Protecting Life & The Other Side

When you argue for the protection of unborn children, what else do you argue for?

Do you argue with one eye open to the Christian view of life and the other blind to the realities of the other side?

The Christian View of Life

To be pro-life means that all human life is worthy of protection at all stages of development. The argument for abortion relies on the notion that an unborn child is not separate from the mother, so therefore, the mother should have the right to decide. This is to do with personhood.

So, when does a human become a unique individual?

As Christians we believe that life starts from conception and that all people bear the image of God, that all are a part of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-27). Man, child and woman alike. In fact, God knows His creation so intimately and deeply as He knitted us together in the womb.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139: 13

We see a fuller picture of this in Job:

“Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” – Job 10: 8-12

He even tells Jeremiah that He had great plans for him before he was born:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

The Bible clearly tells us that humans were known personally by God as unborn children.

Beyond the Bible, science tells us that the human embryo contains a unique genetic code – everything to make a human. All the genetic characteristics of a child are already present before a human shape starts to form.

The Bible and science tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made before birth. 

This means that to terminate a pregnancy is to end the life of another; something which is abundantly against God’s will (Deuteronomy 5:17).

The Other Side

However, having a child is not always easy, desirable or expected. It is a decision that impacts the immediate future of a woman. For nine months she’ll carry a child that she may not want. Surely she deserves the right to decide whether she is to do this?

The pro-choice belief is that a woman should have the right to decide what happens to her body, including the genetic material of an unborn child. This isn’t a wild notion. Often the people who are arguing to end abortions aren’t in the position of being pregnant. Babies are effort – ask any parent.

Why would someone have an abortion?

A survey in South Australia outlined the main reasons why women chose to terminate their pregnancies. The top four were:

  • Pregnancy would jeopardise future
  • Could not cope
  • My right to choose
  • Can’t afford a baby

Some women end up having abortions for medical reasons and as the result of sexual assaults. However, most terminations occur based on the personal circumstances of the mother.

The Right Response

It may seem selfish that a woman chooses to end a pregnancy through an abortion for some of the listed reasons above; but as Christians we aren’t really in the position to judge someone’s heart or motives.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” – Matthew 7: 1-5

What we do need to think of is the other side with compassion. If we are going to be arguing against abortions, we need to be fighting for services and supports that assist women during and after pregnancy, not shutting them down. This includes pushing for subsidised pre- and post-natal care, counselling, and medical appointments. As well as fighting for supports for abortion alternatives, protection of work status and flexible education programs with subsidised child care facilities.

Jesus made sure the crowds who came out to see him were fed. He healed the physically sick and showed kindness to some questionable characters. He went teaching but loved those who needed it at the same time through food, care and company. He cared for them spiritually, emotionally and physically. We should do the same.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:35-38

If we want to encourage people to consider alternatives, we need to also compassionately fight to have services that will help them if they choose not to abort. Changing the status quo for unwanted pregnancies won’t change without a shift in the support for women who decide to carry a child to term. We cannot do one without the other.

Don’t let self-righteous debates cloud your vision. Fight to protect the unborn and the physical needs of those unprepared for a child… at the SAME time. Acknowledge the plight of those in the position of an unwanted pregnancy and what needs to be done to help them. Fight to protect human life with eyes wide open to the both sides.

 

The Argument Against Feminism

A great myth that is often spread within the church is that feminism is a bad thing. This is based on two things – the over publicised aggressive “feminism” and arguing its failure to Christianity due to legal changes prompted by the liberation movement in the 1970s, whereby the Matrimonial Causes Act was replaced with No-Fault Divorce in 1975. What comes out of this deridement of change is an overwhelming argument that feminism causes more harm to Christianity, than good.

Matrimonial Causes vs. No-Fault Divorce

Under the Matrimonal Causes Act 1959, there were 14 different types of reasons that a divorce would be approved by a court. However, a spouse had to be proven at fault for the marriage breakdown. Who was the adulterer? Who was the drunk? Who was insane?

In reality, to prove someone was at fault a solicitor and/or private investigator needed to be hired. Divorce was an actual legal battle, with plenty of finger pointing. The nature of Matrimonial Causes meant that divorce was harder.

So why did feminism come in and make divorce rates sky rocket?

Women prior to the 1980s, and particularly mid-1970s, did not maintain financial independence once they were married. This meant that if a divorce was to occur, and cause was to be proven, a woman could not do that with no money. Often they were shown as the damaging party. But they got their divorce right? In some cases, yet the one usually found at fault forfeited much, if not all, their rights to children, assets and reputation.

No Fault Divorce removed the need to prove a specific cause. It alleviated the litigation in courts and the demand to point fingers.

The Damage

Feminism was a catalyst for increasing divorce rates, there’s no argument there. However, laying waste to a movement that aims to bring equality between the sexes because of one turning point for divorce, ignores all the good that the movement has achieved.

By telling young men and women that you don’t like feminism, tells them you don’t value anything else the movement has achieved nor the implications for if the Matrimonial Causes Act had continued. The vote, equal wages, marital rape and discrimination were still issues under a hundred years ago (and still are for some people/places).

Whenever something comes along with a ‘feminist spin,’ and it challenges the status quo for Christian men and women, the echoing remnants of being told that someone who teaches them doesn’t agree with feminism, justifies them ignoring the rebuke of maintaining the status quo.

Reminder

Men and women were created equal (Genesis 1:27), however, it was screwed when sin entered the world at The Fall (Genesis 3).

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. – Genesis 3: 21-22

The relationship of the world, men and women, is not what it is supposed to be. Perfection was in Eden. Feminism is simply a tool of the world to achieve something that will never be fully attained in this life. Yet, we should not take lightly the implications of treating feminism with emnity.

Christian Feminism

The Bible is all about a bunch of dudes telling women to cover their heads and be silent…

Unshaven armpits, bald heads and man-haters…

What is Feminism?

Feminism is not about a group of jaded, spinster women who hate men with body hair galore and undercuts.

Feminism is the fundamental belief that men and women are equal. The movement itself was borne as a response to inequalities that, for the most part, women experienced compared to their male counterparts.

Some examples are:

  1. The inability to vote
  2. Requirement to leave the workforce once married
  3. Inability to control their own finances once married
  4. Perceptions of single women who had sex versus single men who had sex
  5. Unequal pay for the same work
  6. Marital rape and domestic abuse
  7. A real woman was a domesticated house-wife
  8. Incapable of “logical” professions such as doctors, lawyers, bankers, businessmen etc.

There are also ‘waves’ of feminism. That is, different stages of the movement that focus on areas of inequality. Note: Some of these deal with direct inequality whilst others may deal with institutional inequality.

  1. First-wave: 19th and early 20th century – focused on legal issues, primarily suffrage
  2. Second-wave: 1960s – 1980s – focus on sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, official legal inequalities
  3. Third-wave: 1990s – 2008 – intersectional feminism (the experience of inequality will differ across ethnicities, nationalities, religions, colors and cultural backgrounds)
  4. Fourth-wave: 2008 – present – increased focus on intersectionality including trans-inclusion

I am a Christian Feminist

How can this be? Well, I believe that men and women are created equal. This is not contrary to the Bible nor to the ideals of feminism.

Both Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Just as the first man and woman were equally in the image of God, so are men and women now.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

However, far more radical to feminism is my belief that men and women were created equal but different. Equality does not mean doing the same thing. We are designed to have different functions but with one purpose.

Adam was given the responsibility to lead, whilst Eve was given the responsibility to be the helper. Both functions were to glorify God, both with equal weight and both with equal worth.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. – Genesis 2: 15

But for Adam no suitable helper was found…. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. – Genesis 2: 20 -22

What Equal but Different does NOT mean..

  • That being a “helper” is of less significance than being a “leader.” The glorification of leaders over helpers is a human idea. In the Bible, there is none that can fit the role that Eve fills, so God creates her. Without Eve, Adam could not lead. Without Adam, Eve could not help.
  • That women are incapable of leading. There are particular circumstances of the design of men and women, where women should not lead such as teaching men the Bible or headship in a marriage; however, for most positions of leadership, that don’t fit the two already described, women are more than capable of leading armies, governments and other groups. Both Adam and Eve are placed as rulers over the animals in the garden. Eve wasn’t the deputy, she was the co-ruler.
  • That women’s opinions are worthless. Just because men are given the function of leader does not mean they get to ignore women. Equal means that a woman’s opinion is of equal worth to that of a man’s. Adam cherishes Eve as his own flesh after she is created by God.
  • That men are workers and women are stay-at-home wives and/or mums. Women as helper does not mean that they should clean up after their husbands and do everything for them. Women are not servants and subservient; remember Adam loved Eve as himself which means he sees her value too.

Feminism is not a dirty idea, where women seek to “rule” over men nor where men are the scum between our toes. It’s essence and creation is based on equality of the sexes; an equality that is clearly acknowledged in the Bible.

Stay tuned for the follow-up posts in the next few days.

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Living the Dream

The last year has been a hard one when dealing with idolatry. It was sneaky but it was present in almost every facet of my life and it wasn’t until it smashed me in the face that I realised I needed to deal with it.

The Set-Up

My dream job when I left my hometown and headed to university was to become a special ed teacher. I saw great value in education and the impact that it had on so many lives. Teachers were a central, if underappreciated resource, and good ones who wanted to work rural were hard to find. Unbeknownst to many people though, is that special education often requires an undergraduate teaching qualification AND postgraduate coursework. It’s at least a five year commitment.

The Creep

When I headed to university, my degree was my ticket away from a pretty hectic situation. Very few people left with purpose in my hometown, and even less actually stuck it out. I saw university and the career that came after as a means of freeing me and better circumstances.

Over the course of that five years, I enjoyed my coursework and placements. I loved teaching and I loved it’s impact. Often the struggle of the lesson was worth the pay-off. I enjoyed the challenge and the difference of every day.

I argued for its value and what it represented.

I always sought to make decisions which acknowledged God as sovereign, and didn’t place teaching first. But the creep of my sinfulness was silent. I didn’t know that I wasn’t wholeheartedly putting God first.

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on. – Proverbs 16: 25-26

The Ugly Head

I began to discuss the idea of overseas mission using my teaching degree and decided to go to a conference where we looked at pursuing ministry and mission. I had been to the conference before, and it seemed a good place to kick start that thought process. The questions that we considered were reasonably the same as the year before. But then someone asked:

Are you living a life in view of Christ and judgement day?

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” – Acts 17: 29-31

What did that mean? Of course I was. Until I realised I wasn’t.

I was investing a significant amount of time and energy into my “dream job.” I was working hard at being a valuable teacher rather than a holy people saved by God. The idea of judgement hadn’t really played into how I viewed the world or prioritising people who weren’t yet on the Jesus boat. I was living a life in view of being a teacher; not Christ. Not the reality of the unsaved. And certainly not judgement day.

My reservations about ministry and mission were because I didn’t want to give up working in a rural setting as a teacher. I had a balance of worth – one side was the Gospel, and the other was education.

God was not number one.

Even if I make wise decisions for God, a balancing act of loves isn’t good enough. It’s idolatry.

All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. – Isaiah 44: 9-11

My Heart Now

I still love teaching and working with people who have disabilities. I’m still finishing my degree and doing my coursework with honest effort. But my anxieties over work are not the same.

 It was hard moving past what people would think if I didn’t go into something I’d spent so long working towards. Yet, I’m not consumed by the need to fulfill my dream job and what will happen if I don’t, because it won’t actually matter on judgement day.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. – 2 Corinthians 5: 1 – 3

 

The Friend Zone

The friend zone. Every dude’s worst nightmare.

The phenomenon of the friend zone is an interesting one. The secular world often attributes it to a guy, who tries really hard to show a chick he likes how awesome he is — so that she will want to date him. BUT, she prefers him to be her friend.

Basically, the friend zone works on the idea that a dude is entitled to a relationship and/or sex by being nice to a chick; and then doesn’t get what he’s entitled to.

Let’s clear some things up …

No one is entitled to a romantic relationship just because they are a great friend or nice. Why? Because being a great friend doesn’t mean you’d make a great significant other nor that the person sees you as someone they would like romantically.

Before you think, oh poor me, remember there are people that you also wouldn’t see as romantic potentials; even if they are nice.

Does the friend zone exist in Christian circles?

I’d say that it does and it doesn’t. Most solid Christian men and women understand that being kind, compassionate and loving to their Christian sisters/brothers doesn’t entitle them to a date. They know that they are called to clothe themselves in the fruits of the Spirit and emulate them.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.- Galatians 5: 22-24

Yet, Christian young men/women, often bemoan that there aren’t any chicks/dudes interested in their godly selves, despite how hard they try.

Now you might be a nice guy and a great friend who’s single, or a nice chick and a great friend who’s single but there’s a problem with using the friend zone as an excuse for that. Being friend zoned works on ego and pride. It presumes that by being a great friend and then not being taken up by the person as a significant other, means that they’ve failed to see how great you are or treat you how you think you deserve to be. Believing you deserve something means that you believe you have met the criteria for being given the right to it.

When we’re told to put on the fruits of the Spirit, we are to also crucify the flesh. We are commanded to keep in step with the Spirit and not to become conceited.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other. – Galatians 5:25-26

Do you deserve to be dated just because you’re someone’s good friend?

The clear answer to this is no. Christians are never promised that they will be given a boyfriend or girlfriend by being nice. It’s not wrong to desire to get married, however, it is wrong to treat it as an entitlement and whinge when you don’t get it.

Sometimes being content in singleness is hard, particularly when the world is giving you a mythical out when you’re unsatisfied with it.

You should want to be in the friend zone.

Now the friend zone isn’t a thing. If you want someone who sees you as a friend to consider you as a romantic prospect, ask them on a date. However, the principle that landed you in this mythical friend zone is also a great one to apply to any relationship.

Be a good friend before being a significant other. You’ll have a more solid foundation of who the person you’re dating is, rather than building that whilst trying to figure out all the other fun dynamics of a relationship.

Break-Ups and Friends

There’s an inevitable awkwardness when two friends break-up, depending on the type of relationship you had with each person before they were together. Sometimes you only know someone because they were “so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend,” so you simply revert back to the friendship you had before they were “so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend.” Yet, it becomes a harder battleground when both of them, on their own, were solid friends with you before they started dating. So what do you do when the relationship goes south?

1. Awkwardness Exists

The Mutual Friend: You will feel the awkwardness of a change. Don’t expect not to. Your friends’ relationship was something that was a part of your understanding of them both, and now it’s not. You’re also acutely aware that both have mixed feelings about the whole thing, and there isn’t too much you can do about it.

The Ex-Couple: Acknowledge that it’s strange and speak about what’s helpful for your friends with your friends. If you don’t want them asking you about your ex, then don’t ask your friend about your ex. However, also acknowledge that they have a friendship with your ex, and don’t become bitter towards them for that.

In speaking about your relationship and ex aim to do so with compassion and graciousness. It’ll make your friends feel less consumed by concern about treading on your toes in an already awkward situation.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3

2. Set Realistic Time-Frames and/or Boundaries

The Mutual Friend: When friends breakup they’ll likely need some time away from each other’s company so that they can deal with what they’re feeling as well as readjusting to being single.

The Ex-Couple: Set a realistic time-frame for your friends, whether you share it with them or not, for when you’ll rejoin social gatherings that your ex has been invited to. If you’re only keen to come to large gatherings, tell your friend that. If you need extra moral support for social gatherings, and will struggle to enjoy the time if there isn’t more than one person you know, tell your friend that.

However, also remember that friends have feelings as well. Don’t use your bitterness towards your ex as an excuse to avoid maintaining the relationships with your mutual friends.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12:15

3. Do Not Expect or Encourage Friends to Choose Sides

The Mutual Friend: Do not pick a side just because it’s easier to know what ground to tread. You’ll likely find yourself validating thoughts and feelings that you shouldn’t. Aim to avoid any conversation on “why” so that you aren’t tempted to build your own opinions on someone else’s relationship.

The Ex-Couple: When people are hurt at the ending of a relationship, there’s the urge to encourage mutual friends to “pick” someone. Irrespective of if you tell the friend why you broke up, don’t expect them to ditch the ex as their friend regardless of who you feel is at fault.

If you are legitimately concerned about their behaviour take it up with someone in leadership.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. – Romans 12:17-19

4. Act like a follower of Christ

Mutual Friends and Ex-Couples: Your ex and your Christian friends are all a part of the body of Christ. They’re also brothers and sisters too. All are called to imitate Christ in how they act and speak. Although in the messiness of breakups, people are often subject to their sin, we should aim to encourage one another in thought, action and speech as ones who have been saved by Christ.

Do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. – 3 John 11

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.Therefore encourage one another and build each other up… – 1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11

 

Plates vs. Dates

Once upon a time I went to lunch every fortnight with a Christian boy.. on our own.. together. Sounds really romantic right? Except, it wasn’t a date and we never thought it was.

My friend and I became friends just after he became a Christian. We lived on college so we hung out together on a regular basis. When I moved away from college, I was working three jobs and studying full-time. I missed the regularity of hanging out with my friend, when we weren’t in a crowd of other friends and knowing where we were at in life.

So we set up a fortnightly catch-up. But then a weird thing happened. As soon as I told other Christians, who didn’t know me or my friend that well, that I had gone to lunch with my male friend, they’d ask if we were dating. When I told them we weren’t, they questioned my/his motives and left me feeling bewildered about hanging out with my friend.

Just because something looks similar to another thing, doesn’t mean that it’s the same. Contrary to what these people assumed, Christian males and females, can have platonic relationships that aren’t novel. That is, it isn’t special or unique. It isn’t unrequited love blossoming. It is a friendship.

However, much like dating, being platonic friends should be intentional. The year we started going on plates (platonic lunch dates), kicked off with my friend speaking to me about a conversation he’d had with someone who was pastoring him. He was challenged to make sure he wasn’t leading his female friends on. So, he took the advice to heart, and made it clear that when we hung out together, particularly on our own, that I was his sister in Christ and his friend. Nothing more.

When your opposite sex friends are honest with you, be honest with them and yourself.

If I had a crush on my male friend, and believed that our time together was a conduit for anything more; I would have told him then and there. If intentions are being set, then set them clearly.

Here lies a danger. When we’re being told that our desire isn’t another’s, we don’t want to say anything.. just in case.

The quality of our friendship and his honesty, meant that it was safe for me to be honest. And, if you’re comfortable in a friendship, it should be safe too. As Christians, we know that no one is devoid of worldly desires. We all struggle with different things and we shouldn’t pretend that we don’t. Therefore, it should be safe to share how you feel with someone who is your friend; particularly if they are a Christian.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3: 12-14

If you’re being told that someone doesn’t share the same intentions as you, don’t respond unkindly. Your friend shouldn’t be worried about losing their friendship with you because of two different desires. However, do think of a clear way forward that protects their heart.

I never fell in love with my friend, anymore than him being my friend and brother. But I was never fearful of losing his friendship either.

But think of the children! 

As Christians we also need to be aware about causing other people to stumble. We do this by being wise in the areas that they struggle with. Whenever I talked about spending time with my male friend, I referred to our time where we went to lunch as a plate. People would ask what the heck that was, and I’d explain it. I made our intentions clear, so that others weren’t mislead by what we were doing. If they questioned my friend’s motives, I told them to go ask him.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? – 1 Corinthians 8:9-10

But what if this intention changes?

Our plates continued well into the years that lead after. I honestly believe that if you’re really friends with someone, to the point you enjoy spending time together, then you should speak up when your intentions change.

The key difference to a plate and a date are your intentions. 

You wouldn’t like a covert date where the other person thought it was, and you didn’t. So, if you want your plates to be dates, you need to tell the other person. If they don’t want plates to be dates, then you should reconsider what your plates look like.

Christian girls can be just friends with boys. Christian boys can be just friends with girls. However, be clear and honest about what your time together is because a plate does not equal a date.