The voice on the other end of the phone call is more than familiar to me. My youngest daughter, Breana, is telling me about a situation with some church people and why she did not feel she could have a relationship with them, let alone support them financially. Mostly this had to do with their views on abortion. According to my Breeze, they believe that not only should abortion be illegal, but that the women who have had them should be put in prison. I was appalled and said so.
I don’t know if she heard me say that is not what I or most of the Christians I know believe about the women who have abortions, or not. I know when I am in this kind of situation, it is hard for me to truly hear the other person. Especially when it was my mom!
That is why, when people state their limiting views on a subset to which I belong – Christians, overweight people, women, people with diabetes, etc. – I usually just listen. They are almost always orating, not wanting to hear from me. But with my daughter, it is different. I tried to explain that while I, too, want abortions made illegal, I do not want to punish women who are already in the most stressful situation of their lives. When ending an embryo’s life, they must be in such agony of mind and spirit, that only compassion, gentleness, empathy, and workable suggestions should be added to a listening ear.
I had hoped, as Christian moms everywhere do, that my non-Christian Breezy had seen the Light through some group, church, media – whatever – and was entering into a covenant relationship with Jesus at last. We can do no other. By merely stating I am a Christian, I am testifying that there is only one God, and Jesus is the one way to access Him because Jesus IS Him. How could I want her
to choose anything else that would lead her to darkness and gnashing of teeth? What kind of a person, let alone a mom, would I be if, believing the Bible is true, I did not hope, pray and sometimes plead with my children to choose Jesus? Only a monster would react to their unbelief with – O OK – let’s do Christmas then since we won’t share eternity and heaven. Have fun in hell! I MEAN…how can I reconcile true belief in Christ’s teachings and not be aghast at what my beloveds will endure without God in them? And they in Him.
That being said and adding that I believe the Bible is the divine, holy Word of God as revealed to man, I hold certain opinions that the “world” does not. Non-followers of Christ have no reason to base their social truths on what I do. That is their God-given right – free will. It is what makes us human. We get to choose how to live, what to believe, and how to marry those two choices.
I believe that the Bible, taken as a whole document and not letting one verse stand alone in defining morality, speaks loudly about abortion in particular. It starts in the Old Testament where we see idol worshippers slaying babies and virgins in sacrifice to their god. Our God does desire people to be sacrificed before him, though there was a bone-chilling moment with Abraham that I wrestled with for years! But the god Molech desired babies as living sacrifices. And got them! This is one of the many reasons the Israelites were forbidden to intermarry with their followers.
We move along to the many references of God knowing us in our mother’s womb; here are eight out of over a hundred of them:
Jeremiah 1:5 ESV
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Psalm 139:16 ESV
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Isaiah 49:5 ESV
And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—
Psalm 139:1-24 ESV
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. ...
Ephesians 1:4 ESV
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Isaiah 49:1 ESV
Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.
Romans 8:29 ESV
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Galatians 1:15 ESV
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,”
I combine all of this with Jesus’ teaching on loving everyone. Yes, it is a woman’s body. But the world only addresses one of the bodies present. The other belongs to the utterly helpless baby. I also think of how the theme of God as Sovereign sews these pieces all together by to leaving a life in the hands of God, until such a time as he intervenes. We are to seek healing of the sick – that is everywhere in the Bible, too. So, if someone is sick, let’s do everything we can to save their life. The time of death is God’s choice.
BUT: I do not in any place in my heart condemn women who have had, or are contemplating, an abortion. My heart goes out to them as an unplanned, unwanted baby is a lifetime of commitment and hard work. That is why I would rather support counselors that help pregnant women to find adopting families and support them as much as is possible until the child is in its new home. That support should look like: words of love and empathy, referrals to agencies that do adoptions in her area, help to provide shelter, food, and care during the pregnancy, etc. The perfect example of the kind of care I mean is found in the story of the Good Samaritan. He not only helped the beaten man with salves, and a ride to town – he left money for his care and promised to return and pay any more owed while he goes about his business!
That is Jesus’ love.
OK – enough about abortion. I only mention it because this essay is about how others have prejudged me because I am in some subset they are not: fat, Christian, a woman, etc. And though Breana was only explaining why she was probably not going to ever go to a Christian church, though she professes belief in Jesus. She also professes belief in Buddhism, Islam, Hindu – all religions, in other words. She was not trying to insult me, though she did so by saying Christians all want women to be jailed if they had abortions. We should know better. When did any two humans agree on everything?
I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard other children when growing up call me a pig, a fatty, dirty girl (I am very clean), ugly, etc. because I was heavier than they. We say, well children can be mean. Yes, they can. And they can grow up to be mean adults. I think that is why I became one of those “oo-oo, pick me” students to show that though ugly and fat, I was smart. Thus, giving myself value as best as I could while hurting inside so badly that I would have hidden at home forever, if I could have.
As an adult, I have heard a similar message from strangers and, sucking air in surprise, friends alike. Stranger’s comments range from slurs and name-calling, to dirty looks in airplanes. My mother did not intend for her pushing me to take amphetamines and go on Dr. Stillman’s Water Diet at age 13 to be an insult, but all I got from this plan was “you are not good enough as is, you need to take drugs and starve if that is what it takes to lose that fat”. I lost the weight all right – went from 160 lbs. at 5’4” to 105 lbs. in less than six months. I also came away with a frightening drug addiction t
hat has plagued me until God turned my mess into a message 28 years ago. At thirteen, I was too young to understand what to do with all the attention from boys that resulted from losing weight and developing boobs. Without any counseling or parental discussions about dating. Promiscuity, meet Susan Anderson!
Turning to Christ at age 19, much of this trauma was addressed. Over the years I have found peace, joy, and love flowing over in my life. I have a happy marriage to the most interesting, handsome man I know. I have two grown daughters I am so proud of and who are incredible human beings. And my grandson, Sammy, you haven’t laid your eyes on a great kid till you meet Sambo.
Yet, the world speaks of me as intolerant, unloving, stupid, mean and just plain wrong about almost all social issues just because I
am a Christian. Whatever, as we said to our parents.
Truly, all I can do is treat others the way I want to be treated. The Golden Rule. And live my life in peace.
Here are the things I want to do for anyone I talk to: listen, really listen. Hear their heart behind their words. Do not judge. Ask them what they need, and if I can help provide that without compromising my own beliefs – do so. Love them. While they are present and when they are not. Hold them up in prayer to the God who made them, understands them, and loves them supremely.
The Bible promises I will reap what I sow. But I may not reap it among unbelievers. They might continue to think ill of me. Even hate me for my choices and the beliefs that steer them.
Even other believers have issues from which I have to protect myself. Gossip runs amok in our population today. Churched or not. Only those who have learned to guard their hearts and minds can face guarding their lips, too. What comes out of people’s mouths astounds me.
I was getting dressed after water aerobics the other day, when two women I could not identify started a conversation. One ask
ed if Helen had heard from Ruth lately (I am making up these names for the telling sake). Helen said no, she is no longer Ruth’s friend. The asker, call her Mary, did not say a word more, but Helen began a five-minute rant about how Ruth had betrayed her after she moved to a city to be closer to her. How Ruth’s new husband is no good and now Ruth is no good. She went into detail about what and how Ruth had fallen and what crimes she had committed against Helen. She was practically rabid. I found tears trailing down my cheeks.
Poor Helen. Poor Ruth! What must she have fallen into to change like that? Poor Mary for asking a kind question and have that vomited all over her.
As they were leaving, Helen had one more thing to say in parting:
“See you in church Sunday!” Huh?
Ummmm; James 3:7-11 says:
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.[c]
Also – 2 John 4:20-21: “If someone says, “I lov
e God,” but hates a fellow believer that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can se
e, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their
Jesus went a step further and added – love your enemy and do good to those who persecute you. Then he hung on a Christ and showed us how it is done.
That should be our response when someone starts to gossip to us – we stop them with quoting what God’s word says about it. Or just stop them and say, that is a form of gossip and though I am sure you meant no harm, I cannot allow you to sin in this way. It would only hurt you in the end. That is how we hold each other accountable as Christians. That is how we stay humble and learn to grow.
What do you do when non-Christians practice limiting speech? Pray. Usually, He bids me keep silent. Sometimes he has me plant a seed of love and wisdom from His Word. In every situation – he has me remain loving. Period – no exceptions, no excuses.
And it is a full-time job just keeping an eye on my own heart and mind and tongue!
God bless your day and your way. Suz