I love the story from Mark’s gospel (5:25-34) of the woman who’d endured years of suffering from bleeding. She was a social pariah and no one even dared get near her for fear of becoming unclean themselves. Though she was shunned and outcast, she was brave enough to push her way through the crowd hoping to touch Jesus’ cloak.
In her shame perhaps she didn’t dare hope to see His face, to meet His gaze, or touch His hand – that was too much to expect. Still, she believed that just the touch of His cloak as he passed by would be enough to save her. And immediately she received the healing she sought. But the best part is what Jesus does next.
Yes, He healed her body and stopped her bleeding, but now He was determined to restore her. He would not allow her to slink away unnoticed, and continue in her shame. When she had summoned the courage to admit it was she who touched Him, He did what probably no one had done in years – He looked at her and spoke to her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
He acknowledged her as a person, a woman, and a daughter of God. “…be freed from your suffering.” Her bleeding had already stopped, so it wasn’t her physical suffering He was speaking of. He knew so well that though she was physically cured, if she did not receive the healing in her spirit, she would never be whole.
He was telling her to be free from her shame and embarrassment and feelings of worthlessness and to no longer hide in the shadows. He was telling her to hold her head up again, and remember that her faith had brought her healing, and Jesus Himself had restored her dignity and worth. He looked into her eyes and affirmed her in love. Now she could truly “go in peace.”
I am, at times, rather like this woman in one important way. My heart is often burdened with shame, and it can be very difficult to “go in peace.” Sometimes I get so discouraged with myself and my lousy sinful behavior that I’d like to slink away and hide somewhere. After going around the same mulberry bush with the same sin for the ten-billionth time, I’d rather beat myself up with a stick than believe that Jesus forgives me and wants me to be free from shame.
Healthy shame has its rightful place and purpose, certainly. In fact, I’d say that our world could stand a whole lot more of it sometimes! But twisting our shame into something destructive is a favorite device of the enemy.
Shame can and should bring me to my knees at the Cross. It is right that I should be ashamed of my sin and feel heartbroken at the pain I have caused His Sacred Heart. But my shame should never go any further than the foot of the Cross, for His heart is full of only one thing for me: love. Endless, merciful love.
I am right to go to Jesus in sorrow and ask for forgiveness, but if I rise from the foot of His cross and carry the shame away with me again, I have not received His mercy at all. In fact I have insulted the love He gives me. Am I the one person in all of history for whom His sacrifice wasn’t enough? Is His blood not sufficient to cover my offenses? How arrogant! This is the trick of Satan regarding our shame.
Jesus looks at me and says, “I have forgiven you. Go in peace.” But the liar whispers, “You should be ashamed of yourself… You can’t really be forgiven for that. He might love you a little, but He still remembers what you did. You don’t deserve peace.” That proprietor of the pit snickers with glee each time a child of God walks away with a heart still burdened with shame, refusing to be freed. In believing the lie and clinging to shame, I declare Jesus a fraud and the cross a hoax.
A beloved priest once told me something I’ll always remember. After a wonderful yet intense time of confession and talking with him, he said, “From now on, this past sin is no longer your tormentor, but your teacher. You have been forgiven and God remembers it no more. You will remember, of course, but now it is to be your teacher, to help you grow in love and mercy for others.”
Is it hard to believe in the miraculous forgiveness Jesus offers us? It isn’t about you – how good or bad you are. It’s only about Him, and how perfect He is, and the lengths to which He has gone to prove how much He loves you. We are all undeserving, but we are not cast out to live as wretched, unwanted, nameless, faceless things.
Do not believe the lie of hell. Believe Jesus. Just believe it, and go in peace. Make it a forever trade – your shame for His mercy. You are not the dust beneath His feet, but the lost-and-found lamb in His arms.
Remember with a solemn heart the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Take your sins and your guilt and shame and leave them there in the bloodstained dirt. Then remember with gratitude that He has done this for you! What a high price He has paid for you! Who pays such a high price for something of no value or worth? Who would die for something insignificant? Who would do all that He has done for someone who meant nothing?
The wonderful truth is He has hung a price tag around your neck that says you are worth more than every ounce of gold this world has ever seen. You are in fact, priceless, because He is priceless and He sees Himself in you.
This is the only way we can ever love each other as well. We must see the price Jesus has paid for our brothers and sisters and even our enemies, and disregard the price tag placed on them by the world. Radical, huh? We are His own… and we are beloved. We are cleansed by His blood, restored to dignity by His grace, and He bids us go in peace.
The crowd was estimated to be close to half a million people this year. The silence from the media is ridiculous. Their attempts to minimize, or flat-out ignore the hundreds of thousands of people (so many of them young people) who descended on Washington, D.C. in support of the unborn is growing so tiresome and pathetic. We’ll see a few photos this week of the six or seven counter-protesters who showed up, but no honest coverage of the pro-lifers who were undeterred by the cold, the snow, the distance they’ve traveled to be there.
Looking for a good aerial shot of the crowd from the March (some I’ve found are disputed as to their date/event), but for now this photograph shows a small portion of the marchers as they made their way to the Supreme Court.
And another great shot:
This past December our nation’s President stood before a town brought to ruin with violence and grief and asked them, “Can we honestly say we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm?… Are we really prepared to say the violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
No, Mr. Obama, we’re not. We’re not doing enough to keep our children safe from harm. Not by a long shot. And we’re certainly not prepared to say the violence visited upon our children is the price of our freedom. The question is, why are YOU? Why are YOU so willing to tolerate, yes even celebrate, promote, and PAY FOR the violence visited upon our tiniest children every single day in our country?
Enough. 40 years of violence is TOO DAMN MUCH. Enough! Stop the killing. Today.
If the Chicks on the Right had their way, people like me would leave the conservative tent because any position on abortion that doesn’t allow some room for some abortions under some circumstances is too extreme, too unrealistic, too whatever. Conservatism needs a makeover and I need to step aside and let the modern, moderate conservatives take over the message and the mechanics.
My husband calls it politics for politics’ sake.
They want to draw a more reasonable line. And sad to say, judging from the truckload of affirmative comments to their recent post, they’re not alone.
The Chicks will be happy to hear that I’ll be glad to shed the conservative label. It’s pretty meaningless now. I suppose it makes some distinction between me and a hard-left abortion-on-demand, nanny-government liberal, but that’s about all it does. It doesn’t encompass what I really believe, or what is really right. (I’m simply Catholic; a la Christ and His Church, not a la Pelosi and Biden.)
One of the Chicks, Mockarena, says that while she doesn’t dispute the science of when life begins, she has drawn her abortion line at a beating heart, or about 21 days past conception. From that point on, she says abortion is wrong. Before then, it’s not a problem and should be allowed, and in fact, encouraged through the use of Plan B/Morning After pills and widespread contraception. This would be a victory for conservatives, she claims, and would achieve the goal of reducing abortions in America. This is realistic, and that’s where we should be putting our efforts, says she. Those who disagree with her are unreasonable, extreme, and hurting the conservative cause.
To Mockarena, I have to ask one question: What makes your line any less arbitrary than the line the pro-abortionists have drawn? Their line is the moment after delivery when the cord is cut. Why is your line any better?
It’s really all about finding the line that makes us most comfortable. The line we feel lets us have the best of both sides of the thing we’re debating. (As if abortion has a good side…) The line where a desirable-enough outcome is achieved, even if it isn’t the truly moral or just outcome.
How much killing can we get away with without getting bloody? How much killing can we stomach and still sleep at night? How much power can we assert over another one who is powerless without seeming like a big bully, or tyrant, or heartless abuser ourselves?
How can we cheat a little and still be reputable? How can we have what we want without making the difficult sacrifice? How far can we push that line before we actually have to do the right thing?
Abortion is wrong. Period. Full stop.
Many conservatives will say they agree with me. But like Mockarena, then they’ll want to continue… “but we have to face reality. Abortion is legal, after all, and we’re not going to turn back the clock. So shouldn’t we concentrate our efforts on making abortion as rare and undesirable as possible? Shouldn’t we focus on reducing the number of abortions by championing contraception, including the Morning After pill? After all, women who’ve been raped or had unprotected sex should get emergency contraception immediately. Then they won’t need a real abortion later.”
(Allow me to introduce you to Kathleen Sebelius, Cecile Richards, and Sandra Fluke. I think you’ll all get along swimmingly.)
If more contraception was the key to fewer abortions, then more bars ought to be the solution to drunk-driving.
I’m not sure conservatives who make this argument are interested in justice or in what’s genuinely right or even factual. (First they need to stop getting their information from the Guttmacher Institute.) Perhaps they’re more interested in comfort, compromise, and popularity. They’re interested in politics.
But abortion is not a political issue. It’s the ultimate human rights issue; the true test of society’s morality and justice. People who can utter the word “need” in relation to abortion have not yet grasped what it’s all about. When is there ever a need to kill a child??
It’s about only one thing: the humanity of the child in the womb. It’s about recognizing that humanity even when it’s inconvenient to us and cramps our style; even when it alters our plans.
But admittedly, that’s a demanding position to take. That’s an all-or-nothing hill to die on, pardon the pun, and for too many people, that’s asking too much. They don’t really like abortion, and they don’t want to be lumped in with radical pro-abortionists, but they also want more flexibility than “no abortion, ever, period.”
So they draw their comfortable lines at their acceptable limit of destruction. They’ll tolerate this much, but no more, because after that it becomes wrong somehow that it wasn’t wrong before. Why? Well, just because they said so. On this side of the line, it feels okay. On the other side of the line, it seems wrong, so that’s the end of it. To hell with logic, science, and even morality if it disagrees with the line they’ve drawn. To hell with you if your line is different from theirs.
Trouble is, the line means nothing to the human souls being snuffed out. It’s of little comfort to the human person being flushed away.
We might be able to live with the line we’ve drawn, but it’s still killing them.
But since their faces can’t haunt us; their unformed bodies aren’t buried; since they didn’t suffer pain; since they were never aware of themselves and we were barely aware of them; their names were never known to us; their futures not even imagined… we think their loss doesn’t matter. We think their absence is meaningless and the responsibility for their deaths won’t be laid at our feet for eternity.
We are wrong to think so. We are no better than punk bullies picking on someone who is a bother to us in the present moment. We are self-anointed gods who believe we have authority over life and death, including someone else’s life and death. We are slave owners once again and the child in the womb is our property, so we think.
The line is actually very simple, yet very absolute.
The line is here: the child in the womb is a human person from the moment of conception, and has the right to live.
Any other line is purely an arbitrary one based on emotion, drawn in our own favor, while the child pays the price.
The Abolitionists in the 1800′s didn’t settle for partially-freed slaves who were almost always recognized as persons, except under certain conditions at certain times.
Neither should we who claim to be pro-life ever settle for any line that denies the humanity of the child in the womb in the early days and weeks of pregnancy, or at any time. To hell with politics.
Either we have the guts and the conviction to say the child is a human being at all times or we don’t.
That’s the line. It’s the only line that everyone can live with.
This letter appeared in The Daily Kos, and I think it encapsulates the current philosophy of pro-abortionists better than anything else. More importantly, I think it reveals exactly what we who seek to build a culture of life are up against. It’s Lucifer’s echo.
Women are now gods. The pro-abortion army has shored up the weary old “My Body, My Choice” mantra with something far more insidious. Now women actually have the power to bestow life itself, or withhold it, or nullify it.
“An Open Letter to Supporters of Personhood”, written by someone called BadKitties, begins by lashing-out at Republicans in Michigan over an attempt to offer a tax credit for unborn babies. “The Michigan GOP is trying to legally make women hostages to a fetus.”
The author goes on to describe herself and the qualities that make her a person. She’s a sister, daughter, friend, mother, wife, etc. She breathes, speaks, cries, laughs, bleeds, and sings. In short, that makes her a person.
Then she says, “When you attempt to declare a blastocyst a person, you are stripping me of MY personhood.” She insists, “Personhood is conferred when a woman says to herself, ‘This is my baby.’ Yes. Exactly.”
She describes her joy and excitement at being pregnant with her children, then strangely, she goes on, “I had a miscarriage, once, too. I cried, and suffered… I found and held a tiny little empty sac in my hand, and mourned what could have been…”
Then she continues, “But… my living children were wanted, and they are deeply loved. Unwanted pregnancies do not have ‘personhood’ conferred upon them. They are an intrusion, a parasite, a thing. However they were conceived, they are not wanted. They are not loved.” Rather than dreaming of little booties, she says, “There is, instead, a desperation and determination that the thing be removed.”
One of the many things that struck me about all this was the raw, naked fear in her words. The term ‘fetus’ is used to distance and dehumanize, and to her, the fetus is competition. If the fetus is declared a person, then somehow she is being denied her own personhood. As though personhood was a cake with a finite number of slices, and giving some to this person means she won’t get any.
Then comes the animosity towards the “intruder” (ahem, baby) who has the nerve to show up “unwanted”, like a telemarketer on the phone. Or rather, like a sneaky, conniving little creep that picked this woman out of a crowd and crawled up her leg and into her uterus to make himself at home and steal everything she’s got. (Aack! A monster’s eating me alive!!) Good grief! We’re talking about your child here!!
Wantedness is irrelevant to humanness. Wantedness does not make a person, and unwantedness cannot deny a person. Wantedness speaks volumes, alright, but not about the child. It speaks volumes about women and men, about our society, about our present value system, and about our disintegrating moral core.
As is typical of pro-abortionists, she tries to disconnect the woman from any responsibility in the “intruder’s” existence and presence in her uterus. Once again, sex has nothing to do with babies, at least in this mythical world where women can generate life from a mere “clump of cells” as well as make life evaporate with only the desire of her heart.
The problem for the pro-abortionists is this: Science and modern technology has made the chamber of the womb visible to us all, and now no one can deny the miracle that takes place there and the LIFE that dwells there.
The pro-abortionists cannot conquer science and bend it to their will, so now they must fabricate a new “truth” that depends not on science and reality but purely on emotion and self-interest. Now they proclaim that only the woman can make the unborn child a child, and if she chooses not to do so, then the child becomes a “thing” that can never attain personhood. Now the woman has the power of deity; the power of life to grant according to her will, or the mandate of death to be carried out as she requires.
By this current philosophy, women now have the power to grant or refuse the individuality, the humanness, of another human being. The will of women is now elevated to the highest, most untouchable of heights — whatever she wants, is. Whatever she rejects, ceases to be.
Wow. That’s straight out of Lucifer’s personal play-book.
My own pleading to the pro-life community is this: There must be one common language, one common theme going forward, and it’s short, sweet, and simple. Here it is: the child in the womb is a human person who has the right to live. Period. End of discussion.
Forget “fetus” and “embryo” and every other term now being used to dehumanize the child. Those words have their legitimate place in ethical prenatal medicine, and that’s fine. But they are essentially useless at best, a liability at worst in the battle before us. Our lexicon must be clear and united and unapologetic.
From now on that tiny preborn life can have only one name: child. The child in the womb. That’s who we’re talking about, and there is no other way we can afford to say it anymore.
If our elected officials have trouble talking about abortion, or about their pro-life convictions and proposals, then sit them down and teach them: The child in the womb is a human person who has the right to live. It’s that simple. Anyone who cannot communicate that clearly to the press or his constituents should sit down and be quiet. We must stop stumbling over pebbles. The truth is plain and quite easy to articulate.
It is the humanity of the child in the womb that we must defend and proclaim. Humanity is not bestowed by women, but by God, the One who creates and establishes all life. Personhood is not something any woman has the power to grant or deny. Women have no magical or divine abilities regarding human life.
A woman’s feelings toward the child in the womb have nothing whatsoever to do with that child’s humanity or personhood or rights. It is ridiculous and desperately egotistical to assert that women have such extraordinary powers that they can originate life from lifelessness, and void life at their whim!
What women have been given is the privilege of being co-creators with God in bringing new human life into this world. We are entrusted with the protection and care of the most vulnerable. We are gifted with bodies that nurture and shelter that tiny, defenseless person as he/she grows and prepares for that first breath of air.
But breathing air does not make the child a person. (Nor is it what makes our author a person.) Nor does speaking, or laughing, or crying, or walking, or writing, or singing. GOD made the child a unique and unrepeatable person from the first moment of conception. There is nothing any woman can do to undo what God has done, or to accomplish it herself merely by her will.
This deification of women is flat-out wicked. As I said in a previous article, it’s evident that Satan knows that the easiest and quickest way to destroy a society, a nation, is to corrupt women; to warp and pervert the thinking and the hearts of women. Get that done, and everything else crumbles like a stale cookie.
First women turned on their own bodies and their own babies. Babies became the enemy, and fertility became a disease. Rather than the instinct to protect and defend, women began cultivating a fear of their own children, and a loathing toward motherhood.
Now, the latest tactic of the father of lies is to persuade women that they are gods themselves. Not merely cooperating with God in creating new human life, but the ones who decide when and whether that life is life at all. They are the beginning and the end, and everything is subject to their wants and wishes. They hold in their hands the power of life and death, and they answer to no one.
BadKitties asks, “Who are you to force an unwilling woman to confer ‘Personhood’ on something in her womb?” “How do you possibly justify stripping women of their humanity, reducing them to nothing more than a vessel?”
Who is any woman or man to deny the humanity of the child in the womb? How can anyone possibly justify stripping the child in the womb of his/her humanity, reducing them to nothing more than a clump of cells? Who are YOU to decide who is a person and who is not a person based only on YOUR feelings and wants?
“You should be ashamed,” she goes on ironically, “Life is for the living. To loudly proclaim that a fetus is entitled to all the rights of breathing, laughing, huggable people is unconscionable.”
Humanness is an objective fact, not a subjective quality depending upon the desires of someone else.
Our reply to BadKitties’ letter is simple: The child in the womb is a human person who has the right to live. This does not negate the personhood or value or humanity of the mother in any way. It merely defends the humanity of the child against the chilling blasphemy that pro-abortionists are now preaching.
Does he dream? His eyelids flutter, and the faintest smile settles in
Just a moment and is gone again, with a sigh
My finger is a snug prize in his delicate hand
He falls deeper into sleep and deeper into my cradling arm
I rock and sing
I am lulled and drowsy, yet transfixed on his face
Is he flying home in his mind? Dancing through his cosmic playground?
Is he calling the stars out by name?
What extraordinary things does he imagine?
Is any of this real? Is he really here in my arms?
How sublime and surreal!
He stepped into time and willed to be contained
In mortal flesh, on fleeting soil
My feet sink into the earth beneath me
Yet one glance at his face and I am raised to Heaven
My child, my King, my Love
My heart and soul
Tonight I hum a gentle lullaby
You sleep, and I stare in awe
Dream of me
Your mother, Your child
Dream of me
© 2009 Jennifer Hartline