Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Pregnancy

What does it mean to be pro-life? This would seem simple enough. The description ideally would be self-explanatory from the name itself. I have found that this term has been dragged through the mud and become rather devoid of any real substance in a lot of circles today. Some define pro-life in the negative. It is the view that fights against abortion. Most define it solely on the unborn child. It is limited to one specific category. What many people define as pro-life is really only called pro-pregnancy.

Let me say from the start that I do not agree with abortion. I believe life begins at conception. I believe God is involved in the process of creating each individual just as he was in the process of creating Adam and Eve. I also recognize that many times due to sin entering the world that this joyous occasion can become a hardship. Physical and mental disabilities, the abuse of a husband, rape, etc. all complicate matters. I also believe in grace. I believe that women who have aborted a child are still capable of receiving grace and mercy from God. They can still receive healing. They still deserve love, counseling, and care.

Being pro-life requires admitting the hardships of raising a child. Teen pregnancy isn’t going away. This is not to say we shouldn’t still teach abstinence in a healthy context. Obviously we should, but we need to realize it will not eliminate the problem. Therefore, a solution needs to be developed for when teen pregnancy happens. There is an all too common story that happens for young unwed mothers. A girl gets pregnant and bravely decides to keep the baby. Make no mistake, this is an act of bravery. Doing what it is right and honoring by God is brave. It will require sacrifice. We are willing to say following God in all other areas will require sacrifice. Choosing life is no different.

The young woman chooses life and proceeds with the help of her parents to raise her child, finish school, and work to provide for the child. Given the difficulties she isn’t able to attend church regularly. When she does she is at best met with distant stares. Some might tell her they thought she pursued a life of drugs after having the child since she stopped attending church. That is not a pro-life view. That is a pro-pregnancy view. It is also an incredibly destructive view.

I once knew a church that had a young girl who got pregnant due to rape. It was a horrendous situation for the girl. A situation where our culture would not have scorned her for an abortion. The church adopted a pro-life view. They loved on this woman. They help meet her needs. They helped with the financial strife. They provided support for the entire family. They did what a church is supposed to do. They saw a woman who bravely took on the responsibility of caring for a child, and didn’t leave her in the dust.

Let’s go back to that first scenario of the young woman working to provide for her child. What if people recognized the difficulty of raising the child? What if rather than giving remarks of judgment there was instead an act to help meet her needs. Need a break for an evening? Let me watch your kid for you. Can’t come to church because of work? Let me sacrifice time out of my week that works for you so I can come over and have a Bible study with you to give you a little bit of Christian community.

You see, pro-life is not merely the care for the unborn child. It is the caring for the physical and spiritual needs of the mother as well. It is striving to help raise the child in world where they will know God’s love. Pro-life extends before and after the unborn child.

Here is the simple truth, and it might be painful to hear. I know it was painful for me to realize at one point. If you agree with abortion you cannot call yourself pro-life. If you do nothing to care for the physical and spiritual needs of a child and their parents you also cannot call yourself pro-life. It’s time for us to recognize the hardship that comes with choosing life, and do all we can to help lift that burden as a community. It’s true that society’s answer to this problem through abortion is not the right solution, but we need to provide the Scriptural alternative. Anything less is just pro-pregnancy, and that’s not even a shadow of pro-life.

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Enemy Confusion

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Philo of Alexandria.

My job necessitates speaking to lots of strangers every day. Some are pleasant experiences. Others are not so pleasant. Some are having a wonderful time with life, and others are going through an incredible difficult time. Some days I am easy to have a pleasant experience with. Other days it is harder. Some days I am experiencing a wonderful time in life, and other days I am going through an incredibly difficult time.

Some people call it “walking on eggshells.” With disdain in their voice. Other call it “politically correct.” Some people refer to it as being humble. Other might call it just being kind. Perhaps it is looking to see the best in someone, or maybe it is deeper. Perhaps it is searching deep down to bring out the best of you. Whatever you call it the message remains the same. Be kind. You never know what the person across form you is facing. You never know what hell they may be going through.

It is the nature of my job to occasionally (and I do mean occasionally in the grand scheme of things) to get people who are upset over things outside of my control. Sometimes it is over what someone else said or did. Sometimes it is over mistakes made. Sometimes it is over the chaotic life of the individual. It is also I the nature of my life to speak to family and friends who have a hard go of it sometimes. Once again I continually need to remind myself, “Be kind.” “Their fighting a battle.”

It’s a reminder. It’s a reminder that we aren’t fighting against mere flesh and blood. No person is the enemy. There is a greater threat out there. A threat with a far wider reach, and a far deadlier arsenal then we have witnessed against any mere human. He is stronger than any ruler. He wages war against humanity itself, and humanity is caught up in that war. People are hurt in the process. Hurt people hurt other people.

Maybe it’s time to stop focusing our energy on a mere mortal. Maybe it is time to stop thinking that if we just get that one person into the presidency our country will be saved. Maybe we should start considering that those people that hurt us are dealing with baggage we cannot see. Maybe we need to stop looking at the flesh with our eyes, and start have our souls look at the souls of others.

It will require long-suffering. It will require humility. It will take more than a president. It will take more than a few fancy words. It will take more than Facebook memes that guilt you into typing amen. It will take more than you expect it to. It’s time to level the playing field. The battle is not against those mere mortals. The battle is against something far great. The solution starts with kindness. It starts with mercy. That is how death is defeated. It was defeated through the mercy and grace of a cross. The sting is gone. The victory has been lost. Why in the world should we change up the strategy now?

Grace or Morality?

I’ve been behind on my posts. Life has been crazy, and I have been kept rather busy. Once again I am trying to get back into the consistency of writing in my blog. I wanted to revamp my latest attempt by writing on something that became an area of focus in my studies.

I recently finished a course called “family Discipleship”. It proved to be challenging for me individual. While parts of the course provided information and skills to cultivate a ministry in church that provides proper equipping for parents, much of the course was centered around personal application as a parent. The course ended with a research paper as most graduate level courses do. We were told to pick a topic that would have significant personal application for us. Considering I am still a new parent I ended up writing on how to shepherd a child through the stages of childhood.

It was a journey for me. It was challenging to me as a parent, but also as someone who has been in ministry and is preparing to go back into it one day. There was a lesson form my studies in that course I wanted to share with you readers out there. We do not make the Gospel a strong enough of a focus in our interaction with others.

This is especially true with youth. We often put a higher focus on teaching morality rather than the gospel. This is dangerous on all kinds of levels. Morality lends itself to worship of actions of man rather than the actions of Christ. In opens a wider door to legalism rather than a journey of progress. Its greatest danger is that it is entirely absent of grace and salvation.

The concept of grace has been absent in my thought life and interaction with others lately. It just is not an area of focus that it should be. As I meditated on this realization I discovered to my horror that this meant the gospel itself has had to much of an absence to me lately. Grace is so intricately important within the Gospel.

I have seen a lot of absence of grace lately. I see it in the cheers of those thrilled that local business owners can now legally and joyfully turn a gay couple away from their establishment because it goes against their beliefs. I have seen and absence of grace continue in all forms of politics. I see the absence of grace all around me, and the teachings of morality flow freely. Above all else I find to great of an absence of grace in my own life and words.

I think we fear grace. We fear that it becomes a free ticket for sin. We fear that grace keeps us from acknowledging sin. This comes from an incorrect view of grace though. Grace does not ignore sin. Grace in and of itself cannot exist when sin goes unacknowledged. Sin needs to be recognized in order for grace to be provided. Grace puts morality in its proper context. We do good because of the good that has been done to us. It is not out of a desire to earn special favor, or even salvation.

I want my conversations to have a bigger focus on grace and the gospel. I want that to be the case because if my words show that emphasis then it means my heart is aligned to those concepts. Morality is not good enough. As Easter is coming up I would encourage you to do a mind shift focus with me. How does your life show that you make the gospel and its grace a priority?

Pity for an evil person

I’ve had trouble knowing what to write about. I’ve tried several times, but nothing really seems to stick. My mind has been elsewhere a lot this week which is why the lack of posts have developed. Hoping next week goes better with that. Thankfully I have found something on my heart to write about for you all today.

I read a facebook conversation today. It was over an article called “Understanding Christopher Dorner”. Now I don’t agree with the article in question for the simple fact that it essentially tries to justify the evil acts of a murderer. However, the conversation that developed from this article got me thinking. It was really one simple phrase from the conversation. “How you can feel bad for an evil person is beyond me.” That phrase has echoed in my mind. It is a question we all ask ourselves.

Before I begin I want to make something very clear. I do not condone the actions of Christopher Dorner. He was a murderer who killed innocent people. He deserved justice for his crimes. What he did was profoundly wrong. I would never dream of justifying his actions. Actions require consequences.

However, the question of how I could feel sorry for an evil person is very different. I can believe in the need for justice for evil, but still pity the one who performs evil. I do pity those who do evil. I pity Christopher Dorter. I pity him for his twisted views in believing that murdering innocent people was the only option he seemed to have. I pity him for believing choosing evil was the best option. I pity him because there is really only one thing keeping me from being just like him. I found hope when he did not.

Christianity could use a little more pity for those enslaved to evil. We look at those who perform evil actions and often want to just holding them up to the responsibility for their actions. We want to exact punishment on them for their evil. It is true evil must be punished. It is true there must be consequences for doing wrong, but I think we forget the need for a secondary response. Why don’t we mourn for those enslaved to sin anymore?

Where are the tears for the souls lost to the enemy? We shed tears for the victims of those souls, but we never seem to mourn the ones who were enslaved into their own madness. This guy had to have some seriously messed up thoughts to do what he did. He was incredibly disturbed. Does that justify his actions? Absolutely not, but it does make me pity him.

What is keeping us from being like Christopher? What is keeping you and me from going off the deep end and doing evil? Have we even refrained from doing evil in our lives thus far? I know I haven’t. I’ve been a liar, murderer of my angry thoughts, filled with lust in my heart, manipulated others, among other things. I’ve done some evil things. You may respond, “But what Christopher did was far worse.” It’s true that Christopher’s evil actions had a more lasting and devastating effect on his victims, but I wish that he never did it in the first place. I wish that he had seen a different way to go about things. I wish that he had seen hope rather than whatever it was that pushed him further towards murdering others. Why? Because people who are now dead might still be alive. So yes, I will pity a man who does evil. I will pity him because he is incapable of seeing how destructive his evil has become. I will mourn for him because I know he could have made a better choice. I will mourn for him because I see version of myself without God’s grace in him.

I will be thankful for justice, but I will have a heart broken for the lost. Man who do evil are part of the lost.

Facing the extremists in balance.

It’s been a few days since I have been able to post on here. Busy aspects of life got in the way, and kept me from being able to focus my thoughts into coherent sentences. The response to my last post amongst random readers has been a rather eye opening experience. Most of these comments you have not seen as the reader, because the majority I were unable to let past screening due to language, hatred, or simply just ranting, and having nothing to do with the actual topic of the post. That ebing said, I wanted to share some thoughts as a believer after hearing a lot of things from unbelievers looking in on the event with pastor Alois Bell.

1. Grace or judgment reactions always lead to receiving judgment from someone else. If I had written the post hammering down on this pastor for being so awful and evil then I inevitably would have been rebuked by others for being too harsh. It would have rightfully been pointed out to me that I am also a sinner in need of grace. On the flip side, by showing some hints of grace on the situation I still face judgment form those who think I simply try and protect one of my own. I had plenty of people tell me I was just as bad as the pastor for simply acknowledging that we all fall short of God’s standard. This leaves me with a simple conclusion. Don’t let your need for balance between grace and judgment be rooted in a desire to please everyone. In fact, balance often mean receiving judgment from both extreme sides.

2. People really want to find a reason to hate Christianity. I’m sure me saying that will upset some people. Some will try and say they simply hate Christianity because of how Christians act, but even that isn’t very accurate. They may receive a bad taste after a run in with a select few Christians who have acted very poorly to them, but it cannot possibly be the wrongful actions of Christian everywhere that make them hate Christianity. People wanted to find another reason to hate Christianity in this situation. The search results told me as much. I found a very unique difference between my reaction to this woman, and the reaction of those who are not Christians. They delighted in her sin because it made those she represents look bad. I was grieved over her sin, because sin is always something to be grieved over.

3. People don’t want to take responsibility for their hateful words. The most hateful and curse filled comments were form those who left no real name or email. They did not want to be associated with their words. They did not want to take responsibility for the things they said. I think this is something everyone struggles with. We like the anonymity of the internet. We like being able to say exactly what is on our mind without any apparent repercussions. The more we speak hatefully on the internet though, the more hateful we are in our hearts. It is only a matter of time before that exposes itself in full force. If you don’t want people to know you are the one saying something, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.

4. People get this was wrong. It fascinates me. People in these moments recognize there is a basic moral code that exists that all human beings should be aware of. They acknowledge there is such a thing as right and wrong. In a way I think we as believers should be encouraged by that. I think we have tricked ourselves into thinking our culture as a whole no longer acknowledges that something is wrong. It may indulge in hosts of sins willingly, but not all hope is lost. In a strange way, the outrage I witnessed form so many people encouraged me. They knew it was wrong. They knew it was more than just this pastor being hypocritical. They knew there was something unjust in their midst.

5. Speaking out requires thick skin. Like I said, I received a lot of nasty opinions at the situation, and a few directed right at me. Most of them clearly only read the first paragraph of my post. They failed to realize I acknowledged what this pastor did was wrong, and that she needed to repent. I’ve had people disagree with me on here before. I have had some disagree with me to a pretty rude extent, but the responses form this post were simply hateful. It would be easy for me to assume I was doing something right just because of the hateful responses I received, but that would have been the wrong reaction. After all, the Westboro cult receives large amounts of hate for their views, but clearly they are still wrong. It required me examining myself, and making sure what I was saying had real truth to it. That it was done with grace and respect. After that all that was left was to put on the thick skin and move forward. People on both sides will not appreciate truth when it is being spoken. They will not stop to see how you are different form the hypocrites they are so familiar with. Calling yourself Christian means you are targeted with a stereotype. Fight against it, be gracious, and serve the Lord.