Recently, I was asked to name my favorite authors. This is something I cannot do because my favorite author happens to be whomever I am reading at the moment. This includes writers who are presenting views diametrically opposed to mine. And this happened this week when I read a book that included a collection of essays on faith by a gifted general market writer who is a Christian. She has the rare ability to be both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. She is transparent, sharing the best and worst of herself and her observations on humanity.
This Christian is firmly pro-choice, pro-euthanasia, admittedly far left, hates-but-manages-to-forgive “Bush” for single-handedly ruining the planet, and uses “fundamental” like a four letter word.
I am pro-life, against euthanasia, conservative, thankful to Bush for many (but not all) of his decisions, think “global warming” is a money-making hoax that will be disproven with time, and a fundamental Christian (meaning I believe the Bible is God-breathed and teaches and transforms lives).
All of which may make some wonder why I read this collection of essays in the first place or why I admire this writer so much.
Reading other blatantly honest views gives me a better insight into how other people think. This is good in living in this time and place, and in writing stories about people.
I’ve read several books by this author. So I know she had several abortions before carrying a child to term. Having done the research for The Atonement Child (a book I wrote some years ago that included my own abortion experience), I know some of the reasoning behind the pro-choice stance: “If I did it, shouldn’t I help others in the same crisis situation do it, too?” “What right do I have to tell others they can’t have an abortion when I did?” Or to state the view of many highly vocal pro-choice believers: “Better to abort than let a child be born and unwanted – and later abused.” And, in this writer’s view – “It’s only a zygote, not a human being.” Twisted thinking in complete opposition to God’s view of life. (Read Psalm 139)
Nevertheless, I felt her pain and anger, her confusion, her fear. Hadn’t I felt the same way for years before facing the facts of what I had done to my child and to myself?
On to next topic, euthanasia. This writer’s father died (horrendously) of cancer and her mother was a victim of Alzheimers. So when asked to “assist” a friend dying of cancer, she agreed. We often make decisions based on our own deep, unhealed wounds. She knew the man was not a Christian, which filled me with sorrow and raised the question: Did this writer remember Jesus’ words: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” There is no lasting comfort in the lie: “He was a good man and will end up in a better place.” Sometimes what seems to be a compassionate act can be the greatest cruelty. I have no doubt this writer loved her friend deeply, but her assistance ended his life and his chance to change his mind about Jesus. Suffering often opens eyes, ears, minds and hearts to Jesus who proved His great love by dying for each of us. Embracing Christ may not bring an immediate end to physical pain, but it does bring salvation and eternity and joy in the presence of God, our Creator.
Personally, I do not want my life prolonged by artificial means. Nor do I want my children feeling responsible for making the decision whether I should live or die. Nor do I believe death is an enemy. Death is the doorway through which we all walk and face the answer we gave to the question Jesus asks: “Who do you say I am?”
This writer had a firm fix on her politics. I cannot say the same. I was a registered Democrat, very liberal, then a registered Republican and conservative. Now, whatever registration I am doesn’t matter because I don’t (and never did) vote a party line. Actually, I confess there were a few times when I wrote in the name of a beloved deceased relative for President of the United States.
Unlike this author, I don’t believe in smorgasbord Christianity where you can pick and chose what Scriptures you like and want to believe. I believe in the full body of Scripture. I believe we have to take in the “ifs” and the “so that’s”. I believe “a text out of context is a pretext”.
All this said, I am thankful she wrote her book.
Sometimes I could hear her dissident, angry voice ringing in my ears. I could see her finger pointing at me as she called me names. And it made me wonder if I am the same when expressing my point of view. Do I mock and belittle? Do I throw verbal rocks? Do I cast blame? I am learning through reading other points of view that I have no right to judge. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
I don’t agree with or embrace many of her views, but she is my sister because she believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord. We can extend grace to one another. As Christians, we are part of the Body of Christ. If we sat at a table today and tried to talk things out, chances are neither of us would listen for long. Self-righteousness, personal experiences, sin-nature-pride and all those inner-personal voices we listen to would get in the way. No. It will be the Holy Spirit who reaches into each us and corrects, instructs and transforms us into being like Christ who is the Word who spoke this world into existence, created us, witnessed what we humans make of it, and will come again and make all things right.
In the meantime, we two who are so different can be thankful Jesus saved both of us and we can rejoice together in Him.