Mary, Herod, and the Modern Holy Innocents
Reflecting on the upcoming Day of Holy Innocents, this thought came to me: ‘satan twists the truth!’
I guess it would help to know that I had earlier read this quote: “Women seeking an abortion are largely women of faith. They’re not having an abortion in spite of their faith, it’s in many ways informing the decision they make.”
It was said by Kentina Washington-Leapheart, the director of reproductive justice and sexuality education at The Religious Institute. According to their website, The Religious Institute is a multi-faith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual, gender, and reproductive health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. More than 8,500 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars, and people of faith representing more than 70 faith traditions are part of The Religious Institute’s national religious leaders network.
The idea that women of faith are having abortions because who or what they have faith in supports their choice to kill their baby is twisted, misleading, and absurd. But it sounds good, believable, and very affirming of the pro-abortion agenda. As a representative of a religious institute, Kentina’s quote will be used by satan to encourage desperate women facing an unintended pregnancy to choose abortion.
The irony is that after women of faith have abortions, satan uses God’s word to condemn and shame them for having an abortion. This is important because, according to Care-Net’s Study of Women Who Had an Abortion & Their Views on Church, 36% of women were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of their first abortion.
Here is a second irony – most people in churches don’t think women in their pews are having abortions! Therefore, they don’t see any validity to the idea that their church should provide ministry to women dealing with unintended pregnancies. The Care-Net study noted above also reports that 51% of women agree that churches do not have a ministry prepared to discuss options during an unpanned pregnancy.
Sadly, some of the 36% of women having abortions are in our churches, clearly indicating there is a need for life-affirming ministry in our churches, but the need has been ignored so we don’t think there is a need! Twisted truth!
Beyond the very valid need to have life-affirming ministries in our churches is the concern about who is the focus of our faith. If women can be duped into believing that God is okay with abortion, I question the quality of the teaching and preaching they are hearing. The God of the Bible is our Creator, the Great I Am, Lord of Lord, and King of Kings, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Refuge. His love endures forever, and His mercies are new every morning. Is this the God people are meeting in our churches? Is this the God they are putting their faith in?
In thinking about faith during this Advent season, and acknowledging the upcoming Day of Holy Innocents, we can look at the familiar Nativity story and see two figures who put their faith in two very different gods.
First, consider Mary, a young woman, a teenager, whose pregnancy was unplanned from her perspective but totally planned from God’s. Her delivery and the birth of Jesus in the stable was not as she would have planned but that too was part of God’s plan. Mary’s focus wasn’t on her unplanned circumstances but on the God of Israel. She knew Him as a faithful God, so when the angel told Mary she would give birth to the Holy One of Israel, her faith-filled response was, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Mary’s faith in God is truly a model for us when we face unexpected news about our life and the lives of those we love.
Then there is King Herod, who is threatened by the news that the king of the Jews has been born. When his plan to find Jesus and kill him is ruined and he is outwitted by the Magi, he takes matters into his own hands and kills all the boys in Bethlehem and vicinity under the age of two, whose lives we commemorate on the Day of Holy Innocents. He believes the birth of Jesus endangers his kingdom, and he kills a large portion of his future soldiers and population just to guard it.
Mary put her faith in the Truth, while Herod put his faith in satan’s twisted thinking, believing that killing little boys–those Holy Innocents–would protect him. How many of us would take Mary’s approach? How many would handle a crisis Herod’s way?
Who we put our faith in, when life and death challenges arise, will impact not only how we navigate the problem but whether life is honored or death is embraced. Fear of suffering, whether it is emotional or physical pain, will tempt us to take the easy way out and play god. Or we can live with the struggles, believing God is with us and will see us through.
Satan hates life, and John 10:10 reminds us that he came to steal, kill, and destroy it, while Jesus came to give us life in abundance.
The Day of Holy Innocents, Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany provide a season to ponder life and truth, so that, as the next year unfolds, we will be equipped with a strong faith in a living God, whose presence is our greatest protection from the twisted truths of satan. I hope it is also the year when more of our churches start life-affirming ministries to address the very real needs in their communities – and church pews!
Written by Deacon Georgette Forney. This article originally featured in the December 2017 edition in Forward in Faith magazine.
Tags: advent, Christmas, herod, holy innocents, life, Mary, truth,