In my last blog post, I gave you permission to ask questions – about what you’ve have been taught, about who you believe God is, and whether or not those teachings and beliefs matches how God shows up in your life. Today, I give you permission to wrestle with issues and reject those that don’t make sense to you.
For me, God is love. But sometimes, people claim to speak for God in promoting a position that is anything but loving. I invite you to question such positions and hold them up against your own experience of God. I wrestle with anything that doesn’t align with my experiences of God. At first, it may feel a little unnerving, but questioning leads to exploring and digging deeper, and eventually that leads to a better alignment of experiences with values and beliefs, and a deepening trust of the still, small voice inside.
To be honest, I need these permissions as much as anyone else:
- permission to live boldly and effectively,
- to stand strong and do the next right thing even if I am afraid,
- to do what God has called me to do in this world.
Right now, in this moment, the right thing to do is to speak up and join the conversation about the restrictive abortion bans that are becoming a reality in state after state. These bans have caused me to question and to wrestle with this issue and look closely at the impact restrictive bans have on women with unplanned pregnancies.
The debate around abortion and how much control the government gets to assert over women has turned ugly. For many, the issue is black and white – there is only the right position, and everyone else is wrong. But, whenever there are people involved, the issue cannot be black and white. People are complex, and the situations they encounter are messy and complicated. Black and white thinking does not allow the consideration of the particulars of the situation. Nowhere is this more true than in cases of rape or incest.
While science and religion have long debated when life actually begins, and will continue to do so, the part about this issue that I find most difficult is the complete disregard for a woman’s sovereign right to her body. All of the onus of continuing an unplanned pregnancy, or punishment for ending one, is attributed to the woman, while the man who caused the unwanted pregnancy rarely suffers consequences. This imbalance is deeply troubling for me for several reasons:
- The bans smack of misogyny. Where are the solutions that put the burden on men?
- The bans violate the free will given to us by God and strangle our obligation to follow our conscience in the exercise of that free will.
- The bans are based on particular religions’ beliefs and as such violate the separation of church and state. A loving God has given us free will. Should the government be allowed to take that away?
- Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. Why are we as a society so quick to condemn?
I invite you to do your own research on the issue. The quest for more information is always my go-to mode of wrestling with any problem. I tend to think that the answer is out there somewhere, and if I just read enough, I will find the answer.
I soon realized that I was looking outside myself to help me figure out what I “should” believe. I invite you take what you have learned and then to look within, trusting that still, small voice inside of you. How does this land on your soul?
- What feels most aligned with the divine spirit that dwells inside you?
- What would the exercise of your conscience look like in this situation?
- What would the exercise of conscience look like in a woman who is faced with an unwanted pregnancy?
As I continue to wrestle with this issue, the idea of sovereignty keeps surfacing for me. By sovereignty, I mean the power or authority to govern yourself, to be the boss of your own body. It is important to keep and safeguard your power instead of giving it away to people or institutions outside of yourself. If you are allowing others to make decisions for you, you are giving away your power.
When I think of sovereignty, I imagine a queen wearing a royal crown, and exhibiting the very essence of power and dignity. Inherent in this image of power and dignity is the right and freedom to exercise one’s conscience and choose a course of action that affirms one’s dignity.
Interior wrestling is not easy. I created a little drawing to help me capture the idea of sovereignty. Creating art helps make the thoughts and images in your imagination more concrete and defined. It helps you literally see what you are thinking. Here is what sovereign dignity look like to me:
Protecting my power and dignity is what freedom of choice means to me. Your research and inner guidance may lead you to a different conclusion. And that’s okay. We have had different lived experiences which may well lead to different conclusions Can we honor the sovereign dignity that was divinely created in each one of us? Can we disagree without being disagreeable? I am working on this and it involves lots of letting go. #goals!
In closing, I offer you this beautiful, healing image of what we need to create in the world. These are the closing stanzas from the poem “It Could Be” by Julia Fehrenbacher (www.paintedpath.org):
It could be an invitation to gather
around the listening table
where every color is beautiful, where
there is no blame,
no shame−no them
It could be any of these things or no thing at all
that remind you that, really,
only a few things matter−
Food. Trees. Words. Love. Mostly love.