Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved, & Neglected
“Life is important to the Christian because, first and foremost, it is important to God.”
Why I picked up this book:
This week I have the honor of sharing my heart for racial reconciliation and biblical justice at the Evangelicals for Life conference in Washington, DC. In addition to talking about anti-human trafficking advocacy, I will also be supporting the International Justice Mission as they inform a local congregation about the life-changing work they do all over the work to restrain the hand of violence against the world’s most vulnerable, those living in poverty.
My friend, Trillia Newbell, is the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). She is also the editor of this work, and the author of the newly released book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts.
Who Should Read Women on Life:
Anyone who wants perspective on what it means to be pro-life in different situations and through different walks of life.
What’s in Store for You:
All of the contributors of this book are women. Given the current cultural context in America, I think it is important to make that simple statement. These contributors are telling the reader exactly what they want to do with their own bodies, and perhaps mostly importantly how they value the lives and divinity of other human beings above their own lives and feelings.
This book includes stories and different scenarios in which to have a pro-life conversation. In some ways it answers my critique of the church, whom I love. Being pro-life is not just about abortion. While taking a pro-life stance most certainly includes abortion, as an African American woman from a historically marginalized people group, I understand that being pro-life must include more than that. This book is an attempt to expand the conversation from the womb to the tomb.
Broken into three sessions titled: On the Beginning of life, on Life and the Family, and On Protecting Life, this book covers topics like sexual purity, homosexual relations, talking to children about sex, high-risk pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, adoption, foster care, special needs, the blended family, single motherhood, caring for the elderly, and caring for widows.
I like that this book includes practical theology and offer next steps, resources, and recommendations for individuals and churches that want to know or do more.
While this book does expand the conversation, there are a few omissions that quickly come to mind. There is not a chapter on human trafficking, which the editor acknowledges at that end of the book. For perspective, the Global Slavery Index is now estimating that approximately 45 million children, women, and men are trapped in slavery across the world!
There is a chapter on loving those with special needs, however, readers (particularly pastors, educators, community and nonprofit leaders) could benefit from being challenged in our collective disregard for the disabled. For example, I used to wear glasses until I got corrective eye surgery when I served in the military. When I was a child, my sister worse glasses. So throughout my youth, college years, and my early twenties, I was more aware of people wearing glasses. It has been more than a decade since I have worn glasses, so I hardly think about glasses at all. Likewise, I am now in my second year of wearing braces. Before I got braces, I was not attentive to other people who wore braces. It was not until I got braces that I found myself having conversations with adults (and there are a lot of them) who have had various experiences with braces. Consider this perspective when considering how our cultural and country deals or doesn’t deal with making accommodations for our disabled population. I sometimes think about how many buildings (including churches) I enter that still do not have a ramp for wheelchairs, which could be one simple and fairly inexpensive action for both our disabled and elderly citizens.
There is not a chapter on how God calls us to love the immigrant, sojourner, or alien among us, nor is there a chapter on suicide or assisted suicide. While these issues are critically important to people in our communities, especially when there is so much fear, depression, and loss of hope, I also understand that the latter topics may require a more academic approach or more in-depth consideration for Christian ethics than what this book offers.
Overall, this is a good contribution, and I am glad the ERLC has offered this conversation piece on the topic of life.
My personal take-aways?
When I was growing up in the South, my mother and the elders in our community would make simple, yet profound statements, like: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s what comes to mind when I hear arguments about individual rights that do not consider the rights, needs, and blessings of the other. In this neglect of the other, we can miss the mark of God’s commandment and Christ’s practice to love thy neighbor as thyself.
I was alarmed by the number of abortion (more than 1 million) taking place in our country annually, the number of children (510,000) in the foster care system, as well as, the number of children (19,000) who age out of the foster care system because they are never adopted. Approximately 30% of the latter group become adults who make up our homeless population.
I’ve been on this journey of faith, grace, and justice for nearly two decades. As a result, I am aware that there is a reality of what some now call “compassion fatigue.” While I agree that we all need enough of God to hold the things, priorities, and purposed of God in proper perspective. The reality is that we will not all be passionate about or become advocates, theologians, or experts about the same injustices.
My heart breaks about systemic and political injustices or the broken systems in our own country, and I am aware of the human trafficking, genocide, abuse of power against the poor, and crimes against girls (just to name a few) across the globe. The reality of injustices and crimes against humanity in a fallen does not even take into account the daily heartbreak concerning the suffering, loss, and grief that sets in when things don’t go as planned or promised for ourselves or our dear loved ones. A friend can lose a baby. A mother can die of cancer. A child can get addicted to drugs or drop out of school without a life plan. A house can burn down turning into ashes years of precious memories. We can get tired, sad, and lonely in this world.
So in addition to knowing and doing what is right, we need to daily rely on the Lord’s grace; to pray frequently for ourselves, for those who do not agree with us, and for our broken world; we need compassion. We need to stand for justice. We need to rest and retreat when appreciate. Sometimes we need to turn off the news and social media. We need the church to rise up and shine light where there is darkness, and we need a diverse, loving, and devout community that helps us continue on when things get hard.
“Life is important to the Christian because, first and foremost, it is important to God.” @ERLC
“Our pro-life love for our neighbor is spiritual (through prayer) and tangible (through service). Prayer is not the lesser act.”
“Our movement is passionately pro-woman and pro-child. We reject the false premise that pits the interests of women again the interest of children. And as Christians, we follow the One who radically demonstrated the value of both.” – Kelly Rosati
“Being truly pro-life means understanding the dignity and value of every single human life, being a conduit for the extravagant love of God for every person and being willing to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.” – Kelly Rosati
Next Up on This Topic:
“Unstoppable: Running the Race You Were Born to Win” by Christine Caine
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2017