–a change of pace from our regular classroom. The topic of discussion was an article we had read about colonialism by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak.”

Spivak is an Indian woman who took issue with the British prohibition of sati during Britain’s colonization of India. The British had outlawed the practice of a woman placing herself (or being placed) on her husband’s funeral pyre and dying in the flames.

Spivak argued that the colonialist power was depriving women of their right to self-determination. A classmate of mine agreed with Spivak representing all the voiced opinions except my own.

“But what if she wants to?” she asked me when I lamented Spivak’s view.

But what if she does not? What if her culture/his family/her family have expectations that she will die–as tradition demands? Cultural demands ooze from the word sati–the name for women who die in the flames. Satis means “a good woman.”

What horrified me most was the nonchalant attitude of the instructor and the other students. How easy it is to claim “choice” when the person with the most at stake may not actually have a choice and may not even have a voice.

My instructor and fellow students saw nothing wrong with a custom that would label a woman “good” for wanting to die. And what would the label be for a woman who might prefer not to die? Or for one who might enter the flames in less than a fully conscious state so the family would not face the shame of her resistance?

That encounter reminds me of another one I observed years earlier. I was a volunteer in training at a pregnancy resource center. A young woman came in with an older guy. She was a teen–perhaps fifteen or sixteen. He was clearly older–perhaps in his twenties.

He wanted to know her pregnancy test results–a test the center offered for free–a test whose results we would provide only to her–alone.

When the veteran volunteer told him that we would not give him the results; we would only speak with her alone, he made clear his choice in the matter. “I’ll just drive her to Pittsburgh then,” he said–the city a couple hours away, where they could obtain an abortion. During the entire encounter, she did not say one word.

They left not knowing what we knew. She was pregnant.

Despite all the shouting about female autonomy and choice, she had no voice in the matter. He had already made the decision for her. And he didn’t make it with her best interest–or that of the child–in mind.

Graduate students sitting in a restaurant speaking theoretically about satis were far removed from the reality of such a situation. At the pregnancy resource center, I witnessed someone co-opting a woman’s “right to choose.” There was no theoretical life of a child, no theoretical wound for a mother. Those were real.

Dreher: “There is an “anthropological attack” on the meaning of the human person. What C.S. Lewis called “the abolition of man” is upon us.”

When choice trumps meaning, we lose freedom rather than gain it. And in the process, we lose ourselves.

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.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Manhood does. Womanhood is.

“Manhood must be demonstrated. It is largely an action. Womanhood is an essence. Manhood does. Womanhood is.” (Qtd. by Stanton)
That’s a statement many would challenge today. That there is a difference–and that the difference is significant.
Some might challenge the statement as religious. After all, it is largely in the orthodox corners of Christianity that such discussion happens at all today.
But this statement comes from a secular person–one who did not advocate biblical marriage and sexual purity. Continue reading “Manhood does. Womanhood is.”

Barronelle, Belief, and Benedict

“The Christian life, properly understood, cannot be merely a set of propositions agreed to, but must also be a way of life. And that requires a culture, which is to say, the realization in a material way–in deeds, in language, in song, in drama, in practices, etc.–of the propositions taught by Christianity. To be perfectly clear, at the core of all this is a living spiritual relationship with God, one that cannot be reduced to words, deeds, or beliefs,” Rod Dreher (emphasis his).
With little fanfare from the mainstream media, the Washington Supreme Court last week unanimously sided against Barronelle Stutzman, a 71-year-old florist who refused to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.
Stutzman has been battling the legal challenge, which threatens to relieve her of her life’s work and earnings.
She is appealing to the US Supreme Court. A ruling favorable to religious freedom seems unlikely since the court has already refused to hear an appeal from a New Mexico photographer, also sued for refusing service for a same-sex wedding. These cases are a harbinger of things to come.  Continue reading “Barronelle, Belief, and Benedict”

Freedom Nobody Can Take Away

“There you are, Ivan Denisovich, your soul is begging to pray. Why don’t you give it its freedom?” (161) 
In One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, author and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn presents Ivan, a man yearning to be released from the Soviet gulag. Near the end of the one day the book depicts, Ivan has a conversation with Alyosha, a Christian whose joy defies the prison atmosphere.
In their exchange, Ivan acknowledges the existence of God but he’s seen corruption in the church. Alyosha replies, “It’s because their faith is unstable that they’re not in prison.” Only those with steadfast faith go to jail. Only the faithful pay a price. Continue reading “Freedom Nobody Can Take Away”

BLOGPOST: ‘Hate’ Mail and the Pope

“When you get to know someone on a human level, see that they are human just like you and have similar struggles and the same deepest yearnings, you cannot hate them.” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone
I read my blog’s first negative comment the other day. (See below: “What We Are For.”)
I am a hater, the commentator said, because I wish celibacy and loneliness upon gay people. Celibacy and loneliness are bad. Because those states of being are bad, I wish bad things upon gay people. Therefore, I “hate” gay people.
Such a conversation doesn’t really leave much room for discussion about the meaning of hatred.
Or about Christian love and what it means.
Or about how the Church has not been receptive to the idea of ministry to those who struggle with same sex attraction. How the Church hasn’t felt like a safe place for someone who may need to say, “Here is my struggle. Will someone walk with me in it?” Continue reading “BLOGPOST: ‘Hate’ Mail and the Pope”

BLOGPOST: Kim Davis and Tying Our Own Shoes

Whether or not Kim Davis should or should not have complied with the law is not the most important question facing Christians in this controversy. Nor is gay marriage the central question to this particular debate.  The crucial matter the church is facing, as demonstrated by this conflict between one individual believer and the state, concerns the kind of relationship we as a church can demand–or expect–with the government in a post-Christian era. It will not be an easy question to answer, but it’s the one before us today.
Karen Swallow Prior, PhD, is Professor of English and Modern Languages at Liberty University
There are books that you read once and then there are books that you pull off the shelf once a year or so and revel in their timelessness.
Such a text is Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto. This text lives on, becoming more relevant as time goes by.
I’ve always thought this book was the inspiration for the pro-life rescue movement. Non-violent civil disobedience designed to disrupt the abortion industry. An advocate for life, Schaeffer nevertheless took a general approach in his manifesto. He did not connect the notion of civil disobedience to any one issue.
He knew that at some point all of us would face a choice, whether to embrace disobedience or give in to tyranny. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: Kim Davis and Tying Our Own Shoes”

BLOGPOST: When Unity Can’t Happen

“Much of Christianity’s retreat from the truth or tempering of our witness in the West has been motivated by good intentions—not to offend or be judgmental, the desire to feel more personally connected to God and to make Christianity more relevant and culturally acceptable.
“The history of Christianity…shows the reverse to be the case. While we always want to be sensitive to other cultures, we cannot be co-opted by them.”  Charles Colson
One of the most amazing aspects of the Gospel is its universal appeal. It tears down the walls of culture. It is for people of all races and from all nations. Rather than being exclusive, it is inclusive. All may come.
Churches need to guard against the perception that they are closed communities, that minorities need not participate.
One thing the Gospel cannot do is deny truth. And coming to Christ means commitment to truth and striving in obedience toward holiness. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: When Unity Can’t Happen”