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May 14, 2004

Grace, More Grace

"If they repent, they should be met with forgiveness like any other sinner, and programs like Rachel's Vineyard to bring about emotional healing are great, but I don't think that they have a right to demand that they should be treated as if nothing had ever happened. I fear that I may sound like the elder brother of the Prodigal Son or the laborers who worked all day and got the same pay as those who worked one hour, but I think that it is an insult to women who did the right thing to act as if the differnce between them and women who did not should be completely wiped away."

To which I (Emily) responded:

Could you clarify how exactly you would want to treat me differently?

Would I be allowed to receive and extend the sign of peace? Would I be allowed to sing in the choir?

Do you want those of us who have had an abortion to wear a special garment so that newcomers and visitors don't accidentally treat us the same?

Should we be required to participate in an annual stone-throwing ceremony in the parking lot? Would real stones be used or would they be symbolic stones made out of paper mache? Would our remaining children be allowed to watch the ceremony?

Or is it your recommendation that I be allowed to participate in the life of the church, but would be shunned from your social circle?

Is the only time that we'd sit down to a meal together be the annual Pro-Life banquet when I get invited to speak about the horror of abortion from a personal perspective?

Or would you recommend that we be treated just the same on the surface, but every so often--perhaps in line at the grocery store, perhaps on the sidelines as we watch our kids compete in the swim meet, perhaps as I prepare myself to receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist--you or one of your friends would lean over and whisper into my ear, "I haven't forgotten what you did."

(via AfterAbortion May 8, 2004)


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I always cringe when I see people (particulary on message boards lately) say things like - How could she do it? "I" would never do that, etc. - Don't they wonder how many women reading their words have been hurt by abortion? These women have been exploited, coherced, deceived, and then suffered the violence of having their children ripped from their wombs.

Those looking down on them are often the same people who won't even look at abortion pictures because it makes them "feel bad".

People tend to think that even if they were in similar circumstances, they would make better choices. Not necessarily.

People seem to rate sins on a scale, and our own personal sins are usually at the bottom. Wishful thinking.

Posted by: Carol at May 14, 2004 02:15 PM

Becky Pippert told a story once about a woman who came to her and confessed that she'd had an abortion. She was wracked with guilt and horror that she could have committed murder. Mrs. Pippert said something to the effect of, "It shouldn't surprise you. It's not your first murder." She was of course speaking of the woman's guilt for the death of Jesus -- a guilt we all share. And we should treat murderers differently than non-murderers. Of course the only non-murderer ever to live is Jesus. So the way we should treat the murderers differently is not to worship them. All others we should treat on the basis of their repentance, not their sin.

I think there are sins that must make a difference in how we treat people from then on out. For instance, an adulterous spouse may be divorced -- the marriage covenant may be irrevocably severed. And I lean toward a lifetime ban from the ministry for pastors caught in some gross and heinous sin. Not that these things are unforgiveable, but they can disqualify a person from certain roles and privileges.

There is a scale for sins. Jesus Himself, for example, said "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" (John 19:11). But I absolutely agree with Carol that it is out tendency to formulate this scale to favor ourselves, rating our own iniquities as minor peccadillos.

We are kidding ourselves when we do this. The only sin I know about this Emily chick is that she had an abortion. Yeah, that is a biggie, but how does it measure against the track record of the sinner I know best? The one who, moment by moment, fails to love the Lord her God with all her being, bows to idols of self and stuff, blasphemes His name with every thought that doesn't glorify it, murders with hatred, whores with lust, and steals with discontent? If I am at all in touch with reality, I know nothing of anyone else's sins compared to what I know of my own. And neither does the woman to whom Emily is responding. And neither does Emily. And neither do you.

Posted by: Valerie (Kyriosity) at May 14, 2004 05:42 PM

Thank you, Carol and Valerie, for the thoughtful posts.

Posted by: TulipGirl at May 15, 2004 07:43 AM

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