As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Power of a Name

Our local newspaper is having a “semantics” debate, or so it would appear. The question is what the labels should be for the groups that are either pro-life or pro-choice in philosophy. The off-handed answer is, “Who cares?” or “What difference does it make?” Well, actually, it makes a lot of difference.

The newspaper has determined that it is indirectly derogatory to use the term “pro-life”. By using this label, it is insinuated that the opposing group is anti-life. Granted, to say that those who support the right for a woman to terminate her pregnancy at any time are anti-life is a bit extreme. They don’t dismiss the value of ALL life. They obviously value their own or they would not make the choice to protect its convenience or facade, and I doubt these people would pull a gun on a stranger on the street and murder them for no reason. So “anti-life” might be a bit strong.

To correct this, the newspaper suggests referring to the groups as “pro-“ and “anti-abortion”. That seems simple enough. Except that the intimation of the term “anti-abortion” is that those who believe children are a divinely created person with a purpose for being conceived in the first place are, in fact, antagonists of those who believe the solution for our nation’s family crisis is to kill “unwanted” children. Those who are anti-abortion are seen as the ones oppressing those who simply want their rights.

I find it ironic that those of us who do not believe abortion is a right or an option cannot be pro-life because it suggests those who oppose our philosophy are pro-death, but it is perfectly acceptable to label us with a term that suggests we are oppressive and unfeeling for those “in crisis”.

I will be honest. I don’t even like the term “pro-choice”. The baby has no choice, and frankly, I think if we stop screaming about the horror of the act and look deeper at the cause, we would realize that a large number of abortions are the result of women feeling they have no choice. I personally know two young women whose parents made them have abortions. Were those women “pro-choice”, or was their “choice” forced on them?

And before we get so self-righteous and proclaim, “Well, they got pregnant. They had the choice to not have sex,” let’s get off our high horses and look at the reality of the mentality of women who have sex outside of marriage, especially teenage girls. Instead of taking it on a case by case basis, let’s do a general look at one woman most of us have read about—the prostitute that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears.

I don’t know how old she was when she became sexually involved the first time. It doesn’t really matter. She was a woman when she went to Jesus, and you know what we see in her? We see a woman who was told her identity and worth was wrapped up in her ability to please and satisfy a man sexually. What do you think television and secular music teaches women...and men? Look at the clothes that are fashionable for young girls. Look at the magazines for the “tween” and teens. And look how parents and the church promote this mindset. I think it is easy to see why women don’t see themselves as any more valuable than the woman who poured her heart out at Jesus feet.

So here is a woman who obviously has sexual freedom. In fact, she makes her living being free to have sex, and what do we find her doing? Standing on a street corner yelling that she has the right to do anything she wants with her body? Accosting Jesus and telling Him to mind His own business because hers is a good life and He has no right to interfere with her rights and her choices? No. We find her at the feet of the One that values her for her whole being. We find her so desperate for value and identity that embraces her right to be something besides an object of gratification for others that she is willing to risk walking into a Pharisee’s house into a room with a bunch of self-righteous, highly religious men. We see a woman who had all the rights and could make any choice she wanted, and she chose the love of Jesus.

I will not dismiss a person’s responsibility. A person is responsible for what they choose to do with their body, but we simplify the situation too much when we remove the causes of those actions. It is easy to define someone who has an abortion as selfish, self-centered, and cold-hearted. It becomes complicated when we look deeper and find those people are terrified, abandoned, rejected, or confused. How do we respond to the woman who is in a destructive relationship because she believes that is all she is worth, and then becomes pregnant and cannot begin to fathom what she is supposed to do? She can’t figure out how to take care of herself, little less a baby. What about the teenager who feels estranged from her parents already and is involved with a boy that “loves her” only when a baby comes into the picture he doesn’t know her name? What then?

Don’t get me wrong. I think abortion is a sin. I think lying is a sin, but people do it when it seems the easier way out. I think alcoholism is a sin, but people do it when they need to escape something. The difference is we can often relate to the person who feels overwhelmed or wounded and as a result does something sinful. Not many of us can relate to someone facing the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of a baby that they never expected when in truth, on some level they are really looking for someone to take care of them. I think if we take Paul’s words into consideration that our battle is not against flesh and blood-not against the women having abortions or the doctors doing the abortions or even the leaders legalizing abortions-“but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” maybe we would quit bickering over the semantics of labels or viciously pointing figures based on perception of heart conditions and actually make a difference in this battle for life, and I don’t just mean for that of the unborn child.

Does that solve the great label debate? Not unless we take an uncomfortable look at the truth. The truth is Christians often refer to people who abort a child or support that option as selfish and self-centered. Well of course they are, so is every Christian I know. That is the definition of the flesh that wants its own way. The difference is a Christian has the Holy Spirit leading them into truth so they can overcome the flesh. Those who are lost don’t have that. We have the Truth as our direction. What do those who are lost have? The lies the world tells them. They have the lie that they are only as important as what they can accomplish, and a baby would mess that up. They have the lie that they aren’t valuable and nothing that comes from them is valuable. The lies vary, but they all have one thing in common—they are lies. Christians will never affect the problem by calling people names. Instead, we need to call the lies “lies” and declare the truth that these women and their babies are masterpieces of Almighty God. The God who made the universe was detailed enough to make them part of it, and they are His beloved creations whom He seeks to draw to Him. Lives will not change until women understand their true value and identity in the Lord.

I realize my perspective does not lend itself to offering up politically correct labels. However, it would do the Christian community good to consider its own heart when offering labels rather than simply screaming about labels that attack its character or intentions. We can call “pro-abortion” people a lot of things like “wounded” or “deceived”, and we can agree they act that way. We call ourselves “Christians”. I pray we act that way.

1 comment:

iona said...

Well said, my precious one... and obviously inspired. Many kudos!