Monday, April 29, 2013

Formation in 5 Books

I once again find myself in the tension between having the formation of a post stealing my sleep, and the end of the semester breathing down my neck (3 papers, 1 quiz, and 2 finals remain).  The post that is consuming my waking, non-study time is one I want to address with appropriate thoughtfulness and research, as it is in response to a comment about my previous abortion post.  I will return to it later this week; yet , for today, it sadly has to yield to my assignments.    

In its place, I offer a list of the five most formative books I’ve read since I’ve been in seminary.  Three of which have also provided me with the distinct pleasure of studying under the authors; and to which I return most frequently.  I know these may seems cumbersome because they are textbooks, but if you desire to love the Lord your God with all your mind as we are commanded to, I highly recommend these: 
Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey
 by Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation
by Dr. Craig L. Blomberg
Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith
by Dr. Douglas Groothuis

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us
by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun


Discovering Biblical Equality: Complentarity without Hierarchy
edited by Ronald W. Pierce and  Rebecca Merrill Groothuis


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What do we do about abortion?

At just the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
{Romans 5:1-11}

I have sat in many rooms, amidst many people of God, and heard many of the same messages preached over and over and over again, in so many different ways.  I have felt the blows of Truth pummel me with guilt and shame, in the name of righteousness’ sake.  And I have felt the waters of Truth wash over me, for the sake of love. 
Because of my story, I have been asked: how does a Christian, particularly one with a platform, address abortion?  For don’t we all yearn to see the end of abortion in our country?  Shouldn’t we?     

Roe v. Wade
After 40 years of this unrelenting Supreme Court decision, I have to ask – where have our angry slogans gotten us?  What about all those ugly words spewed from pulpits and the mouths of those who claim to have lives marked by Love?  And of those horrifying photos circulating social media and e-mail in-boxes; where have they gotten us?  Honestly, Christian, are we any closer to ending abortion?  Have our legislators budged on the policies our nation has so vocally requested?  Has the highest court in our land seen the reason or logic in our arguments?  Have congregations been moved, through our proclamations of fire and brimstone to storm the polls and vote for truth?  Has any of our name-calling, picket lines, or chanting saved any of the 1,600 babies aborted every day?    

            Have we saved the 54,000,000 lives lost to abortion?
The answer, beloved, is simply: NO.    

                Of course, the question that follows, is – why?
For that answer, I turn to Scripture and I look at life of the Incarnate Christ.  So that I can model my behavior after His, I ask: when, and with whom, was Jesus ever angry?  In the gospels do we see that He was furious with Zachaeus for stealing from the Jewish people while collecting their taxes?  Or was Christ livid with the money changers in the temple, the people who were a part of the religious order in that day?  Did Jesus rail against all adultery when a woman was brought directly from her tryst to his feet?  Or did he rebuke her accusers, the religious leaders?  Did Christ proclaim the thieves on the crosses next to him as deserving of their fates, or did he invite the one who believed into his kingdom that very day? 

The prevailing theme of Jesus’ life is so precisely summed up in Romans 5:8 ~ God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
Jesus didn’t loudly and crudely demand that the laws of taxation, or prostitution, or even Pater familias for that matter, be changed.  Rather, Jesus spoke truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:16). 

1.        We have to teach truth. 

Not the just the truth that abortion kills infants; or that life begins at conception.  Not only the truth that less than 1% of abortions occur as a result of rape or incest combined.  {I’ll say that again, because it’s a favorite of the proponents abortion – LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of abortions are a result of rape or incest COMBINED.}  But the truth that the mothers are left so psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually damaged that  were it any other medical ‘procedure,’ it would be banned by governing medical organizations.  The truth that abortions are so horrific for the mother, they experience post-traumatic stress remarkably similar to that of our veterans returning from war.  The truth that we’ve been wrong for 40 years – abortion is the opposite of caring for women.  It is a means of destroying them.    

2.        We have to know to whom we are speaking: The Women.

1 in 4 women between the ages of 15 and 60 has experienced one abortion. 50% of these have experienced multiple abortions.  Of this quarter of the female population, 70% are in our churches.  Right now.  They are your mothers, sisters, wives, friends.  We are pastor’s wives and daughters, youth leaders, women’s ministry leaders, children’s ministers, worship team members, pastors, and congregants.

3.        We have to know to whom we speak: The Men.

It takes two.  We must never assume that the women who choose abortion have done so all by themselves.  Nor can we presume that each was pressured to have one.  Let’s just be honest about the numbers for a moment.  If 1 in 4 women have experienced abortion, it stands that there at least as many men who have experienced it as well.  Statistically speaking, however, the number of fathers is likely higher; for of the women who have had an abortion, 50% have had multiple abortions.  These multiple abortions are rarely with the same father.  We can be certain that for every baby missing, there is a father carrying around a gaping wound in his soul, as well as a mother.    

4.       We are called to be ministers of reconciliation. 

I say this because every time you open your mouth to speak about abortion to a group of at least four people, statistically, you are addressing at least one person who has an abortion in their past.  And what you say can drive them further from the love and grace and forgiveness of Christ.  Ugly, hate-filled speech reinforces the lie that abortion is unforgivable; that post-abortive people are unlovable.  Or it can be full of truth, while driving them into the arms of Jesus.  We can be Pharisees, or we can be fishers of lost and broken people.  I have seen how Christ dealt with both – and I find as a redeemed sinner, it’s best if I recognize that I have no righteousness outside of Christ, and I extend his grace to those who are sinners, just like me.             

5.       To end abortion, we have to step up – not merely speak out.

We have to make it ok to show up at church pregnant and unwed.  We have to befriend and love and support single women who are pregnant.  And we have to continue to be their friend and support them after the baby arrives – whether they choose adoption or raising the child.  We have to teach our children, and their friends, and our friends the truth about embryonic development: that life begins at conception, and by the fifth week of pregnancy, a fetus can feel pain.  We have to financially support Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  We have to volunteer there as well.  We have to hound our nation’s leaders to change this horrific law; and not give a single vote to any legislator who supports – or won’t oppose – abortion. We have to fight the lie that is embedded in our culture that abortion is a right, and refute the falsehood that says abortion is a tool for women’s health care.  Every single day.  We have to pray that abortion will end.  And we have to love those in our midst who carry within them this deep and abiding hurt, so that they can receive the love and forgiveness and healing available to them only through Jesus Christ.     

6.       We have to be prayerful, winsome, truthful – but mostly loving.

I return to Romans 5:5[b]-11 ~

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  {emphasis mine}

Thus, who am I to condemn?  Through the grace of God and love of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, I am forgiven my sins.  I am set free to minister this grace to my fellow sinners, by speaking truth with love – knowing that for those who are still captive to their sins, Christ gave His life.  And I cannot purposefully thwart His work by spewing hate or cruelty or judgment, even if it is in the name of truth and righteousness.  Rather, I must extend the love and grace and forgiveness extended to me.    

For the glory of God and the coming of His Kingdom.


Monday, April 22, 2013

The Hot Wife {an interlude}

I read two articles this week on the increasingly popular trend of Christian men publically discussing or complimenting their wives’ hotness.  Men who tweet about their wives’ taut bottoms, sexy-in-spite-of-having-2-kids figures, or overall physical beauty that makes him think Song of Solomon-y thoughts. 

And here’s where you’re likely to assume that I’m an old fuddy-duddy prude {let me assure you, I’m completely okay with that}: the issue I take, like the authors of these articles, is not that Christian husband and wives are enjoying one another’s bodies, but that they call attention to it. 

                On  Twitter.  Or Facebook.  Or Instagram.  

Now to be clear, I find what Zach Hoag and Mary Deluth address to be different from a “good morning, beautiful,” written on a spouse’s Facebook wall; though, not so far removed from plugging one’s wife on twitter by saying, “read my beautiful wife’s article on X.”    The key difference being: the first is a personal greeting to the wife, the second is a public declaration about the wife. 

                So much of life is in the prepositions.

Mr. Hoag says that most guys [of the non-Driscoll variety] are simply trying to fit in.  To belong in a world where sexiness is one’s most valuable commodity; and where Christians often feel that they have to reclaim sex inside marriage.  That they are singularly responsible for letting the world know that, yes, even Christians like having sex – they just like doing it with their spouses. 

While this in and of itself isn’t bad, and certainly I would agree that sex does need to be reclaimed and restored to its original design, the way it is being done is actually doing more harm than good.  Lauding your spouse’s beauty and sexuality to her/him, in private, is a good thing.  Doing so in a public manner, using a public forum, corrupts the relationship and diminishes the spouse to little more than chattel. 

We are called to be a people different from the world.  So where the world reduces women to body parts, and objectification, we cannot imitate this lead.

How insignificant it makes the wife – a sum of her parts.  A beautiful person, made in the image of Almighty God, reduced to breasts, a butt, thighs and calves, lips, hair.  So that she becomes merely a catalogue of physical traits, surgically reproducible, and her standing as the apple of her husband’s eye able to be usurped by the next pair of legs/breasts/lips to catch his fancy.  Doomed by her ever changing body {Sorry, young Mr. & Mrs. Pastors, the female form is in constant flux; from perky youth to motherhood to menopause}, and the certainty that one day she’ll be old, droopy, and wrinkled.   Will this mean that her beauty is gone then, that her ability to delight her husband a memory?  That her worth as wife exists only in past?

Further, to assume that she requires this kind of affirmation, belittles not only her identity as an image bearer of God, but also her personhood.  This kind of public attention drawn to her body is the equivalent of strangers whistling at her while she walks down the street, calling out what they’d like to do to her so that their peers can devour her body with their eyes, too.  Because, gentlemen, when you draw attention, publically, to her body – or parts thereof – you’re inviting others to appreciate {and to an extent take mental proprietary benefits} what was intended only for you. 

                Much like Xeres did with Vashti in the book of Ester.    

How base this type of praise makes the husband – who thus appears capable of only surface appreciation.  Unable to see his wife’s inherent value as a person, or to know and be known on the soul-level that is meant to depict the Trinity’s relationship with one another.  He is reduced to an overwhelmed being unable to reign in his appetite for flesh. 

                Less Neanderthal, more Werewolf. 

And oh! how cheap it makes their marriage bed – their appreciation for one another’s form on display, as if an already too-voyeuristic world needed more fodder.  Look at my wife’s rack in that sweater!  See my husband’s six-pack while he takes a swim!  Suddenly, the other’s body becomes property to be displayed, admired, envied – the personhood of our mate obliterated by our prideful declarations of “that one’s mine!”  There is nothing tender or appreciative or even loving about it. 

It’s all for show – for the benefit of people outside the marriage.  It brings other’s opinions, ideas, voices, judgments into the bedroom.  Where there should be no one but husband, wife, and God.

For Heaven’s sake: yes, enjoy one another!  Exclaim over one another’s bodies when it’s just the two of you.  Delight and be delighted in.  But don’t let this fallen world dictate how you do so.  Be accountable first to God, then to your spouse – because, honestly, no one else’s opinions in this area remotely matter.         

Husbands, stop bragging about your wife’s body like it’s some really cool car you bought.  You, gentlemen, did nothing to earn it.  It is a gift, given willing out of love; meant to be cherished by you and you alone.  Stop bringing the world into it. 

Wives, stop finding your worth in your physical beauty.  You are more than a (hot or not) body, meant only to bring physical pleasure to a man.  You are an image bearer of the Lord of the universe.  Beautiful because He made you so; worthy because He deems you thus.  Stop letting a broken world tell you where your value lies.   

Christians, look on one another with the love of Christ.  And act accordingly. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Truth about Sin and the Redeemed

Evangelicals are fond of the ideology that everything is covered by the blood of Jesus.  There’s no sin that his sacrifice can’t atone for.  And this is a good thing, because it’s true.  We evangelicals know that the wages of sin is death; and the death of Jesus, offered once for all, is the payment accepted on our behalf.  The Scriptures abound with this truth.  What I don’t find is a sliding scale of which sin is worse than another.  I find no formula for:

Sin X requires 3 drops of the blood of the Lord, while Sin Y requires 2 whole pints. 

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation ~ Colossians 1:21-22 {emphasis mine}

I cannot find this prescription in Scripture because it is not there.  The truth is that each and every sin is first and foremost an act of rebellion against Almighty God; secondly, it is an act against His creation (self, other person, or nature) of which He has all proprietary rights.  I say this, because what follows is going to bother some people.  Some folks who have worked very hard to maintain as righteous a life as they could, sinning as absolutely little as possible; people who may truly be able to say, “follow me as I follow Christ.”*  But the truth is that no matter who you are, what you or have not done:

Each. Sin. Cost. Precisely. the Same. 

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. ~1 Corinthians 6:9-12 {emphasis mine}

 Each one cost the very life blood of God’s Only Son, Jesus Christ.  All of it.  Whether you’ve taken a stapler from work, or you’re the head of Enron.  Whether you’ve held anger in your heart towards your parents/spouse/child, or you’ve committed serial murder.  Whether you’ve only looked at the Sport’s Illustrated bikini models that one time, or your internet stable would be Solomon’s envy.  Whether you’ve stared at the ground trying to ignore the homeless person asking for help, or you’ve stocked piled humanitarian supplies to sell on the black market to the highest bidder.    

Any shade of sin cost Christ everything. 

And He paid it.  For Love.  For Hope.  For Healing.  For Restoration.   

If you have not accepted Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf, dearest one, I pray that you that do.  For there is nothing that you can do; no benevolence great enough to erase the sin-DNA coursing through all humanity, no deed good enough to tip the scales of righteousness in your favor.  There is only the blood of Jesus.

If you have accepted this gift, beloved, I am rejoicing for you.  For as one prone to fallenness, but for the grace of the Father, the love of the Son, and the presence of the Spirit, I am so delighted that you and I have been saved from ourselves and our sins. 

From here, followers, we must remember that every sin cost Christ the same.  So that we when look at others, we cannot call them by the label their sin mars them with.  For in Christ, there are no murders, no thieves, no fornicators, no liars, no abusers, no drunks. 

In Christ, there are only the redeemed saints. 

Saints who, while rejoicing in their new identities, must always recall from whence they came. 

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. ~Ephesians 2:1-3 {emphasis mine}

An abortionist, forgiven by Christ, is the same as the little boy or girl who gave their lives to the Lord at 4, only  ever lying to his/her mom.  A terrorist, redeemed by Jesus, is the same as the missionary, bringing God’s Word and love to people the world over.  A pimp, a prostitute, or a john, saved by the Lord, is the same as Chuck Swindol, Beth Moore, or Billy Graham.

At the foot of the cross, we are all the same – sinners, in desperate need of our Savior.

This truth, dear friend, frees us to minister with Love.  Because we know, we are intimately familiar with, the sin ghetto in which all humanity struggles – until accepting Jesus’ rescue.  The truth of who we were, joined with the truth of who we are now lets us embody our new identity as made-righteous-in-Christ, so that we may shower His grace and love upon the lost and hurting in this dark world.  It allows us to use our hands, our words, and our hearts on behalf of God’s kingdom in the lives of the people He came to save.  The people who are the same as you and I were, not so very long ago.  The only thing that separates us now is our acceptance of the grace and love of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May we bridge that gap with our outpouring of His love into the desperate and hopeless world, to which we have been called as ministers of Christ’s grace. 



*{Before venturing further, I will say that I am so very thankful for people who live this way.  May you continue to be a beautiful light pointing to the Christlikeness towards which each of us should strive!}



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Labrador's Last Lesson

The nine year old pressed hard into my side.  She had occupied my lap short hours before, clinging to my neck as her hot sobs shook her still tiny frame; but left it vacant now because she understood the need of her brother for its immediate comfort.  He was inconsolable.  Sliding from my lap onto the floor, his sobbing broken with the words, “When Oso died, Daisy came over to take the sadness away.”  Face up-turned, the finality of his statement took me aback, “but now there’s no one to take it away.” 

My first reaction, reader, was to contradict him.  Contradict the little one, racked with grief so that he could only lay in the floor – how arrogant.  To give him the Sunday school response: Jesus would take the sadness away.  But I didn’t say it.  I wrestled, my tears matching his, as I bent over the little boy who just lost his truest companion.  I know Jesus came to take away our pain and suffering for eternity; but how could I look my son in the face and say that Jesus would take away this pain in this moment – when I knew that would not be true.
It isn’t true because my children were facing the aftermath of death on a Saturday afternoon.  And even death made Christ weep.  True, my little boy was mourning his beloved Labrador and Jesus had been mourning a dear friend; but in the heart of a seven (and nine, and yes, even thirty-four) year old, the two are synonymous.  Though quite unlike Jesus, my children couldn’t resurrect their beloved pet.  The finality of her absence swept over them in waves, pounded them as high tide beats the shoreline: the wagging of her tail that constantly knocked things over, her tap-dancing excitement on their return from school, the good-morning snorts issued to rouse lingering slumberers, her absolute, whining despair at being excluded from a trip to the bathroom – all of these things they’d taken for granted when they bedded down the night before, were suddenly and forever taken from them.  And each one hurt. 
Yes, God is a big God.  Yes, He is our ever-present comfort.  Yes, our tears matter to Him. 
But we must also admit that death is so counter to His design, the pain etched on our hearts cannot be poo-pooed away, that there is no consolation for this kind of loss while we tarry on terra firma.  That but for the resurrection of believers, the propitiation of Christ for our sins, the substitution of Jesus for our guilt, death wins.  Permanently.  But for the sacrifice of Jesus – His life for our sins.  So that we might spend eternity with God the Father.  Yet, even this sacrifice – God, incarnate, on a cross, dying for the sins of the entire world --  didn’t wipe death from the face of the earth.  Every living thing must still die.  And with death comes swooping grief.     
And so, my minis have once again encountered the truth that sometimes, Jesus doesn't take this pain away.  What He (and the Father and Holy Spirit) will do is be with us in our sorrow.  God is ever-present; God weeps at death.  God desired that it not happen in the first place.

But we, humans, we mucked it up.  We continue to muck it up.  We pick rebellion and sin and death, over and above life and joy and peace.  We choose, with our whole beings, the ways of darkness – so that all that we love is destroyed in the aftermath. 
And God weeps.  For us, for our loss, for our hurting hearts.  And He offers a way through death, a way to find hope and eternal life and love.  He offers Jesus, His Son, instead of eternal death.  And though this sacrifice does not eliminate the pain surrounding death, nor even physical death itself, it is far, far more than we sinners could ever deserve.     

Friends, I have to say that if ever a dog were permitted into heaven [and don’t go toe-to-toe with me on this one, because all of Genesis and Revelation will be brought to bear], my beloved minis’ Daisy and Oso will be happily panting in the presence of the Almighty Lord and His Glorious Son and the Holy Spirit.  In fact, I have a feeling one of the playful Three has been tossing a ball, or creating streams into which a particularly playful lab has ventured, for one of His more loving, selfless, and gentle creatures.
But, I will concede, that if marriage does not exist in heaven, then my treasured canine companions might be absent.  In which case, I am grateful to the Creator for their brief appearance here on earth.  And I am confident that whatever heaven may encompass, so long as I am in the presence of the eternal and Almighty God, there will be nothing that I miss.

I pray, beloved, with all that is within me, that you and I might know the boundless, accepting, and perfect love of the Father, through the sacrifice of His Son, and the anointing of the Holy Spririt.  That you and I might see one another at the Feast of the Lamb. 


Daisy Boo
Beloved friend and dearest companion
canine theologian if ever there were
August 2002 - April 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Supreme Court and my secret

I did something last week that I never imagined I would do.  I added my name to an amicus brief* for the United States Supreme Court.  Concerning what was once the secret I thought I would take with me to the grave.

As we continue after Easter to ruminate on the obedience, the suffering, and the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I know that no high court, nor ruling party, nor nation, nor people can force evil from this broken and fallen world.  There is nothing that can accomplish this.
               Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  

I know this, because...

I was just shy of 19.  He was 21.  We were at university together, inseparable and certain of life as only brand new adults can be.  And we were in love. 

We had known each other less than a year and were pretending to not be boyfriend and girlfriend so we could both work for the summer as orientation leaders.  We were assigned to rooms just across the hall from each other.  One day I found myself sitting alone in the girls’ suite bathroom, watching the pregnancy test.  It was positive.   

I only gave him a breath or two to let it sink in.  I wanted a response, the response.  I wanted him to tell me we’d get married, we’d make it all work somehow.  But in those two eternity-encasing beats, he couldn’t absorb it all, just looked at the floor, hearing the crushing weight of all his family’s dreams falling down around him.  Knocked breathless by the disappointment he assumed would become his identity.  He didn’t look up. 

I gave him two breaths.  And when his silence had stretched on for days in my ears, I began the panicked flailing of the drowning.  I held out the yellow pages, open to the ad I’d been staring at for hours as I’d been trying to think of how to tell him.  This was the only clinic I would go to.  I made demands.  He would drive me to and from.  He would pay for half.   He wouldn’t tell anyone.  Ever.   

On a bright, warm day under the June sun, I had an abortion.  I swallowed the pills and slunk away; the acid guilt and shame and hate burning me from the inside out. 

One tiny life flown to heaven; two more on the rapid descent into hell. 

In the days that followed, the weeks and months that just kept coming and wouldn’t stop even though I couldn’t breathe, he pulled away.  He started to run.  And I began to drown myself – it was a very, very slow liquid attempt at expiry.  Though all I wanted was to stop feeling.  To forget.  To erase what had been done. 

Superficially, my self-inflicted destruction cost me a full-ride scholarship, a leadership position in my sorority, and good standing at the school that only a year before I’d been desperate to get into.  But what I actually lost the in process was far more valuable and even more difficult to recover.  I lost my self – who had I become?  I lost all the certainty of youth – the world was a dark place, more finite than I had ever realized; I was part of and party to that evil.  I lost friends because I had to hide my pain away from them, acting as if all was fine so we wouldn’t be found out.  And I lost the Officer.  I only reminded him of what we’d done.  Thus he ran, as far away as he could. 

To his credit, in a last-ditch effort to save me from myself before he left, the Officer kept dragging me to church.  I thought I was condemned to hell anyway, so I would show up smelling like the hangover I was nursing.  Sitting in the sanctuary only made me feel vile, and used up.  I knew if anyone could see who I really was they would turn, with pitchforks and torches, to drive me out of their holy place.  We even went on Mother’s Day.  We sat in the very back of the huge auditorium, as we always did; the pastor lauded mothers as the ushers handed out flowers and I studied the floor.  Then from the pulpit came blessings for the young women of childbearing age; the usher handed me a flower.  A solitary, red rose.  My lungs forgot how to pull air in.  I shook the entire ride home.  Neither the Officer nor I looked at one another.       

And then he was gone.  No phone calls, only sparse letters, and some photos of a boy in camo.  All the while, I kept sinking.  When he was away from me, the Officer turned.  He set his face toward the Light.  He wrote home about God and His love and the Father’s plan for our lives.  I didn't doubt God's love for the Officer, I doubted His ability to leave me unpunished.
Time withered as it will, distancing us from the abortion, so that eventually a white dress, a bow tie, and the smell of stargazer lilies preceded our flight to the top of the world; and we learned how to be in love, in the snow and the dark.  Even there, the Officer kept dragging me to church.  I was his wife, still drowning, though less so with him to desperately clutch; but still frightened of how and when God would exact His vengeance. 

For murder cannot go un-punished; the ground cries out with blood. 

Again, I sat in the back of a church, both listening and hiding.  She was rail thin, with hair that was too Texas and boots too lower-48 to draw me in.  Until she opened her mouth.  Ten abortions.  I sat up.  She wove her story with grace, nimbly treading over words that I didn’t know they allowed on altars.  Ten.  If God could forgive ten, maybe He would forgive one.  When the altar call came, I bowed my head and pressed my eyelids together so hard it felt that the rainbow explosions were what kept the tears in.

Please, I begged, please.  Forgive me.  

What I hadn’t realized, in all that time I spent in the backs of all those churches, was that the ground did cry out for blood, that vengeance was God’s to exact.  But that He already had. 

God took His rightful, just, and holy vengeance for my abortion out on His Only Son.  The blood that satisfied my debit had been spilt over 2,000 years ago.  The Only Son of the Living God already gave His life in my stead.  He was simply waiting for me to accept His payment on my behalf.   

The mill-stone which pressed me to this earth was raised off my shoulders in that balcony, as soon as the desperate plea was formed in my mind.  Suddenly, I remembered how to breathe.  My eyes opened to new brightness, and my heart felt light again, for the first time in years.  There was singing, there was study and prayer; there was a peace in my spirit that hadn’t existed before.  I went to church as a member of the body of Christ, not just an outsider trying to appease the Officer.  I wasn’t running anymore.  I had stopped drowning, I started healing, and I began to swim. 

Some years later, I read Psalm 139.  I wasn’t Bible scholar enough back then to know to avoid that piece of the book; so when it cropped up for a women’s study, I didn’t expect it to knock the wind out of me.  I still have the Bible I first read it in.  The page is stained with my tears and the note – for at that point, I was comfortable putting my words alongside God’s – that said, “He knew.  But He loved me anyway.”  The simple truth that my daughter was being knit together by the Divine in my womb even as I made the choice to end her life.  God knew.  And true that His love for her is great; His love for me was always just as great, as it is for all of His children – those who are smack in the middle of sinning, as well as those who are being sinned against.  Those He calls His own through their relationship with His Son; and those whom He desires should not perish away from Him.  God the Father sent His Son to seek the lost and to save the sinners – of which each person on the planet can number themselves. 

Jesus came to save me.  Jesus came to save you.       

As a redeemed child of God, I am so thankful that there are people in the body of Christ who are talking about abortion – not just holding angry signs outside of clinics.  People who know that, yes abortion should be stopped; but also that the One in Four Women between the ages of 15 and 30** who have made this choice can be saved, can be healed, can be restored.  That we all, post-abortive or non, desperately need the blood of Jesus to take away our sins.  If we accept it,

there is nothing the blood of Jesus doesn’t cover. 


This vital truth must proceed another that is just as necessary to proclaim, for the gospel has to take prevalence over everything else.  But following it, I must say, with the certainty of experience, that the intentional ending of a human life through the means we call “abortion” is wrong.  Dearest reader, the pills and the procedures have to stop.  The physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual devastation crippling our mothers, our sisters, our friends, and ourselves must cease.  As rational people who are allowed the privilege of guiding the law of our nation, we cannot continue to delude ourselves into thinking that this is a women’s rights issue; or that abortions are somehow inseparable from women’s health care.  We cannot keep swallowing the lies that make women sums of their parts, so that a uterus or vagina is somehow equated with the paramount of ontological woman-ness.  We have to stop choking down the idea that in order to be liberated from antiquated gender roles, women have been afforded some fundamental right to put another human to death.  It is time to use our reasoning and to critically examine the claims of a multi-billion dollar industry that wants us to think that abortion is a right instead of a money-generating product.   

As a nation, but even more so as a people who know that Every. Single. Life. is uniquely and beautifully created by God, we must end abortion.           

For the love of God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, for the cry of the Holy Spirit.     


If you have experienced an abortion in your past, please know that you are not alone; and there is hope and healing available.  You can private message me on Twitter (@jenKbaros), on Facebook (Jennifer Smith Baros), through my website (Aletheia Ministries), or by personal e-mail (  Any contact I receive is completely confidential. 


** Statistic reported by the Guttmacher Institute on their “In Brief: Fact Sheet” at, accessed 4/1/13,  9:22 pm.