Thoughts on BPAS’s ‘We Trust Women’ campaign

I’m writing this post a little reluctantly because with heavy subject matter, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line. There have been times I have said something on social media I later regretted. On the other hand, I know sometimes I can hold back a little when it comes to what I talk about on my blog, because I am afraid of people’s reactions.

I guess that’s not very rational – one can choose to read my blog posts or one can choose not to.

So after a little internal debate, I thought this was better written down than left to fester inside.

Two weeks ago, I attended an event hosted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). (No, I’m not pregnant just in case that thought popped into your head, haha).

I wasn’t really feeling it – I’d just returned from a short break in Lisbon and the last thing I wanted to do was end the holiday mood by going to this thing, but I’d promised work I would go, so I went.

Few times in my life have I found myself in such a surreal situation.

The event was a panel of women discussing BPAS’s new campaign, ‘We Trust Women’, which seeks to completely decriminalise abortion in the United Kingdom.

Working for a Christian lobby group not only means that the people I am surrounded with on a daily basis are in agreement with me on the subject of abortion, but that I am essentially in a bit of a ‘bubble’. I may be up to speed on the arguments of our detractors but I’m not directly engaging with them.

So to sit there, one of a mere handful of pro-lifers in the midst of around two hundred supporters for this campaign, was an unusual experience.

I listened to secularists attack the ‘religious’ lobby for being ‘dishonest’ about what abortion involves; I listened to campaigners completely deny the humanity of the unborn child, and assert that there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever because, after all, we should ‘trust women’ to make good decisions.

I listened to a lot of rhetoric about how abortion restrictions are a product of the partiarchal society going right back to the Victorian era. I listened to them argue that decriminalising abortion would simply be another way of replacing laws made by ‘out of touch’ politicians with ‘more humane laws’.

Here are some quotes I jotted down during the event because I had to assure myself that I was really hearing these things:

“It is a fact of life that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion at some point in their lives.”

“Women need abortions in modern society.”

“Anti-abortion groups defend the rights of the foetus, which just don’t exist.”

“We need abortion to back up birth control.”

“We need abortion so that women can have lives that are full, not just simply being mothers.”

“It’s all about women having complete autonomy over their own bodies.”

“We need to decriminalise abortion so that women can get themselves out of the mess they are in.”

As you probably know, I studied English and American Literature at university, and the way it is taught promotes and encourages not only feminism but quite a left-wing political stance in general. I do not agree with all of it but I can understand where the arguments are coming from.

I also consider myself to be pretty independent and am absolutely in favour of equal opportunity.

But I saw at this event how strongly the ideology of feminism is tied to pro-abortion views, and how many people – mostly young women but a few men also – were buying the ‘autonomy’ and ‘liberation’ rhetoric.

By the time I left the building I was feeling quite sick and utterly grieved. It’s one thing to read arguments like this on the internet but another to hear them directly.

Looking back I wish I had spoken up. But I had been feeling tired and what I heard had made me so sad that I couldn’t speak.

So now I am writing about it, which seems to be a pretty feeble response, but it is a response nonetheless.

I think what struck me most was the selfishness of these arguments and the way they were cloaked in the guise of solidarity and in supporting and ‘trusting’ fellow women.

I listened to one young man ask about how he could get better medical training because his aspiration was to become an abortionist.

I felt the heart of the Lord during that meeting – both His love for those women and His grief for every life discarded, for whatever reason. ‘Convenience’ was a good enough reason for the women on the panel.

The line of work I’m in at the moment can be tough, especially on a sensitive soul like mine. I felt very small indeed after that event. I felt like these issues are too big for me. Yet I also felt a conviction about the heartcry of my God. He cares, so we should care.

I think that part of taking up your cross and following Jesus is to engage in the very things that make you uncomfortable. That will look different to different people, of course. But it’s easy to care about poverty. Nobody will criticise you for that. Nobody will criticise you for fighting to end human trafficking or helping the homeless.

But human thinking on abortion can be so contrary to what God says about life.

Around three thousand years ago, King David wrote this to the Lord in Psalm 139:

“13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

I can understand why being pro-abortion is common. As long you do not believe in a Creator, intentional design, purpose, and intrinsic value, it’s much easier to make the ‘choice and automony’ arguments.

There are many resources out there, however, that argue scientifically for the humanity and the ‘life’ of the unborn child, separate and distinct from that of the mother.

The pro-abortion campaigners will do everything possible within the power of language to dehumanise the unborn child, because it’s the only way abortion can be justified. And there are a lot of women who believe it.

Yet it is apparently the ‘dishonest religious lobby’ that seeks to deceive.

It is now two weeks since the event, and time offers perspective.

I remind myself that God’s got this. I do not need to feel like my convictions are just a subculture that must pander to a more dominant mainstream culture. My worldview is one of life and hope because I carry Life within me. I think as Christians we need to remember this – to maintain a mindset of victory, knowing we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.

We have good news to offer the world.

That includes how we engage with issues like abortion, if indeed we choose to engage.

May our motivation be love, always.

I believe abortion is wrong, of course, but I also believe in redemption through Christ.

My hope is that Christians who passionately engage with any sensitive topic would be known primarily for their love, their empathy and compassion; carriers of joy as well as advocates for justice.

So those are my thoughts. I don’t know what else to say but my prayer is that God will take these imperfect words and use them somehow.

If you consider yourself pro-choice, just know that I love you and do not write this to condemn.

Thanks.

On Winter to Spring, and Faith vs Fear

A little life update is due, I think, for those of you who are curious about my new London adventures.

I have so much to thank God for and I hardly know where to begin.

The beginning is normally a good place, so let’s rewind a few months and I’ll tell you about finding a place to live.

I started seriously looking to move at the beginning of December, and the process took about two months. Two months isn’t that long, really, but it felt like quite a while as I was becoming so tired from commuting to work, and so longing to have some semblance of a social life again.

I looked in several areas, and several times I got my hopes up and was then disappointed.

After keeping my options broad for a while but not making much progress, I really sought God about where I should live and felt I should be somewhere in South London. So I narrowed my search accordingly.

Eventually, I found a place that I really liked. I’d only met the girl who was moving out, not the girl I’d be sharing with, so she told me to rearrange and come back for a second viewing.

I left feeling good, but as I was on my way home, the Lord said to me: “Will you trust me if this isn’t it?”

A little surprised, I told the Lord I would.

Honestly by this point I just wanted the search to be over, as I was having to travel across London after work for the viewings and then still travel home afterwards.

The second viewing for this place came and I met the girl I would be sharing with, who for some reason I immediately disliked. (That probably sounds harsh, but that’s just how it was).

I left this time certain that I no longer wanted the place.

The next day I rearranged a viewing I’d originally cancelled. I went to view the house at the end of the week, after the absolute worst day at work I’d ever had (it may or may not have included crying in public and I’ll just leave it there).

About a week later, I moved into that house, paying cheaper rent than anywhere I’d seen, in a nicer area.

Good story, right?

Predictably, it doesn’t end there.

One day a few months ago an old university friend shared a Facebook link about his church – a Vineyard church, which is the same umbrella of churches we both attended in Canterbury.

Of course when I started looking for places to live, I also started looking into potential churches. During my lifetime I have been to several churches, of different denominations and sizes. I have found value in each one, but this time I strongly felt I wanted to be in a Vineyard church again, as their core values, for lack of a better term, are most closely aligned to where my heart lies.

There are plenty of Vineyard churches in London, but the little church my friend had shared on his Facebook page – a recent plant from a larger church elsewhere – stood out to me for some reason. I had thought it would be nice if it happened to be within a reasonable distance from my new area.

You can guess the conclusion to this story. My new home is within walking distance of both this church and my new house group.

For London, that’s kind of unheard of.

Since visiting this church I have been overjoyed to find new family – who truly demonstrate Jesus to one another and to the community. They are servant-hearted, full of joy and seek to model the radical and risky lifestyle we are called to.

After I’d lived in my new home for about three weeks, I finally got a chance to have a proper chat with my housemate, the other lodger in our family house-share.

I knew she was a Christian, but I had met several Christians whilst looking for accommodation through a Christian house-hunting website, without once feeling as though we’d strike up a close friendship, or that I might be able to have ~deep Jesus chats~ (haha) with them.

This girl and I, though, quickly discovered a lot of common ground, and since she’d been considering moving churches, I got to introduce her to mine, which was a mutual joy for both of us, I think.

I hope this long explanation didn’t bore you too much – it’s hard to convey (succintly) in words how clearly the Lord has led me here, and how He has provided me with more than I had asked for or imagined. A few posts back I shared the promise God had spoken to me at the start of the year, from Isaiah 43:19 – about freshness, a ‘winter’ season ending and new things springing up. I am seeing this so clearly at the moment.

In doing all this, of course, the Lord has larger purposes than simply wanting me to feel happy and at home (although, He is a good Father, so He does want that too).

There are things for me to do here, for the duration of time I am called to stay, and the great thing about surrounding yourself with risky people is that it’s a little bit easier to step out of the boat.

(Cue another explanation as without the context it’s harder to appreciate):

Almost three years ago I visited a friends’ church for the first time, and a lady gave me a spot-on word of knowledge. At the time, I’d been really excited about the supernatural (particularly healing the sick) and had felt convicted that this was not something I could just conveniently ignore. The lady prophesied over me that all the things I had seen, read about, heard about – were things that I would see personally. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe it would happen beforehand, but to have someone confirm it through a word of knowledge increases faith, I think.

Frankly, I did conveniently ignore it for the next three years, on and off, because I wasn’t sure where to start. But I never let go of what was spoken over me, because on the subject of supernatural ministry, the Bible tells me it is to be so for those that believe.

Recently I’ve felt I can’t continue to ignore this… and that’s how last weekend I joined my church’s Healing on the Streets team, on a freezing Saturday outside Sainsbury’s, really having no clue what I was doing.

I am an introvert, if that hasn’t come across already, and the idea of stopping strangers asking them if they need prayer is a little bit uncomfortable. That’s why the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, I guess 😉

It was actually a joy in the end to be able to chat with people, to pray with them and tell them about the love of Jesus. Amazing to know that through my imperfect explanations and prayers, God is pleased to plant and water seeds in people’s hearts. I prayed with one teenage girl who was just sad, with some hard stuff going on. She was really touched and I think after that moment, I was sold.

So, it’s a start. It’s funny too because over the past week, the Lord has highlighted two particular things to me over and over again – Bible verses following me around, YouTube videos in my subscriptions, church sermons… etc. Those two things are faith and fear of man.

I believe fear of man is the biggest crippler in the Church, whether it involves speaking the truth of God’s Word, or stepping out and looking foolish for the Lord. I know that unless I get over my own fear I will never live in the fullness of who God created me to be.

This applies to my fear of how I’m perceived by other Christians, even. Not everyone will be on board with me on some of the things I am talking about. But my life is the only one I will have to give account for.

Fear of man and desire for approval ultimately lead to inaction, keeping the body of Christ mute and powerless, useless for the Kingdom. In fact, as as side-note, I would even suggest that this powerlessness ultimately results in Christians directing an excess of negativity and criticism at one another, in place of bearing fruit.

I don’t know if anyone reading this is in a similar position. I only know that the fear vs. faith thing is a major theme in my own life of late, and I wanted to encourage you that it’s worth the risk to step out.

The Lord has been gracious to me and has provided so that I don’t have to go it alone – and so will He do the same for you.

OK, that’s all. This is getting too long 🙂

Love to you all!