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:: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 ::

OK, let's just call this blog "AFTER After abortion" since I seem to be purloining all my material from Emily this week.

Yesterday Emily posted a link to an exchange between Flip Benham's group and some church members who didn't appreciate a graphic anti-abortion demonstration outside of their "pro-life" church. For those of you who don't already know, Flip is entangled in the Norma McCorvey ("Jane Roe" of Roe V. Wade) conversion story.

I read through the exchanges, and have a few comments.

The first letter is from an irate mom who was not prepared to expose her children to images of children killed by abortion. She also wrote to suggest that the public display of such images might run "post-abortive" women away from church and away from God. She adds that she volunteers at a CPC and Flip's group is "preaching to the choir".

(I am trying to think how I would feel if they came to our church on Sunday and my preschooler was exposed to giant posters of decapitated, eviscerated, slightly decomposed babies. No sir, I don't think I'd like it.)

One of Flip's crew retorts that moms intent on abortion don't go to CPC's, but that's not entirely true. Plenty of abortion-minded moms go there to get a free pregnancy test. I have an acquaintance who went to a CPC on two occasions to confirm the presence of two children she couldn't abort fast enough. I get a news letter from the CPC, and they often talk of abortion minded moms who see their child on new sonogram equipment and decide not to abort after all. (They didn't have this equipment when the acquaintance was very pathetically "counseled" by them.) I think it would have been more appropriate for Flip's team member to say that women entering abortion clinics are intent on abortion and more "sidewalk counselors" are needed at those locations, because that's basically what Flip's group is advocating.

Something that really annoyed me about the first retort was the statement that abortion jeopardizes a woman's soul. All sins jeopardize the soul. Did I miss something somewhere in the Bible or is abortion the special unforgivable sin? Abortion isn't pretty. It's a horrible thing. But does it jeopardize the soul any more than eating Haagen Daz or thinking about having sex with Keanu Reeves or George Clooney (or, for me, a young Jimmy Stewart)? How about stubbing your toe and saying "shit!" by accident? Is there a list of sin values that describes which sins will send you to hell slowly and which will take you there without passing go or collecting $200? Can I download this list on the Internet somewhere?

From what I hear, it's not abortion that sends you to hell but your disbelief in and refusal of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:16). Would someone who truly knows Christ abort their child? I am inclined to think not, because I've been there, and looking back, my religious beliefs were a complete and total joke. But does anyone truly know Christ? Again, I am inclined to say no, because no one can truly know the mind of God. I have heard people disagree though. At least one preacher has told me he understands the mind of God. I thought it was silly, but I didn't want to get punched, so I dropped the subject with the Citadel grad.

OK, OK... so the next letter from Flip's group calls the church on their hypocrisy, and I actually agree with that. The president of a now defunct Right to Life group told me that they sent out 80 letters of introduction and invitation to churches in surrounding areas. Only one church responded and it was a request to remove them from the county's Right to Life mailing list. The church said it was concerned with Christian matters and abortion was a political matter. Later the "pro-life" group did manage to get two preachers to come to a meeting. Both of them said they would attend a meeting or two, but they wouldn't actually DO anything, because they didn't want to be "political". One of them assured the group that they would, however, vote "pro-life".

The letter from Flip's group calls for "sidewalk counseling" and implies that because the church has not been actively involved in protesting at the clinic they are not doing their part. Two questions: What is right? What is enough?

Some people help out by sending money to CPC's. CPC's do save lives and they do need money. Is it "pro-life" to send money to CPC's? Yes. It's also pro-Jesus, because most (if not all) of these places are Christian, and their "hidden", number-one agenda is to convert the secular set.

CPC's save lives, but do "sidewalk counselors"? Again, yes. I would think that CPC's actually save more lives and give people a more positive view of the "pro-lifer", but every life counts, and "sidewalk counselors" do successfully convince some not to abort. My friend, the "sidewalk counselor", has directly prevented the deaths of children and the broken hearts of their moms. Tomorrow I'll feature one of these moms and her baby.

Do women and children need sidewalk counselors? Yes. Do they need CPC's? Yes. So it seems to me that both sidewalk counseling and CPC's are good and acceptable ways to be "pro-life".

Now, what is enough? For some, writing a letter to their abortion-supporting congressman is enough. For others, only standing directly outside of the abortion clinic will do. For a very select (and maniacal) few sending a bullet zinging through an abortionist's rotten melon is "going that extra mile" to protect women and children. Because Flip prefers standing outside of abortion mills (and they are mills, baby) does that mean that is what we all should do, otherwise we are not doing enough? I personally don't think so.

"Sidewalk counseling" is a tough gig. They get cussed at, mocked, physically assaulted, soaked with water, spat on, and just generally treated like subhuman pieces of crap. Not many people want to voluntarily enlist in such a physical and emotional zone of discomfort. That makes the gig lonely for those who have committed to doing it. Sometimes my friend is the only one at the clinic, and it's scary and depressing for her. She reminds herself that God is with her, but she also tries to get people to show up, because there is strength in numbers, and it would personally comfort her to stand in solidarity with others. In five years she has been pretty unsuccessful at getting anyone to join her, and she is very frustrated about that.

She used to have a buddy that stood out there with her, but the buddy had to move. Before she moved, the buddy tried to find a replacement so she wouldn't be leaving her friend in a lurch. She pulled out all the stops and pretty much berated everyone in her email address book. I was on the list and got a letter where I was used as an example of hypocritical, undedicated losers who refused to leave their comfort zone to commit to "sidewalk counseling" at the abortion clinic. She didn't mention to everyone that I lived over 4 hours away from the clinic and that I might find it painful to revisit the building where my child was slaughtered at 15 weeks. It pissed me off and hurt my feelings, and it didn't make me sympathetic to her cause. I think that's what the people of the offended church were trying to say to Flip, who went on a radio program and said they all needed to repent because they weren't on the sidewalk at the abortion business.

Flip's group says churches are too worried about "looking nice" and not worried enough about "stanching the flow of innocent blood in this nation". When 80 churches refuse to have anything to do with the abortion issue because it's "political", something is wrong. We're going to Uganda on mission trips, but we're not going down to the corner to help women and children in America. I can share that frustration.

What I don't agree with is the idea that everyone has to do it Flip's way, although I do believe that people who put themselves on the line (like my sidewalk counseling friend) reap that much more reward. I don't know about eternal rewards, but I know my friend lives today knowing that she has made a phenomenal difference in the lives of others: the difference of life where there would have been death. That is an unusual reward that is normally reserved for heavy heads in antiseptic towers of medicine. She's a life saver. But if you voted for Bush, you are too, although less directly perhaps. What is good, and what is enough?

If you investigate abortion and truly seek God's will, I think the answers will be imparted. Is it wrong to reason this? Is it more effective to berate people, to take them by the throat and throttle them saying, "Babies are dying, moms are crying, and YOU'RE DOING NOTHING!"?

Finally Flip sends a letter that basically justifies the large graphic demonstration by saying Jesus used Himself as a graphic display when He hung naked and bleeding on the cross. Flip also says children are not traumatized by images of other children who have been eviscerated and torn apart. He says that only people who support or take part in evil are bothered by evil. He says that good children of good parents only deem these images as educational.

I have a BIG problem with this rationale.

First, Jesus did die very graphically. But did He go to the crowd to display His death or did the morbid crowd come to Him to watch Him die? Were children exposed to His mutilating death because parents chose to involve them in such a scene or did Christ demand that children come and witness violent images of His death to remind them of what He was doing for them? In my heart and mind I imagine that, if there were any children in attendance, it made the death experience all the more painful for Christ who loves children and wants no harm to come to ANY of them.

I will not hide the images of abortion from my child always, and when the time is right he will know about them. This time is different for every child. Some kids may be ready to see such images when they're 9 while others couldn't handle it that early. But no matter what age my child is, if he has a soul in him, he will be traumatized by pictures of dead mutilated children as any normal human being would. For Benham to claim that photos of aborted babies don't traumatize "good people" is ridiculous when his whole reason for showing the pictures is to traumatize people for purposes of motivation.

I admire Flip for the good things he has chosen to do for women, children and families, but I don't think he's right about everything. I do think he harms some people with his methods, but he may view them as collateral damage in the war against abortion.

It is evident that we must do more for women, children and families but what? What will change it all? I don't have the answer to that. Feminists for Life has converted lots of abortion supporters, but would FFL have converted Norma McCorvey? Perhaps so, but only if McCorvey would have voluntarily exposed herself to their message. I'm not sure she would have chosen to do that. Flip got in Norma's face, which worked with an "in-your-face" McCorvey, and that has been very significant to many of us.

Who cares if the abortion-supporters don't care that McCorvey is Roe no more? Her reversal has been a balm for many women who have lost children through abortion. Wounded women who learn through abortion to hate abortion can shake their fists at so-called feminist groups that support abortion and say, "EVEN YOUR OWN POSTER CHILD DOESN'T WANT YOU!!!" Her conversion confirms to us that we're NOT crazy for hurting so badly that we have learned very quickly to despise abortion and view it as bad for women. This is important for us, and Flip was a part of that.

Maybe you're not bad for challenging your church to do more to protect women and children. And maybe you're not an evil creep if you write your congressman, vote "pro-life", send a nice fat check to FFL, and DON'T place yourself on the sidewalk of an abortion mill. Maybe there's room for all sorts of people who oppose abortion.

(And the award for longest blog entry in the universe goes to...)

:: ashli 10:10 AM # ::

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