The Children

HH and I have been watching one of those semi-mindless streaming dramas involving crime and secrecy. You know the shows. We are watching one now involving two grown men befriending each other in prison. Both of them had traumatic childhoods that impacted their adulthood. Both tell the other that things were pretty great, that their parents were loving, that they have mostly good memories.

But we also see the characters’ backstories and the truth is horrible. Parents who swore at them, left them alone for long hours, hit them, emotionally devastated them, used them. As a pastor of almost 40 years, I have met these children. They come from all kinds of backgrounds. Their families might have no money or lots of money. I’ve seen countless examples of parents whose first concern has been themselves instead of their children. They make decisions based on what’s best for themselves sometimes because of addiction and sometimes because of their own emotional immaturity.

I also know miracle people: those who were unloved as children, castigated – even by their families – for being different, for being born. And yet, they had at least one person who loved them unconditionally along the way. A teacher. A pastor. A neighbor. A sibling.

They still bear scars and unhealed wounds. But they are also capable of showing unconditional love. And they are remarkable friends and parents themselves.

I think about all these things as our political leaders declare that bodily autonomy is not a given. You can carry a child without consent. Even birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies is being questioned.

For all the pro-life talk, the truth is that we are not a nation of pro-lifers by any definition of that term. We – as a nation – do not value school teachers, do not offer equitable health care, do not treasure undocumented children, do not treasure queer children. This is the most heinous of sins – especially if we call ourselves pro-life.

I’m talking to both “liberal” and “conservative” grown ups here. What child will we tutor? What child will we house? What child will we feed? What child will we send to college – who is not our own? What child will we welcome into our lives who is not already part of our family/community/house of worship?

This is for all of us – especially if we believe there should be no abortion and no birth control. And the irony is that most of the people of faith I know who believe abortion should be an option and birth control should be a given are already committed to loving – unconditionally – children who are not “their own.”

This is about human lives. Who are we really loving out there?

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