Today is the 41st anniversary of the landmark decision immortalized as “Roe v. Wade.”
This may seem like a silly play on words for the sake of a blog metaphor (and one which has probably been done before), but if Roe v. Wade was a changing of the tide, I wonder how we are all doing – as a nation, as a church, as a human race – in these new seas. How are we getting on? Are we sure of ourselves or just wading out a little further into the ocean of safe and legal abortion to see if it all works? Have we climbed into our row boat and launched out into a new age of reproductive rights for women with total commitment, only to find the seas a little stormier than expected?
Are we better for all this, navigating like seasoned sea captains?
Or are we more lost – even shipwrecked?
I don’t think there’s a black and white, one size fits all answer to this, but it’s a good time to reflect. When the answers do come in a black and white negative or positive, it ought to give us some pause. The nuances here are pretty overwhelming. The stakes are pretty damn high.
I’ve said before that when it comes to the perspective of a government and its legislation, it seems pretty unavoidable that “safe and legal” is the best option, with hopes that there might be movement toward the third part of the slogan, “rare.” But I just can’t, in good conscience, feel happy about any of this. I can’t celebrate.
So I guess I’m wading, and hoping that a better, if unforeseen, legislative option may come along before I get too deep.
And when it comes to the church, and how we are doing in all of this – well, we’re doing pretty miserably, honestly, and it goes deep into our own theology and culture. Instead of supporting women as equal human beings, we’ve suppressed and demeaned them, using choice Bible verses and swift theological dismissals to facilitate a culture of shame. In this culture, female sexuality is the enemy and men are the victims – a recipe ripe for all kinds of disasters including unwanted pregnancies. Then, when those overwhelming, terrifying pregnancies happen and abortion is chosen, we’ve shamed, suppressed, and ostracized women again. And we’ve topped it all off with politicized rage, sealing the cycle of shame for good.
You know the duct tape that pro-life protesters often wear in honor of pre-born lives lost?
I think we should all wear that when it comes to the women who have chosen or are considering abortion.
We should stop with all the Scripture and shame, the preaching and judging.
And maybe, if we really believe that the God of life desires breath for every conceived baby, we should also get consistent and oppose war and the death penalty and the wretched doctrine of eternal conscious torment in hell for the vast majority of human beings.
And we should start loving and supporting all living women as full equals, regardless of decisions about sex and reproduction. We should advocate for women, empower their leadership and vision, and fight for their rights in the midst of global oppression. That’s what it means to support life, and that’s how some of the deep cultural realities that lead to unwanted pregnancy and abortion in the first place will be truly, deeply, and holistically changed.
So that’s it, I suppose.
When it comes to Roe v. Wade, I’m wading.
But when it comes to advocating for the rights and equality of women, I’m all in.