The political conventions are over, the Olympics are over and yet the irony and paradox was too great to ignore. Over the course of three weeks I had read about three women who were each described as being "brave" yet each description was based on very different values. It occurred to me that our definition of bravery and the extent to which that term applies tells us much more about ourselves and where our values are found.
Three Women and Their Babies
Following is the path three women have taken who have made news. One defied the odds to allow God to work through her in His Infinite Mercy. Another faced responsibility and accepted motherhood above a career. The third passed on God's treasures as so much hindrance and personifies today's feminist.
The more the merrier through Divine Mercy
Sue Barton, an Englishwoman with eight children already, discovered that she was pregnant two years after receiving a diagnosis of cervical cancer. She refused a much needed blood transfusion because she feared that it would risk the life of her baby.
After much prayer and faith in God Almighty, Sue gave birth Luke Francisco on 2/6/2000. Ironically enough, Luke 2:6 reads, "and she gave birth to a male child."!
Finding herself pregnant again two years later and heading toward a miscarriage due to her delicate condition, Sue placed all of her faith and devotion in The Divine Mercy. Again, as if the signify the value of her faith, this tenth child was born at the hour of Divine Mercy, 3 pm!
Feminists and Pro-Choice proponents would call Sue a fool for going through these last two pregnancies. They would argue that she needlessly exposed herself to possible death and her other children to losing their mother due to some perverse or ignorant beliefs. They would surely cry "health of the mother" , one of their favorite spins, to justify abortions in both cases. Yet where these supporters of death saw danger and foolishness, Sue saw two gifts of God and we now see two beautiful children.
More Precious than Gold
Tasha Danvers-Smith, one of Britain's brightest Olympic stars, may have been watching on August 25th as Fani Halkia became a national hero by winning the women's 400 meter hurdles in front of her home fans. This USC track star might have imagined herself alongside the Greek star, racing for gold. One of Britain's brightest track hopes, Smith sacrificed her Olympic dream and the possible economic benefits that came with that dream to have an unplanned child many thought she should have avoided. Smith cites the well known phrase of Our Lord's from St. Mark 8: 36, asking what does one gain if one loses one's soul for helping her to see the light and decide on what was really important.
Feminists and Pro-Choice supporters would call Smith a fool for giving up all that she had worked so hard for. They would argue that she needlessly sacrificed a dream she might never get a chance to regain due to some perverse or ignorant beliefs. They would surely cry "career choice" or "right to choose" or "reproductive rights" or something like that to justify an abortion in this case. After all, there would be many chances to have another baby since one is as good as the other, right? Yet where these supporters of death saw foolish sacrifices of personal dreams, Tasha saw the treasure of God-given life far greater than any golden medal could ever give.
Senselessly Slain for Selfishness
Amy Richards, Pro-Choice activist and feminist writer living in New York City, decided that it was time to have a child. She and her boyfriend decided to let nature take its course and, sure enough, she became pregnant. However, this woman who supports abortion rights was expecting triplets! Not surprisingly, she decided to do a "selective reduction" and aborted two out of the three fetuses. Richards states that her "choice" was made easier by the fact that two of the three were twins, making them the odd ones out.
In a piece she wrote for The New York Times, Richards comes off as a cold, calculated, superficial, selfish, spoiled person who acted out of convenience more than anything else. In phrases which have shocked many, Richards describes her horror at thinking how having three babies would destroy her lifestyle, force her to move to the suburbs, and put a damper on her career.
In the most shocking part of this piece, Richards describes her fear of ending up shopping in Costco and buying large jars of mayonnaise! Most telling in her description is the fact that readers have noticed that Richards used the words "I" and "my" 13 times in 7 sentences. After a great backlash to her piece, Richards went on to add medical justifications for her actions which sounded quite empty and after-the fact. Her supporters cited these same statistics and argue that her move was a very reasonable one. They contend that wanting a career and a better economic future for herself and any child are not trivial reasons and that there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to have one baby instead of three. In the most unbelievable justification of all, Richards stated that she would have had to give up those two babies, and she then wondered what the psychological damage to her child would ensue should he discover that he had two siblings out there somewhere. I guess the psychological trauma of knowing that your mother killed your two siblings and that you could have been aborted just as easily is not as damaging? Where these supporters of death saw imposed bedrest, inconvenience, a move out of a beloved apartment, wholesale shopping, and large jars of mayo, God saw three beautiful babies who all deserved to live. But to people like Amy Richards, God's will be damned.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Each of these women faced a choice between self and life. Two of the three chose the creative power of The Almighty above selfish motives. The first risked her own life to protect the unborn's right to live. She used simple faith and devotion as her tools and carved two miraculous masterpieces of love and trust in the Ways of God. The second sacrificed her own dreams to protect the unborn's right to live out dreams of his own. She used simple obedience and respect as her tools and carved a golden treasure of love out of the melted remains of the gold medal of her dreams. These two women turned their backs on the New Order's Guide to Self and faced their Creator not in the medical or athletic arenas, but in the arena of salvation.
The third woman, however, chose self above all else and subservient to all else. She has risked her own eternal salvation to protect her superficial, temporary world. She used blind ambition, extreme selfishness, and clueless arrogance as her tools and produced a monument to the lost, secular, feminist, and pro-death faces of this society.
This last woman embraced the New Order's Guide to Self and turned her back on her Creator not within the pages of some book or the lines of some article, but in the passages of ultimate, eternal fate.
All three of these women have been called brave by various corners of this society and clueless by others. All three have been cited as models of genuine behavior and smart choices by some and caricatures of foolish stupidity and utter ignorance by others.
In a society which has often lost its moral compass and sold its conscience, their stories are often told like some mathematical calculation with additions and subtractions resulting in some end result. In the end, it is left to the eye of the beholder and that beholder's own values to determine their perception of the paths taken by each of these women.
They say that a society is known by the nature of its heroes, and these three women illustrate that point. The New Order would have us calculate the value of their actions in terms of what they lost or gained. Since this Order values self and the material over God and the eternal and spiritual, Richards comes out ahead by the scorecard of The New Order. However, the only scorecard that counts is that used by God Almighty. In that tally, Sue and Tasha alone stand on the podium.
"Know you not that they who run in the race, all run indeed, but one receivith the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth fo rthe mastery refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one" (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25).