Tag Archives: social justice

On Being Pro-Life and Pro-March

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This past Saturday, nearly three million women in the United States and millions more around the world participated in the Women’s March on Washington to protest the misogyny, racism, xenophobia and more of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, in the hopes of tempering his policies now that he is president.

In this video, the founders of the Women’s March explain why they organized this event:

Sadly, this “inclusive movement” chose to exclude pro-life sponsors.  Early on, Planned Parenthood became one of two premier sponsors, and in the weeks leading up to the march, the organizers removed the sponsorship of several pro-life groups, essentialy uninviting around 40% of women–those who believe human rights begin in the womb.  A growing number of people want restrictions on abortion, as this poll shows, and these videos demonstrate:

For many, participating in the Women’s March on Washington was no longer an option after they excluded pro-life sponsors and because of the prominence of Planned Parenthood in the event.  And for many conservative Christians looking on, it was mystifying why any Christian would participate.  I have been doing my best to read and listen to different voices explaining their choice to either march or not.  One post in particular got my wheels turning a few days before the march.  Laura Martin questions the effectiveness of Planned Parenthood, reflecting on her experience as a nurse for 18 years and examining their website, asking,

Why do so many defenders of Planned Parenthood portray them as providing services that they do NOT actually offer?

Why not just honestly proclaim that Planned Parenthood’s focus is on birth control, STDs, and abortion?

Why did Planned Parenthood change their website to give the appearance that they offer prenatal care?

As a pro-life Christian, I believe that all life, beginning in the womb, is sacred and deserving of dignity, care and equal rights.  But I also believe that making abortion illegal in all circumstances is not the answer.  The legality of abortion does not change the number of abortions that occur, but the safety of women is impacted by criminalizing abortion.  After eight years of democratic policies providing easier access to birth control and better sex education, our nation’s abortion rate has hit an all-time low since the passing of Roe v. Wade.  The language Donald Trump used while campaigning to describe late -term abortion shows his ignorance at the painful dilemma parents face when forced to choose a medically-necessary late-term abortion.  For instance, this mother’s account is a must read.

Although staunchly pro-life, I am also pro-dialogue, and I am very much pro-woman.  I don’t think abortion is an issue that will go away without working together with people from different ideologies and priorities.  As on all difficult issues, I believe that, “With an abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 15:22).  The more we are polarized, the longer it will take to heal our nation.  By considering diverse perspectives, we better see the nuances of each issue and thus come to better solutions.

I have seen some lump all protesters together as “vulgar, baby-killing feminists.”  I don’t think it is fair to vilify the entire Women’s March on Washington because of disagreements on abortion or because of the actions/words/costumes of the far-left factions participating.  There were dozens and dozens of reasons why women, men, girls and boys from around the world were protesting.  Here are some posts from Christians who participated expressing their reasons for marching.

For some, being pro-life means being pro-social justice:

In a Facebook post, Father Martin said further,

These Sisters are pro life. And so am I. That’s why they were marching for social justice. I salute all the women religious, and all women and men, who were trying to advocate for life and justice this weekend in their own way.

Were all 1,000,000 people who marched across the country on the same page about life issues? No. Clearly not. But these Sisters, and many who marched, knew exactly what they were praying and advocating for: justice, peace and life. If we waited until everyone agrees with us before we set out to help, we’ll never leave our homes. Would you join in a march against the death penalty with people who disagreed with you on abortion? I would. Would you join in a march against abortion with people who disagreed with you on the death penalty? I would.

Part of advocacy is being part of the mix and being willing to mix it up with people you disagree with, even strongly. That’s how conversations start. That’s how bridges are built. That’s how conversion starts.

Even if some people misunderstand you.

So yes, I’m pro life, pro social justice…and pro Sister.

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For others, being pro-life means supporting the BLM movement and speaking up against racism, blocking refugees, etc.:

For some, marching was important because of the disenfranchisement of women through patriarchy, misogyny, sexism, rape culture, etc.:

And for the pro-life protesters who showed up to march, they were there because unborn girls matter too:

Here are some of my favorite posts I’ve come across in the days since the march:

This open letter from a pro-life, Republican, SAHM, Renee Contreras De Loach, was really powerful.

I am a married, Pro-Life, Republican, mother of two, and I marched. I wrote this in light of how many women are attempting to shout down women who marched. The myopia of those belittling our efforts is befuddling. I suppose this is where we have arrived – us vs. them until bruised and bloodied we all fail. To all the women who believe they have plenty of rights and they are plenty equal… how do you think you got those rights? The short sightedness and historical amnesia at play here is dangerous. It was barely 100 years ago that women were being beaten and jailed for trying to VOTE.

In A Christian’s Place is in the Resistance, Luke Edwards says,

If one more person quotes Romans 13:1-6 to prove that Christians should blindly submit to authority, I’m going to cry.

When you quote this verse, you are quoting a man who stood up against authorities over and over again. He spent at least 5 years of his ministry in prison for deliberately breaking laws that were in conflict with the kingdom of God.

Sojourners has been publishing the #WhyIMarch stories of Christians on this page.  For example, Elena Ampeire says,

My husband and I left our four young children and took two overnight busses to march in D.C. because we believe that “Love Trumps Hate.” Our faith teaches us to love and support those who are marginalized by those in power. In our society, we believe this to be women (particularly women who have been sexually assaulted), immigrants, refugees, Muslims, people who are LGBT, people with disabilities, and people of color.

Sarah Bessey captured the tension Christian feminists feel, caught in the middle of conservatism and liberalism, seeking justice and mercy while feeling ostracized by the very groups we identify as:

I identify as part of a group of people who receive their fair share of criticism.

And to be honest I think a lot of the criticism has a grounding in truth.

There are things Christians do that I find wrong and embarrassing and unholy and counter to the Gospel.

There are things feminists do that I find wrong and embarrassing and unholy and counter to the cause.

But here I am. I’m a Christian. And I’m a feminist. 

I’m not fully represented by what those labels mean. They’re imperfect. And I know that the stereotypes of those labels cannot sum up the vast majority of the people I know who live within them.

Beth Allison Barr wrote a cool piece about a fifteenth century writer who challenged the misogyny of her day, encouraging us to carry on by her example.

Christine de Pizan used her voice to speak for other women. She didn’t convey much concern about who those women were or what they believed; her focus was on making a better world for all women.

As a Christian woman, I can’t help but think Christine was right. She realized that misogyny hurts all of us, whether we recognize it or not, and it especially hurts those already marginalized by economics, education, race, even religion. Christine de Pizan used what she had to fight against that misogyny; to love those who God loves; to help make the lives of women better, even the life of that “poor woman who pays too high a price”. I would like to think that her fifteenth-century vision is one that all of us–regardless of political affiliation–can still embrace.

So, I share all of this to say: if you see posts about the Women’s March on Washington, do not assume that your friend is pro-choice.  Many pro-life activists participated and many pro-life Christians support the march from home because they believe in the power of protest to effect change in the world, and there is much that needs to be changed.  Let us all continue to pray for President Trump and his cabinet, let us pray for our country, and let us continue to resist, speak truth to power, and show up and stand with the vulnerable.


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Book Review: Red Letter Revolution

Last June, my husband Logan and I attended a church conference in the Philadelphia area.  The speaker that most inspired and excited us was Shane Claiborne, sharing about his ministry with The Simple Way among Philly’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  Here is a similar talk on YouTube.  If you watch it, be prepared to weep at the end.  So powerful.

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After his talk, we headed back to his table and bought three books: The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, and Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus Really Meant what He Said?.  We got back to Maine and were thrust into a stressful, hectic summer season.  Between work, parenting small children, and getting our house ready for the market, I was only sleeping 5 hours a night for months and months on end.  Although I couldn’t find time to read Claiborne’s books, I was watching his YouTube videos while I was working.  I’m telling you, this is the Christianity that I want!  Claiborne’s life has the distinct aroma of Jesus about it.

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When we went to spend two weeks with family over Christmas, I jumped on the opportunity to finally read one of his books.  I had grabbed Red Letter Revolution and practically devoured it.  This book is co-written with Tony Campolo and is formatted as a discussion between Shane and Tony regarding a movement they are trying to spark for a Christianity that images Christ, giving prominence to the red letters  of the Bible.

In this essential manifesto, best-selling authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo envision issue after contemporary issue in direct light of the Bible’s “red letters.”  The result is a startling look at contemporary Christianity and an inspirational reawakening to the gravity of the words and deeds of Jesus…Red Letter Revolution is a timely call back to the true, radical fundamentals of Christianity.  [dust jacket description]

First thing that jumps out at you when you open this book, is four pages of “Praise for Red Letter Revolution,” from the likes of Bono, President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Eugene Peterson, Phyllis Tickle, etc.  The Contents page shows a division of the book into three parts: Red Letter Theology (On History, Community, the Church, Liturgy, Saints, Hell, Islam and Economics), Red Letter Living (On Family, Being Pro-Life, Environmentalism, Women, Racism, Homosexuality, Immigration, Civil Disobedience, and Giving), and Red Letter World (On Empire, Politics, War and Violence, National Debts, the Middle East, the Global Church, Reconciliation, Missions, and Resurrection), and a Conclusion: A Vision for A Red Letter Future.  This book is jam-packed with Claiborne and Campolo’s thoughts on how Jesus’ words should impact the way we view contemporary issues facing the church and world.  And frankly, much of what they say is in direct contrast to Western Christianity’s cultural stances.

Whenever the word “evangelical” is used these days, a stereotype comes to mind.  Whether or not that image is justified can be debated, but there is little argument that the word “evangelical” conjures up an image of Christians who are anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, pro-war, pro-capital punishment, and conservative Republican. [Intro: pg. XI.]

Although Shane and Tony come from different generations, different perspectives on community and politics, etc., they have found a similar passion for “taking action to stop wars, defy unjust political structures that oppress the poor, speak out for the oppressed who have no voice, and endeavor in general to change society into something more like what God wants for it to be” (pg. XIII).  This book is an “invitation to join a movement that is about demonstrating God’s goodness to the world” (pg. 9).

I probably could have highlighted this entire book.  I tried to restrain myself to underlining only the most pivotal sentences, but I still marked up every page.  There are also lots of stars and check marks in my margins.  I thought for TBKW blog, I would summarize their chapter on women.  This book is valuable for framing a Christ-like perspective on all contemporary issues, but I need to narrow my review or it will turn into its own book! 🙂

Tony begins this discussion by saying that the roles that women can play in church life is one of the most divisive issues among evangelicals, Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  Tony says denying women the right to be preachers and teachers is diminishing their dignity and thus dehumanizing women.  Red Letter Christians point out that Jesus affirmed women.

He invited Mary, the sister of Lazarus, to sit with his male disciples and study the Torah (Luke 10:38-42).  He broke societal expectations when he sat alone with a Samaritan woman and conversed with her on religious issues (John 4:4-26).  He broke rabbinical law when a woman who was menstruating touched him (Matthew 9:20-22).  The author of Galations makes it clear that “in Christ” the religious hierarchy differentiating men and women has been abolished (3:28). [pg. 107]

Shane points out that the Scriptures are full of women prophets, leaders and disciples.  “Ministry is a matter of call and gifting, not gender, and it would be a great disgrace if we lost half our gifted leaders in the church because we misread a few texts” (pg. 108).

Our brother Ben Witherington has said it well: “It was the original curse, not the original blessing that was pronounced in the following form-‘your desire will be for your husband and he will lord it over you.’  The effect of the Fall on human relationships is that ‘to love and cherish’ became ‘to desire and to dominate,’ which entailed unilateral submission of females to males, something that was never God’s original creation plan. [pg. 109]

You wont find a single statement in Genesis 1-2 about the silence or subordination of women to men.  Eve is simply the necessary compliment and suitable companion to Adam.  What you will find are statements making clear the inadequacy of the man without woman who is the crown of creation, for the text says ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’  Patriarchy is not an inherently good thing, an inherently God thing, and it should not be repristinized and set up as a model for Christian ministry.” [Ben Worthington quote continued in Notes: pg. 264-265.  Here is the link to his full article.]

Shane and Tony make a really excellent point in this chapter – men and women are both fully human.  Jesus was at times “feminine”, i.e. weeping, and also “masculine,” i.e. flipping tables.  These cultural norms limit our full humanity.  “In our cultural value system, we have divided up human traits between the sexes and consequently have denied each sex a part of its humanity” (pg. 110).

Shane and Tony give full support to women being leaders in the church.  They cite the partition in the ancient temple that had divided Gentiles and women from the Jewish men being broken down by Christ (Ephesians 2:14).  Philip’s three daughters are acknowledged as being prophetesses, i.e. preachers (Acts 21:8-9).  In Romans, Paul writes about Adronicus and Junia, a man and a woman, as fellow apostles.  In Ephesians 4:11, there is no indication that the gifts of the Spirit are allotted according to gender.  “Paul tells all Christians–and that includes women–that not to exercise the gifts that are within them is to negate what God wills (I Timothy 4:14)” (pg. 112).

Tony also shares how his mother was a wonderful storyteller and had always wanted to be a preacher, but because she could not, she lived out her calling through him.  “I find it sad that she had to live out her desire to be a preacher through her son because she was not allowed to live it out herself, and it is partly because of what happened to my mother that I am a strong advocate of women being preachers and teachers in the church” (pg. 113).  Here is an interview in which Tony goes into more detail on his views of women in leadership and the story of his mother.

Tony and Shane describe themselves as male feminists, and acknowledge that sexism runs deep in our culture.  “We have an oppressive cultural value system that forces women to think that they are supposed to conform to a society-prescribed weight and have a particular sized bust…In America, women are conditioned to think that they have to look twenty-three forever” (pg. 113).  They link the sexualization and objectification of women as the root of sex trafficking.  “We have to deal with the ugly reality that our society is indoctrinating men with evil concepts of what should turn them on sexually” (pg. 115).

The issues get even more complex globally.  In extreme cases, women are mistreated, or even tortured by being forced to undergo female circumcision.  We must know that these things matter to God.  How women are treated is as important to God as how men are treated.

And while we’re at it, we might also say that the wages that women get paid matter to God too.  Women do so much of the work and get so little of the money and credit…Four in ten businesses worldwide have no women in senior management and that women earn less than men in 99 percent of all occupations.  [pg. 116 – 10 Suprising Statistics on Women in the Workplace]

It’s probably needless to say, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book!!!  I was so fired up after reading it.  Let’s join the Red Letter Christians in revolutionizing Western Christianity to a more Christ-like reality!  Give this book a read and see if some of your perspectives aren’t challenged.  Change is good, my friends!

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