Today I attended a rally and march to express to the reconvening SCOTUS members this coming week that Roe v. Wade is something Jesus cares about. I had lots of uneasy stares in my direction from the others gathered near me, since I wore my black t-shirt with the words JUSTICE. IT’S A JESUS THING. blazed across the front along with my black choker mother-of-pearl cross. (The other notably Christian folks were standing on the opposite side of the street with huge graphic and bloody images in hand). You can imagine the confusion this created for some: a Christian who is asking us to remember that Jesus cares for the justice of EVERYONE, not only justice for the fetus OR justice only for the woman? That’s because “justice” for Jesus is about being in healthy, right relationship with each other—it’s not about MY rights being “equal” to YOUR rights. It’s about listening to every situation in its full uniqueness to determine how justice can truly be served in the eyes of a God who values every single life involved. And this requires responsible and humane legislation.
The hundreds of (mostly) women and girls gathered at the federal building in Ann Arbor, MI on this sunny afternoon represented every age imaginable. At one point I was moved to tears as I walked through campus next to a pair of girls about 6 or 7 years old, carrying their own sign together. It is a deep sadness to me that our female children are walking in protests in 2021 carrying signs reminding our lawmakers to whom their female bodies belong.
If Jesus were there today, I feel certain one of the counter-protesters across the street would have cornered him to ask what he thought about Roe v. Wade. In imagining what would have ensued, I’m suddenly reminded of how he handled the woman caught in adultery (John 7: 53 -8: 11) or the woman who had been hemorrhaging for a dozen years (Luke 8: 43-48); both these situations were fraught with the reality that these women would continue to be cut-off from the life they knew in their community or killed—because of their biology.
And Jesus responded in a way that put the women back in right, healthy relationship with their bodies and with their souls.
How? By honoring their humanity.
Jesus did not objectify nor judge either of these women; he did what was needed to allow them to gain access in their lives to the health of right relationship—with themselves, with others, and with God. Take a minute to reread these texts above if they aren’t fresh in your mind.
Today at the rally I heard about a woman from Texas recently whose embryo had no heartbeat on Monday’s visit to Planned Parenthood, but when she arrived the next day for the procedure there was a heartbeat detected, and so she was relegated to the many females throughout history forced to give birth—or try to end this unwanted pregnancy in a medically unsafe manner. I heard about the woman in her 30s, who, on the same day that she learned she had breast cancer, she also learned that she was pregnant—and how a horrible decision would be made even more tragic without the social policies present to honor her humanity in the process.
I also walked for quite a while behind a woman whose sign gave me much to think about; it was a full quote by Sister Joan Chittister:
“I do not believe that just because you are opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, a child educated, a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
Indeed. What parable might Jesus tell to an audience like the one in countless rallies across the country today to broaden the conversation between pro-life and pro-choice? I can imagine him walking into the street to stand between the protesters and the counter-protesters, beginning with these words “Once there were 3 women who said they loved God and loved creation…
and then he would conclude with these words: “Which of these women was truly pro-life because of the way she was pro-choice?”
Think about his parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), and see if you can come up with your own paradoxical parable that broadens the conversation for those around you. Roe v. Wade is far too important to our very humanity and to the health of creation for us to do less than bring our most creative selves to the table.