She walks into the doors of the building ready to face their cold faces. The warm smiles that once blessed her as she was taught Bible stories in Sunday school now showed signs of a disgusted grimace. She knows what it is like to feel shame, to feel like she’s been used, to feel like she doesn’t matter, or to feel that she is not a card-carrying member of some elite group of people. Instead of killing the baby that is growing inside of her, she decided it deserved to live because it had done no wrong. She did the right thing despite it not being the easiest or even most expedient thing. Yet, she walks into the Church feeling as if she made the wrong decision. They look down their sharp noises at her stomach and whisper the dreadful words every young teen mother loathes to hear, “I guess that’s one more bastard the government will get to take care of.” Despite the baby not receiving the death penalty, the young mother sure felt she did in the court of public opinion.
The scene is not radically uncommon here in the Deep South. A young girl raised in the church makes a few bad decisions and ends up with child. She has been taught from her church that God loves her no matter what, that what is in the womb is a gift from God in the form of a tiny little human, and that the murder of an innocent is always wrong. What does she commonly find when she enters into her church? She finds that her reputation has preceded her and she now is destined to wear a scarlet letter on her until the unfortunate gift of God is birthed. Where concern and empathy should exist, she discovers harshness, frigidity, and a self-righteous sense of judgment. This from God’s people!
There are few words for the scenario described above—inconsistent hypocrisy. Now please understand me. Church discipline is a good thing to utilize within the body of Christ. For the sake of holiness and the expansion of the gospel to the nations, the Church has the power, right, and humble duty of discipline to its local congregants (Matt. 18:15-20; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:20; 1 John 5:16-17; 1 Tim. 1:20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13). The purposes of Church discipline are to restore and reconcile a believer who is going astray (2 Cor. 2:7-8), to keep sin from spreading within the body (Heb. 12:15; 1 Cor. 5:2, 6-7; 1 Tim. 5:20; Gal. 2:11), and to protect the purity of the Church and the honor of Christ (Rom. 2:24; 1 Cor. 6:6, 11:27-34; Rev. 2:14-15, 20). The church has this calling. We must remember though—church discipline is for the unrepentant; not the repentant.
Why “inconsistent hypocrisy?” Because we should not with the same mouths preach a robust prolife message and then shun the mess out of young women who decide to do the courageous thing and keep their babies. That is similar to our president saying that fathers are absolutely necessary and then arguing that marriage can be endlessly defined. Which is it? Do little boys and girls need a mother and father or can marriage be just anything we decide? Obama is not the only inconsistent one. The church sings, “Wherever He leads, I’ll go” and then refuses to do missions as if God has not declared us to go (Matt. 28:18-20). The church says all of our belongings are gifts from God and yet gives dismal amounts favoring instead to spend it on cars, pools, and lavish luxuries of a world that is not our home. The church says the doors are open to all and then is shocked when someone does not wear their Sunday best. You cannot consistently hold both beliefs. They contradict. It is the same thing when it comes to these young mothers. How can we passionately and rightfully argue that the unborn is a person with full rights which includes the right to life and then shun a young, repentant girl who agreed with that belief? We are being inconsistent. We are being reductionistic. We are not living in align with our worldview. We are not applying the Gospel in our lives when we possess these strange and crippling duplicities.
What should our attitude be to these young girls? Randy Alcorn said, “Whenever I see an unmarried woman carrying a child, my first response is one of respect. I know she could have taken the quick fix without anyone knowing, but she chose instead to let an innocent child live.” I wholeheartedly agree. What should the church do? Women should take her out to lunch and share their experience. They should rally around her (not against her) and lead her. They ought to teach, encourage, admonish, and love her. She will likely not be able to make it own her own. Women of the church, lead her. Show her the way to go. Be the strong woman she needs to see with her own eyes so that she has the heart to overcome. Men, protect her. When it comes to our sisters in Christ, we are either predators or protectors. Make your choice. Find the young man and teach him also how to be a Dad. Occasionally prolife people are accused of only caring for children when they in the womb. I find this charge dubious but it gives us an opportunity. Prove the naysayers wrong and show the couple what it means to be prolife. I plead with you church member—treat her as you have been treated by the Lord. Love her well.
I do have a word to the church member who thinks God saved them for the ministry of pointing out everyone’s faults. Remember who your Lord rebuked! The people who received the harshest condemnations from Jesus (yes, he did condemn at times) were the Pharisees (Matt. 23). It was the proud that got a tongue-lashing from the God of love. Why? Pride is the most anti-God mentality one can have and the Lord hates it with the fire of a thousand suns. C.S. Lewis was right to point out that, “Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.” Ask yourself, “Do you enjoy the feeling you get from pointing out another’s faults?” If so, know that you are in a precarious situation. If your righteousness does not exceed that of the Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Remember that the first hand to strike our Lord came from a religious individual who had a sense of “righteous” anger (Matt. 26:67). You might be opposing the Lord instead of doing his will and that is a terrifying reality.