On the Women’s March

Last week’s march on Washington and many other cities drew widespread national attention. Many were for it, and how dare you criticize it. Others were against it, and how dare you entertain the idea of going to it. I am usually pretty good at resisting such binaries. The intense irony of the binary was summed up well with Hannah Anderson’s tweet:

We will get back to the specifics raised in her tweet at the end of this post.

I didn’t go to the march, mostly because I didn’t have one close by that I could go to. If I had, I would have held up a pro-all-of-life poster of some nature. I was deeply disturbed that the organizers didn’t let pro-life feminists into the march. But then I realized, Christian pro-all-of-life women and men needed to show up anyway. And many did. That is exactly the kind of action in relationship with need that Jesus taught.

Matthew 5

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

How much wisdom Jesus communicated through the choice of salt and light as the analogy for a Christian’s need of involvement in the world. Salt in its container on the counter of the kitchen, looking at the food across the way but never touching it, does not do anything worthy of its name. Salt that is in contact with meat but has lost its distinctive influence is not doing anything worthy of its name either. Salt is for flavoring. Salt is for preserving. And salt is meaningless if it is not in contact with the thing that needs flavor or preserving.

How can we be salt and light through something like a women’s march? What value is there in applying ourselves directly to the meat in question?

1) By affirming the concerns that we hold in common with other women at such a march, we can show how many of them flow from a Judeo-Christian understanding of ethics.

We are concerned by Trump’s language of sexual assault because God created women in His image, and He was the first to proclaim a legal penalty for sexual assault. We are concerned by Trump’s lifelong pattern of insulting women on their looks because God taught us that while man looks on the outward, God looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7). We are concerned by Trump’s ability to discard his wives because God first instilled in us the need for faithful covenant in relationship. We are concerned by Trump’s mockery of the disabled and inflammatory statements concerning immigrants because God was the first to teach us to value and care for the poor and marginalized in society.

2) By affirming the concerns Christians share with a secular women’s movement, we can show the natural out-working of those same concerns applied to life before birth.

My next sentence may be the most important you will ever read on defeating abortion. We can not show the worth of lives before birth without showing the worth of life after birth. The perceived dichotomy between the two has become the great stumbling block for the pro-life movement, often championed by those who are also willing to defund social services that are a lifeline for the women considering abortion who might choose to give birth to their child. As we affirm the dignity of all human life after birth (the disabled, the immigrant, the poor, the marginalized) and advocate for a safety net for vulnerable children and single mothers who bring them into the world, we remove social stumbling blocks that cause many to consider abortion an option. We bolster a pro-life position when we do not separate it from an all-life position. We bolster a pro-life position when we put off language that dehumanizes the poor and marginalized that would consider abortion.

In conclusion, Hannah’s tweet reflects an irony for many conservative believers who resonated with parts of the women’s march initiatives. I particularly resonated with their first principle: Ending Violence. “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies.” Though Trump is not the first president with multiple allegations of sexual violence against him, he has definitely been the first to glory publicly in his misogyny, boasting to Billy Bush about 2nd degree sexual assault (sexual contact without consent for which he later apologized). But his multiple appearances on Howard Stern have best reflected his attitude towards women, and for those he’s only reveled, never apologized. Is it appropriate to call Trump a sexual predator? Well, his bragging of grabbing women without consent certainly fits that label. “A sexual predator is a person seen as obtaining or trying to obtain sexual contact with another person in a metaphorically “predatory” or abusive manner.”  His inclusion of strip clubs in his casinos and glorification of porn culture fit such a label as well.

It is ironic that a man who glories in the male appetite for sex without consequences (for the man at least), which is the very culture that puts women in a place in which they feel they need abortion, is the same man celebrated for hopefully ending abortion. If you don’t address the need for abortion and male participation in a hook up culture that wants sex without responsibility, you will always have abortion. You may have it illegally. You may have it in back alleys. But you will always have abortion.

So I was willing to march, because though the march organizers want both abortion and a change to the culture of predatory sex that Trump has come to represent, I believe there is a better way. When believers address and rebuke the culture of predatory sex Trump represents, we are salt and light aiding in ending abortion. I am encouraged to see more and more orthodox believers putting off the binary between pro-choice and pro-birth and advocating for flourishing life both before and after birth. In doing so, we reinforce that flourishing life was God’s idea first and that we can go to the Bible for wisdom for life, and health, and peace. Truly, through Abraham’s Seed and the Word that reveals Him, all nations shall be blessed.

 

**Waterbrook/Multnomah is offering a BOGO promotion for preorders of Is the Bible Good for Women? Seeking Clarity and Confidence through a Jesus-centered Understanding of Scripture, which releases in March.  Though I started this project 3 years ago, it seems more relevant and needed than ever.**

 

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26 Responses to On the Women’s March

  1. Dave Weidlich January 24, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    I’ll march to that. Well said.

    • Wendy January 24, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

      Thanks, Dave.

  2. Kim January 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    I don’t disagree with you voicing concerns over the way that Trump has treated women in the past. His comments were disgusting and actions far from admirable. However, I’m frustrated that so much outrage is being directed at Trump when these same woman have never been the least bit concerned with the comments and actions of men like Howard Stern, Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, etc. It’s awful that Trump was on Stern’s show, but isn’t as equally awful that Stern even has a show? Why is Trump a sexist and Stern just a funny guy who has a radio show? Where was the march when Clinton’s antics and infidelity were discovered? Why was there no outcry from women demanding that they not being treated as sex objects? I get that Trump is the president and maybe there is a need to hold that office to a higher standard, but if he’s held to that standard, then everyone needs to be held to that same standard. If Hillary had won the election, liberals would scoff at conservatives taking to the streets to protest her pervert husband once again being in the White House and able to seduce young women. You want to call out Trump, so be it, but be sure you call out every other politician, musician, Hollywood producer, writer, church leader, etc. that treats women exactly the same (or worse). In failing to highlight others, you show that there isn’t a real concern about women’s rights, only a concern over who won the presidency.

    PS – I do read your blog often and know that you do make an effort to highlight issues within the church and the way that men may abuse their position. My comments are necessarily directed at you, just in response to the whole march. I’m concerned about this sudden need to make sure Trump is squeaky clean, morally, (and I doubt, when he was engaged in such behavior that his mind was on becoming president one day) while ignoring the moral short comings of many other men and women in powerful positions.

    • JB January 24, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

      Kim, you carried my thoughts!

    • Carrie January 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

      Kim, I agree with your thoughts!

    • Wendy January 24, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

      Kim and JB,

      Thanks for interacting. I think there are 3 important things to keep in mind.

      1) Bill Clinton was impeached 17 years ago. Saturday’s marchers spanned several generations, but they definitely skewed young, 20-40 years old in particular. So I don’t think we can pin acceptance or defense of Clinton’s infidelities on them.

      2) I think if a democratic president today used the power of his office to solicit sex with an intern, the reaction would be very different. Our society as a whole has a much better understanding today of consent in areas of power differential.

      3) But my primary observation is that it has never been OK to excuse immorality in one area because of immorality in another, particularly immorality that has consequences for another. That is what drives me crazy about this line of reasoning. After 16 years of presidents who were faithful to their wives without any accusations of infidelity or sexual abuse, it is now the Republicans who put forward the sleezeball, using the excuse that Bill Clinton did it too. Someone has to stop the cycle of evil begetting evil, and I believe it is the Church alone that is equipped (and obligated) to step off that hamster wheel and offer a better way. Christians of all people should not be employing the reasoning that Bill Clinton did it too!

  3. Barbara W January 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    You speak my heart and mind! I’m looking eagerly for ways to build the kind of bridges that will let us work together with others where we agree without sacrificing Biblical principles.

  4. Cory January 24, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank you, Kim, for sharing so clearly what I believe. Am I ignorant and blind to Trump’s character flaws? Absolutely not! And I have no dreamy notions of Trump as savior to America. For me, the thought of Hilary as president filled me with much more fear and trepidation than with Trump as president. She is a socialist disquised as a democrat. Why is there no outcry from Christians for Hillary’s role in the Benghazi murders?

    • Wendy January 24, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

      1) Hilary isn’t the president.

      2) There was plenty of outcry from Christians for Hilary’s role in Benghazi.

      3) I’ll repeat my point I put under Kim’s comment. It has never been OK to excuse immorality in one area because of immorality in another, particularly immorality that has consequences for another. That is what drives me crazy about this line of reasoning. After 16 years of presidents who were faithful to their wives without any accusations of infidelity or sexual abuse, it is now the Republicans who put forward the sleezeball, using the excuse that Bill Clinton did it too. Someone has to stop the cycle of evil begetting evil, and I believe it is the Church alone that is equipped (and obligated) to step off that hamster wheel and offer a better way. Christians of all people should not be employing the reasoning that Bill Clinton did it too!

  5. Wendy January 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    One more thing. It would be wrong of me not to distinguish between Clinton’s known behavior and Trump’s. There is a major difference in the two — primarily that Trump PROMOTES and GLORIFIES his sexual immorality and misogyny. There are a lot of sexually immoral people, but the difference in them and those that promote and glory in it is like the difference in manslaughter and 1st degree murder. This is a very crude, offensive set of excerpts from Trump’s times on Howard Stern, but it clearly demonstrates the glory he finds in his immorality and misogyny. http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/08/politics/trump-on-howard-stern/

    • Deb O'Brien January 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

      What percentage of conservative Christians such as myself could not in all good conscience vote for the ‘sleezeball’ who is now our president? I would hope that it was higher than 50% but I’m not naive. So many Christians couldn’t vote for Hillary (nor could I), so they went to the lesser evil. But methinks all Americans will be reaping the whirlwind with this man. “He promotes and glorifies his sexual immorality and misogyny.” How do we pray for such a man? As the early Christians prayed for Nero, I suspect.

    • Ashlynn February 3, 2017 at 2:45 am #

      Hello, could I also offer insight on not only the glorying in sexual predatory behavior but on the timing …? Clinton’s infidelity was a scandal and brought about while he was in office , the American public voted for Trump knowing and clearly seeing his view (and use ) of women clearly expressed. From my perspective the march is not discontent with the results of the elections but as Wendy said a defense for the value of ALL life , a value Trump does not exhibit.

  6. Helen Louise Herndon January 24, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    Many very insightful and good thoughts, Wendy. Trump is, unfortunately, perhaps a representative of the times in which we live. I couldn’t and didn’t vote for him. There are too many sad cases in both Democrat and Republican men of power and influence. I have been very concerned about our culture and society, but I am more concerned about the Church. When wives of elders of a Reformed Faith church and wives of professors of a Reformed Faith seminary seek counseling because their husbands are addicted to pornography, my heart sinks. If this is happening in the Church (and in other branches as well), what expectations of those in and of the world can we have? We must raise the value of women in the Church to where it belongs as well. Just some sorrowful thoughts.

    • Wendy January 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      I mourn with you, Helen. It’s a fight to believe sometimes that God is sanctifying His church. But I know He is.

  7. Heather Evans January 24, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    THANK YOU for helping me to clarify my own thoughts and perspective on this. Well said and I feel encouraged and less alone in the burden that I carry in how to be salt and light as a woman during this challenging time.

    • Wendy January 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      I’m so glad it was helpful, Heather!

  8. Ingrid January 24, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

    Don’t think most unwanted surprise pregnancies are caused by predators. Some are of course, but a lot of the abortion clinic traffic is just someone who didn’t think about the need to have a home ready to bring a child into (ie marriage). I realize there are many scenarios, but there is a lot of “free sex” going on that ends up being very costly. I’m all for continued involvement in the woman’s to be considered pro- all of life. I get that. Dont just get them to have the child and then say, ok, you did the right thing, have fun see ya later. Hopefully some of Trumps “men” that he collected for his cabinet will kick him in the rear if he ever says anything disparaging of women again. As far as this womens march, I never really heard a definitive reason for the march. It was broad and depending on who you talked to it was a protest against Trump , it wasn’t a protest against trump, just his policies, it was a protest against the things they are ‘sure” will happen, it was a protest about womens rights it was a protest for “nasty women” (their term not mine) etc etc etc. there was enough I didn’t want to identify with that I didn’t feel at all compelled to go. I don’t see life in terms of rights all the time. I am marching to the drum of what is God’s will. That may or may not include in my life aspects that pertain to the rights for which they are fighting.

  9. Saralyn January 25, 2017 at 8:17 am #

    My disorderly reading habits threw an interesting and timely juxtaposition at me this morning: I recently picked up Ann Kennedy’s book Nailed It and was reading her piece on Lot and his exit from Sodom. At the same time, my husband is preparing for a sermon series on Revelation, and I like to study with him. Like Lot and the 7 churches, I’m “caught in between righteousness and comfort.” “[I] don’t really want God to be angry at sin. [ I] don’t really want him to judge the world.” Yet the nasty man is Commander in Chief and the nasty girls march for the right to be as nasty as he. So I’m willing to toss out my daughter to the nasty crowd at the door in order to keep my illusion that everything is fine. And the dragon lurks. “[T]here is much grief every step of the way.”

  10. Scotty Mac January 25, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Hi Wendy,

    Thanks again for the challenging and thought provoking post pushing us to consider a subject area about which we so often would rather settle for an “either/or” dichotomy, rather than a “both/and” way forward!

    It is not just the unborn we must might for, but the mother, it is not just the abortion clinic that we must confront, but the irresponsible and/or neglectful and/or predatory father who- all too often- experiences little consequence when pregnancy occurs, it is not just the culture of infanticide- cloaked in clinical terminology- that we must see changed, but- just as importantly- our own hearts towards those who- in their desperation and/or blindness- see abortion as their only viable option…. Oh, that Christians would so love the cause of “life” that we would be willing to lay our rights and privileges and comforts down to see hearts and minds changed! Is this not what the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to? Are we not to serve as Christ served, love as He loved, and lay our lives down for others as He did for us?

    After I read your post here, I happened upon another article written by Frederica Mathewes-Green that hit on some of the same areas you are pushing into. I found the following paragraph very impactful:
    “Many years ago I wrote something in an essay about abortion, and I was surprised that the line got picked up and frequently quoted. I’ve seen it in both pro-life and pro-choice contexts, so it appears to be something both sides agree on. I wrote, ‘No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.’ Strange, isn’t it, that both pro-choice and pro-life people agree that is true? Abortion is a horrible and harrowing experience. That women choose it so frequently shows how much worse continuing a pregnancy can be. Essentially, we’ve agreed to surgically alter women so that they can get along in a man’s world. And then expect them to be grateful for it. Nobody wants to have an abortion. And if nobody wants to have an abortion, why are women doing it, 2,800 times a day? If women doing something 2,800 times daily that they don’t want to do, this is not liberation we’ve won. We are colluding in a strange new form of oppression.”

    Until Christians are willing to address the underlying factors and circumstances that drive abortion in our culture (i.e. not simply sin, but the systemic nature of the problem), we will not truly be “pro-life,” merely “pro-birth.” However, as we begin to address the bigger picture- as many Christians are starting to do- we may yet, by God’s grace, live up to the high calling of being “pro-life.”

    Or, as you put it:
    “We can not show the worth of lives before birth without showing the worth of life after birth. The perceived dichotomy between the two has become the great stumbling block for the pro-life movement, often championed by those who are also willing to defund social services that are a lifeline for the women considering abortion who might choose to give birth to their child. As we affirm the dignity of all human life after birth (the disabled, the immigrant, the poor, the marginalized) and advocate for a safety net for vulnerable children and single mothers who bring them into the world, we remove social stumbling blocks that cause many to consider abortion an option. We bolster a pro-life position when we do not separate it from an all-life position. We bolster a pro-life position when we put off language that dehumanizes the poor and marginalized that would consider abortion.”

    Thanks again Wendy!

  11. Lynn Betts January 25, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    Thanks for addressing this exceptionally well, Wendy!

    My only qualification is on the continuing classification of all abortions, at any time and circumstance, as morally wrong (sinful, to be classed as murder) from a Christian perspective. I recognize this is the typical conservative Christian view (i.e., personhood/imago dei beginning at or near biological conception), but it is not the only biblically-supportable view, as you know, from previously given links to some of those views. And I notice that you (Wendy) sometimes do refer to a “viability” threshold, so that’s at least something.)

    I do look forward to the day when discussion of abortion among believers respectfully acknowledges the historical, biological and theological complexity of the matter, rather than accepting a simplistic assumption that ends all discussion.

    Aside from that, though, thanks for your helpful and levelheaded handling of the justification for The March.

    • Wendy January 25, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

      Thanks, Lynn. I am still a life at conception person myself, but I understand how the issue gets complicated based on your view of such. I was particularly intrigued by the “life is in the blood” argument on one of the links you sent. I don’t think viability outside of the womb is required for the designation of human life. But it certainly is a line in the sand that we should never cross for justifying the killing of a child.

  12. Hope January 28, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Oh dear, Wendy. I just started reading your blog. I am a very conservative Trump supporter. And I am a Christian (married to an LCMS Lutheran pastor). Please check your facts before blindly including them in your blog. President Trump was not “mocking the disabled”. The clip that was plastered all over the news was edited to make it look like he was doing that. He makes those motions a lot when he is speaking and is NOT mocking the disabled. Also, he is not anti-immigrant. His sole objective is to protect American citizens (which is the President’s primary responsibility as Commander-in-Chief.

    • Hope January 28, 2017 at 11:59 am #

      I should mention that I just joined your blog after reading your helpful and excellent article, “Saved Through Childbearing.”

    • Wendy January 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks, Hope. I’ve heard that reasoning about his motions about the disabled reporter and watched the videos of him doing similarly in different situations, but the fact that he starts the comments with “Have you seen this guy?” undermines that line of reasoning in my opinion. Regardless, it is a fair assessment to say his life is characterized by misogyny and sexual immorality against women as well as hateful, disparaging comments against those who dare to disagree with him.

  13. Lynn Betts January 28, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    Thanks for clarifying your perspective on abortion, Wendy.

  14. Lisa Beth W. February 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    I don’t agree with your implied (it seems) statement that predatory sex is the main reason women have abortion. Women are just as culpable as men in the ongoing slaughter of babies in the womb. There are just as many of them who are after sex without responsibility and just as many who selfishly want to slay their children because it doesn’t fit into their plans for their life at the time. Yes, there is predatory sex going on, but there is also seduction by women to fill their needs, manipulative sex to get what they want and so on. Women are not without a voice or without protection in this country, and they make just as many bad decisions as men. And they are equally responsible before God for killing their own children in the womb.

    Also, marching with women who are largely screeching about rights that they already have, and are engaging in boorish behavior does not seem to me to advance any godly purpose. How about not engaging in the march itself and instead standing at the side with your pro-all-of-life poster in order to inject some sense in the vagina-headed mess? Not participating in the march doesn’t mean that you are pro-Trump or not anti-predatory sex.