Conscripted for Life, Not War: Why the Draft is Wrong for Women

 

I watched the latest Republican Presidential debate with usual dutifulness. I want to be informed, I want to understand the candidates, and I want to play the small part God’s given me in this process, but as this was not the first one, I didn’t expect anything revelatory.

Imagine my shock as I listened to not one, but three, so-called conservative candidates vigorously support selective service–including combat—for women, even referencing the importance of equality for their daughters in their responses. Selective service registration exists as a way to reinstitute the draft should the need arise.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who was having a hard time equating women’s progress with conscripting them to fight wars. Don’t get me wrong. I believe fathers should value their daughters. I think they should encourage them to do marvelous things. I just also happen to think they should value them as members of the female sex, not pretend that there are no biological, muscle mass differences between them and men.

It seems our government, indeed our culture, has engaged in a rendition of  The Emperor Has No Clothes, but instead it’s something more along the lines of, The Women Are No Different Than the Men. This idea that, because women can think as clearly as a man, that it would follow that she can (and should) also fight in combat against men with the same effectualness is, not to put too fine a point on it, absurd. I’m an average-sized female in relatively decent shape and even as I observe the smaller of the male sex, I know that it would be a poor bet to imagine that I could overpower or outrun such a man. There’s a reason women are anxious in dark parking lots at night and men aren’t. We aren’t stupid.

You may object. You may tell me about your friend who’s a fitness instructor or unbelievably strong or played on a boys’ lacrosse team. I grant all that. But is it the norm? And even given the fact that women can be physically strong, despite the reality that many are not, is that what God gave us strength for? To fight in combat against men?

God gave women marvelous strength. Strength that wasn’t meant to be compared or measured against a man. Last time I checked, I’d never met a man able to give birth. I’ve also never known a man able to handle months of sleep deprivation during which he fed a tiny human round the clock from his very own body. These are (some of) the unique strengths of a woman and we ought not to degrade men for being unable to perform these feats. Likewise, I should feel no sense of shame over the simple fact that I can’t take down a man in combat. Why would I want to? It’s not what I was made for.

Strength is a garment women ought to wear. The kind of strength that stretches out its arms to support the poor, to feed hungry souls, to grow and harvest all that God has given you. It is a strength that nurtures life, not war. Whether a woman can give birth or not, her strength is fundamentally different than a man’s. We can keep pretending this isn’t so, or we can embrace the body and the biology God has assigned to us.

In college, I was one of those girls who managed to get my MRS. degree along with my actual diploma. I remember the jokes and the smugness toward the girls who were open about wanting to be married and start a family. The peer pressure on college girls to forsake that sort of “wasting of your education” was sizable.

But let’s not succumb to that sort of juvenile peer pressure, as if an education’s value is found anywhere but saddled to a man and children. We won’t all get married in college (or at all) and we must all walk the path God has for us. But the desire to be married, the desire to have a family is a good one. Let’s not mistake it for something else. Similarly, the desire to live our lives now as women, clothed in the sort of strength that makes us uniquely women, not men battling in combat, is also a good one. Elisabeth Elliot said it best, “Let me be a woman.”

Radical Gratitude

Bill Maher recently interviewed Gloria Steinem. I don’t watch Bill Maher, but I saw a headline that peaked my interest about a statement Gloria Steinem made as to why young feminists are supporting Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. She said young women are thinking, “Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.” The implication being that young feminists just want to be “Where The Boys Are” as one song famously put it.

This fascinated me for a number of reasons, but while watching the interview, I came across something even more intriguing. Bill Maher asks Ms. Steinem if young women are complacent about Roe v. Wade–if they don’t appreciate it as much as the older generation. And Ms. Steinem replies with this, “Gratitude never radicalized anybody.” She explains that she never said thank you for the right to vote, but rather it was her anger about what was happening to her that drove her action. She says that nowadays young women are “mad as hell” about college debt and earning less than men over their lifetime, in contrast, their mere gratitude over so-called abortion rights doesn’t fuel any action. First off, I don’t agree with any of the causes Ms. Steinem is advocating. But I want to understand what she thinks is the motivating factor for change.

Steinem believes anger is the fuel of progress. It’s only when we’re fed up that we’ll start to initiate change. This is a righteous anger to her, a matter of injustice being corrected. So she believes abortion is a right and worked to get it because of what she saw as injustice. Now in reality that’s a perversion of justice. Killing babies isn’t justice for anybody. But putting aside her amorality, you can get your head around the principle. Injustice ought to drive us to action. I do not agree with her on what constitutes injustice and what is worth being angry over. But nevertheless, I get it.

But does it follow that righteous indignation over injustice is the only way to transformation? Does it follow that gratitude is impotent? That is never radicalized anybody?

The Gospel of Christ, the knowledge of him and receiving of his grace is the true transformation. It is the only way to change inside or outside. And gratitude is a potent byproduct of that.

Romans tells us that the world has two big problems, it doesn’t honor God as God and it won’t give thanks to him. Gratitude is a big deal. And not as some manufactured “to do” for people who are trying to be saved. It’s also not some payback, like you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours system that Christians have going with God. We do owe him thanks. But no one wants thanks that aren’t true overflow. What we owe him can’t be given as payback. It’s got to be a real heartfelt response.

Begrudging thanks or thanks that are duty go against the spirit of gratitude, which is a spirit of overflow, of gladness, of simple gratefulness. There’s an element of spontaneity in them, of something that can’t be suppressed, it bubbles up and can’t be kept down.

That’s what thankful people are like. And what a radical thing they are in our day. Grateful people are transformed and transformative. When gratitude wells up, it kills entitlement. The spring of gratitude turns victims into whole, full people.

I’ve never seen a truly grateful person be divisive or argumentative. A heart is not made to harbor gratitude alongside sin, which is what makes it so powerful, so radical. And it’s presence can change a whole room.

So you want to see change? You want real injustice to end? You want to be radical? Ask God to open your eyes too all you have to be grateful for. And if your a Christian and belong to Christ–God has given you his Son and along with him all things. I’m pretty sure that’s enough to keep gratitude overflowing into eternity.

 

Eliza Turns Twelve

Well, I’m not sure this gets any easier as the kids grow, that tight feeling in the chest, knowing that some things are past forever. But it’s accompanied by off the wall happiness at watching them, watching my oldest daughter, become a young lady who makes my heart glad. Here’s to turning twelve and all the growth of the past year.

wpid-dodds5.jpg1. I love the pic above because it so perfectly captures you, with all your sibs around, caring for Titus, outdoors, with beautiful scenery everywhere. You are a wonderful oldest. It’s a big job, but you rise to the occasion time and again. I’m so thankful you’re our oldest.

_DSC0687

2. You also enjoy solitude. Especially if it’s down in the garden working, harvesting or just sitting and enjoying being alone. We got to have a lot of “alone” time together down there which I treasure. I’ll never forget the day you were foraging in the woods looking for the right stuff for a project and I heard you scream and come running out. As you had been quietly looking around, a deer had been just feet from you and neither of you aware of the other, until the same moment. I’m sure the deer was just as terrified as you were.

IMG_0634

3. What a blessing to be a 6th grader this year! Part of what makes learning so much fun with you is that you’re interested in so many things and you let your interest fuel your learning. You and dad just finished measuring the speed of light in the microwave last night for a science project. You aren’t afraid to try hard things.

11111159_10205990071247807_4631337787511286857_o

4. We praise God for your baptism this past May. So many graces to recount in that, like having Pastor Gil baptize you and standing next to our dear friends during the service, who’ve loved you, just as we’ve loved them. But the biggest grace is the saving one that came to you from God in His Son Jesus.

IMG_0274

5. Summiting Sacajewea had to make your list as well. It was a feat and you did it despite the cold and wind and not having proper shoes or clothes. You’re a trooper that way, and it was so worth it.

wpid-tituseliza.jpg

6. You wanted to make sure there was a pic of you and Titus in this post, and I am happy to do that. You have a special love for him and he is blessed to have you.

IMG_0440

7. One morning Seth was helping clean up pool stuff and Vanga was keeping him company. She accidentally fell in with her clothes on and was very distressed. To try and cheer her up, I pushed you in with your clothes on, followed by Elianna. You took it in stride, always up for a laugh and an adventure.

IMG_0395

8. This was one of many lemonade stands this summer. Your enterprising spirit keeps you and our whole family busy. You earned a good amount of money selling lemonade, cookies, homemade soft pretzels, squeezable balloons filled with flour and decorated like little people and other misc items.

IMG_1046

9. Your baking, crafting, jewelry-making, cooking, knitting skills are all expanding. You have made dinner for our whole family with no help from me aside from a couple consulting questions. You make homemade gifts for all of us and they are special and well done. God’s generous heart is so evident in you!

IMG_1037

10. If I could sum up what I learn from you Eliza, it’s to enjoy everything. You have learned a secret that many adults haven’t: to enjoy work, to enjoy the process of something. And you do that so beautifully when you’re out in God’s creation.

It’s a precious thing to have a daughter who has grown into a sister in Christ. I’m so thankful to God for this–so thankful for the fellowship we share and the bond of being Christ’s body together. You have been set apart for him. Eliza means “consecrated to God” and by His grace, you are. May you walk with him all your days growing, discovering, delighting in and knowing our saving Triune God. May you walk in all the plans and paths he’s made for you. May you be equipped for every good work he’s prepared for you. May you enjoy Him forever.

I love you so.

Seth Goes Double Digits

I was thinking lately how having a son is very different than having a daughter. In my experience at least, there’s an element of mystery and yet, an intense bond, which I know someday will not be what it is now. It’s a privilege to watch my son grow and to ever-so-slowly watch a distinctive and unmistakeable thing unfold–a young man–until it’s not ever-so-slowly, it’s a train picking up speed that will likely never again sit on my lap. So here’s to boyhood and growing up in all it’s mysterious glory.

1. Oh boy am I thankful for this brother bond. The way you two relate is utterly different than how the sisters do and it’s wonderful. Seth, you’re an attentive, adventurous, proud big brother.

IMG_0837

2. Active is a good adjective for you, Seth. From hiking to swimming to soccer to football to jumping on the trampoline to ice skating and sledding, you keep active. Even in sub zero temps you’ve been known to come inside with a sweaty head complaining you’re too hot.

IMG_0687

3. You’re a loyal fan. Of course football continues to be a passion for you and the Vikings are your #1 team. Which, from my vantage point, seems painful. But you’re a loyal fan who stays upbeat, rarely discouraged, and always finding some good thing about the Vikes to point out in the face of big losses.

IMG_0018-2

4. The hike to the peak of Sacajewea has to make this year’s top ten. You were indefatigable, up in front of the pack both up and down. On one occasion, as we got toward the very top, you had gotten so far in front (and by yourself) that I couldn’t see you as you were around the bend of the mountain. I started to panic as newspaper headlines flashed in my head telling of your tragic death. Thankfully, they remained in my head and we had a happily memorable day.

IMG_0271

5. Legos are a new enjoyment for you this year. Your Nana and Papa bought some sets and had them around for a rainy day and this started the bug in full force. Top of your Christmas and birthday wish lists were lego sets. You’re a fast builder and you and Vanga have enjoyed hours and hours in your made up worlds of legos.

_DSC0970

6. You love a good game of strategy. Never bored, always engaged and pushing to win, you often are forced to play against yourself, as the girls aren’t to into those types of games.

IMG_0027

7. You have the privilege of being surrounded by sisters. PLUS you have a younger brother. The Lord has been so gracious to you, Seth. He’s given you good gifts in the people he’s put around you and I’m praying those bonds would last here on earth after I’m at home with the Lord and, much more, into eternity.

IMG_0394

8. You started 4th grade this year. You are really enjoying your time at school and your new teacher. It’s so neat to see how you grow and learn new things and how you’re being challenged this year. May the Lord grow you in wisdom and knowledge and humility and diligence!

IMG_0636

9. You’ve got a goofy streak. Couldn’t be avoided in our family. I love seeing you through your sisters’ eyes. Eliza took this and what a time you all have laughing your heads off. I’ll admit I often don’t “get” it. But I’m just the ole’ mom, so that’s to be expected.

IMG_1636

photo by Eliza

10. You’ve had so much growth in understanding our God this year, Seth. You’re growing up and I’m watching the Lord work in you, work in your heart and watching you learn about him. It’s a relationship I can’t control or force.

But I want to impress on you, with all my heart, to get to know this God of ours. Don’t settle for just hearing about him from others. Don’t assume everything people tell you about him is true. You can know him for yourself–he’s made a way for that, He’s spoken to us in these days, and He did it through His Son. And everything about it is written down in a book, you know which one. Oh Seth, spend your life knowing Him–it’s not something to check off the list, it’s a lifetime of discovery and joy and fulfillment and peace and love and an anchor for every difficulty that comes, and yes, sometimes it’s hard and confusing. But you can trust our God. He loves you. I love you. May He appoint you to go and bear fruit for His glory.

_DSC0830

 

Because Christmas Keeps Coming

I’m reliving the past as I sit at home Sunday morning with a vomiting kiddo, on the cusp of Christmas once again and the thoughts stir in my head about the Incarnation, the mess, the chaos, the Word, and what’s this all about anyway?!

Then I start to sense that perhaps I’ve thought these thoughts before, perhaps these feelings are all too familiar. Maybe, could it be, I’ve actually written these thoughts down before. One advantage to having an overstuffed memory is that everything seems new all the time! I’ve been known to sit down to a movie I’ve seen before with almost no recollection of it whatsoever. Maybe that’s why writing the same themes over and over again never gets old.

And maybe that’s why Christmas comes every year. Because our finitude makes us needy for reminders. Chesterton says, “But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.”

And also, perhaps knowing this world is for finite people, he’d know that that’s how often we’d need reminded that he is good. He is God. He did it, again–the sun gave warmth and light. Maybe he knows that I’d forget, even in just a day, that he does that sort of incomprehensible thing.

So, to remind myself of the lessons of yesteryear, I’m linking up to my previous Christmas posts. If they all sound strangely similar, let’s just say God doesn’t tire of teaching me the same lesson. I’m so thankful that Christmas keeps coming.

A Christmas Misadventure (With Stitches)

What Vomit Under the Christmas Tree Teaches Me About the Glorious Incarnation

Christmas in Pictures

What’s With All This Stuff?! It’s Christmas Of Course!

A Mom’s Made-Up Holiness at Christmas

 

 

 

Reflections on Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is right around the corner which has got me thinking about the sometimes strange interplay between our thankfulness, our suffering and our identity in Christ.

Every now and then you’ll meet someone or perhaps you’ll be someone (I know I’ve wrestled with this) who can’t tolerate the coexistence of suffering and thankfulness. Some of us are simply convinced that a thankful heart will cancel out the legitimacy of our suffering. That if we give way to true full throated thankfulness, people will start forgetting our pain and trials.

Actually this is the farthest thing from the truth. When we’re thankful to God for all the gifts he’s given and especially the sending of his Son to die and live for us, people are not less interested in walking alongside our suffering, but rather we become less invested in it. Our hardships are not the definitive part of our life that we must make sure everyone knows about us, rather Christ in us, is the thing that cannot be contained and must be made known to everyone we meet. Our sufferings do not disappear because we’ve sprinkled magical thankful dust on them, but now they serve the cause of magnifying him as part of the story he’s given us.

Thanksgiving is powerful, to be sure, in as much as it focuses on the pinnacle of all things to be thankful for: the word of truth, the Gospel of Jesus, the grace of God to save and sanctify us and the Triune God himself. The world has tapped into the remedial power of thanksgiving–godless people recognize that focusing on the good things in life rather than the bad makes you a happier person. But this is the teeniest, tiniest taste of what thanksgiving affords. Even thanksgiving that is misguided in its direction (thankful to stuff rather than to the Giver), can have a strong impact on someone’s life.

Yet, we who have Christ must ponder how true thankfulness for the most thank-worthy event and Person in history transforms the human heart. It is part and parcel of our new birth and identity in Christ. When our minds are made alert to the Gospel and the Spirit is blowing life into us, the warmth in His breath is thankfulness. Thankful people are genuinely warm. I’ve never met a cold person with a thankful bent.

Oh my prayer for this heart of mine is warm, glad-hearted thankfulness– first and foremost to God for his sending Christ into the world on a saving mission and Christ imparting the Spirit, then along with those, that I give thanks to God in all things and every circumstance.

Even in lament, our identity as God’s children give us reason for thanks. Psalm 73 is a psalm of lament, and God’s people end it like this:

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”(Psalm 79:13 ESV)

 

How Does a Christian Stay-Home Mom Respond to Planned Parenthood?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Planned Parenthood sting video that’s been all over the internet.

It’s awful. And sad and horrifying and gut-turning. And every response I’ve seen has been appropriately revolted. Of course, I have limited circles, so maybe there are people out there (besides PP) saying that it’s just fine and no big deal and actually quite lovely. If there are, they are staying comparatively quiet.

As a stay-home mom, what can I do to play a part in stopping this great evil? It’s easy to feel insignificant. When I first saw the video, I kept thinking–we’ve got to DO something. We’ve got to get this out there; people must know! Surely someone, somewhere, can order this stopped! And then I saw this. And I remembered that we already do know. Everyone knows.

The difference is simply, does the dead baby’s body get dropped, bloody, into a garbage bag or some other container, and taken out to the trash to slowly decompose without a name or a grave or a stuffed animal or a blanket OR does he or she get “harvested”, pulled apart and shipped to whatever lab deals in this kind of deathly desecration.

We moms know what it’s like to see our baby on ultrasound for the first time. We know the utter astonishment and miracle of seeing another person’s heart beating inside your womb. We know the amazement that such a thing is possible and the profound sense of otherness that that little person has from us. They are not us. They are not our body. They are unique and they have a God-given right to a protected residence inside of us for nine months.

These are old arguments. The same simple truths we’ve been saying for years. But part of what we can do is keep saying them. The fight for the unborn is not something we can get on a bandwagon for when popular opinion isn’t too opposed to it. It’s something we say, even when it’s an old story. It’s something we say when the chips of public opinion are down and when they’re not. And if we’re faithful, it’s something we’ve been saying when the babies were taken out to the trash, like they have been for the past decades, and now, when the world wakes up to be astonished that they’re also being taken apart and harvested for the damning benefit of others. Can you really say that one is worse than the other? Are our consciences only pricked when shocked with some new evil?

So, I’ll tell you my resolves in regard to this battle for the dead and dying, and ask for you to consider how God might stir you respond.

-I shared the video of PP’s horror and will continue to expose the evil when given an opportunity. I let myself be re-ignited in my horror and resolve.

-I resolve to be unafraid to say that babies are being murdered by their doctors and their mothers and their fathers, no matter who it offends. And to offer the forgiveness of the cross freely, just as it was offered to me.

-I resolve to continue supporting local crisis pregnancy centers.

-I resolve to be willing to engage in relationships and conversations with people who agree and disagree with me and to ask God to help me be persuasive, loving and fearless.

-I resolve to fear God and remember that, in the end, I will give an account, and that cowards have no business in God’s kingdom.

-I resolve to fight back the darkness by loving the children God has given me and not using them; to remember that although they are not in my womb, they are still dependent in many ways and will require more and more of my sacrifices for their good, not less, as time goes on.

-I resolve, in as much as God gives us this grace, to be a family that points to a deeper reality of family–that is, God’s family. To love each other well and remember that God puts children in families, with a mother and father, because it tells them something about Him. And God makes men and women into moms and dads, because it tells them something about Him. And that when a family lacks a dad or a mom, it is still saying something profound about God–that he cares, that he’s there, and that he can make all grace abound to them because He Himself is willing to be their Father because of his Son’s death on the cross.

-I resolve to meditate and act on the Scriptures and to pray for sleepers, who are more dead than the babies they kill, to awake.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:6-17 ESV)

Let’s resolve to push back the darkness, moms, and let’s start at home.