This is a guest post by Joani, wife of Dr. Hunter Burchett and mother of five adventuresome boys aged 7-16. A former homeschooling mom, she now serves as Assistant Director/Client Services Director at East Texas Pregnancy Help Center and studies at Liberty University. She is eternally grateful for her Saviour who redeemed her life. She is as kind a woman you will ever meet, and she also plays a mean violin!
I’ve written my own views on this issue here. When Joani shared similar concerns as a front line worker in a women’s clinic, I invited her to share with others. I hope it’s helpful to the cause and helpful in our relationships with the hurting.
With recent media coverage bringing to light some of the atrocities and crimes of abortion providers such as the Gosnell clinic, there has been a surge of articles comparing slavery to abortion. This concerns me… are we borrowing someone else’s suffering to make a point for another? Is this empathetic? What exactly are we communicating to hearts with these comparisons? What is the heart of Christ? I’ve daily had an increasing heavy heart each time I read a new article, and finally halted my reading to put my own thoughts together.
I’ve read more than a few disconcerting quotes lately, including: “Ever so slightly, the old South actually treated slaves better than liberals treat babies today” and “Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.” Working in a compassion ministry for women I see the painful effect that comparison can have. This comparison approach is not helpful for an individual or for a culture. To illustrate how hurtful these comparisons can be, I thought of two fictional ladies whose lives reflect that of many true-life stories- past and present.
Mary. The sweltering heat caused the sweat to drip down her face, mingling with the blood on her cracked hands. If she didn’t hurry with her work she would surely pay a price with her back – regardless of the reasons. The physical pain was nothing compared to the heart break Mary faced today. They had sold him. Her only son; she had prayed for him. Fought for him. Treasured him. Now he was gone forever, far away from her arms. She prayed that God would give her forgiveness for those who made these life-altering decisions for her. Her faith was the only thing that gave her peace in this world, and unforgiveness did not need to step in the way. She knew society told her she was not a person, she was just a slave… a piece of property – less than an animal.
Julie. Julie buried her head a little deeper into the soft pillow trying to hush and deny the sobs of a breaking heart. She agonized over the pain she held deep inside — not even sure how to think about healing. Did she even deserve to have her broken heart healed? Julie made a choice she felt had to be made. It was legal. It was quick. They told her it would “erase” the problem… but why oh why did the crisis feel more real now than ever?
Two pains…. Dare we compare them? Could you possibly say to”Mary” and “Julie”, “Hey, you’re similar to each other, how about I lump you together so we can easily help people see you…see the pain… see the need for change?”
We wouldn’t, right? We know better. We know we never compare grief and deep, painful matters of the heart. Not even one person will grieve or emotionally heal the same way as another.
Two Basic Problems Caused by Comparisons As I See It
Firstly, I think that comparisons with heart-wrenching, devastating subjects are simply just a bad idea. It’s not apples to apples. Counselors are taught that in the situation of grief one of the worst ideas ever is to say, “I understand totally” or “I know EXACTLY how you feel.” Abortion certainly requires political attention in order to change the public mindset. But how can we compare two very separate issues? Both pains are real. Both burdens need to be carried to the cross and placed safely into the hands of God. However we cope, walk-through, and look at these crises, they should not be thought of in the same way. In no way should either pain be negated, but such comparisons will cause the victims of these issues to feel their pain is forgotten or trampled.
Second, these politically-driven comparisons can hurt people spiritually and relationally. Are we careful to keep our political stances as Christians from causing further damage in very sensitive issues? Is not our first calling that of loving as Christ? Is not He our example? Daily, I am challenged by this balance. Yet more and more I realize the hurting needs of so many around me. Let us be mindful in all that we do or say that it is for the glory of God. While speaking the truth and battling the issues of this world, may we remember that we are not of this world. We are first to seek His kingdom (Matt. 6:33), and we should think about what that looks like when raising awareness on sensitive topics.
Two Questions to Ask in Hopes of a Better Approach
My challenge is for us to sit and think through two questions before we make comparisons and in light of the call to authentic love and concern for these topics.
Is it helpful?
These comparisons are intended to help point us to the sin-roots of abortion and to help us think about the true value for human souls. All of us clearly need to see God for who He is, and see ourselves for who we are as His created. A comparison approach can actually demean the value of those experiencing these hurts by shouting silently, “I’m not worried about how you feel. I still want to do this my way.” Is this helpful? No, it really isn’t. It distracts us from looking at each of these particular subjects with the care, concern, and intentionality they each deserve and need given their specific grief, mentalities, and social applications.
Are there better ways to effectively communicate for raising awareness on these topics?
Absolutely. Let’s continue to educate and raise awareness regarding these separate issues and share truth! Let’s minister healing, comfort, and hope to the broken and those effected very distinctly by these issues! Let’s look at the root of all these issues and look at it through the light of God’s desire for us. We can examine each distinctive issue with care, empathy, and hope for all to know our Father’s love. Let’s think about more effective forms of communicating and raising awareness that move toward healing for our culture, not furthering pain.
And truly, I get it.
I get why we try so hard – struggling and determined to bring awareness any way possible. Fearful of sitting on the sidelines, desirous to not repeat the history of those who ignored injustice and torment all around them. We are afraid of silence. We want to help people see. Like many of our methods though, comparison can further hurt those who have been wounded. Comparison can cause the audience we are trying to reach feel minimized and devalued. How can we enlighten if we build walls of mistrust? Equal, tender concern needs to be given while we minister truth and love to an individual or to our society as a whole. We bring the banner of God’s love waving higher than all – with the hope of truth bringing joy.
Is there hope for us all as we struggle to truly understand value? Our beautiful and amazing Creator loves us. He loves us so much that even though we’ve sinned and run from His embrace He pursues us. He sent His only Son as payment for our debt. Turn your eyes to your Saviour today, and know His hope for your life – His value for you – His love that makes you new. Let our hearts be inclined to know this love, and then be this love to the world around us today.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12: 9-12 (ESV)