there’s an irony in the fact that jj is watching the state of the union while i try to gather these thoughts into words. i fear that it’s not fully gathered, but i suppose you can watch the show unfold.
not long ago i was listening to a few friends discuss things that were going on in their lives and somehow the topic of the church’s (specifically the UMC) stance on abortion came up. my friend’s family feels very strongly that it’s not something the church should support and they’re starting to consider what that means for them. (*disclaimer: i have no idea what the official church polity is on the issue. i didn’t even google it.)
something was left unsettled, however, when i left the conversation. i started thinking about what it would mean to other people that the “church does not support abortion.”
i had a pretend conversation in my head later (let’s not pretend that you don’t all do that in the car, too…). what if i told my friend that that I, 5 years ago, had made that kind of decision? would the church stop supporting me? what would it’s people’s feelings be toward me? how would i fit into that group of people?
the conversation in my head continued. what if now, after i had been to that point, i have a heart, a leading to reach other women in that situation. what if i felt God leading me to help bring a voice to the pain, guilt, sorrow and shame that comes with making such a decision? would the church support my efforts? what does it mean to support someone who has – or IS – facing such a decision? can you not support an issue but support a person struggling with that issue? uh oh, this may open a bigger can than i thought: can you really “love the sinner but hate the sin?”
now, abortion is not my make-or-break issue. i feel like i blog about it frequently enough that it might appear that it is, but really it’s not. i have more make-or-break to me in how the issue is discussed and approached (oh, it got under my skin at election time!). and the reason the thoughts keep swirling around is because i’m wondering how many people are hurt by the way we talk about “issues.” in our vigor to march for a purpose, are there people who are trampled underfoot? surely there’s a healthy way to feel strongly about certain things. i think it’s a fair and valid opinion (of which i share) that it’s not ok that babies don’t know life. it’s a very sad thing. but is there a way to help slow or stop this sad thing from happening still while recognizing that there are thousands of people out there that this isn’t an “issue” – it’s a reality of life.
i listened to a few podcasts today, one about judging and one about doubt and questions in faith. seemingly there’s not a lot of connections between the two, but in actuality i heard the same message repeated. walking with God is not about being right. it’s about trusting God and loving others. God has never called on us to know the answers. But he has called us (repeatedly) to love others.
those that would disagree with me would say i’m wishy washy. that we can’t just go around telling people to do whatever they feel because we “love” them. but that’s not what i’m saying. opinions and convictions are fine and good. we need people to take a stand on detrimental actions in our society. walmart, consumerism and processed foods need to be dealt with! but not in ways or with words that hurt people.
now, i’m not a huge dr. phil fan; i never watch him. but i do know that he often challenges married couples by saying, “do you want to be right or do you want to be married?” if you know me you know that i need to be asking myself this regularly – i love to be right. when someone tells me, “yeah, you’re probably right,” i typically respond “i usually am!”
but now i want to want to be loving over being right. not that i have to eat my convictions (and there are a lot of things i feel strongly about…). but i want the desire to put my knowledge and opinion out there in an effort to change someone else to decrease – well, that is, when it’s an effort to change someone so that they’ll become more like me. we could use a little less of me in the world, and perhaps maybe a little more of Jesus.
so i’m asking myself that question a little more often. is this an effort to be right or loving? in my marriage, my family, my friendships and my attempts to follow Jesus. what are my “issues” that it is more important for me to be right than for the person to know that they are loved?
(and if you’re tempted to comment about the actual issue of abortion, i challenge you that you completely missed the point of this entire post).