The Common Good

Wedge Issues (Part 2)

[...continued from part 1]

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During the summer of 2003, my cousin and his girlfriend celebrated the birth of their son Glenn Molex, III. I remember getting the call from his father and hearing the pride in his voice when he told me about the birth. My cousin and his girlfriend live in the inner city and by social definitions, they are poor. But in spite of their financial situation, when they found out that they were going to become parents, they decided to go through with the pregnancy and keep the baby. They do not attend church, and I'm not sure if they have ever been inside a church for anything other than funerals for friends lost to street violence.

Two weeks after my grandmother died I received a call from my mother, who is also now deceased, telling me that there was a drive-by shooting on my cousin's house. He, friends, and other family members were sitting on the porch that night when a car drove up and shots were fired. My cousin's girlfriend was in the house with the baby. She laid him on the couch and ran to see if everyone was okay. When she returned to get the baby, he was dead -- a stray bullet hit him in the head. What's my point in sharing this tragedy?

These were two young people living in poverty who decided to have their child, not because they are Christians, not because of their understanding of the Bible, or not because of any change in legislation related to abortion, but simply because they wanted to raise and love their child. However, that dream was taken away from them because of a drive-by shooting.

Here is where I find myself getting angry with the right-to-life argument. I don't like the idea of abortion. I know women who have made that choice, and they have told me it was the hardest thing for them to do. Some regret it, some don't, but all of them agree that it has stayed with them all of their lives. What I would like to see from those who champion the right-to-life argument is that they spend just as much energy fighting for children to have the right to a better life once they are born. I do not condemn their perspective; I just believe they should go much further and fight for a child's future once he or she is born. In other words, fight for better public schools, for tougher gun laws, mentoring programs, after-school programs to give kids options so that they don't choose gangs, and adopt children who need a loving family.

Similarly, rather than condemning women who choose to have abortions, the question we have to answer is this: Will the church minister to women in the pain of making that decision and help them find healing through a God who still loves them -- a God who is forgiving and who reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and because of him even in our brokenness we can be made whole? God does not hate people; God hates sin, which is why God sent Jesus, so that sin no longer has the power to separate us from God.

When it comes to abortion and homosexuality, maybe we should look at how our words can hurt people emotionally and distance them spiritually. Is it possible that we can do what a wise man once told me:

When you are doing the work of ministering to people, it is not your job to change anyone, only God can do that, your job is to be a connector. You introduce them to God and let them get to know each other. Our assignment is simply to hold God's people with our hands open, with all of their hopes, dreams, faults, fears, pain, and doubts. You hold them with your hands open, and the moment you try to close your hands and mold them into what you think they should be, you are going too far.

I think he was right. Had I allowed myself to be molded into the image of what others thought I should be, I would not be "becoming" the person that God wants me to be. I would have become what others chose to create, a proverbial golden calf created by those who were too impatient to wait on God.

Rev. Romal Tune is the CEO of Clergy Strategic Alliances, a graduate of Howard University and Duke University School of Divinity, and a member of the Red Letter Christians.

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