Excerpt from my sermon this morning:
Most of American Christianity today would not recognize who Jesus really is because most of American Christianity is not following the way of Jesus. Jesus said we should know who he is by the works that testify to who he is – you know – works like healing people instead of denying them access to healthcare; loving people and taking seriously the complexities of the challenges they are facing; bringing good news and working for justice and liberation for the poor and the oppressed; welcoming strangers instead of vilifying them; clothing, feeding, and sheltering the naked, the hungry and the homeless rather than blaming them and ignoring their plight. We should know who Jesus is by these works that bear witness to the love and justice of God in our world – and if we truly follow Jesus, our lives and our communities must also bear witness to the love and justice of God in our world.
Today, we who call ourselves followers of Jesus must ask ourselves some very important questions that we cannot ignore in this dangerous and increasingly autocratic and authoritarian time in our land – do we really think the way of Jesus is about forcing women to bear the children of their rapists, do we really think that the way of Jesus is about forcing victims of incest to continue their pregnancies, do we really think the way of Jesus is about forcing women to give birth to children that their doctors have told them will have no quality of life, do we really think the way of Jesus is about forcing women to continue a pregnancy that threatens the health or even the life of the mother, do we really think the way of Jesus is about forcing women to be mothers against their will and to take decisions about reproductive health and reproductive choice away from them?
Is forcing women to have children really the way of Jesus? Are these really the works that bear witness to the way of God’s love and justice in the world? Or is this more about controlling women than it is about loving them? Is this more about perpetuating patriarchy than it is about concern for life?
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the forms of Christianity that oppose reproductive choice the most are the most patriarchal forms of Christianity and are the expressions of Christianity that do not allow women to be ordained. I also don’t think it is a coincidence that the areas of our country that are most opposed to reproductive choice are the same areas that fought a civil war for the cause of continuing to have control over other people’s lives through the evil institution of slavery.
May we all have the wisdom and courage to discern the best ways to bear witness to the way of God’s love and justice in this world. May our works bear witness to the way of Jesus in this world, and may we see that the way of Jesus is a way of love, not a way of coercion and control.