in the Bible
A general reference
Exodus 21:22-23 (NLT)
"Now suppose two people are fighting, and in the process, they
hurt a pregnant woman so her child is born prematurely. If no further
harm results, then the person responsible must pay damages in the
amount the woman's husband demands and the judges approve. But if
any harm results, then the offender must be punished according to
the injury. If the result is death, the offender must be executed.
As a judgment
Hosea 9:14 (NLT)
O Lord, what should I request for your people? I will ask for wombs
that don't give birth and breasts that give no milk.
God is with the unborn
Jeremiah 1:5 (MsgB)
"Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you..."
Connection to Faith.
is much more personal than I thought it would be.
I thought this film would be about abortion. But it’s not
really. It’s about the silencing of women’s voices about
their feelings of betrayal, disappointment, shame, fear, sorrow,
confusion and doubt. But most of all their feelings about sexuality
and intimate relationships. I have enough personal experience with
this to earn my right to speak.
all the ways we let one another down, we regularly dump toxic emotional
waste into the world for other generations to clean up. And when
that waste becomes responsible for crippling or killing people,
we become numb, silent, belligerent or turn away. A child is dependent
upon the preceding generations’ Integrity in order to grow
up happy, healthy and wise. A culture is dependent on citizens to
be happy, healthy and wise in order to flourish and overtake evil.
The whole world is dependent on cultures who are flourishing and
who can overtake evil in order to not blow itself to bits. How is
the Christian Faith going to speak to these problems in Western
or other cultures if we are as numb and belligerent as anybody else
about the damage we do to people?
I was married, I was determined not to become a statistic, so I
studied up on how to do relationships from A to Z. I knew that I
had shortcomings and so I tried to find help in truly solving those
problems. But I was unwittingly studying under the wrong teachers.
It’s like getting ready for the Olympic Marathon by running
sprints, buying the prettiest running shoes and shorts on the market
and shopping for journalists who would get my story right. I had
no marriages in my family that I could study and model, but I thought
I could learn well enough from books and classes and teachers and
seminars and workshops and counseling and trial and error. My teachers
led me astray by selling me only what the mass market had to offer
and avoiding the issues which they had no willingness to tackle
in their own lives. They had nothing to help me with the kinds of
real conflicts that I would eventually be having as a married woman.
I finally did plunge into romantic wedded bliss I believed all the
good things about our abilities to overcome the unknown obstacles
of life. Only after it was too late did I realize that we had no
training, and that there would be a lack of willingness to acquire
the right training, to deal with the kinds of things that make up
normal, interdependent, intimate relationships. I had thought we
could make up for what we lacked with a dedicated effort –
especially before our daughter got too old and would start to adapt
her personality around our poor forms of relating. But it didn’t
happen. So while my daughter ingested alot of bad exampling, I swallowed
alot of anger and fear and disappointment.
I realized how much trouble I was in, I tried to find better teachers
who would help us or even just help me. I tried everything I could.
Christian teachers, mind you. Teachers who claimed to speak for
God and His Ultimate Wisdom. I was gently maneuvered into believing
that I couldn’t think or speak for myself as a layperson,
but especially as a woman. And so I tried as hard as I could to
take the advice of the expert men in authority around me. Women
weren’t much help either. They were basically in the same
boat, and so couldn’t do much more than lend me a shoulder
and sympathy. Some of them made noises that sounded like they were
victorious and empowered, but really they were just parroting what
men have been teaching them, and as long as they did it flawlessly
and convincingly, I guess they were encouraged to teach other women.
Both men and woman talked and talked and put on a lovely song and
dance. And wanting to be a successful Christian wife, I tried as
hard as I could to swallow down my gut instincts screaming within
me, and complied as best I could. What I heard the most was, “Hmmmm.
I’ll pray for you.” and that was the extent of it. Eventually
I learned to deeply resent that phrase.
the initial shock when my husband told me that he filed for divorce,
I started to vomit up everything I had been swallowing down all
those years. I lost 10 pounds in stress alone. I found an obscure
passage in the Bible that I had never heard read or taught on before.
I mentioned it to my Pastor when he went to see him because of the
divorce, but he tried to tell me that I was interpreting it wrong.
That was the last time I really listened to him. It goes like this:
three things the earth trembles,
under four it cannot bear up:
a servant who becomes king,
a fool who is full of food,
and unloved woman who is married,
and a maidservant who displaces her mistress.”
who watches daytime soap operas knows these scenarios well. Each
one can provide enough tension and drama to drive a plot for decades.
These things make the world of pop fiction go ‘round. But
they do not make the real world go ‘round. In fact, that dusty
ol’ Bible is very explicit about its opposite effect. I watched
those old shows with my Grandmother when I was little... “The
Secret Storm”, “All My Children”, “The Edge
of Night”... but I never understood the fascination. Tension
and drama are not the kinds of things I signed on for when I walked
down the aisle. In fact, I believed that I was leaving all the people
who love that kind of stupid relating far behind me by locking myself
in a garden behind a high gate with a man who promised to be different
and then throwing away the key. All the teaching I had heard spoke
as if this could be true.
no one spoke up in my defense when it turned out to be a lie. And
since I had been encouraged to be so passive, I also lost my own
ability to speak in my own defense. I was easily manipulated. I
lost my ability to carry my own weight in the world as my shoulders
were driven deep into the ground by all the crushing disappointment,
betrayal and despair. I am still in deep grief over it, 7 years
later. My children have adapted their personalities to suit the
caustic relationship between my now ex-husband and I and so they
will also carry the burden of being ill-equipped to deal with the
obstacles in their upcoming intimate relationships. Damage begets
damage. And the world trembles under the weight of the millions
who are like us.
Jesus was walking the Earth, He provided a safe place within Himself
for people to run with their weak and damaged lives. Often He would
“fix” things for people, heal them, heal their family
members, provide money, feed them, bring them back from the dead.
Stuff that would put off the inevitable for a little longer and
give them time to figure out what else He was up to. But He invested
more of His time and energy teaching and demonstrating something
almost intangible. Responsibility and care toward a damaged and
dependent humanity. His teachings were directed toward embodying
a more powerful presence of Good in environments where there was
much evil, outdoing damaging forces with the will to protect and
repair. His rebukes were often tempered by His estimation of how
dependent the recipient was upon someone else. Those who had no
power in their surroundings, the poor, the crippled, slaves, children
and women were shown almost unbounded mercy; while those who had
all the power, the rich, well fed, oblivious and unconcerned, popular,
owners of land, businessmen, kings, politicians and religious leaders
got brought up short and fast to the Judgment seat and held accountable.
There was sometimes negotiation over His judgments and often people
used that time to try and manipulate Him, but He used this opportunity
to expose their unwillingness to take responsibility toward those
who were dependent upon them. Always He exposed humanity’s
resistance to acknowledge their very real and vulnerable state-
that of Interdependence.
current American folk, Vera and Stan and the others were part of
an era and a culture where people took care of each other when they
were in trouble. If someone nearby was in need, people would be
aware and someone would most likely rise up and fill it. There was
no huge fear of ax murderers or lawsuits, nor welfare penalties
from the state for simply receiving help from compassionate fellow
humans. It was not very complicated. Kind people took care of one
another. However, there is an even deeper dependence that historically
had been taken for granted, but has now finally been dismissed as
irrelevant. Our reliance on the Goodness and Integrity of another
who is more powerful than ourselves even when we’re not yet
sick or injured or in some kind of trouble. Just as Ethel depended
on Vera to protect her and teach her how to know what she needed
and negotiate with authority figures to get her needs met, Vera
depended upon her Mother to do this when she was young and vulnerable.
Without knowing what, we saw the damage from something which disrupted
the trust between the two. Just as Ethel depended upon Reg’s
Integrity as she drew closer and closer to putting her life in his
hands, Susan depended upon the Integrity of Sid’s friend at
her Parent’s home that fateful night. Just as Stan depended
upon Vera to spend his earnings wisely and prudently, Frank depended
upon his wife Joyce to do the same. As Vera depended on Stan to
show others how to treat her with respect, Susan (and many other
girls, no doubt) depended on Sid to model appropriate attitudes
toward women to his friends.
on the Church to be a light, but instead it was a blindfold. My
children depended on my husband and I to model conflict resolution
in a mature and productive manner, but instead we grew endless hazard
filled labyrinths of avoidance and denial around conflict. My husband
and I depended on our families and mentors to teach and help us
before and during our marriage. But instead they painted rosy pictures,
criticized or avoided the subject. Everyone whose life I, my ex-husband
and my children will touch will be depending on us to learn from
our mistakes and change. Society will be depending on people like
us to carry more than our own weight in order to keep the world
from breaking apart.
we’re ignoring that. Huge amounts of trust (and the resulting
disappointment) in other people have been intentionally replaced
by the knowledge of our Rights within the Law. If we screw someone,
they are within their rights to try and sue. If they’re successful,
then I’ll have my Lawyers use my buffer account to handle
it. If they’re unsuccessful, then I get away with it and that’s
like having permission. Either way, it’s all a game, and no
one really expects me to go to all the trouble of having integrity.
Not if life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what each one
of us is after anyway.
World’s systems of Justice are just as messed up as anything
else, and often people are punished for wanting to bring an end
to suffering. When there is no where in the World to turn, death
for someone seems to be a viable option. Will the Church learn how
we may have contributed to all this suffering and change our patterns
of relating? Since we know that the Law cannot solve problems of
character, will we honor those who are interdependent with us and
have better character than those around us? Will we be wise enough
to help and train those who have been sold a bill of goods by irresponsible
teachers and families? Will we have the guts to reach in to tense
situations where a family is about to blow apart or a life could
be lost because people have come to the end of their ropes? Will
we force ourselves to listen to the silenced ones, learn from them,
and lift them up? Or will we continue to criticize, paint rosy pictures
and turn away?
Just as the Temple Sacrifices became the sterile, empty duty of
some “religious” people in Jesus’ day- putting
a manageable and safe barrier between them and the important obligations
they had to change and become more compassionate, responsible and
better human beings- the religious practices of the Church have
notoriously degraded into the same hollow signifiers. God spoke
to this problem in both Old and New Testaments:
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, You will not despise.”
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do
not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment’.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be
subject to judgment. Again anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’
is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You
fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that
your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in
front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother;
then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus began His ministry in earnest, He went to His home town and
announced His intent to be the beginning of the Solution to the
problems that humanity faced. At Nazareth, He entered the local
synagogue and respectfully opened the Scriptures to the book of
and read out loud:
Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
is more to this passage, but He stopped there and, “rolled
up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes
of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him, and he began
by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your
is the rest of the passage from Isaiah:
the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
on the Sermon on the Mount, He may have picked up most of the rest
of what that passage in Isaiah was referring to but added an extra
twist in order to emphasize the powerful transformation which they
would undergo as they followed in His footsteps and became part
of the Solution. This is what He said there:
are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled,
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.” – from Luke]
And then He expanded on that in order to warn those who were part
of the Problem:
are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all
kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because
great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted
the prophets who were before you.
woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you
For that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”
– from Luke]
He leave anything out? Oh, yeah. In case there is any doubt, he
deliberately left the vengeance for the FUTURE. Not for us to enact
now in His Name, but for Himself in the future after every game
has been played out to the end and the final score has been tallied.
This is the Year of the Lord’s FAVOR. How good a job are we
doin’ at being the Solution?