Something is bothering me. In fact, it’s breaking my heart.
The annual “March for Life” happened in D.C. a few weeks ago, and all around the country other cities held similar marches. There was one here in my home city of Atlanta. I wanted to go, but my daughter was getting over a terrible cough, and it was icy and cold outside, so we stayed home. It would have been my first march. But it certainly wouldn’t have been the first time I thought about abortion.
You see, in my still-fairly-short 30 years of life, I’ve come to realize that abortion is more than simply one thing. It’s more than a loss of life; it’s a loss of perspective. It’s a loss of accountability. And it’s a loss of love. Abortion is, ultimately, the terrible consequence of the incessant barrage of negative – and powerful – messages we, as a society, send.
It’s the result of telling men they cannot be vulnerable, that their tears are a sign of weakness and, therefore, something to be mocked. Instead, we tell them being a man means being aggressive and dominant.
It’s the result of telling women their bodies are for public consumption and then, when they have sex (gasp!), we demonize them for that choice.
It’s the result of leading people to believe that embracing the beauty of our God-given sexuality means flaunting it for all the world to see.
It’s the result of not educating our youth about reproductive biology so that they 1) understand, in detail, how babies are created and 2) have access to information about contraception AND how to get it. I can’t tell you how many times grown friends – who are sexually active – have asked me questions about basic things like ovulation or birth control. I grew up with a mother who, sometimes to my chagrin, had no problem talking to me about sex. And thanks to her I understood the risks of being sexually active when I wasn’t prepared for the consequences. But not everyone is so lucky.
Let’s face it: “Don’t have sex” is great in theory, but people are human. Abstinence is the goal, but grace is the response. Sex is going to happen and we cannot control that. We can, however, control how we react to those who choose differently than us. We can also, and should also, work on how we view survivors of sexual assault, especially if we have never had to suffer through that kind of experience. There is no shame in having been abused, regardless of the circumstances, but shame – that powerful, painful lie from the enemy that we are to blame for what someone else has done – is very often the thing that leads a woman to an abortion clinic.
In reality, the fear of sex leads to the oppression of sex. If parents avoid talking to their children about sex, shame them for their interest, or pretend like it’s something to be ignored, children will go looking for answers elsewhere, often in unhealthy places. Ultimately, these actions lead people to the place where sex (and everything that goes along with it) is so misunderstood that sometimes abortion feels like the only option. Men and women are EQUALLY to blame for the horrific reality that is the termination of a life. We are all responsible, even if we stand on different sides of the political aisle.
I understand people who are pro-choice. In many ways, they are pro-life, too. They want to see women live rather than banning abortion outright and forcing them back into a closet with a coat-hanger and a death sentence. Do I want abortion to end? YES. Yes, yes, a million times YES. I cannot look into my daughter’s face and give any other answer. But if we don’t come to grips with the reality that we are ALL to blame for what is happening in our culture, I fear we’ll see the continued loss of millions of babies and even more women. And guess what? We won’t be even a single step closer to life. Because life is love. Life is truth. Life is looking at another person and saying, “Let me help you.” And this tragedy will never end until we do that.
Truthfully, I need to be in greater prayer about these issues. Sometimes I feel paralyzed. I want nothing more than to be able to stand in front of my heavenly Father one day and tell Him I did not turn a blind eye to the suffering of those around me. But I cannot fix the world.
I can, however, raise my daughter. And I can do it with love and grace and honesty. I will teach her that her sexuality is a beautiful thing and that her body is not shameful. I will never laugh at her questions. I will share God’s Word with her and explain how sex was intended to be enjoyed. I will pray that she chooses well, but make sure that she understands the choice is HERS. And so are the consequences. I will sit her down and explain condoms, IUDs, the pill, Plan B, spermicide, and other forms of contraception and make sure she knows where and how to get them. I will educate her about the potential risks involved and take her to the doctor if she wants to know more. I will remember what it’s like to be human. And how scary it can be when we’re unsure. I will take her to a self-defense class so she can feel safe when she’s alone. And I will pray that every man she comes in contact with had a parent who taught him kindness, self-control, and respect.
I will teach my girl that the world is a broken place, but we do not have to be limited by it. Because the One who is within us has already declared victory over the one who is in the world. And years from now, if my daughter has a daughter, my hope is that she’ll be able to do the same for her.
Then, in some way, we will have lessened the burden of this tragedy. Then we can stand before the Father and say, “We gave it everything we had.” Because abortion is not just about “them”; it’s about us, too.
PC: @LaurenBellCox via #belovedlife