Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Words that Support Life

As has been the case, I am behind on blogging. I haven't written my annual New Year's post, but still hope to find time to, especially before Baby Hurst arrives.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the loss of our first baby, Judah. He was eight weeks old in the womb when we lost him. Tomorrow, I have a routine ultrasound scheduled with the new practice I am going to here in Tuscaloosa. I am 35 weeks into this pregnancy with our second son and I look forward to getting another peek at him tomorrow. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe the Lord intentionally put these two events next to each other and He is very kind to do so.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to talk about these pregnancies and to know how to be pro-life in a non pro-life culture. What are ways that we can support the life and dignity of the unborn? Not everyone is called to lead a protest, to sit outside an abortion clinic, to volunteer at a pregnancy resource center, or even to give financially to support pro-life causes and organizations. We all have limited resources and time and must use them as God leads us. The Bible very clearly, though, articulates the worth and dignity of every human being from before they are born until the day they die. Their days are numbered by God and He alone has the right to shorten or lengthen them.

There is one way, however, that every evangelical Christian can express his or her pro-life theology and that is through our speech. How do you speak about the unborn? How about pregnancies and miscarriages? After our miscarriage, I have been thinking a lot about this. I am in my second pregnancy now and in conversations with others, both inside and outside of the Christian faith, I am inevitably asked (especially now that we live in a new city), “Is this your first?” Well, Yes and No. Yes, this baby will be my first delivery, but, no, this is my second baby. My husband and I didn’t get to meet or hold our first baby. But he did have life and he does have a name. It’s hard to know how to best answer that question. I know the meaning behind the question is “Do you have any children that are here in the flesh?” But regardless of whether a baby makes it through pregnancy or not, the baby is still a baby and the would-be parents are still parents.

I have answered the question both ways, struggling in my heart with the most appropriate reply. I want to give honor to our first baby, to his short little life, but I also don’t want to go into the details or some long explanation. As the months have gone by, however, I am becoming more convinced that choosing to acknowledge the loss of our first baby when answering questions about how many children we have or whether this is our first pregnancy says volumes about what I believe about human life and dignity. If our first baby would have been born and then passed, I don’t think I would have hesitated to say that I have two children with one being no more and that this is my second pregnancy.

We live in a hush-hush culture when it comes to miscarriage, even within the walls of the church. People, Christians and non-Christians alike, do not know what to do with women and families who have suffered through a miscarriage(s). Before my own miscarriage, I remember being in this same boat. I felt compassion, yes, but did not think deeply of the significance of a miscarriage or the impact it has on the parents. We expect the parents to grieve momentarily and then quickly move on, to “try again.” We don’t consider the loss of hopes and dreams that are quickly envisioned when that pregnancy test shows positive. We don’t think about the trauma for the mother from the miscarriage itself or even for the father who loved the baby just as much and experienced the trauma alongside his wife. For unbelievers, this is more understandable as they may or may not recognize an unborn baby as a baby. For Christians, however, could it be that we are too focused on the here and now, the things that are seen? Granted, my husband and I never met our first child. We never got to see him or feel him or hear him. We barely had the chance to announce his presence. But he was real. He was our baby. 

One of the most basic ways we as believers can challenge the culture of death is by speaking in ways that support life in our private conversations with both believers and unbelievers. It may be awkward or conversation-stopping, but should that stop us? The gospel can be awkward and conversation-stopping as well, but it gives life to those who believe it and we are commanded to testify to its truth and goodness. The gospel is life and gives life and will give life to the conversations surrounding the unborn if we are willing to lay aside our fears and stand up for what is true and beautiful and lovely.

So the question we must ask ourselves is: Do we really believe that every life matters? Do we believe that a miscarried life matters? Do we believe that unborn babies with genetic abnormalities matter? If we do, how will that translate into our speech and actions? Like I said, I am still wrestling through some of these questions (or maybe with just the boldness in speaking up in conversations).  

How will your words support life?

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