Saturday, September 19, 2015

So, you say you are pro-life...

Traci Schmidley wrote a blog article that has been making its way around social media. I don't know Traci personally, but her excellent piece Are you Really Pro-Life? made me think about an angle that she didn't directly address in her post, though I believe it is implied (if I am mistaken, I will certainly apologize).  I am not a blogger and don't mean to steal anyone's spotlight or traffic, by any means. Please read Traci's post here: before you continue reading what I have written. It is the right thing to do (and... what I've said here won't make sense if you don't). 

After reading her words, some friends and I exchanged a little dialogue about the subject of abuse of the system leading to the kind of judgment Traci mentioned. 

Here are my thoughts (you can blame my friend, Esther, for this becoming a blog post) in regard to pro-life Christians (especially) and their God-given responsibility to take Traci's words to heart. 

Even if people are taking advantage of the system (the system sort of allows it), how often are we the only link to the gospel that these people will ever see? We are Christians before we are Americans and if we let our nationalistic pride block the light of Christ, we have made a mistake.  Regardless of what people have done in their lives, without the gospel changing them, they're going to do whatever they need to do to survive. If that means cheating a little here and there- they're probably going to do it. Without the voice of the Spirit of God urging my heart to do the right thing (in too many situations), I am quite sure I wouldn't. My past is proof. 

People who are pro-life should never see (or treat) children as mistakes. I've heard too many seemingly well-intentioned people criticize people (even solid Christians) for having large families, for mothers having babies out of wedlock (even though they should be praising her for not having aborted her baby), for having babies of mixed race...(why is this even a thing anymore).  But for what? If we love life and support choosing LIFE, we need to show it. Otherwise, we are really just pro-birth.  

I stayed away from church for five years because I couldn't explain my unborn son, and then later, after his birth, the fact that my son had no father. I was lost then, but I knew what my life should have looked like to be acceptable to Christians and to God. I just didn't know how to get there. At a time in my life when I was the most helpless, the most lonely, and the most desperate for grace, I couldn't approach the one place where I should have been able to find it. Only when I entered Calvary Baptist Church in my town and saw the hands and feet of Jesus in action through this body of believers was I able to let my guard down and truly experience the grace of God in Christ.  It brought me to saving faith and I will never forget where Jesus found me when I was welcomed by this family. 

A lot of people who profess to be Christians seem to feel justified in wrapping themselves in the flag and hurling insults and anyone who is lazy, confused, immoral, misguided, or dishonest.  That is fine for lost conservatives who don't know any better but to base their existence on the U.S. Constitution.  However, for American Christians who are inexplicably blessed to live in this free nation, we are not so "free" to think or say whatever we feel about them.  In such instances as Traci described, we are presented with the perfect opportunity to reach out to people in their lowliest, most broken states and show them the love of Christ... even if they've lied to the government to get benefits; even if they've stolen from tax payers to get more than they should; even if (brace yourselves, everyone...) they've murdered their unborn babies. Yes. I said that "out-loud." 

Without Christ, the morality conservative Americans desire of them means nothing. Who cares if they keep the whole [American] law and [never] stumble in even one point...? How unfortunate! In that case, there is no reason for guilt, no need for rescuing.  But, if we love them where they are... lost, lying, cheating, stealing, and murdering... they WILL see the love of Christ in us.  We never know when God is planning to use us in a grocery line.   We never know when someone is aching for the gospel and they don't even know it. 

Supporting life through all of these situations does not mean supporting the breaking of laws or accepting/condoning immoral lifestyles. But, if we don't reach out to those who need it most, our beliefs become just opinions - really stinky ones- to those who see Christians as hypocrites.   I have some pretty liberal friends whose main objection to pro-life people is this very issue... They believe we are pro-birth and don't care what mothers need to ensure their children have have their needs met.  Meeting their needs doesn't make us bad (read liberal) Americans, but not meeting them makes us lousy (read disobedient) Christians.  Someone may not use our gift of twenty bucks, or a helping hand, or our support with the right motives. They may still carry on in their dishonest, immoral ways. What do you expect from lost people?  We aren't responsible for their choices. We are only responsible to serve others; to do unto the least of these as if we were serving Christ.  Sometimes our service may be the exact catalyst God uses to turn broken, wicked hearts toward Him.  People rarely want to hear truth from people whom they don't know and love and who don't love them back. They will, however, tolerate "the wounds of a faithful friend." 

Traci's article resonates with me so much because were it not for the tenderness of Christians who were different than the pro-life couple in this article (not that the author said they were believers) I would never have been saved.  I shudder when I think of how close I came to missing eternity with Christ.  For those who were instrumental in that change in my life, I am literally eternally grateful. 

What kind of Christians do we want to be? Will we stand on Plymouth Rock wrapped in the Gadsden flag crying out in the name of God that our Constitution has been trampled? How important is that really? More important than the Father of Lies ensnaring countless lost people, convincing them that there is no hope?  Are we willing to let lost people trample temporarily on a finite word from men in hopes of having an opportunity to give them the eternal Word of Life? 

What does it really mean to be pro-life? U

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Adoption: Single Women Need Not Apply

Many Christian grant organizations will not accept applications from single women.  Is it wrong for single women to adopt? 

When I first considered adopting Oksana, I had decided to wait until I had a husband.  (Of course, I thought I needed to be married to buy a house, too.)  It took me a year to come to the conclusion that this was something God had prepared me for and equipped me to do.   I became convicted when, one by one, I began to cross off the excuses from the list of reasons I could not commit to her.  I had a stable income, health insurance, a home with space to raise more children, and tested ability because I was already a parent.  I agree that God has designed a two-parent family for children.  It is the ideal. I believe that having a supportive husband is also the ideal.  But being married in and of itself does not guarantee a husband is supportive and able/willing to help his wife care for his family. On a paper application, checking "married" does little more than fill the square, which just amounts to legalism.  Some organizations require interviews and recommendations from the adopting family's pastor.  Can a pastor not also recommend a godly woman as an adopting parent?  Other organizations require only the home study documentation. A home study alone says little to nothing about the godliness of a family unless the agency writing is Christian and writing from that perspective.

In his book, Adopted for Life, Russell Moore writes, “The Father adopts children, and we are called to be like him.  Jesus cares for orphans, and we are being conformed into his image.  If you’re in Christ, you are called to be involved in this project somehow.”  I’m not saying that Dr. Moore made this statement for the purpose of promoting adoptions by single mothers.  In fact, in another part of the book, he writes “Generally speaking, if you are single, pray for a marriage before you seek children.”  If a single woman who has never married hopes to be married one day, sure, it is probably better for her to wait to adopt until she has a godly husband so they may begin a new life together, cultivating  their relationship in preparation for a solid base from which to parent.   But what if a woman doesn't believe she is to marry at all? Can she not be used by God in this way? 

Amy Carmichael and Gladys Ayleward have been applauded for mothering hundreds of children, in their respective countries, as unmarried missionaries.  Amy Carmichael believed that God led her never to marry before she took in her first Indian child.   Is there a difference?  Does it matter less because that happened somewhere on the other side of the world? Does it matter less because their doing so meant someone else (the people with the funding) didn't have to go?  Does it matter less because we are now talking about the Conservative, American version of Christianity? (I’ll save that for a separate post on another day.)  Does not being united in holy matrimony make singleness unholy (also a separate post)?

I suspect that the organizations which limit their support to married-couples-only may share the perspective of those who believe missionaries can only be never-married singles or married couples with seminary degrees dispatched under a banner announcing their presence in countries that have already had missionaries for a hundred years.  In some ways, implying that children cannot grow up to be godly without a godly father limits the power of God. It also isn't scriptural. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he applauded his godly mother and grandmother. There was no mention of a father.  We don't know why this is, but we do know that Paul (and thus God, by divine inspiration) credited the godly women with raising a godly Timothy.  (Don’t assume that in saying so that I am advocating for single women the world over birthing babies on their own because they "don't need a man." That isn't my point.) 

I know… What is the point?
My point is that some are already mothers. For those mothers, something happens (divorce, abandonment, or death of a husband) to cause them to become single mothers. We don't encourage the removal of the children from a woman’s home and into another with married parents simply because she no longer has a husband.  We don’t assume she has lost her ability to parent altogether simply because she is no longer a married woman.  That would be absurd.  In like manner, there are already children who are homeless, without families, without anyone.  For those with conservative political leanings, the outcry is that "we don't want the bureaucracy raising our children" by making and writing into law decisions on how we are to parent.  If we don't want the bureaucracy figuratively raising our children, why are we okay with them doing so in a literal sense?  Shall we (American Christians, the body of Christ, single mothers) just leave them under the often substandard care of their respective institutions states if the married Christian population isn't willing is unable to open their homes? (Ahem. Was that my outside voice? My apologies! That is probably yet another post.)

 For Christians  who support adoption of children and care of orphans, James 1:27 is often treated as the cornerstone for Christian adoption. Pastors use it in their sermons.  It reads, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.  We know that Ruth, a single woman, cared for her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Surely the declaration made in the book of James does not mean that only men or married couples are capable of practicing religion that is pure and undefiled.  In many cases, adoption is like mission work in creative-access countries. It doesn't look conventional- but if it did, the authorities might not let you in. In the case of singles and adoption, it doesn't look conventional... Doesn't look biblical... But neither does much of anything else in our sin-cursed world. Just because the product doesn't match God's perfect design doesn't mean there can be no redemption for the marred original. If that were true, there would be no redemption for any since Adam.  I can't change the fact that I am a single mother. I have three biological sons. But, I have no husband. I would remain a single mother if I chose never adopt.  My status wouldn't change either way. Why should waiting children go without any family at all if I can be a mother to them through adoption?  Isn't a godly single mother better than no mother at all?