(Disclaimer: I don’t really know how to tell a short story – at least not without spending a lot of time editing. So, please bear with me if this seems to meander a bit.)
Last Sunday, Easter Sunday, I found myself in a highly unusual conversation after lunch. It was unusual for a number of reasons, mostly for who engaged me and the hope she offered. You wouldn’t know it (unless you are psychoanalyzing me) from the blog, but I don’t have a whole lot of face-to-face conversations about the things I tend to write about.) And on this occasion, my sister-n-law and I got to talking.
She was a member of the same church I was that split a few years back, and since that time, many of us have not settled down in a new church home – not very settled anyway. It turns out she and her family have not either, and they have visited quite a few churches by now.
But she has been visiting an exciting assembly lately, one with a pastor I know by reputation (at least in part). Actually, I have a story on him (a story in which he plays a key part for a flat character) – a story which is so incredible, it is hard to believe. I have often wished for a chance to talk to him and see if he will validate the things I have heard.
Well, I told her my story, which is quite exciting, and she revealed to me that she is visiting his church as of late, and she went on to say that she’s been meaning to tell [Mrs. Agent X] – her sister – and I about a new ministry program that church is developing for adopting kids. The church wants purposely to support and promote foster/adoption through prayer, finances, labor, and encouragement in very strategic ways.
As an adoptive parent in this town pretty much in over my head, having upset the congregation where I am a member so bad that they “ghosted” me three years ago, and doing the work 24/7 with next to no support, she “had me at hello” – so to speak. I was interested. This is a church that has my respect on a couple of fronts already (criticism too, though), and now they are looking to serve the same kids I serve and help those of us who serve in serving them. (Too much use of the word “serve” there?)
Yeah. So, I am interested.
She sent me a link.
I followed up by poking through it.
Here’s what I find:
First off, I am impressed that this church is focusing a lot of money, work, assets, and all they have to utilize on this particular ministry. (This, and they already lead the city in various other areas of ministry as well – one of them being serving the poor and needy (homeless) too.)
Secondly, the church has a great reputation as does their pastor.
Thirdly, this new emphasis on adoption comes on the heals of Lubbock’s newly voted policy to become a “sanctuary city” for the unborn. I find it highly insightful that they make the connection here; if you actually end abortions, you can expect an uptick in demand for foster/adoption care.
(I am not sure, but I think this church is behind one of the major crisis-pregnancy counseling services in town already.)
That is all praiseworthy stuff! It’s all very exciting.
Here’s the rub:
Actually, the rub is sort of a two-part thingy. First off, as I read through the website promoting this adoption endeavor, I find not only that the church is reacting to the Proposition A vote which designates Lubbock as a “Sanctuary City” of the unborn, but the rhetoric appears to support that as well.
If you read, and if you understand, the post I wrote a year ago on that vote, you know that the issue is near and dear to me as well, but that I am not in favor of the proposition. I do not support the political ploy. The upside is that maybe – MAYBE – the new ordinance will save a life. Maybe it will save many lives. I am all for that part of it. However, it does so by lording it over the gentiles, something Jesus clearly says not to do.
(Caveat (or is this another disclaimer): By way of comparison, SOME of my conservative friends are unhappy with the way President Joe Biden managed to seat Justice Jackson due to her race and gender. And that is ironic, to say the least. He, in essence, breaks the laws his own politics put in place in order to achieve the very thing those broken laws are meant to do, but fail at achieving.
Now, this is all the more complicated since SOME of my conservative friends who are unhappy about that ostensibly are unhappy, not because the new Justice is black and female, but because of the measures taken to ensure we got a black female for the position. Basically, they are splitting hairs, and it comes off disingenuous. And I get it.
It’s a fine, fine line there to walk trying to be mad about her appointment to the court and not appear racist!
Now, apply the same dynamic to me and my opinion here. We stopped some abortions (that remains to be seen but is, in essence, beside the point anyway). Ostensibly, I am happy about that (and I am), but the how of the measure troubles me. (There, I hope you followed all that.))
Okay, if I have made that clear, I will be surprised. But if you are still here and still interested, then surely I did. But here’s the first part of the rub then: it appears to me, based on the rhetoric, that the church doing this wonderful work, supports the “Prop A” measures taken to end the abortions. I cannot know this part for sure, but there was no indication otherwise.
At the very least, the rhetoric of this church caters to those conservatives who pushed for, and voted in, the ordinance, and does so without any measurable confrontation regarding the way it is done.
We have a hateful and hate-filled political climate in our country ripping the nation apart. Abortion is one of the “issues” I share a passion about too, so I get it – at that level. But when we use it as a political stick to beat liberals with, and when we “lord it over” others, we become clanging cymbals and noisy gongs. Our love is worthless banter, and not love at all. It is just more hate. We give up our particularly Christian voice on the issue.
The “Christians” of Lubbock need to think that through.
But I won’t begrudge a saved life! So, I swallow this pill with bitter sweet taste.
But here I have a sister-n-law promoting this church to me, and I already have quite a sticking point. Perhaps I could visit the pastor personally and iron out where we stand. Then I could lodge my complaint. Or I could withhold my complaint and just be happy the glass is half full. (But is it a half-full glass if we reduce ourselves to noisy gongs???) I could just play nice to get along. (Is that what the kingdom of God is like???)
I don’t know. I welcome comments!
But there’s a second part to this rub too. The other part is that according to the link my sister-n-law sent me, all the focus and energy of this new ministry program is geared, not to families who already adopted, but to families who MIGHT adopt. In fact, at every turn in the program, as I read through the philosophy, the policies, the logistics and all that, it manages to just miss being a real fit for my family.
(This is not quite accurate. I have one child still technically a foster kid who is due to be adopted soon, and so if we joined now, I might just make it under the wire on that one.)
So, it could be that if I visit the pastor privately with questions and concerns on this part of the rub, there might be exceptions made, a widening of policies, that kind of thing, and we might find support and care for our family which surely would be helpful!
(Another caveat: We don’t really NEED money. Certainly not at this time. Before the next eighteen years is up, there may be a few times some donated money would help, but we don’t foresee ongoing financial need here.)
I sense my words here paint a petty picture of either me or the church of Lubbock. It could be me. I often stop to consider that. However, I always remember that for all the “love” the church boasts, when it comes to opening the doors to the poor, there is always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS some fancy way of sidestepping it. And thus, the poor are left to sleep on the pavement in our “love.”
I walked a mile in those shoes, and I find that unacceptable. That’s not really love. And when I spoke up about it, I got shunned, kicked out, and ghosted by Lubbock churches.
(Three times, bit/twice shy, as they say.)