So there’s this part in Scripture where this woman is seduced by a serpent to take from the very tree God forbid her and her husband to eat from. This “serpent was more subtle [sic] than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made.” (Gen 3:1)
And he caught her all by herself.
He manipulated her into thinking God was holding back because He didn’t want her to be like Him. What she didn’t realize, or maybe she forgot, was that she was created in His image and likeness. She was created to be like Him.
But that’s not what the serpent meant. The serpent wanted her to think that she should be like God in that she could control herself and the world, just as God did. Where was her husband while this was taking place? We don’t know. Genesis never specifies, but it does say that she took that apple and gave it to her husband. And he ate it.
The first sin. This is the Original Sin that cast our first parents out of Paradise. They had it made. God provided everything for them. Their work was not in vain; they were in perfect harmony with God until this dreadful fall.
This verse this morning made me think of the debate on contraception. It was relentlessly pursued by Margaret Sanger, who wanted more than anything to make it legal for women to possess. She believed it would cure us of our oppression. In her day, she saw a lot of suffering. She saw many poor women who were so poor they could barely take care of themselves, much less the many children they had. She saw men as selfish lords, who didn’t seem to care that their wife was stuck at home all day, miserably taking care of their children. In her book, Woman and the New Race, Sanger claimed that women were begging her for birth control, that they couldn’t bear to have any more children and needed a way to avoid this in the future.
The first step is birth control. Through birth control she will attain to voluntary motherhood. Having attained this, the basic freedom of our sex, she will cease to enslave herself and the mass of humanity. Then, through the understanding of the intuitive forward urge within her, she will not stop at patching up the world; she will remake it. (loc 109)
Needless to say, she was eventually successful in her attempts to legalize birth control. In 1965, artificial means of avoiding pregnancy officially became a part of our culture. On the surface it seemed like a great victory for women. We now had a way to control our lives, to have a say, to be able to make some decisions regarding our state in life. Sanger believed children hindered a woman’s ability to participate in society in meaningful ways, so this was surely a victory for women in her mind.
But what happened when artificial birth control failed?
In 1973, a short eight years after legalized contraception, abortion became untouchable with Roe v Wade. Even Sanger had seemed to reject the horrors of abortion, claiming it was a terrible thing for a woman to have to face in her life, even calling it “violent” (loc 123) and “tribal; …common among the savages” (loc 141). She felt this stemmed from a feeling of having to decide to live in poverty, or to kill her own child. She fully believed contraception was the answer to the “horrors of abortion and infanticide.” (loc 229)
Reading these quotes, one would be led to think Sanger was opposed to such barbaric practices, but she then goes on to say that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” (loc 514) She was against large families, as it was her opinion that the children were burdensome to the mother. She desperately wanted to help these mothers, to alleviate their suffering and give them freedom by helping them have more control over their fertility.
Isn’t that what we are still trying to do?
We live in a world that is constantly trying to free us from anything that would cause us to suffer. First it was contraception, now it is abortion that is touted as the answer to a woman’s prayer. It will free her from bondage to a child. She can live freely without worrying about what to do with the baby. Is this truly freeing for her? Or is this freeing for us as a society?
What is the reason women have abortions most of the time? The Guttmacher Institute says it is because women feel like they cannot handle another child; they have “financial, emotional and time concerns about their ability to care for their existing children.”
This implies perhaps they are afraid of being a burden on those around them. Women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy know they will have to rely on others to raise the baby. They are ashamed of what has happened and how they got to where they are in the first place.
“Weren’t you careful?”
“Did he wear a condom?”
“Let’s try this contraception this time. Maybe this one will work for you.”
Or maybe, “You know your life is going to be hard. I can give you the information to our local Planned Parenthood and they can help you.”
Whose life is going to be hard? Her life will certainly be hard. But so will all those around her who love her. Her boyfriend’s/husband’s life will change. Her parents’ lives will change. Her friends’ lives will change. This baby will change the lives of every single person that mother is in contact with.
Why do those of us who are personally opposed to abortion continue to support this barbaric practice? Why would we oppose something that is so horrific, but think it’s OK for others?
I think we are afraid.
I think is us that don’t want the undue burden of walking with the person who is suffering. It is us who don’t want to help the mother take care of her baby. It is us who don’t want to watch our loved one suffer.
We are afraid our lives will change.
The serpent is still hard at work. He still wants us to think we can be like God and alleviate suffering and pain and have control over our lives. It’s a lie. It’s a big, fat lie, America. Stop plucking the apple from the tree and giving into temptation. Pick up your cross and follow Jesus.
Will you choose to help your loved one by walking with them during their trials, as Jesus does for us? Will you be His hands and feet? He is asking each of us as Christians to take up our crosses and to follow Him.
Even Jesus accepted help carrying His cross. Simon of Cyrene stepped in to help Him when no one else would. Jesus was still being scourged by the people. They were yelling at Him and throwing things at Him. The soldiers were still hitting him relentlessly. I’m sure Simon was scared to step in, as he could just have easily taken on the same beating as Jesus. But he did it anyway.
Women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy need to be reminded that they are created in the image and likeness of God. They need to know they are worth walking with. They need to know their baby they are carrying has the same value they do – as we all do.
Don’t leave the women in your lives by themselves to carry their crosses alone and be tempted to pluck the apple from the tree.
We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Be a Simon of Cyrene.
Be a Christian.
~ Karen Cross
Secretary, Charles County Right to Life