I posted a mildly controversial cartoon on my Facebook today and got the response I expected. Posting it was more of an act of courage than you might think. Up to this point have preferred to keep my Facebook and blog politically neutral on certain issues, mostly the pro-life issue, to be exact.
From the time I was little, I knew that my family (and therefore I) was pro-life. In high school I often taught youth group at church on the night when we talked about how abortion was a sin. I knew all kinds of statistics on why it should be illegal and what harm it does to both the mother and child (obviously the child, because the child is being aborted). Mostly, I talked about how it was a sin and it was murder. We also talked about how this would only be an issue if you are already sinning by having sex when you don't want children, but that is another blog post.
Still, somehow one day my senior year, a girl that had been in the same elective as me every semester for 3 years missed class. When I asked her why she looked at me and said she had an abortion the day before. She confessed that she didn't know why she told me, but she had to tell someone and she knew I wouldn't judge her. She also said she knew I was a Christian and asked me to pray for her. I was surprised, because I honestly didn't judge her. I always had thought it was such an awful sin and anyone who would do it was obviously selfish; I didn't think that about her. I was simply shocked that she had made that choice the day before and we never talked about it again, but I did pray for her.
All through college I continued to be pro-life without thinking about it very much. The only time it came up was when I confessed I didn't vote for Bush; people asked me how I could vote for baby-killing democrats. I responded that I didn't feel like Bush did anything about abortion; therefore, it wasn't a reason to vote for him.
I finally started thinking about it again my second year of seminary. If I had a map of the Baylor campus in front of me I could point to where I was when my friend Chris looked at me and said most pro-lifers are pro-birth. I had never thought about it that way, but it made perfect sense. For the first time I started wrestling with my thoughts on the issue on a grander scale.
I had a few more really intense conversations on the subject, and again I can tell you where I was sitting for most of them. Changing my stance on the issue wasn't easy, and when I realized I had changed my mind I went silent.
Today, I chose not to be silent. I chose to share the cartoon, not because I wanted conservative friends to be offended. I shared the post because I do feel that we have lost sight of what it means to be pro-life, and I have no desire to be pro-birth. I want society to change in a way that makes it possible for 17 year old girls to have their babies knowing that they are loved and supported by everyone around them. (I don't think it is a good idea for 17 year olds to have babies, but I think it is a worse idea to scar them for life by making them choose between being judged as sluts, raising a child they are not prepared to raise, or having an abortion. They need a fourth option.) I want women to feel that they have a better option. I want society to be set up to take women and babies and children in, I want us to raise children that were unplanned, and I want those children to experience love, I want those children to be provided for, and I want mothers to have the help they need to provide for those children. I want the same for fathers.
To be clear, if a woman chooses an abortion as a form of birth control (sadly, I have met women who have) I think she is wrong. I do not support her right to choose. However, for all other women, for most women, who wrestle with this issue, I am heartbroken that the world is not a place where they can feel the freedom to bring life into this world knowing that their child will be cared for and loved. I am heartbroken that they are afraid they will not be cared for and loved. I am heartbroken that the systems these children will be born into are designed to keep them poor, disenfranchised, and neglected. Until this changes and I see a political party that is willing to take on the systematic evil that oppresses so much of our society, I am heartbroken to admit: I am no longer politically pro-life. I am also not pro-choice. I am instead stuck in the in-between, frustrated, and searching for hope, but I am not in despair. I believe that there are people both Christian and not, that are willing to offer these women the hope and provision they need. More people like them need to be willing to take a stand.
I confess that my silence has not helped the issue, and my cartoon post was probably more polarizing than helpful. I just didn't want to be silent anymore.