Jesus would turn the tables at this pregnancy crisis center – Baptist News Global

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During my first visit to the seminary, I visited an emergency pregnancy center to write an article for a course on health and spirituality.

I didn’t quite know what to expect. When I arrived, the director and I met for a while to discuss what the center could offer women who might be pregnant. I listened carefully. She was excited to share the resources and opportunities they could provide. She talked about donating diapers, baby clothes, gear, parenting classes and a maternity clothes closet.

Julia Goldie Day

We visited the small establishment, then I was invited to participate in a “customer interview” because a young woman had just arrived for a first visit. The director spoke with the young woman and accompanied her through an admission process that included her status as a Christian. She was asked if she believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as her Saviour. The young woman looked a little stunned but quickly recovered and said she thought she believed it. After asking many questions, the director left the room without asking if the woman believed she was pregnant. She only asked if she was sexually active. Then, the signature of the young woman was required to benefit from a pregnancy test.

The young woman and I discussed some with the director out of the room. She told me that she was very afraid of being pregnant. Her menstrual cycle was late. She was afraid to tell her parents who had already kicked her out and she couldn’t afford to buy a pregnancy test. She had heard that she could take a free test at the Crisis Pregnancy Center and had a friend drive her to find out if she was pregnant. She told me about her boyfriend. She wasn’t sure he would support her and a child. She assumed he would be angry.

A test and instructions were provided when the manager returned. The test results were only to be seen by the director.

“She agreed, visibly tormented, and mumbled her agreement to the questions as the headmaster led the prayer.”

In the meantime, a plan of salvation was offered to the young woman. Would she like to pray? She agreed, obviously tormented, and mumbled her agreement to the questions as the director led the prayer.

Finally, the young woman was informed that her test was negative. She was advised to abstain from sex so as not to become pregnant in the future or catch an STD, and she was allowed to leave, relieved but ashamed.

I once believed, like so many evangelicals, that God is on the side of those who are pro-life. At the Crisis Pregnancy Center, I had the opportunity to observe firsthand what it was like to be a woman in this situation. I already had doubts.

Unlike the young woman in crisis, I was white, wealthy enough to go to seminary at 24, and had access to birth control through my OBGYN because I had access to healthcare. When I had my first child at 26, I planned with my wife and chose to get pregnant. We could support the child financially and emotionally, and our parents were excited to be grandparents. My church held a huge baby shower where I received many beautiful gifts. After the baby was born, people delivered homemade food to us which lasted us a week. When I returned to my church from maternity leave, adults were taking care of my child in the crèche. Unlike the young woman at the emergency pregnancy center, I had support, money, a home, an education and a life free of abuse.

“She didn’t know how to believe in this Jesus who scared her and less.”

My paper was not kind to the crisis pregnancy center. I assumed that the center had caused harm to this young woman who only needed a little support, reassurance, an $8 pregnancy test and contraceptives. Instead, she received judgment, shame, and a lesson in Christianity that told her she had no chance of “entering heaven.” She did not know how to believe in this Jesus who frightened her and less.

Honestly, I don’t know how to believe in this Jesus either.

Jesus loves me, I know it. Yes, Jesus loves me. But does Jesus only love me for my body’s ability to give birth to a child? Does Jesus only love me if I am sexually “pure”? Does Jesus only love me if I teach other women that God sent his own Son to die because they are so horribly sinful? They don’t deserve God’s love, but does Jesus still love them somehow?

It’s not love.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus drives out those who are at the tables in the courtyard of the temple by turning the tables over: “Jesus said to them: my house will be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of brigands.

The Jesus I believe in would have turned the tables in this pregnancy crisis center just as he did in the temple. He was reportedly angry at the treatment young women receive. Angry that they are shamed and coerced.

Jesus says that it is those who gather here who do evil and who steal. You hide comfortably under the banner of God, yet you are thieves. In the Gospel of Luke and elsewhere, thieves or robbers are defined for us in the parable of the Good Samaritan. They beat up, steal and leave the traveler for dead on the side of the road.

We must see the temple and the people it represents as working against God’s purposes. Luke also gives us insight into what the temple should be, a house of prayer where prayers are not only spoken but heard by God. A place of safety.

“The Crisis Pregnancy Center robbed this young woman of her dignity.”

The Crisis Pregnancy Center deprived this young woman of her dignity. Made her wait, forced her prayer, and shamed her conduct. They beat her sense of self – telling her she couldn’t make good decisions and take care of her own body. Then they sent her away without any tools to help her heal or thrive. All that was left to him was a lack of confidence in priests and Christians who only preached piety and completely overlooked the suffering of the traveler who is their neighbor.

Women are suffering. We have the choice to believe and serve a God who hears our prayers, our sufferings and who acts. Jesus turns the tables to reveal what we should have seen all along – our responsibility to see women as human beings with worth and kindness.

The good news is that the kingdom of God is a place of safety for women, even though we have often failed to do so. Beloved, renounce your theft, turn over some tables to make room for Jesus’ teachings and follow his command to love.

Julia Goldie Day is ordained by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and lives in Memphis, Tennessee. She is a painter and proud mother of Jasper, Barak and Jillian. Learn more about her at home website.

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