I have been waiting for the right words to express the grief I feel that so many voices are getting undeserved or unfair platforming over other more-inclusive voices who are sharing a similar message but not stopping at their one thing they are fighting for. As my professor of New Testament, Dr. Abe Smith, said so profoundly: When you begin to fight for justice, expand your vocabulary. He talked about a time when he was giving a sermon addressing racism and inadvertently used an example that was ableist and hurt someone. I know it is hard to keep up with all the things we are raising awareness on, it takes humility to listen and continue to grow and adjust. Personally, I love my growing vocabulary. Trying to rethink how I frame things helps me learn to tame my tongue as St. James has wisely told us to do.
What is even more frustrating is even Progressives who have the platform to help, tend to keep uplifting the voices of those who are less inclusive over the people around them who are not sharing that message. Complementarian voices, even from women, are more popular. There are some who say they are egalitarian but are also not willing to talk more openly about abortion or reconsider their views on the LGBTQIA+ community. It really has to include all of it. This is not fundamentalism but expanding our vocabulary so that we do not gain our freedom off the backs of others who are beat down.
One of my friends and I discussed our first semester of seminary about how unfortunate it is that Beth Moore is treated the way she is in her camp. It does need to be addressed and brought to light, but we also need to state that she has a lot of power and her platform has caused a lot of harm too. And there have been women who never shared her message but also never got her platform to be a voice that could have been a counter-voice to some of the toxic messages Beth helped spread. There are women speaking up saying they stayed in abusive relationships because of Beth Moore’s teaching. I am not trying to pit women against each other, patriarchy is absolutely the root cause of this, but this is a Sarah (Abraham and Sarah) situation where some women have more social capital, even though still oppressed. Not taking away Beth Moore’s abuse and how important it is to talk about. It matters. Sarah was also horribly abused by Abraham, and I wish all faiths (Abrahamic faiths) would address that more. This is what women who are not white have been yelling at white women—you are still under the authority of patriarchy! It is not going to save you either. They are right. I had to learn the hard way too. Changing my mind has led me to life, not shame and guilt because I once thought differently. We are all victims to what we have been taught—hard to get around that—but we can break free and change our minds and be cycle breakers.
I am fiercely fighting for women and all who have been excluded. One issue has allowed our subordination to continue without critical thought and I will address that in the next section. What I want to say before I go into it is this: Intentions are rarely the problem. I believe most people have good intentions when making a statement about what I am going to talk about. What is harmful is the closed mind that refuses factual data and the lived-experiences of people who have made these choices. The closed mind is the problem. Somewhere along the line we need intentions and awareness to meet.
The last thing I want to do is hold all faith leaders to account for the spiritual malpractice they have allowed to fester for way too long in toxic public discourse: abortion. It is time for faith leaders to become knowledgeable on this subject in deeper ways than it is just a woman’s choice.
Firstly, understand this is a violation of religious freedom. Evangelical Christians do not own the narrative on when life begins. That is not certain and it is certainly fine to have differences of opinion on that, but it is not okay to disagree on what the actual facts are. Also, humility for other religions who see it differently. As I like to say, we are saved by our diversity. I am grateful I am not relying on Christians on this subject.
Secondly, Making abortions illegal verifiably increases abortions. Increasing the USA’s already high incarceration rate is never pro-life. It will also affect poor black and brown lives more than wealthy people. Wealthy people will still get their abortions. That is a fact. As religious people, we are on the side of the oppressed, so this debate is in violation of the people are charged to protect.
Thirdly, if you care about abortion, check into the pregnancy centers that are trying to take out Planned Parenthood. They offer no education or resources to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Planned Parenthood does that. Also, they cannot provide medical care for women who are in need. Planned Parenthood can. There might also be trauma therapists available at Planned Parenthood that pregnancy centers do not have for women who have been raped.
Fourthly, Give a shit about DOMESTIC violence. Violence against women is the biggest human rights violation around the world. We are so used to the abuse of women it barely hits our radar that the abortion debate might be harming women in ways one has no comprehension on—because of not taking the time to know what is actually going on with abortions.
Fifthly, Care about income equality. The gender wage gap is a sin. Poverty is racist and sexist and is an orphan maker.
I can keep going. I hope I am making a point that this subject deserves more critical investigation. I am tired of faith leaders acting like they are the victims when they make a poor argument about being pro-life and feeling excluded from the feminist movement because of it. While I do not condone some of the responses they receive, I actually denounce that, it is time for them to take responsibility for constantly throwing the same argument out there and surprised the response continues to be what it is.
Also, know that abortion is also the issue that fuels complementarian theology. It makes people feel like they do not actually have to address racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on because this one issue has them covered.
Empower women or do not engage this conversation.