25 September 2008

Disclaimer, ct'd.

In the ranks of those who desire a God-sized family, there is, as Rebekah has pointed out, “no party platform.” Lately, I’ve been pondering the sad fact that it’s possible to get the impression that there is at least one constant amidst the various anti-contraception factions: a tendency to add to the burdens of another’s conscience rather than to bear one another’s burdens; to condescend rather than to come alongside. In short: to judge first, and ask questions or offer support later—or never. No matter where one stands on the issue of contraception, the crowds of judgment are indeed all too eager to gather.

Coincidentally, a reader recently emailed us a gentle reminder to avoid the appearance of judgmentalism or snobbery based on the numbers. As Rebekah wrote (two posts back), we at CSPP are sorry to think that we may have given that impression, however inadvertently. We recognize the inherent sinfulness of attempting to usurp God’s prerogative of judgment—and we’re too busy with our own, homegrown sins and sinners to worry too much about those of others :O .

Here are just a few good reasons not to judge by the numbers:

>>A mother of three says with a laugh that she’s Done as she drops her kids at daycare. But watch her closely: she gazes longingly at infants and speaks wistfully of babies. Listen carefully: you’ll hear between the lines that her husband’s heart is hardened against more children, and against her staying home with them.

>>Miscarriages have taken a toll on the wife’s body, and nearly crushed her spirit with grief.

>>A young wife is diagnosed with a chronic disease, requiring treatment with medicine that could cause birth defects or early abortions.

>>The venom from the fangs of postpartum demons has lingered, piercing and weakening a woman and her marriage to the core.

>>A young woman has battled cancer, and the odds of recurrence skyrocket with the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy (Brave girl; she’s pregnant with her second!)

>>Pregnancy means that a woman, already mother to several young children, will be virtually incapacitated for anywhere from four months to the entire nine, despite the antiemetic meds.

And these are just a few women of my actual acquaintance. I know I don’t walk around spilling my guts and medical history to everyone I meet on the street—how many of us do? Who but her dear Lord knows the secret struggles of a woman’s heart? And who but her Lord can resolve and absolve the anguish there? When the support of a Sister might make all the difference in the world to her, the last thing a woman needs is to feel judged by a Sister for her honest struggles.

We at CSPP are, or at least strive to be, all about honesty and support in, with, and under our various struggles.

But I’ve wandered a bit from where I thought I’d go in this post. Tune in again later for Disclaimer, ct’d, Part II: Why Reb. Mary is not qualified to cast the first or any stone.


Rebekah said...

Thank you, Reb. Mary. But as long as we're all being extremely sensitive, I'd also like to mention that it's quite insulting to imply that we who are on track for a lot of kids are ignorant to the fact that others simply can't be. We're people. Our friends and families our people. We have cried with and for them in their procreative tragedies.

Please give us a little credit and don't judge us as judgmental just because of how we live our lives. Do us the favor of actually reading what we say and hating us for that, rather than hating us for things we haven't said. I think we've been pretty clear here in confessing the fundamental Christian belief that judgment belongs solely to Christ.

Barring that basic exercise in reciprocal charity, if someone could please explain how in the world I'm judging people I don't even know, I guess that would be helpful.

Joy said...

Excellent and edified, both of you. Often when someone accuses another of being judgmental or offers a verbose defense (as has happened to me in cyberspace), it's because they already feel guilty. Maybe they know they're in the wrong; maybe they are in the wrong and don't know it; maybe they're not in the wrong at all but still feel guilty. Nonetheless calling someone "judgmental" is, in itself, a judgment.

Add to the list my friend who desperately wants to stay home but must work to afford her husband's Big Boy toys, and all the dedicated breastfeeders who never even pump, and are thus imprisoned for the majority of the post-partum year.

Liz said...

I'm going to leave you a present on my blog sometime this weekend.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

And as you said before, their bodies just won't give them another child when they want it. And years later, in my particular case, I recognize God's wisdom in it. He knows what I can handle and what I can't. He is merciful and loving.

I always appreciated the first sentence of in your side bar..."regardless of size," and that always helped me keep your intention in mind.

As someone who communicates so extensively on the internet, one thing to take comfort in, too, and for ALL of us to remember, is that sometimes, it isn't what WE say, but the weakness of the medium to not convey our body language and expressions.

It also VERY often, our own internal guilt that is condemning us, and not YOU.
Our own guilt or uncertainty on our positions, or our simply feeling like we are in the minority on certain issues, can make us feel judged.

I've seen this on various lists when we start talking about issues like sending some kids to school or not, eating organic, vaccines, family size or birth control, etc. The actual people discussing the issues are discussing topics that they are interested in, and the people who have made different decisions or who have chosen to not devote their energies to those issues (we can't concentrate on them all, understandably) all of a sudden feel convicted by the devotion of others.

And I have learned over the years that it cannot be avoided. It's the problem with actually having a position on something, wanting to share it, and caring about it.

God bless you, ladies. You have presented these issues in the most well thought out and caring manner that I have ever experienced. I learn a lot from you.

Reb. Mary said...

Rebekah: Amen!

The rest of y'all: Thanks. For your insight, and for being so eminently reasonable :) And a present? Ooooh, it gets even better :D