Monday, January 27, 2014

Theology, closing thoughts

Before we begin a new series, I wanted to offer some clarifications on the Theology series we began in October. 


First, a friend and colleague [Jason, from School of Fish] reminded me that when speaking of God’s transcendence, it is not enough to say that God is separate, because of His holiness, from His creation.  Nor is it enough to hold this superiority in conjunction with his immanence to creation.  We must also assert that God is sovereign over creation.  As Creator and Sustainer, God is at once superior over, near to, and exercising supreme authority over creation at all times.   This is a more fully orbed approach to God’s transcendence.  

Jesus and Theology:

Second, I mentioned in the introduction that I would return to the claim that Jesus didn’t spend that much time on Theology, so we shouldn’t either.  It can be reasonably argued that everything Jesus did was a lesson in theology, for He came to be the visible image of the invisible God.  Jesus didn’t merely teach theology, He was theology.  His sermon on the mount reveals the nature of the kingdom of God, and defines what characterizes the lives of citizens of this kingdom.  These statements have great implications regarding the nature and character of the King.  Jesus spent a considerable amount of time correcting the errant theology of the first century Palestinian religious leaders; as well as commending that of the Gentiles of that time (to include, but not limited to: a Roman soldier, a Syro-Phoenician woman, a woman at Jacob’s well).   The gospels are filled with Jesus teaching His disciples who God was/is; and so He taught theology throughout His ministry here on earth.    

So What?:

Finally, some closing thoughts on why theology is important.  If you recall (if you don’t, go here), I challenged you to examine the statement of faith of the church you attend.  And I gave the following as an example:

“Consider for a moment a church that in their statement of faith says:

We believe that the gifts of evangelist, pastor and teacher are for the perfecting of the saints today to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up. God supernaturally and graciously grants spiritual gifts to every believer for the purpose of serving the body of Christ.[1]

Sounds good.  Lines up with scripture.  Gives each member of the church a view of communal service and a hope that he or she may be used by God for His works.  Now, what if that church does not allow women to teach, nor to administer communion or collect offering or pray in public?  Does this practice align with their stated belief?  Or, are they contradicting themselves with the subtle belief that the gifts God gives to women are not for the full body of Christ?”         

Unfortunately, this particular church, which the Officer and I attended for a few weeks during our “church shopping” excursions in the weeks after moving to the mountains, lived out the latter.  Though their statement of faith says that “God supernaturally and graciously grants spiritual gifts to every believer for the purpose of serving the body of Christ,” their practice of this statement showed they believe only men to be worthy of the communal expression of this gifting.  Further, the surrounding lines of this tenet states,

 We believe that the gifts of evangelist, pastor and teacher are for the perfecting of the saints today to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.  God supernaturally and graciously grants spiritual gifts to every believer for the purpose of serving the body of Christ. The miraculous gifts of healing, signs and wonders, tongues and interpretation of tongues, during the apostolic era, were for the purpose of authenticating the apostle’s message. (These miraculous gifts gradually diminished as the New Testament Scriptures were completed and the authority of the scriptures became established. **) In accord with His will, we believe that God does hear and answer the prayer of faith for the sick and afflicted. [emphasis mine]
Thus, not only do they eliminate women from the expression of God-given spiritual gifts for the edification of the body, they have in effect placed the Holy Spirit in a box – telling Him what gifts He may or may not bestow (and of course, upon whom He may bestow them).  Granted, the double asterisk indicates that this particular church leadership does not see this tenet as “essential to the faith,” though every person interested in membership must “must respect and teach the entire doctrinal statement.”[2]   So even if you don’t agree with it, you’d better tow the party line.   

 Except that, I can’t find anywhere in scripture that even alludes to a diminishing and then disappearance of the miraculous gifts.  Or that these gifts were given only to authenticate apostolic messages.  Further, if these gifts were intended (and may we reflect just a moment on the audacious assumption that we can fully know God’s intention?) to authenticate the Gospel, would they not be needed even more today when 2,000 years have passed and cultures have changed?  What do we do with this statement in light of stories of the miraculous coming from our fellow believers in different contexts?  Do we, as the Pharisees did, claim that these miracles are being performed by the power of Satan and His minions?  What does that say about the rest of the scriptures penned during the formative years of the Church?  Does this mean that we can twist and selectively pull out the uncomfortable parts of scripture to better suit our cultural experiences? 

            Or do we have to deal with the entirety of Scripture? 
            Even the parts we don’t like, or don’t have experience with? 

Thus, dear ones, I confess: the Officer and I didn’t find this church a “good fit.”  I realize this can sound so consumerist.  But I had to ask: do I want my children growing up thinking that God’s Holy Spirit will only do what we can understand, in ways that we expect? 

                Or do I want them to know the God who is untamable and surprising and miraculous, too? 

Do I want my daughter to lean over and ask me why only the men get to pray, or offer communion, or read; so that when I can offer no good reason, she eventually learns by rote that she is somehow less

                Or do I want her to know that women sat at Jesus’ feet, learning alongside the men; that women were the first to proclaim the risen Lord; that a woman was the first mortal to know that the Messiah was come? 

And, of course, do I not want my son to see women serving alongside the men so that he learns that the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of both sexes, that Christ came to redeem and restore all, even intra-sex relationships between men and women?  

Dearest reader, this is why theology is so important.  Because it affects the very air we breathe.  It inhabits our bones and sinew.  Our theology becomes us, defines us, motivates us.    

Thus we must agree that while Jesus came for the ultimate purpose of our salvation, He also came to be a living example of theology, to teach us what to think about God.  And so theology is something we must not neglect.  So I encourage you again, spend time looking over your church’s statement of faith.  Hold these tenets up to the Scriptures to ensure that they agree.  And then watch how these tenets are lived out, remembering that not a one of us is perfect and so require grace, to ensure that the theology you’re ingesting is the one that points you and all those to whom you are to minister to the One, True God.    

[1] Accessed 1/27/14 at 16:44 MST
[2] Accessed 1/27/14 at 16:44MST

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sanctity of Human Life & Post-Abortive People

Closing Remarks

 When I speak of “hiding” I mean that I was hiding from God, and everyone else.  This wasn’t necessarily the Church’s fault.  It was mine for believing the lie that, even after repenting and turning my life over to Christ, I wasn’t worthy of the love and forgiveness of Jesus.  I believed, as many post-abortive people do, that I had to work to earn my place in God’s family, and if anyone found out, they would cast me out for the sinner that I was.  Because what I had done was so much worse than what anyone else had.  So I hid; a captive to fear.  But we know that true love casts out fear, and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.  So we need to be taught this in our churches and bible studies, reminded of what this looks like in our small groups, and shown how to live this out by mature men and women of the faith.

This is an area where the Church falls short; church isn’t a safe place to share your struggles most of the time.  It’s easier and less messy to slap on a smile and spout “everything’s good,” when in reality so many of us are broken and hurting on the inside.  But that is because of human pride.  We want to be accepted and “good enough,” in when fact not a one of us is.  We each are equally not good enough, save our redemption through Jesus Christ.  Thus, as a grace-filled and faithful people, we need to be the safe place, for the only genuine and lasting solution to broken and sinful humanity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  While the truth of the gospel is salvific for those who respond, it is the process of discipling people – helping fellow believers grow in their relationship with God, working out our sanctification among a healthy and mature group – that enacts change in the life of the believer.  We are to be building one another up in the faith, teaching the younger among us how to walk righteously and live godly lives, to encourage and support and helping one another when we fail.  We are to be a people of grace, in theory and practice.     
There are churches that excel in this practice.  Indeed, had it not been for one very brave women’s ministry leader and an extremely supportive and God-honoring church leadership team, I might be burdened with the guilt and shame from my abortion still.  Though they didn’t understand the nuances of the prison post-abortive people find themselves in, even after salvation, this church knew that Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted, and that included the post-abortive population (which they admit they had no idea was as big as it really is).  And they did this because they believe the gospel – that the heart of God is to see His people redeemed and set free from the effects their sins have upon their lives. 

And I know now, after hiding for 9 years in the backs of churches and staying silent at bible studies and small groups, that transparency and vulnerability breed further transparency and vulnerability.  It takes those who have truly found freedom in Christ to say, “This is my story of the grace of God in my life,” so that others may know the power of the gospel and the truth of a changed life.  Truly, had it not been for the testimony of a post-abortive women some 14 years ago, I might not be among God’s people today.  For the enemy is overcome by the blood of the lamb and word of our testimony, to the glory of the Lord.  This is what a grace-filled community looks like – realizing that no one is “good enough,” that we are all equally “bad” except for the grace of Jesus, and that our stories are for His glory.  That is how we attract new followers: living out changed lives, filled with God’s grace, among a world in such desperate need.   

If you are someone who has experienced and abortion in you past, please know that you are LOVED.  And you are not alone.  Please know that you can reach out -- there are so many genuine and loving people who want to help you through your pain.  The links below are to ministries that I am personally acquainted with and trust.  Or you can contact me.  I am willing to answer any questions, offer what help I can, and pray with you -- confidentially.  Because you, dearest one, are loved by the Maker of the Stars.  

Click the following link to see a video presentation of why abortion recovery is so important, for women, for men, for couples, and for church leaders.  Abortion Recovery

Surrendering the Secret (Nationally for women and couples)
Rachel's Vineyard (Nationally for women and men, Catholic)
ARIN (Nationally for women, men, and couples)
Me: Jen Baros, |or| @jenKbaros on twitter

To see where we've been in this mini-series on "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People," go to questions 1 & 2 or questions 3 & 4 or questions 5 & 6.  Thank you for joining us.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People

Part Three

5.) What do you want fellow congregants to know about post-abortive people in the pews with them?

I’d return to the statistics given on Wednesday for pastors.  1 in 6 people – in the pews, in your bible studies, in your small groups, in your youth groups, in your leadership -- have experienced an abortion in their past.  It’s likely that they’re hiding this, from you and from themselves.  And if you have your “suspicions” about who’s had one, let me assure you that you’re probably dead wrong.  It’s the folks you’d never guess.

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s how I’m identified in numerous circles.  Jen, the post-abortive speaker.  Jen, the post-abortive leader.  Jen, the post-abortive seminary student.  Jen, the post-abortive.  While the Officer and I have given our testimonies countless times and facilitated recovery groups and participated in numerous discussions in varied venues, there are still days when all I want to do is walk into a room of faithful people and just be Jen. 

Thus, when addressing the topic of abortion, keep in mind Colossians 1:21-22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, and Ephesians 2:1-3.  Remember that you were once “an enemy of God,” just like me and those who haven’t entered recovery yet.  So don’t bludgeon people with scripture; offer truth and grace, be loving and kind.  And if someone has shared the secret of their past abortion with you, let them decide on the when and where they share their story.  Every once in a while, just let them be themselves, instead of the token post-abortive person trotted out for an example of God’s goodness and grace.  And if someone shares their secret with you, for goodness sake, be loving and supportive and safe.  And do everything you can to help them find healing and recovery.  For the sake of Jesus.   

6.) What now?

I’ve discussed before what Christians can do about abortion, see “What Do We Do About Abortion?”, paying particular attention to numbers 5 and 6 for practical advice.  Mostly, we have to be truthful.  And we have to be loving.  We have to serve and support and befriend those who come to our churches with crisis pregnancies.  We have to make the church a safer place than Planned Parenthood to come with a crisis pregnancy.  We have to put our money and our hands where our mouths are: we have to champion adoption, single parents, and Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  We have to legislate with our feet: don’t give your vote to any candidate that supports abortion.  And we have to look for ways to be Jesus to those considering abortion, and to those who have already made that choice.  We have to be ministers of reconciliation, for the sake of Jesus Christ.        

If you are someone who has experienced and abortion in you past, please know that you are LOVED.  And you are not alone.  Please know that you can reach out -- there are so many genuine and loving people who want to help you through your pain.  The links below are to ministries that I am personally acquainted with and trust.  Or you can contact me.  I am willing to answer any questions, offer what help I can, and pray with you -- confidentially.  Because you, dearest one, are loved by the Maker of the Stars.  

Click the following link to see a video presentation of why abortion recovery is so important, for women, for men, for couples, and for church leaders.  Abortion Recovery

Surrendering the Secret (Nationally for women and couples)
Rachel's Vineyard (Nationally for women and men, Catholic)
ARIN (Nationally for women, men, and couples)
Me: Jen Baros, |or| @jenKbaros on twitter

To see where we've been in this mini-series on "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People," go to questions 1 & 2 or questions 3 & 4 or closing remarks.  Thank you for joining us.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People

Part Two

3.)  What is the benefit of seeking “recovery” from a past abortion if you have accepted the forgiveness of Christ for your sins?

What I described yesterday, in answer to question 2, was how I felt after I’d accepted Christ’s forgiveness for my sins.  I was going to church and bible studies and small groups and volunteering and raising babies and doing my darnedest to be the good Christian girl.  I knew my sins where forgiven, in fact it was the abortion that led me to seek out the grace of Christ; I just didn’t know that I needed to recover from my abortion. 

The Officer and I call folks like us, the forgiven but not yet healed post-abortives, the walking wounded.  We’re the people who are serving our butts off because we’re so thankful that Jesus would go to the cross for our sin; but we’re doing it all with a sucking chest wound.  Mostly, we think we’re fine, that this is as good as life as a Christ-follower gets for people like us.    

It took a lot of prayer – of the God, there’s got to be more of You for me variety – and a lot of scripture reading (Please, please, please don’t beat post-abortive folks up with Ps. 139!  It’s true and it’s marvelous in its description of God’s loving care; but please remember that it’s NOT meant to condemn those who chose abortion.  God loves the post-abortive just as much as He loves the aborted!).  And one very brave and supportive church leadership team to offer an abortion recovery study before I could see that I actually needed to go back and heal from this devastation experience.   

For me, I had to first admit that I needed help, that I wasn’t over this event that took place nine years in my past.  And then I had to delve back into my past and sift through years of coping mechanisms and hiding strategies to find the original wound itself.  I had to face truth – that I’d lost a daughter – and work through the grief that followed.  I had to trade all my self-loathing and condemnation and anger and misery and loneliness and shame for the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  And I had to accept His love of me, as well as His divine ability to make me a new creation, completely redeemed and worthy through Him to be called a daughter of the King of King, co-heir with Christ.

Thus, while forgiveness is the necessary first step, abortion recovery is a process.  It is one that changes you from the inside out, as you allow Jesus into the darkest corners of your heart to deal with all your painful memories and destructive coping patterns.  It’s a way to becoming more sanctified in Christ.  And it’s the only way to heal the brokenness inside of you.          

4.) What does it mean to be “healed” from abortion?[1]

Like any recovery, it’s a fluid and organic process that’s different for everyone.  There are helpful steps that facilitate this progression; but like all recovery, everyone moves through these at his or her own pace, circling back around to ones that come up again from time to time.  It takes the support of loved ones and the only true source of grace and healing: Jesus Christ.    

                Abortion is my scarlet letter.  But like Hester Prim, how I wear it has changed.
Before recovery I wore it shackled to my heart so that no one could see.  When I found healing and freedom through Jesus, I embroidered gold around it and wore it on my chest so that any and all who have this wound in their past could find this healing and freedom as well.  It’s not something I brag or flash about.  But it is something that God can use in me to be a minister of reconciliation for others.      

            I will never not be post-abortive

It’s a part of the story of God’s grace in my life.  And God uses it to His glory all the time, in ways big and small.  But God the Father, His Son Jesus, nor the Holy Spirit have ever identified me as: Jen, post-abortive, now redeemed and healed.  God has always called me Jen, His beloved.  

And I think that’s what “healing” looks like: being able to use what Christ has saved you from to bring the healing of Jesus to others, so that God is honored and glorified in your life.  And knowing who you are in Christ.  

Join us tomorrow for questions 5 & 6, or on Saturday for closing remarks in the mini-series "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People."  Or look back at questions 1 & 2.  
If you have experienced an abortion in your past, please know that you can reach out -- there are so many genuine and loving people who want to help you through your pain.  The links below are to ministries that I am personally acquainted with and trust.  Or you can contact me.  I am willing to answer any questions, offer what help I can, and pray with you -- confidentially.  Because you, dearest one, are loved by the Maker of the Stars.  

Surrendering the Secret (Nationally for women and couples)
Rachel's Vineyard (Nationally for women and men, Catholic)
ARIN (Nationally for women, men, and couples)
Me: Jen Baros, |or| @jenkbaros on twitter

[1] For a more detailed version of my story, see “The Supreme Court and My Secret.”  For a brief version of the Officer’s and my journey, see Pat Layton’s book A Surrendered Life, pages 136-138.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People

Part One

Rachel Held-Evans has a popular segment on her very popular blog called “Ask A…”  During these posts, she has individuals, with differing experiences, answer questions from her readers.[1]  I appreciate the candor and transparency these dialogues create.  And I appreciate that we live in a culture for which personal, experiential narrative is paramount.  We want to know, to understand, to feel one another’s stories. 

Though Ms. Held-Evans has not yet contacted me regarding my experience as a woman in the Church who’s experienced an abortion, in spite of expounding a fair amount on the topic of abortion in general, I’ve decided to answer some questions I’ve been asked in the past, that are similar to those generally asked by her readers.[2]  I do this on the heels of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday with the hope that some who lead churches, some who are in churches, and some who are outside the Church can begin to understand what it’s like to be a Christ-follower who’s had an abortion

1.        What do you want pastors to know about post-abortive people in their congregations?

Primarily, I’d like pastors to know that there are post-abortive women and men in their congregations. In speaking to church leaders, and future church leaders, the general consensus is that people who have abortions don’t go to their churches; that is an outside issue.  To help current and future pastors, as well as their lay leaders, understand the dynamic of the post-abortive population, I begin with some statistics.  These numbers come from the Guttenmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood.  And they help dispel the NIMBY {not in my backyard} aura surrounding people who’ve had abortions.

·         1 in 4 American women between the ages of 15 and 30 have had at least one abortion.  This also means that 1 in 4 men have also participated (whether volitionally or not) in at least one abortion.  That’s 25% of the population.

·         Of these post-abortive women, 79% report attending church, either Catholic or Protestant. 

·         Of the women who have had an abortion, 50% have had multiple abortions, and a majority of these are with different fathers.  This means that more than 1 in 4 men are affected by abortion.[3]   

These numbers serve the purpose of illuminating the fact that women who have had abortions are not staying away from churches; rather, a majority of us are hiding within her walls.  And mostly we are not the ones running from pew to parking lot, covering our faces lest we be recognized; though some might be.  We are the women who sign up and attend every Bible study, the man who shakes your hand on the way in, youth leaders, children of the church staff, men and women’s ministry leaders, and worship leaders.  We are seminary students, missionaries, and pastor’s spouses.  Because we are, just like everyone else, broken sinners in desperate need of a Savior

I also reference these demographics because at least once a year pastors are expected to preach on abortion.  Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  And that’s only if it’s not an election year, in which congregants are urged to examine the issues of the political clime.  Or each time pastors are expected to guide their flocks in upright living and God-honoring behaviors. 

I want pastors to remember that the words they speak from the front of the church go directly to the hearts of their congregants.  Spouting theologically inept and cruel fallacies similar to the idea that there is a “special place in hell for abortionists” does no one any good.  You can’t back this statement up with scripture, so it’s irresponsible to begin with.  Yes, abortion is the willful ending of a human life, making it murder.  Yes, it is a sin.  Yes it grieves God; I believe very, very deeply.  But it is not an unforgivable sin.  Abortion does not render anyone unredeemable.  Insinuating so mocks the resurrection and belittles the grace of God

I also want pastors to remember that they are speaking to individuals who are hiding this secret deep within their person.  They are in your congregation looking for the face of Jesus.  They are desperate for His healing, whether they are fully able to admit this to themselves or not.  Thus post-abortive people need to hear Colossians 1:21-22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, and Ephesians 2:1-3 just as much as anyone else.  Just as much and as often as you, pastor, do yourself. 

Remembering that at the foot of the cross we are all the same, sinners in desperate need of a Savior, softens sharp words.  It opens the fist pounding on the lectern, making one able to embrace the broken and hurting among our company.  It lifts our eyes from just the words of scripture, making us able to see a person for whom scripture was penned.  It opens our hearts and minds to what the Savior has done for us, and what He has tasked us to do thereafter: be ministers of reconciliation.   

I want pastors to know that post-abortive women and men are in your congregations.  That we’re hurting and in need of Jesus, just like everybody else in those pews.  And we need you to show us, to teach us, to be for us the grace and mercy and love of Jesus Christ.            

2.       What’s it like to go to church as a Christian who’s had an abortion?

Before recovery, mostly your life is about hiding.  And striving.  And fear.  And feelings of worthlessness.  And loathing.  And masks.  And loneliness.  And more guilt and condemnation and shame than is allowed to be expressed in polite society.   

                A Fear and Loathing in Church Pews of sorts.

A post-abortive Christian is hiding from the truth that she/he has had an abortion.  I didn’t want anyone to know.  Secrecy is the reason I had an abortion in the first place.  And every day thereafter, I did what I could to keep people from finding out this truth.  Though the Officer and I (my then-boyfriend, now-husband) were both actively involved in the abortion, he and I couldn’t even speak the word to each other for almost a decade.  We avoided the topic in political conversations.  We did everything we could to keep up the appearance that for all intents and purposes, we were a Non-Abortive couple.  We wore masks; we couldn’t really be ourselves in church or bible studies or small groups or even as leaders.  Because we were afraid of what would happen if anyone found our dark secret out.   

It’s lonely because you can’t ever be truly vulnerable with anyone.  Because to do so would mean exposing your darkest deed to them.  And the very premise of abortion is that no one can know about it.  So I spend years carrying around this immense burden, but couldn’t speak about it to anyone.  Not even to my husband, who’d participated in the abortion with me.  It feels like you’re on an island, watching all your friends and family on a very near shore, enjoying themselves.  They’re waving you over, but you’ve got this anchor chained to your ankle and you know if you set one foot in the water, you’ll drown.  So you stay where you are, smile and wave back, and act like you’re having as good a time as they are.  All the while, making sure they don’t catch a glimpse of your chain and anchor. 

The striving.  Oh, the striving.  The wanting to be good-enough.  That’s probably another reason I had an abortion.  Not wanting to disappoint people, or myself.  Trying to keep up the outward appearance of good-enough, Christian-enough; and all the while, knowing deep down that I would never, ever live up to this ideal because of what I’d done in the past.  But I would keep trying; relying more on self than anyone ever should.  Believing the lie that if I could just try hard enough and live a good enough life, I might be worthy of the grace of Jesus.  Not that I could earn it, but eventually I might make it to a “normal” level of sinful – and be like everyone else – and then Jesus could forgive me.  Because I really doubted that His grace could reach far enough down for someone like me. 

Of course, I couldn’t ever be good-enough {no one can}.  So I loathed myself, my choice.  And I felt completely worthless; a deep and abiding worthlessness that isn’t self-pitying, it’s self-condemning.  I placed every single person around me on a higher pedestal – they’re holier and more righteous than me.  They deserve the love and blessings of the Lord.  I was just lucky to squeeze into heaven by the skin of my teeth.  That’s what I thought grace looked like for someone like me: I’m tolerated by Jesus because He’s committed to being the One forsaken for my sin.  I got eternity and salvation on a technicality.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s a prideful perversion, this I’m too bad for Jesus’ grace.  I shamed and condemned myself more than any of the angriest anti-abortion activists ever could have.  And I did it so well and so often that it became my internal dialogue. 

So I’d keep trying harder each day, to be the Christian woman I should be.  So that maybe I could be worthy of a little more of God’s love than I could be, as a post-abortive woman. 

It’s a dark and lonely cycle that will devour your very life.               

Join us tomorrow for questions 3 & 4, again on Friday for questions 5 & 6, and on Saturday for closing remarks, in this mini-series: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday & Post-Abortive People.  

If you have experienced an abortion in your past, please know that you can reach out -- there are so many genuine and loving people who want to help you through your pain.  The links below are to ministries that I am personally acquainted with and trust.  Or you can contact me.  I am willing to answer any questions, offer what help I can, and pray with you -- confidentially.  Because you, dearest one, are loved by the Maker of the Stars.  

Surrendering the Secret (Nationally for women and couples)
Rachel's Vineyard (Nationally for women and men, Catholic)
ARIN (Nationally for women, men, and couples)
Life Choices Pregnancy Center (in Colorado)
Me: Jen Baros, |or| @jenkbaros on twitter

[1] You can find the list of Ms. Held-Evans’ “Ask A…” series here
[2] The questions in this article are similar to those in Ms. Held-Evan’s “Ask A Recovering Alcoholic,” though each has been asked of me or my husband personally in various settings.  Accessed 1/20/14 at 09:50MST.
[3] “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.”  Guttmacher Institute.  Accessed 1/21/14 11:46MST

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Response & Rebuttal

I knew, when posting yesterday’s article, that I would come up against the opposing view.  And so it was offered on my social media page.  I’m concerned, however, that my arguments may have been lost in the satire or potentially inflammatory language; thus in the interest of informed dialogue, I’m reprinting (can one use that term when referencing the internet?) the opposing response and my own rebuttal to “3 Ways to be Pro-Life andAnti-Misogynistic, Concurrently.”   I’ve also added to my rebuttal, in the middle, because I noticed something that I missed.  To wit, I give you the following dialogue…  

Respondent:[1]  The overwhelming past and present voice in passing legislative law over women’s bodies, and I use bodies because its applicable to the debate and theme of the overarching argument and I do not see men or women discussing political legislature over penises or semen, is undeniably male dominated.  Whether, you are pro-life or (what anti-life?) is a matter that I do not necessarily care anything about, it has become too polarized to speak rationally about between two parties of ideologies.    The fact is, that women continually do not have political autonomy over issues that deal with their everyday, and certainly over matter that affect them most of all.  Women make up just 17% of all members of the U.S. House of Representatives; 16% of all U.S. senators; 16% of all governors; and 24% of all state legislators.  (WCF Foundation, 2010)  That means that the other 83%, 84%, and 76% of political offices are held by men.  I would say that give them plenty of opinion of my body and what I should and should not be doing with it.  If that makes me hysterical. Great.  Hysteria implies passion.  I would rather be hysterical, kicking and screaming all the way, than have my body made into a legal document signed and dated by a representative that I did not vote to represent me.  Maybe a little more hysteria would change something.  (I apologize for politicizing your ***** post, but I couldn’t keep quiet and while I respect your experience and your opinion, not because of your gender but because of your intellect and first-hand knowledge, I cannot however, apologize for mine.).[2]

Me:  In responding to your rebuttal, I must point out that your argument is based solely on straw men.  While I will address each of those momentarily, I point out that the issue at stake here is not one of women’s health care.  The issue I am arguing is whether or not men are permitted to engage in the abortion debate.  I argue that they are.  I offered three different arguments to this end, and in the spirit of fair play, I will summarize the premises I forwarded:

The Gender-Specific Intellect Argument
1.        Intellectual ability is not based on gender
2.        Therefore, men and women have equal reasoning abilities.
3.        Therefore, men are able to apply their reasoning abilities to the issue of abortion

The Human Life Argument
1.        The science of embryology and Pro-Abortion philosophy agrees that human life begins at insemination.
2.        Men and women are equally the result of successful insemination.
3.        Therefore, men and women can equally represent human life and the appeal for the protection thereof. 
4.       Therefore, men can engage in the abortion debates as a member of the human species. 

The Dual Party Responsibility Argument 
1.        Successful insemination results in human life.
2.        Successful insemination requires both male sperm and female ovum.
3.        Men hold 50% of the responsibility for new, individual human life.
4.       Therefore, men are equally able to engage in the abortion debate. 

If you would like to address the premises in any of these arguments, I would love to talk more about them. 

To clarify, I did not coin the term “Pro-Life.”  Though, in light of both my “Dual Party Responsibility” argument and “Human Life” argument above, I find the term highly appropriate.  I believe the wording used by the opposition is “Pro-Choice” for the pro-abortion movement and “Anti-Choice” for their opposition.  Thus we find that even in political and philosophical realms, branding is paramount.  

To assert that any issue, to include the topic of abortion, “has become too polarized to speak rationally about between two parties of ideologies,” is impossible to adhere to.  This standard would then have to be applied universally to all topics that are polarizing: socio-economic equality, immigration, gun control, gay rights, healthcare, etc…ad naseum, ad infinitum.  The polarizing effect of any topic cannot dictate its value in intelligent discourse.    

As for the straw men you present, I will address them now.  The first straw man, which was the topic of the under-representation of women in the governing bodies of United States, begs the question: as citizens of the United States, are we to only adhere to legislation that has been forwarded by the representative for whom we individually have voted?  Conversely, can we ignore the legislation that we didn’t, in effect, vote for?

For the second straw man, I offer three academically approved sources for a definition of terms.  Hysterical: a state in which your emotions (such as fear) are so strong that you behave in an uncontrolled way (Merriam-Webster).  Unable to control your emotions or behave because you are very frightened, excited, etc… (Cambridge Dictionaries).  Exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, especially among a group of people (Oxford English Dictionary).  None of these imply passion.  What the word hysterical implies is lack of control, due to an extreme emotional response.  This is a frequent argument used against women, feminists in particular, to discount what the woman is saying.  My point in using this particular word, and I was exacting with my word selection, is that women who are arguing against the ability of men to engage in the abortion debate may not use slogans such as, “get out of my uterus,” as an acceptable rhetorical tactic.  Because it gives credence to the claim that women cannot be trusted to argue except in an emotionally uncontrollable manner.  A well thought out and reasoned, albeit passionately delivered, argument is required if we are to maintain our intellectual credibility.  It is what we expect of men; and we should hold ourselves to the same standard. 

I appreciate your passion, and I agree with you that women are grossly under-represented in our government and routinely undervalued in legislative discourse.  The latter is the reason for my appeal to feminist.  To employ straw men, however zealously, distracts from the issue being argued, and does not defeat the argument at hand.  I will also point out, in closing, that while I offered full disclosure of my personal experiences and ideological leanings, I did not use these in my arguments.  Therefore, they are not pertinent to my conclusion.  Regardless of passion, my premises stand: Men are able to, and should, engage in the abortion debate

[1] Name withheld to respect the identity of respondent.
[2] Social media outlet withheld to respect the identity of respondent.