So this election has tensions high and everybody’s on edge. Among Christians the focus has become (surprise, surprise) the issue of abortion.
Most evangelicals refuse to break ties with Trump, despite his lack of morals and his deplorable behavior. They believe he will actually appoint pro-life supreme court justices if elected.
And so for many Christians, this election boils down — as elections have in the past — to a single-issue. Abortion.
It’s a sensitive topic, and as a mother and a Christian I certainly have strong opinions about it. But I struggle with the mantle of “pro-life.” I struggle with the attitudes of so many who fight abortion tooth and nail, but show so much disdain toward the “born.”
I’ve never been a fan of the terms “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” though. Because they’re political terms and they evoke strong emotions on both sides.
Let’s face it, just because you vote a certain way, that doesn’t really mean you’re “pro-life.” Because life isn’t just about birth.
Yesterday I read some words from my friend Ellen Stumbo, a fellow disability blogger, and I kept nodding my head in agreement. She had this to say:
Let’s be really honest here, the most vulnerable when it comes to abortion are babies like [my daughter]. Babies with disabilities. Babies who might be ‘less than perfect.’ So when I hear people terminate because of disability, it feels personal. Here is the thing, I cannot think of very many people in my life (being in the Church) who would have advised me to have an abortion. So can I please ask you, why is it then that special needs families are so isolated and do not find the church to be the place where they find encouragement and support? Why is it that families with kids with disabilities are asked to leave their churches because their child is ‘too difficult’ or ‘too disruptive?’ Why is it that there is a higher incidence of divorce in special needs families and yet those claiming to be pro-life have done little to help kids like mine? Families like mine?”
Her words ring true to me. Because it’s a truth I’ve experienced.
My child’s disability is different than her child’s. My son’s disability isn’t so evident on the outside, because he looks like a typical kid. But he’s different.
And the place where his differences became a problem wasn’t school, or family gatherings, or even “out in public.” It was church.
At the time we learned of my child’s diagnosis, we were active members of a large Southern Baptist church with an absolute commitment to the pro-life movement. Our church set aside a day every year as “Right to Life” Sunday. There were “right to life” Sunday School lessons. We — as a family and as a Sunday School class — supported a local faith-based pregnancy center.
Yes, I’m Totally “For” Life
Let’s look at this practically. I write a blog titled “Lyrics for Life.” I’m all about living life to the full. I post articles meant to encourage you to live abundantly and joyously.
So um, yeah, you could say I’m “for” life. Which I guess would make me “pro-life” in the purest sense of the word.
I’m a mama of four. I needed no convincing. From the moment I first found out I was pregnant, I knew there was a real live baby inside me. I had the “What to Expect” book and I followed along. I knew when my baby was the size of a grain of rice, when he was the size of a plum. I knew when his heart started to beat, when his eyes developed, when he might be learning to suck his thumb. I looked at pictures and I had sonograms and I felt those glorious kicks to the ribs.
And then — as a 37-year old woman — I even had an “unplanned” pregnancy. Granted, I was in a secure marriage and I didn’t have to worry about how I would care for my child financially. But it didn’t stop me from worrying.
I wasn’t sure I was emotionally healthy enough to take care of four young children. I had two-year-old twins and I was just starting to see the light at the end of that long tunnel when I discovered I was pregnant. So, yeah. I worried a lot.
But we simply accepted the fact that he was ours, whether we were ready or not. (He’s nine now and a truly awesome kid, by the way!)
So I guess you could say I’m definitely “anti-abortion.” I don’t think abortion is a good thing, and I never considered it for any of my pregnancies.
“Pro-Life” Means More than Just “Pro-Birth”
But here’s why I have a problem with the term “pro-life.”
To me, “pro-life” means more than “pro-birth.”
Let me tell you about when I was pregnant with twins.
The aforementioned Southern Baptist church was 100% supportive. People cooked meals when I was on bedrest during my pregnancy. We were on the prayer list for months. I got more gifts, and cards, and encouraging notes than I could possibly count. People showered us with love and attention. Friends from church helped out with childcare for my oldest. They came to visit us in the hospital. And did I mention the food? Because, wow, there was a lot of food, before and after the babies were born.
I was so grateful, and I still am. It was exactly how a church family should be.
My twins were doted on and adored.
Right up until the time when Travis started having issues. Then things changed. And eventually they told us he didn’t belong. He couldn’t participate. He wasn’t allowed to be there.
“Pro-Life” Means More than Just “Pro-Baby”
During the months when the problems first started, I carried my son’s baby photos in my Bible. Whenever someone would say something hurtful at church, I would pull out his picture to remind me. I wanted to flash those photos to all the people who pushed my son away. The ones who feared him, recoiled at him, or refused to get close to him. The ones who came at me with criticism in their eyes and their words, rather than love.
I wanted to show them the pictures.
“See this baby!” I wanted to scream. “Look at him! You prayed for him before he was born! You brought meals! You gave gifts! You rocked him in the nursery! And now you wish he would go away!”
It was unthinkable to me. He was still my baby.
This church claimed it was “pro-life.” But it seemed to me the attitude was only “pro” toward a certain kind of life. Toward a life that assimilated easily and always did as it was told. Toward a life that fit the “good Christian” mold and colored inside the lines.
Not toward a life that was harder to manage. Not toward a life that rubbed people the wrong way and made them uncomfortable. Not toward my child.
Eventually we left that church. We had to. As “pro-life” as it claimed to be, it robbed me of my ability to breathe and drained the lifeblood out of our family, one Sunday at a time.
When we reached the point of needing spiritual life support, instead of choosing to terminate, we chose life. We did so by moving to a church where ALL of us were wanted, welcomed and appreciated.
Which leads me to this question:
Churches, are you truly pro-life, or are you simply pro-birth?
- Do you fight for the rights of the disabled and the different as much as you are for the unborn?
- Are you willing to love and minister to those whose lives make you uncomfortable?
- Are you committed to full inclusion of every single life?
Or do your actions speak louder than your words? Are certain lives pushed aside because they aren’t as beautiful to look at or because they don’t behave like you think they ought to?
If you’re truly pro-life, then every single life should matter to you. And if it doesn’t, well, then your “pro-life” stance exposes you as hypocrites.
Don’t say you’re pro-life if you won’t include my child.
I don’t keep my political leanings a secret, but this post isn’t about politics.
It’s about the gospel, plain and simple.
Because the gospel is good news for everyone, everywhere. That includes every single living human being. . . whether you deem them worthy or not.
And churches, Christians — hear this: if you can’t include someone like my son, you need to lay down your swords and stifle your “pro-life” battle cry. Because the truth is, you’re not pro-life.
You’re “pro-birth,” and you might even be “pro-baby.”
But until you’re pro “hard-to-manage-little-autistic-boy,” until you fight as fiercely for his inclusion as you do to stop abortions, well, you’re not pro-life.
My baby mattered before he was born. He mattered the day he was born. And he matters today.
And if you can’t follow your words up with actions that include people like my son, well, I just don’t buy what you’re selling.
Because you’re not pro-life at all.
I’m Pro-Life. And I’m Voting for Hillary. Here’s Why. by Shannon Dingle
So You’re Thinking of Voting for a Pro-Choice Candidate by Rachel Held Evans