Yesterday I got unfriended on Facebook. Now this has probably happened multiple times in the past, but this is the first time I was aware of it. This person had posted a link to an article entitled "Who Has Abortions and Why It Matters" which argues that abortion is necessary to any agenda which seeks to help the poor move up the economic ladder. The article closes with this: "With that said, it’s clear that a genuine pro-family agenda -- one that seeks stable and prosperous households -- must include full support for reproductive rights. Otherwise, you’re making unwanted children more likely, limiting the economic options of women, and making it more difficult for lower-income families to climb the income ladder."
I posted a comment on this link she had put up on Facebook which said, "Of course abortion is good for economic mobility. So was slavery." Naturally I was interested in the discussion which would follow, so checked Facebook later that evening to see if anyone had posted more comments. I couldn't find the original post, but didn't have much time and just assumed I was missing it, given the large amount of traffic on Facebook.
This morning I looked again and couldn't find it, so I went to my friend's home page. Nothing but general information was available, so I checked my friends list, and she was no longer there! Unfriended!
I have to admit this kind of made me mad, which surprised me a little bit. Why did I care? This person is an acquaintance from quite a few years ago, our only contact now is through Facebook and her blog. I have occasionally commented on her blog, usually with some disagreement. And I've once or twice commented on her posts on Facebook, usually with agreement. But both of these types of interaction have been very rare. So why do I care?
Well, I'm sure the answer is complex -- hurt feelings, the desire to be heard and accepted, etc. However, I think one of the things that's really bugging me is that this is indicative of the pro-abortion movement in general. A post on Facebook is an invitation to discussion, and yet the minute I engage in that discussion (without saying anything untrue or unkind) I get cut out of the conversation. It's not the fact that I want to see all of her status updates (although they are often very interesting), and it's not the fact that she no longer wants to see my status updates (since, as many of you know, I haven't posted a status update in the last 3 years). It's the being cut out of the conversation. That's the only possible reason for unfriending me. This bugs me because this position (pro-choice) says that the important things are education, including everyone, and making sure everyone is treated equally. If a fundamentalist cuts me out of the conversation, it's annoying but makes sense. Fundamentalists generally don't claim that everyone has an equal right to enter into the conversation, because fundamentalists recognize a specific authority, which means those that don't agree with the authority are not given an equal place at the table. I respect this position, even if I don't always agree with it. And given who I am, it makes sense that I don't always get a place at that table. It's annoying, but at least it's consistent and makes sense.
Feminists like this friend of mine state over and over: "Everyone's story is important and should be respected and heard!" "Women are valuable and should not be overlooked!" "Experience helps us know what is best and right!" So why am cut out of this conversation? It's a conversation that feminists claim primarily concerns women who are of reproductive age and who are sexually active and therefore might actually reproduce. I fall into all three of these categories. So I'm bugged, at least in part, by the inconsistency of the position and the absolute refusal to admit to that inconsistency. This inconsistency would be negligible all by itself, but the problem is that it's indicative of a much greater inconsistency which is manifested, for example, in the article which says the best way to defend the rights of poor women is by advocating for the right to kill the children (including daughters) of poor women.
The whole thing reminded me of an article entitled "Why I Lost Faith in the Pro-Choice Movement." This is a great article which highlights, among other things, this terrible schizophrenia within the pro-abortion movement. The author talks about a "pathological level of avoidance" and states that as a member of the pro-choice movement she encountered "a level of internal inconsistency and intellectual dishonesty that bordered on insanity."
I've been reading a fascinating book called Children of Pride. It's the letters of the family of Charles Colcock Jones from 1860-1868. Charles Colcock Jones was born in Georgia in 1804 (I just discovered he and I share a birthday!), and dedicated his entire adult life to the evangelization of blacks in America (primarily slaves). He wrote a book called The Religious Instruction of the Negroes in the United States which was very popular in its day, and which I happened to read while I was working on my dissertation. Jones is both a great advocate of slavery and a great advocate of the gospel. I find him to be absolutely bewildering. He's a man who clearly loves Jesus and knows the Scriptures thoroughly and yet has no sense whatsoever that slavery is contrary to both Jesus and the Scriptures.
Reading the letters between himself and his wife, children and friends has only been adding to my confusion in the last few days. Many of the things he writes to his grown children sound exactly like something one of my parents or grandparents would say or write to me. For example, upon hearing that his son has been elected mayor of Savannah, he writes to congratulate him and give a little fatherly advice:
"You will, as you remark in your letter, need aid from above; and I hope, my dear son, that you will seek that aid. Since 'The powers that be are ordained of God,' and in His providence you have been called to preside as the chief executive officer over a large city, you should acknowledge the Lord's hand in it and seek from Him wisdom to direct and power to stand. 'In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.' . . . Our first desire and prayer for our sons and our daughter has been that you all might be the true children of God, and our second, that your lives might be spent in usefulness to your fellow men."
How wonderful! And yet this same man writes,
"If we take the mass of the slave population, properly speaking, we shall find but little family government, and for the reason that parents are not qualified, neither are they so circumstanced as to be able to fulfill perfectly the duties devolving on them as such. . . . Prayers are held in some families . . . But a general meeting of all the members of the church as well as of worldly persons, for prayer in the evening on plantations, conducted by some prominent person among them, takes the place of family worship -- the plantation considered one large family. To this meeting children are required to come or not, as the case may be. The hour is usually so late that most of the children have retired for the night. If such is the state of religious families what must be the state of those which are irreligious? In multitudes of families, both by precept and example, the children are trained up in iniquity; taught by their parents to steal, to lie, to deceive; nor can the rod of correction induce a confession or revelation of their clearly ascertained transgressions." (The Religious Instruction of the Negroes in the United States, pages 112-113)
How can Jones not see that the prayer meeting is held at a late hour because the slaves are required to work from dawn till dusk (and often longer)? How can he not see that children (both black and white) were first taught to steal and lie by those who kidnapped men and women from their homes and families and forced them into life-long labor, stealing not only their lives but the lives of their children and their children's children? Does he think for even one minute that slave parents might have exactly the same prayer for their children that he has for his, that they "might be the true children of God" and that their "lives might be spent in usefulness to [their] fellow men"?
I think the last reason being unfriended bugged me so much is because it scares me. I see my friend's inconsistencies, even if she does not. I see Jones' inconsistencies, even if he did not. But can I see my own? Stanley Hauerwas writes that we all deceive ourselves, and because it really is a deception, none of us know when we are doing it. That's scary. Perhaps this is why we so desperately need not just Jesus but the Church. We can't see where we've deceived ourselves, but sometimes those around us can. Reading the letters of Charles Colcock Jones' family is scary because in every respect except for the issue of slavery, it sounds a lot like my family (both the one I grew up in and the one I helped create).
All of which reminds me of the people I respect and admire because they humble themselves enough to do the hard work of living honestly. My friend (and, for many of you, your friend, too) Anne and her husband just adopted a newborn baby. It's so exciting but carries with it a lot unknowns, risks and expenses. Here is an example of true help for the poor. Check it out: By Fidelity and Fortitude.