Why I am Pro-Life

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This is a follow-up to the Mohler piece I posted yesterday - and the comments some of you made there. I want to tell the story of my evolving thoughts on birth control and children.

As anyone who's been around my blog MommyLife for a while knows, I come from a very bad background - divorce, abandonment, foster homes, sexual abuse, poverty marked my early childhood. No family love, no spiritual foundation. In the 60's and 70's, the counterculture provided a sense of identity and meaning for me that I never had. I was a Washington DC antiwar activist and a radical feminist - a spokeswoman for the pro-abortion movement. At the same time, there was part of me that was very positive: I married, had two daughters Samantha Sunshine and Jasmine Moondance, got my education as a Montessori teacher and taught impoverished preschool children to give them a better start.

On the outside, I looked confident and together - though definitely very antisocial. In 1976, after moving to San Francisco, the demons from the past became bigger than my ability to keep them down. I became a drug addict, abandoned my first husband and Samantha, and had an abortion which at the time I almost regarded as a rite of passage. You can read more about that in this article I originally published a few years ago in The Washington Times.

Fortunately - as some of you have read about in Lord, Please Meet Me in the Laundry Room - God was guiding my life in ways I would only later recognize. When my ex-husband threatened to put Samantha in foster care if I didn't take her, as irresponsible and hard-hearted as I was, I somehow rose to the occasion and took her back. I completely credit God with this amazing decision, as at the time I certainly did not have the character to make an unselfish choice on my own.

During my cocaine period, I developed a life-threatening case of pelvic inflammatory disease, which went undetected because of my constantly self-anesthetized condition. When it was finally discovered, I was immediately hospitalized and whisked into surgery in the middle of the night, only to awaken alone (by that time I had no friends capable of holding someone’s hand through that kind of ordeal) with the doctors telling me the results. They’d found an abscess on my Fallopian tube the size of a grapefruit. They had debated about whether to remove all my reproductive organs (I was 29 at the time), but even though I’d signed the papers they’d given me beforehand to let them make that call, they’d opted to go the more conservative route - two weeks in the hospital on IV antibiotics and Demerol and a few months of bed rest and Percodan at home.

They said I would never be able to have children.

My girls endured several more years of living with a morally bankrupt and 100% self-centered woman they called mother before in 1980 I cried out to God for help with my drug addiction and alcoholism. After a couple years in AA learning to live without those things and beginning to deal with the issues from my past, I met Tripp. We considered ourselves spiritual soul mates and meditated together each morning, even had "visions" of our past lives together. After our first date, he more or less moved in. What would you expect from two people with no moral foundation?

Three months later, when I missed my period, I went in for a pregnancy test (this was before you could do it yourself) and discovered I was pregnant. Amazing, since I had been using a diaphragm (just to be sure).

It was December 26, 1982. When I told Tripp, he said, “Well then, we’ll have to get married.” Another of those God-moments when looking back I see his hand on my life. Tripp had also been through two abortions with a previous girlfriend and had the same political leanings as I. For people like us, not knowing God or understanding the value of human life, there was no guilt or shame connected with an abortion. It was a slight inconvenience to prevent a bigger inconvenience.

And yet the thought of an abortion never entered our minds. Nor did living together, although we certainly were obvious candidates.

Instead, we were married a week later – January 2, 1983. Our first months together with very ragged and rough as neither of us had the emotional maturity or tools to handle marriage. We even separated for a few weeks, but somehow pulled it back together. Joshua Gabriel was born August 20, 1983.

Nine months later, though using birth control, I found myself pregnant again. Tripp was shocked and not too thrilled – he was seven years younger than I and already the father of three, after all. Until one day I was at the bank and started hemorrhaging. At the hospital they said I’d lost the baby. We wept together, immediately overcome by the meaning of the loss of life. First ultrasound confirmed no baby. More weeping. But the second level showed the baby still there. Now we knew we really wanted this baby. And yet during that pregnancy I went through two more hospitalizations where the loss seemed immanent.

Matthew Raphael was born January 9, 1986 (are you catching the significance of these names?) When the time came to start using birth control again, finding myself repulsed by the idea I talked it over with Tripp. Keep in mind that by this time we’d been searching for God together for three years. We were very sincere and devout – still meditating daily and doing all we could to be spiritual – just didn’t know Jesus as Savior or Redeemer.

Together, we came to the conclusion that our first calling was to be parents and that we should surrender to God (in our limited understanding) in that area, trusting that our family’s needs would be provided for. Today I would say we made a covenant with God, but I didn’t know the lingo in those days :)

So we did. Surrender was good. We were also discovering the healing that comes for childhood scars when you become a parent yourself and work to make things better for your own children. We were sincere. We were dedicated.

I became pregnant immediately and on 8/1/86 Benjamin Michael was born. Through a series of events described here, Tripp and I became Christians on March 21, 1987. It was immediately obvious to us who had been in charge of our marriage and our parenthood all along – and so though many other things about us changed, our commitment to parenthood and to life never wavered. In spite of opposition of friends, family – and even our church, we went on to have six more children – three by birth and three by adoption (one of whom would not be here today without our willingness to intervene and accept responsibility for him).

Today, each of my first two daughters has five children, and Samantha’s family is preparing to adopt a sixth. God has been gracious in giving me the opportunity to apologize and them the ability to forgive. By accepting the opportunity he has given us to be fruitful and multiply, we are maximizing our family’s legacy and his light in a dark world.

I have taken the time to tell this story in great detail because - kinda like the phrase from my radical political days “The personal is the political” – I believe in the power of our personal lives to testify to the truth. My life tells the story of the power of God when you surrender and trust him with every part of your life.

Personally, I am 100% pro-life. That means I do not believe in using any form of birth control – not even NFP. I do not believe in any artificial means such as IVF for making babies. I do not believe in stem cell research. I do not believe in euthanasia.

I have observed the Evangelical community with great sadness because of their myopic vision of family. I have inwardly mourned the lack of understanding of the blessing of children. I grieve at the disrespectful remarks I hear evangelical mothers make – like “Two’s all I can handle” “How do you do it? I have just one and I am going crazy.”

Read the history of birth control. It wasn’t just the Catholic Church that was against birth control – it was ALL churches. Martin Luther, considered it a sin "worse than adultery or incest." Calvin and Wesley, as well as theologians like Spurgeon and Pink - all condemned birth control.

In 1930 the Episcopal Church became the first to allow birth control, just as today they are the first to sanction gay religious leaders and gay marriage – does that tell you anything?

I was ashamed last January at the Pro-Life Rally in Washington DC – ashamed at the lack of evangelicals and the strong committed presence of Catholics.

But see, I don’t believe most evangelicals are really Pro-Life. In general, they are just anti-abortion, just as the media says. The only true Pro-Life position is that espoused by the Catholic Church and embraced by a handful of evangelicals like Rick and Jan Hess, parents of ten and authors of A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ (which I have copies of – see Barbara’s Picks). After years of being marginalized in the Christian community, this small band of Pro-Life believers finally found a voice in Christianity Today last fall in an article called "A Hard Pill to Swallow."

Because of this issue – which I believe is the heart of Christianity – I have thought many times of converting to Catholicism. Yes, I know all the chorus of evangelical objections to Catholic doctrine, but I’ve traveled widely enough in Christian circles to encounter some equally weird doctrines in Pentecostal churches, for instance. And to me the sanctity of life is way more important than the Mary and the Saints issue. As for papal authority, at least the pope’s voice has been consistently and 100% pro-life, unlike evangelical leaders.

Did you know that Randall Terry – a man who’s dedicated his life to the Pro-Life movement – recently converted to Catholicism? Can you understand why?

By now many of my readers have clicked outa here, deciding never to read Barbara Curtis again. I don’t really like to bring up divisive issues. I prefer to stand on common ground – which mothers have plenty of. But people have asked me, and I felt compelled to give a definitive statement on what I believe and why. That also means sharing my frustration with the evangelical church which in so many ways is conformed to the world and feels entitled to stay that way.

This is my story and why I believe what I believe. It doesn’t affect how I feel about other Christians and is not a litmus test for whether I can love and relate to them. My own daughters make their own decisions in this matter and it doesn’t change how I feel about them or act toward them. It is a matter of their personal faith and conviction.

In this area, as in all other areas of faith, I defer to this bit of wisdom from a 17th century theologian, Peter Meiderlin:

“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

2 Comments

I have got to tell you, I am a Protestant Charismatic Evangelical. Your anti-abortion stand raises the bar beyond a secular issue to a spiritual issue. I appreciate it! Thanks for hammering away and keep up the good work.

I have just read Barbara's article about no birth control. Blessed my socks off!




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