Unplanned Parenthood

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In light of Tuesday’s congressional hearing:

I’m thankful not only that the virgin Mary embraced her Unplanned Parenthood but also that “Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her” (Mt. 1:17). I’m thankful that Mary consented to mother the Son of an unconsented conception and that Joseph consented to father a Son of another Father.

I’m thankful too that when Mary received word of her pregnancy from God, that with it came the assurance that she need not fear, that she had found favor with God (Lk. 1:30). She had found special favor with God, because in the life of her unborn Son, who had already been named, was the Life of every son and daughter (Jn. 1:4). His Life made flesh proved that every life made flesh has found special favor with God (Jn.1:14; 3:16), for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Mt. 19:16; Mk. 10:14; Lk. 18:14).

I’m also thankful that when her unplanned Son was hanging on a cross the moment before he was able to declare all his work “finished” (Jn. 19:30), that his final provision for the human race was to ensure that his mother would not be left alone and that she would be cared for by the beloved disciple: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn. 19:26-27). If Christ shares the burden of human death, surely He can expect us to share the burden of human life, whether that means adopting babies or adopting mothers–for we all are adoptees (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:5).

Jesus became the Son of Man so that we could become children of God (Jn. 1:12-14; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:1-4, 28-29), but if we embrace God as Father and claim our right to be his children in Christ, we must embrace one another as family (Eph. 2:19; cf. 1 John–the whole book). “Welcom[ing] one another as Christ has welcomed [us], for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7; cf. Eph. 4:32) means the embrace of every potential life of a baby, planned or unplanned, for indeed these are the least of “the least of these” (Mt. 25:40). However, welcoming one another means no less than the embrace of every potential mother. When Mary found herself with an unplanned pregnancy, she did not find herself alone. She found herself within the embrace of God and the community He placed around her, and so was empowered to embrace her seemingly uncertain future.

The Church of Jesus Christ must be pro-life, but it must be pro-life in the way Joseph was pro-life at Jesus’ conception and the way the beloved disciple was pro-life at Jesus’ death. We must embrace the life of the unborn precisely by embracing the life of the mother. We can be no less than Joseph for every fatherless child and no less than the the beloved disciple for every lonely mother. But that’s costly. It means making room in our homes–literally. It means welcoming young guys and gals before they find themselves in such a situation. It means welcoming young guys and gals during and after they find themselves in such a situation, as well. It means: we make room for their lives so they can make room for life when it comes–planned or unplanned.

Indeed, Jesus’ Plan all along was to send that defining message to the disciples, that “I am ascending to my Father and their Father, to my God and their God” (Jn. 20:17), so that “those who believe in his Name would be given the right to be called children of God” (Jn. 1:12). So our calling, indeed our right, is to “conform to the image of the Son…the firstborn among a large family (Rom. 8:29).

I’m thankful that the gospel announces God’s Planned Parenthood for all humanity: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is partly good…but it doesn’t cover some of the other issues. What about someone who will have a child born without skin and other serious genetic issues like this? On a non-health related issue…should a 13 year old girl really be required to develop and have the child of her rapist? These are more complicated issues than the usual one night stand.

    • 1. “What about someone who will have a child born without skin and other serious genetic issues like this?”

      I suppose there are two ways to address this. One way is to value human life according to certain probabilities (such as happiness, convenience, other such pain-pleasure spectrum paradigms) and endorse some commensurate version of eugenics, as I suppose you are suggesting. The other way is to value life for being human, in which one must define what a human is and valuate it accordingly. I am a Christian and therefore define human life according to my understanding of the image of God, who is Trinity, from which eventuates my conclusions of (1) the infinite dignity of every human person and (2) the essential responsibility of all people toward persons, no matter how inconvenient. The child born without skin is going to be subjected to a life of pain, but he or she need not be subjected to a life without love, nor subjected to an utter negation of life. That logic inescapably leads to everything from eugenics to euthanasia to the holocaust. It is based on the principle of utility and is sustained by a rejection of absolutes. I am not suggesting that the issue is uncomplicated, but I would be happy to suggest that the complications of the issue can never justify abortion, as though the abortion of babies with genetic issues uncomplicates the issue of abortion.

      2. “Should a 13 year old girl really be required to develop and have the child of her rapist?”

      If I begin with the infinite value of every human life, how can I possibly begin making exceptions based on the temporal conditions of human life. If every human being is infused with God’s being (Acts 17:28), from the active self-donation of Absolute Life to all contingent life, then the conditions of human conception are fundamentally incidental to the question of value. The only way one could justify abortion in the scenario you described is if one defines human life only as life outside the womb. And perhaps that argument can be made, although I am persuaded otherwise, hence the reflection above. But in that case, there need be no special cases. Abortion as such is a nonissue. But as it is, that 13 year old and her unborn child are both equally deserving the Church’s overwhelming love and support and assurance and adoption and embrace, all those things that truly can turn such treacherous stories into stories of redemption.

      The sad fact is, however, they probably won’t get it. And she will not get because of the myth that the trauma of an abortion can erase the trauma of a rape, the myth that the evil of rape excuses the evil of abortion. What they will get instead is Christians abdicating their responsibility by encouraging her abortion–perhaps even driving her to the clinic in the big empty church van–wiping their hands clean, and have no trouble sleeping the night she returns home from the clinic, shuts the door to her room, and is left to wonder for the rest of her life. The only thing I can say is that that 13 year old girl is not the one whom God holds responsible for her abortion. It was not her decision. It was the community that didn’t want to be inconvenienced by two lives they would be responsible for caring for indefinitely, the community that was more concerned about their individual rights to look away and move on than the right of a young girl to embrace life, which is only possible when she knows she is forever embraced by Life itself–and the Church sent to ensure her of that truth by living it out.

  2. Jeremy, I had an interesting discussion with a Jewish friend about Mary and consent after she shared a fairly aggressive article attacking Mary’s pregnancy as being non-consensual. This appears to be a view shared by you as you describe the pregnancy as ‘unconsented’. I brought up Abraham and she pointed out the Jewish understanding of not being a chosen people but a people that chose God. That aside Abraham is a good lens to look at Mary through. Genesis 12:1 says, ‘The Lord said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’

    It is odd to me that I’ve never heard anyone talk of Abraham being non-consenting or coerced. Yet the conversation between Abraham and the divine reflects almost exactly the conversation between Mary and the messenger of the divine. My view is that neither were coerced and neither were asked. Both were chosen precisely because God knew their hearts and knew they would receive what you and I might term a ‘mission from God’ not as burden received with offense but as blessing received with joy and absent joy duty. I would be very interested in further input. Blessings.

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