I mentioned in part 4 that 2010 - 2013 was a series of crises for my wife and I. Today I'm going into another crisis that shook us while dealing with the prospect of cancer.
This post contains discussions of pregnancy, miscarriage, and abortion. I realize these are sensitive topics for some people. Nothing graphic, just a note that it's here in case that sort of thing bothers you. As always this is a description of my own experiences, it is not to suggest that other's experiences aren't equally as valid.
Earlier in 2010 my wife and I found out we were expecting our second child. At the time our oldest was almost three and we felt the timing was right for a sibling. There were no complications during the first pregnancy so we (stupidly) announced the news early to friends and family.
My wife felt early on something wasn't right and a few weeks later an ultrasound confirmed the embryo was not growing. To make a long story short she ended up having a D&C procedure.
There are many emotions around miscarriages. Even for me, as someone who identifies as male, it hurt, and it hurt more to see how it devastated my wife. What made matters worse was the feeling that we couldn't tell our pastor or members of our church because of the questions it would raise.
You may have noticed that Evangelicals are absolutely bat-shit insane when it comes to abortion. So insane about it that even as a dyed-in-the-wool Evangelical, the stance didn't sit well with me. I'll grudgingly point to my previous writing on the topic. Not so much because it's a bad take (it's an okay take from someone who didn't know what he knows now) but that my writing is bad. Seriously it was written sixteen years ago, it's bad.
If you've not been exposed to Evangelical circles before, or even if you're an Evangelical under the age of 50, you might assume this has always been the case. The truth is far worse. Catholics were anti-abortion but Evangelicals really didn't consider it a big issue. Christianity Today and The Southern Baptist Convention both came out in support of legalized abortion in the 1970s. Roe vs. Wade wasn't controversial.
The truth is far worse. Prominent Evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell experimented with abortion as a political issue starting in the 1978 midterm election. People like Falwell weren't fans of the Civil Rights Movement and were upset that many religious institutions lost their tax-exempt status in the 1960s and 1970s over their segregationist policies.
I don't want to go too deeply into the subject of politics or the racist ideologies held by prominent Evangelical leadership. To dive into that take a look at the sources linked in the footnotes. I'm painting a backdrop for the awful experience of loneliness we encountered for fear that people who were supposed to be our support would view us. At best people would wonder what we did wrong and shame us for our failure, at worst, some would rather my wife become sick or even die than even appear to have had an abortion.
Evangelicals wonder why the people they believe need Jesus the most, the single mother, the abused wife, the runaway, or the desperately impoverished, don't show up through their doors. It's actions like this. Where a group designed to love and care for the outside world, lashes out to score cheap political points, further an agenda, or look at downtrodden people and pat themselves on the back about how blessed they are that they aren't like them. To an Evangelical church, you are a butt in a seat, a source of income, and a vote for their political power. There's nothing beyond that, especially when you don't toe the line.
In the end, we did tell our pastor and even at the time, we explained how embarrassing it was to go through this. To his credit, he didn't judge us and with the cancer scare around the same time it mostly was forgotten.
About two years later in early 2012, my wife became pregnant again and we experienced a poignant object lesson. Two other couples became pregnant at the same time so the small congregation was expecting three brand new members to arrive that fall. They had all three of the women stand up for a blessing at the front of the church when the announcement was made. I remember feeling that the members saw the pregnancies but not the women. It wasn't about them, it was about how they would contribute to the Kingdom of God. It was a miracle, brought by God as a blessing, specifically to our church. Never mind that young married couples tend to bear or adopt children. It also didn't go without notice that another pair of couples who had a difficult time getting pregnant were not viewed the same way as those of us who could. It was never about the women.
If you do go read my old posts on abortion, as bad as they are, you'll notice that I considered it the lesser of two evils. I often called it a "sad and terrible choice" but it was a choice nonetheless. Today I'd tell you it's a choice and the reasons are none of my business because I don't know what's going on in someone else's life.
The religious right is the dog that caught the car after 50 years. It remains to be seen what they'll do with it. One would hope it would erode their political power but as we saw 50 years ago they can easily pivot to the next moral issue. One can argue they have pivoted toward denying trans rights instead. That's the key for those of us who have left or those who were never end. Keep watch because the goal is the same, removal of rights in the maintenance of power.
- We've known couples who went through this several times. As hard as once was, I can't imagine. Kudos to those stronger than us.
- I'm aware I shouldn't use adverbs in my writing but I feel this one was absolutely necessary.
- Balmer, Randell. "The Religious Right and the Abortion Myth", Politico, 5/10/2022 https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/05/10/abortion-history-right-white-evangelical-1970s-00031480
- Martin, Michel and Kobes Du Mez, Kirstin. "How abortion became a mobilizing issue among the religious right", NPR: All Things Considered, 5/8/2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/05/08/1097514184/how-abortion-became-a-mobilizing-issue-among-the-religious-right