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November 07, 2008

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Mary Higham

If its possible, I would like to see the transcripts for the debates that Obama identified himself as personally against abortion but pro choice because of legislation. I just find myself very curious about this.

And I would say that a large part of the problem is women are largely uninformed as to the personal cost that having an abortion could entail. I think that another part is, that as I have talked to women who have had abortions, they themselves would rather not fully explore the feelings associated with the abortion. And I admit to doing that for a few years myself! I thought of myself as pro-choice but as the years have gone by and there has been a reversal in how I view life have I come to the conclusion that abortion robs us of life, both of the child and for the mom as well.

brad

Dear Mary,

Thanks for the post. We mentioned a few different speeches and letters above. Which transcript did you want the link for? I'll see if I can help.

As for the abortion issue, I think you've hit on a major factor that could point the way forward as part of the solution. Specifically, care for mothers with unwanted pregnancies. My feeling is that both the pro-life and pro-abortion sides of the debate have really left the moms hung out to dry.

On the pro-life side, it would help if the activists were as pro-mom as they are pro-baby. In other words, how might we better help the pregnant teen. Janeane Garofalo, a vocal pro-choicer, suggested a "Buddy System" where pro-lifers are federally assigned orphaned babies. She was speaking tongue-in-cheek, but what about it? An adoption system, not just for babies, but for the moms themselves? A family to walk them through to full term where their needs, including financial stresses, are cared for? And after that, where the babies really are welcomed by an adoptive family?

Further, some pro-lifers have been very condemning of those who've already had an abortion. That is a serious failure of the Christian right (usually) to convey the love and grace of God. They add an already crushing burden of shame to the very heavy burden of someone who has already had an abortion.

But I know that certain agencies, like the Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Winnipeg, offer post-abortion care and counseling to women who are experiencing trauma after an abortion (or miscarriages, still births, etc.). They don't judge or condemn ... they are all about bringing healing to those who are stuck. When the pro-choice crowd vandalizes their offices, it becomes obvious that their agenda has very little to do with caring for the moms.

This leads to the other side of the debate: if a woman is going to have an abortion, they should at least be told what they might be up against in terms of their physical and mental health. If the pro-choice side truly cared about the well-being of the mothers, then they wouldn't lie about the dangers, they wouldn't minimize the trauma, and they wouldn't ignore the mothers after they've been through the abortuary. I suppose honesty would undermine their position and, at least in the US, severely damage a very, very lucrative industry.

Perhaps there are exceptions and I would welcome hearing about them, but when a woman has left the clinic in pieces, my experience is that no help is forthcoming from that side of the table.

But now that legislation is off the table, at least in Canada, could there be room for both sides to conspire on how to help the moms? I'm thinking in terms of a decades long journey that would challenge:

1. Pro-lifers to care for the moms as much as for their babies.
2. Pro-choicers to care for the moms as much as for their rights.

How?

Here's a modest proposal: if the abortionists will be entirely honest about the health risks of abortion to the mother, then the pro-lifers will provide noncondemning post-abortion care for the moms.

If the abortionists would honestly suggest buddy-system adoptions for those wanting abortions, the pro-lifers would create and maintain systems to make that available.

Both sides would have to put their money where there mouth is.

On behalf of the babies, I would dearly love to see the amount of abortions decrease and where they still occur, to insist on them being early enough so as not to add conscious torment to their final day. Could we not compromise on that, even without a law? If that decision were completely in the hands of the moms, what would they decide?

The idealism on both sides has created such extremism that pro-lifers would rather allow ALL abortions than concede to only some (!) and the pro-choicers, for fear of a slippery slope, demand NO restrictions at all, even to the point of partial birth? In my mind, that's an insanity at the expense of the children by the millions. As it is, in effect BOTH sides have conspired (against Jake Epp's legislation in Canada years ago) to say, 'Anything goes!'

I don't believe that would be the case if the moms, rather than the courts, the clinics or the activists were given the responsibility to sort it out.

bj

Mary Higham

Brad, if you could find the link to the transcript, I would be interested in reading what he said.

I wonder, how do the women who have had abortions feel about all of this?

As a young teenager, I felt very strongly due to the teaching of my mom that life was to be valued and all that can be done to protect unborn life ought to be done. However, after several wrong choices as an older teenager I decided to go down a road I never thought that I would. Due to my choices, I found myself robbed of much in my life. Peace, joy, love to name a few. Many years I suffered from depression alone and very much hurting because I felt under such judgment. Why would my dad in heaven want anything to do with me? when I had done such an awful thing. Many years later I finally found that Jesus was there all along wanting so desperately to let me know how much he wants me. Grace is a gift that God extends to us and it is so very important to remember to extend that same gift to others.

Cindi Eaton

Here are some of the thoughts I've been having. If it seems rambling, I'm sorry. Sometimes I feel like God is dropping little puzzle pieces along my path, wanting me to recognize the pieces that are from Him. There are some pieces I "think" He's been putting in front of me in the last year or so, and wondering if they also have to do with the election, and reactions among Christians to all this. So I hope you don't mind if I show you my handful of "puzzle pieces" to see if you see a picture starting to form, too, or if you feel they're from Him.

First it seemed He was speaking to me about love, that we were in a school/test to help us grow in love, like He loves. That the battle in our church and the Church was to love one another, to keep on keeping on loving. Okay, that sounded good...not easy, but scriptural. We still need to know how that looks in the walking out of it, especially with those who we totally disagree with or feel have un-Christ-like attitudes or actions. But I felt it was something God was speaking He was working on, to help us walk with Him in His authority, by His Spirit.

Then the other day I was reading Isaiah 54 and got to verse 15. "If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you." (NASB) I've read that before, and I figured He didn't want me to really want someone to fall since we don't fight against flesh & blood, etc. I'd think about friends or family/relatives who I've felt at times "fiercely assailed" me. So when I read this the other day, it just seemed to stick out at me. Then the thought that the "fiercely assailing thing" (whatever we want to call it or attribute it to) is not from God, and THAT thing is the thing that will fall because of us. I thought, too, about what was being said by some well known Christians regarding the election, what they were saying about Christians who were voting for the opposite candidate from their own, or who they felt "God's candidate" was. I thought of Jesus on the cross, the power of Him hanging on the cross, in love, toward those who were really "fiercely assailing" Him. I pictured that love from Jesus, causing that "thing/lie/enemy" in the people, to fall. That the powerful weapon to undermine the enemy, and the key to set people free came from His love. That it causes that thing to fall. Then the thought of Stephen and Saul/Paul came to mind. That the power of Stephen's not picking up the weapon of cursing/lashing back, etc. and instead embracing the weapon/key of love helped cause the thing in Saul/Paul which wasn't of God...the lie, the error/whatever, to fall because of Stephen. Stephen picked up the right weapon/key/tool. And we know how God ended up using Paul.

Then I had a dream where I was a girl (I didn't feel like I was me in my particular life as a 59 year old woman), no particular age, but I went into a mobile home/trailer which was owned by a woman. Seemed the woman was someone good with authority/ownership of the place. There were 2 bedrooms in it, but they were at opposite ends of the trailer. Each bedroom has a bathroom connected with it. Those are the only things that seemed to stick out about the trailer. The rest of it seemed like just a big area. The important areas of focus seemed the two bedrooms. I knew another girl was either living there or was going to be living in one of the bedrooms. I was looking at the trailer thinking it was a good place and said I would take one of the bedrooms, to live there. Before sleeping I'd been praying about all this election back & forth stuff. So in the dream I wonder if God is saying this is a time right now (a transitional period/temporary) where we in the American church are at opposite sides, & He/Holy Spirit is going to be working to help us love, to help us learn His ways, methods, weapon/tool/keys, etc. To school me, us, His Church, to not pick up the wrong weapon or ways, even if the ones on the opposite side are. That in picking up His way/weapon, will cause that "thing" to fall because of us. And that the process involves our intimacy with Him, our rest in Him (bedroom) along with cleansing (each side had a bathroom) to help us. That maybe that's what's going on, Him setting up this "trailer" for a classroom for us right now, giving us the opportunity for Him teach us His ways of being. That we'll need it not just for now, but to represent Him rightly down the line.

Then I thought of how Peter cut of the guy's ear off trying to protect/fight for Jesus. I wondered if in cutting off the ear as opposed to some other part...if that was significant. Then I thought maybe Peter in picking up the wrong weapon (sword instead of the sword of the Spirit), was doing severe damage to the guy's ability to hear truth in the future.

So, I wonder if the key to how to respond involves us loving, calling out for mercy for them (as we would want them to for us).

I still don't know if that addresses how to protect the "flock" from getting under false teaching/prophecies except to pray for and teach how to discern. And also I would think the intimacy/rest and cleansing would apply for everyone as well.

Okay, if my rambling doesn't make sense, I'm sorry. I haven't known how to put all this in words but thought it might help to dialog about it.

Thanks for listening/reading (if you've gotten this far lol)

brad

For a saner and thoroughly Christian response from the Christian Right, I recommend reading the letter by Francis Frangipane entitled, "The Day the Lord Has Made" ... you can find it at http://frangipane.org

josh g.

Brad, I think all three of your possible responses are good approaches. I would say even more strongly though that a point-by-point rebuttal is a bad idea. It's not just validating their message, but validating the spirit behind their message. In fact I suspect it's impossible to address the root problem of a wrongness of spirit in a message by taking a point-by-point rebuttal approach.

Plus, love, hope, and true faith shouldn't (and probably can't) be argued into people's lives.

I'm really glad to see discussion on alternate ways to defeat the problem of abortion. Thanks for the info on Feminists for Life, Paul, I wish I'd known about this group earlier when I was still involved in campus life and outreach.

eric h janzen

Well, I read Jim's rebuke of the letter, but I will not read the letter itself. I have been given the recap and understand what is in it.

I was angry initially, but now I simply feel sorrow. What has happened to bring such a prominent Christian voice to such a place? Having considered this I am wondering if the designation 'Christian' should simply be removed from any association with Focus on the Family. When the exact opposite of what the Holy Scriptures teach and say is put forward as 'Christian' then there is a serious problem. When a Christian organization no longer looks like or sounds like Jesus and the Gospel then it is no longer 'Christian'.

Mr. Dobson will never read this comment, but I pray that Jesus will speak to him clearly and call him back to the Gospel and true discipleship. Until then, I certainly want nothing to do with such anti-Christian propaganda.

My comment may seem a bit harsh, but perhaps it is time that some things are said pointedly.

eric h janzen.

Paul Rivas

Brad,
I am/was angry too. So angry that I wrote an email to one of the "prophets". A few hours later I had to write a letter of apology because God convicted me that my attitude was sinful.
I'm praying that God will give me wisdom and grace to confront this evil (false prophecy) without resorting to becoming angry and bitter. I also hope to keep most of my church friends through this. Though I know I'm not alone in my feelings of disappointment with Dutch and others (Hi Cindi).

Paul Rivas

I agree that we need to pray about new approaches to the abortion issue. Feminists for Life has some different strategies (http://www.feministsforlife.org/).

de

I’m sad.
I’m sad because the 'Focus on the Family 2012' letter wasn't really new to me...I've been hearing brothers and sisters talk like this more and more over the years.

I'm sad because fear is a rash that creeps in, calls itself 'holy' and left un-killed, divides us; His kids.

I know full well that I don't measure up to 'the songs I write' or the ideas I preach over coffee with longsuffering friends;)...but I know He loves, and loves, and loves and loves perfectly. I want to know that love and I want our family in Christ to know that love.
Fear has to go.
In the name of Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit
Let it be so.

Brad

The question is indeed response ... Do we oppose those like the author of the letter ... or let it have it's own self-defeating effect? These are my first thoughts, but I share them for evaluation:

Biblically, we see prophets like Jeremiah going toe to toe with those who were speaking falsely... at other times, the call is just to 'not listen'. This passage comes to mind:

Deut. 18:21 You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

I think this is the passage the Lord is giving me about these folks for this season. The question remains, how do we respond without committing the same error -- i.e. reactivity, self-righteousness, condemnation, fear-mongering? I think the truly transformative possibilities around Obama's leadership are centered in the spirit of hope and reconciliation. My problem is that I can think of nothing hopeful or reconciliatory to say right now directly to that camp. I'm honestly just so angry at them that it would be hard not to join in with the same spirit that drives them (and it's not a Holy one).

Usually, when I get like this, I head to a resting place until the nausea and trembling subsides and I wait for a message that can be given from the place of peace. In this case, I'm weighing three options, none of which are exclusive... all of them together might be fruitful:

1. For the sake of the sheep who are being abused by this spirit of fear and condemnation, we can simply share Deut. 18:21 as a general answer to these specific kind of attacks (cf. http://www.dutchsheets.org/index.cfm );

2. Let go and allow God to give them over to the self-defeating effects of their own words. We ought to be very wary of offering point by point rebuttals -- dialogue at that level would be too validating of their message. God's judgment here might be that he lifted the Spirit who brings self-control so that they were allowed to go over the top in a way that will completely undermine their own lobbying power.

3. Refute the lies and fears by emphasizing the positive message by way of contrast. For example, the Will.I.Am video of "Yes we can" on youtube is something I will be showing as a model for New Covenant prophetic hope. The contrast of hope and reconciliation to the incendiary lies spoken is the most powerful and positive way to refute them.

Perhaps the above could even be offered as a model for equipping the saints in responding. So rather than directly addressing the wrong-headedness of the false prophets (yes, I'm calling them that), we could make it about training the church in responding to fear-mongering in new and better ways that don't mimic the toxic rhetoric that we're hearing.

Meanwhile, I think that we need to pray about new approaches to the abortion issue (since that is central to the attacks). The political / legal route is not only done and gone, but realistically, it probably was over with Roe v. Wade. But that is not our only OR BEST way forward. It seems to me in retrospect that my own involvement with the pro-life movement in Canada only served to drive the pro-choice middle to the pro-abortion side of the table. Many were pro-life AND pro-choice, but in making political ultimatums, we lost the middle 60% of our support and became increasingly viewed as extremists. We were placing all of our hopes on a few judges and legal decisions while losing the hearts of the nation ... i.e. our words were pro-life, but our actions were producing pro-abortionists in the same way that bombing terrorists or killing Christians only tends to recruit and multiply them.

So now what? How do we answer the anti-abortionist's attacks on Obama? I say anti-abortionist because only a handful are pro-life on the war or capital punishment issue. Not that it is our responsibility to defend him, but this is the hot button topic used to cancel any hope for good. Here are a few first thoughts to ponder:

1. First, in no way would I justify Obama's track record of voting pro-choice. But at least we ought to get his position right. If I heard him right in the debates (and I should find the transcripts), he is personally against abortion but would not support anti-abortion legislation on the grounds that the pro-life movement would not allow exception clauses where it concerned the health of the mother. The point, though, is that legislation has not produced anything even after eight more years of Republican leadership, nor will it ever until the majority of Americans have a change of heart. Supreme courts haven't, can't and won't ever accomplish this. If Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, abortion would still be very convenient and very lucrative. In Canada, the situation is even much further down the road.

What is needed is a transformation that we can't expect from any political party or any head of state. If we have the courage to let that front go for now (because we lost it decades ago and we are MORE liberal today), then we might start thinking in terms of a more powerful social transformation that could get us somewhere.

2. If there is hope on the abortion front, it will be through trumpeting a call to a consistent life-ethic based in true Christian humanism (a la Erasmus) that says, 'We must ensure the equality of all and protect/provide for the most vulnerable in our midst.' Human rights declarations were intended to defend just such a thing, not oppose it. The truth is that we have so degraded the sanctity of life that we don't just treat fetuses as 'blobs of tissue,' we treat 18 year old military recruits or death row inmates or the extremely disabled or the welfare mom in the same way.

If in the church and beyond our preaching and our rhetoric were much more focused and 'anointed' along these lines, perhaps God would attend it with an awakening in the part of our hearts where people can hear it. I.e. Protecting the unborn needs to sound like the ultimate call to equality and humanism rather than an extremist attack on freedom.

What the conservative Evangelical movement has never realized is how their distorted theologies of total depravity actually feed the Darwinist philosophy by 'dissing' humanity. In the Neo-con politics of justice = punishment, they don't see how they altered the debate to be about the state's right versus the individual's right to choose who dies. The truth is, neither has that right, but if you play it that way, Western individualism is pre-programmed to side with the individual every time. Therefore, pro-choice mandates will always inevitably triumph.

Bottom line, the only thing that might (only might) trump that thinking is a long term shift to preaching the preciousness (not the depravity) of all humanity in the eyes of God.

Cindi Eaton

I think fear is wider spread than most of us realize. I think the ones who crafted this "letter" are under fear as well. The one thing I notice the "letter" doesn't give any place for the work of the Holy Spirit in each of us, in the Church, but seems to put all hope in the supreme court justices instead. It seems to overlook the work God does on the inside of people, at the heart level. I'm not saying we shouldn't use what's available like the political system, I'm not saying we should abdicate the position of standing/occupying but it seems this is all human endeavor, the law, that we're to put our trust in. I'm not sure how to articulate what I mean here. Maybe we, the Church, need discernment between soul and spirit.

anns

that is such true and excellent advice Josh - thank you!

josh g.

Part V: Watch the video again at least once and pray for Jesus to wash off the bitterness. Repeat Part I's reading if necessary to remind yourself not to get caught in counter-slandering.

anns

part one and two
BRILLIANT AND ILLUMINATING!!!
deeply inspiring and hopeful

part three made me sick to my stomach and want to jump off a bridge.
focus on the family? who's family?
for goodness sake who's family?

part four is very well addressed - i hope and pray that it is enough to bring rock solid revelation to the questioners/accusers from part three. what are the chances?

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