Today is Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the passage of the 19th amendment of the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The ongoing observance of this day is an opportunity to draw attention to the plight of women not just in our own country, but around the world. For me, it is a moment to pause and think about the world I want my daughter to know.
When we watch “Mary Poppins,” and she sees British suffragists singing about “Votes for Women,” she finds it inconceivable that women in the United States were granted the right to vote only 95 years ago. Indeed, many things have changed in favor of women in the past century.
And yet there is much to be done before we can say women are truly given equal rights and status in our country.
I long for my daughter to see a world when women are appreciated not just for their appearance or their contributions to the world, but for their very existence. When she scrolls through iTunes to purchase music, I want her to see strong women singing powerful music, popular not because they sing about sex or pose suggestively for publicity photos, but because their music resonates with the world we want to live in. I hope she sees strong roles for women as the new normal in Hollywood — roles that portray who women really are, rather than mere caricatures. And I hope she sees a world where the value of each woman is recognized, regardless of age or ability.
Sadly, this is not the world in which she lives today.
Today a little girl in the womb could be loved and wanted desperately, or she could be extracted and dismembered in order to obtain whatever part of her body is considered valuable. A pregnant teen might be welcomed and cared for with loving arms, or she could be dropped at the door of a clinic and retrieved after she has taken care of an unwanted inconvenience. A woman could be loved as a fellow image-bearer, or she could be abused at the hands of a should-be protector.
The recent release of videos exposing the sickening practices of several Planned Parenthood leaders and clinic staff members shines a light on the horrific plight of women in distress and the babies they carry.
During a wanted pregnancy, an expectant mom might sign up to receive emails updating her on the size of her baby each week (This week it’s a peanut! Oh, now it’s the size of an avocado!). And yet those same developing body parts, each lovingly designed by the Creator, under other circumstances may be sold with no regard to the person from whom they were taken. As women across the country wonder if their own babies were sold to labs without their knowledge, a Christian love for women compels us to point them to our Savior.
Jesus was the ultimate nonconformist in His treatment of women, and particularly of women in distress.
In John 4, we see Him reveal His true identity to the woman at the well, a woman who was an outcast for her sexual exploits and whose Samaritan race would have been repulsive to any other Jewish man. Yet Jesus lovingly exposes her true problem, which is not her sexual sin, nor her disagreements about Jewish and Samaritan worship practices. He tells her what she really needs is something only He can provide — Living Water. He sees her, values her and meets her deepest need.
Again in John 8:1-11, we find Jesus subversively recognizing the value of a woman in distress — a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Her accusers conveniently neglect to bring her partner in crime to judgment, blaming only her for this sin and readying their stones to exact their justice against her. And yet, Jesus sees her not just as a woman who has sinned, but as a woman who is desperate for love and is looking for it in all the wrong places. He does not condemn her, but offers her a better way — a life of hope and purpose.
It is Jesus who taught us how to view all women, especially those in distress. This includes tiny women in the womb and the mothers who carry them.
If we desire to see true equality, we will champion the cause of the unborn and the unwed — of those we cannot see, and those who feel invisible.
We may not hold the stones, ready to punish others for their mistakes, but if we stand by and watch, we are complicit in the act. May we extend the love of Christ to all women, and may my daughter’s daughter grow up and find abortion just as foreign as a world in which women did not vote.