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Archive for the ‘Biblical manhood & womanhood’ Category

A pregnant woman is not autonomous.

Her pregnancy is not “a cancer.”

And the placenta knows it!

When serving as president of National Lutherans For Life, I had long discussions with my Ob/Gyn friend, Karen Rehder, M.D. I’ve never forgotten what Karen told me: “Birth is a miracle. Were it not for the placenta, the mother would reject the baby as something foreign to her body just like a transplant patient rejects a liver or kidney.”

Two separate entities—baby and mother—are attached by umbilical cord and placenta. The placenta tells us that a pregnant woman is not autonomous.

The placenta “is the only organ made in cooperation by two people,” explains Dr. Kristin Collier. It is “the organ through which the baby and mother interface.” Dr. Collier is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and practices general Internal Medicine. She also serves as Director of the U of Michigan’s Medical School program on Health, Spirituality, and Religion.

The placenta, “made from the growing baby’s tissue and the mother’s tissue together . . . is known as a ‘feto-maternal’ organ . . . [that] helps provide nutrition, produces hormones, and protects the baby against infection.” This “purposely transient organ” acts like “a lung, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and the endocrine and immune system.”

The placenta is so important that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. has a research arm called the Human Placenta Project. A “healthy placenta is not only crucial for healthy development of the prenatal child, but also affects the health of the child and mother for years to come.”

There is “a unique transfer of cellular materials that happens across the placenta. In science, microchimerism refers to the presence of a small population of genetically distinct and separately derived cells within an individual. In pregnancy, small amounts of cells travel across the placenta. Some of these cells are the prenatal child’s cells that travel from the baby into her mother, and some cells also pass from the mother into her child. The cells from the prenatal child into her mother are pluripotent, which means they haven’t yet differentiated into the type of cell specific for one organ or tissue in particular. These cells find their way into mother’s tissue and start acting like the tissue in which they find themselves. This process is known as feto-maternal microchimerism.”

Scientifically, we can say that mother is helped by her unborn baby. “For example, these [fetal] cells have been found in Caesarean sections incisions helping to make collagen to help mom heal after a surgical delivery. These cells have been found in the maternal breast and have been hypothesized to help reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer in her later years.”

The “gift of these cells from the baby, entering into mom’s body and helping her heal and protecting her from cancer, is amazing to think of and really challenges our ideas of people as autonomous beings.” Just as amazing is the fact that “these cells that enter the mother are allowed to survive and are not attacked by the mother’s immune system, even though they are somewhat ‘foreign.’ This again speaks to a cooperation, at the cellular level, between mother and child.”

This science sheds new light on the abortion debate. “Every dehumanizing ideology succumbs to the same temptation—to see the undesirable other as a non-person. In the abortion debate, as in similar debates around marginalized vulnerable populations, language is used when describing the undesirable other that is dehumanizing. In the abortion debate, the prenatal child is referred to as a ‘clump of cells’ or even a ‘parasite.’” We must “resist appeals to individual autonomy that detach us from our duty to aid others, and resist language, practices, and social structures that detach us from the full reality and dignity of . . . marginalized [persons]. A radical view of autonomy that leads to the end of another human life is one that is anti-life and oppresses the rights of another in the name of ‘freedom.’”

Dr. Collier admits that she is not a theologian, but she encourages us to think of biology “in a relational sense that mirrors the nature of God. The scriptures speak of a God who is in relationship with his people. We then would only expect that God, being the author of biology, would create our bodily nature in a way that was also relational—even down to the level of the cell.” Dr. Collier draws our attention to the “cells from the incarnate word of God, Jesus Christ, in his mother, the Virgin Mary [who] not only carried the Son of God in her body when he was in her womb, but . . . likely carried his cells in her body throughout her life . . .”

It is a loss to the human family when we pervert the language of conception and pregnancy. May we instead share God’s hope for mother and child revealed through the miracle of the placenta. A baby in the womb is not “a cancer”—and the placenta knows it!

 

by Linda Bartlett 2-16-20
(Source: “Together, baby; forever, baby,”
an interview by Carolyn Moynihan with Dr. Kristin Collier
in MercatorNet.com, 2-5-20)

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There are dozens of different genders. (If I disagree, I’m a hater.) Women must allow men to use their locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers. (If I disagree, I’m a bigot.) Marriage can be between two men or two women. (If I disagree, I’m a hater.) It’s ok for a child to have two mommies or two daddies. (If I disagree, I’m a bigot.) Abortion should be legal up to the moment of birth. (If I disagree, I hate women.)

BUT… I don’t hate women. A great deal of my life has been spent listening to women who’ve had abortions explain their grief, regret, and hope that younger women will not choose to do what they did. With concern for mother and child (and in spite of my own inadequacies), I try to defend both.

I am not a hater or a bigot. I respect my fellow human beings. Even when someone chooses to live differently from me, I do not turn my back on them. Their personhood–body and soul–matters to me. If they want me as their friend, I will strive to be an honest and persevering friend on good days and bad. As a Christian, I simply believe that God the Creator of male, female, and marriage gets to define male, female, and marriage. I trust that He knows better than me how His creation and design benefits every generation for the good of society.

In this period of time described in Romans 1, I realize that some will call me a hater, a bigot, small-minded, deplorable, judgmental, and even dangerous. But, in the end, it matters most what Jesus Christ has done for me and, therefore, why I need to draw closer to Him rather than to the world. God help me.

L. Bartlett

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Peace at the end of my day does not come in being a wife. It does not come in being a mom.

It comes in being a daughter.

There is peace in knowing that I have an inheritance that is imperishable and kept for me by my Father in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). There is nothing I do to earn that inheritance. It is a gift. I must wait to receive its full richness, but even now the Lord reveals a bit of that gift in His forgiveness and mercies that are poured out every morning.

My identity as the Father’s daughter affects my character. Remembering who I am affects my words, behaviors, and self-restraint. If God has mercy on me, shouldn’t I also have mercy on others? Every day is really an opportunity to act more like His forgiven daughter.

Every day, however, comes with temptations. One of them is to confuse my identity with being a “wife” or a “mother” or a “grandmother.” Those are vocations. Vocations are awesome callings and privileges, but they are for this life only. My identity is for this life and the next. I won’t be a wife and mother and grandmother forever because Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven. Individual family units will no longer exist and, instead, there will be one visible family of God. My place in His family will be then as it is now… only perfect in body and soul. No longer will I disappoint my Father, nor will I frustrate my brothers in Christ.

A vocation is what God calls me to do on this earth and in ways that honor Him. I can be a better child to my parents, wife to my husband, mother to my children, sister, aunt, and friend when I act like His forgiven daughter.

A vocation is a way for me to love God by serving my neighbor. I sin in my vocations, but that doesn’t change my identity. I can feel like a failure in my vocation, but that doesn’t change my identity.

No one can alter my identity. Nothing will cause the Father to stop calling me His daughter. My sinful choices and selfish behavior do not make me less God’s child, but they can change my attitude toward Him. Being unrepentant of my sins dangerously leads me to becoming my own little god. To prevent that, God the Father stirs my conscience and uses emotions of shame and guilt to rescue me from myself.

It is in humbling moments of rescue that the eyes of God’s children are turned to the Cross of Christ. His sacrificial outpouring of mercy is a love the world can’t understand. It is the kind of love that my neighbors need.

My children are my neighbors. The father of my children and grandfather of my grandchildren is my neighbor. In a world bent by sin—in a world that tells me to think of myself first, the neighbors I love most can be the most challenging and painful to love.

At the end of the day, there is peace. There is peace because my identity does something else. It helps me endure and live through the circumstances and consequences of a sinful, messed up life.

The circumstances of life—age, abilities, health, successes or failures—are always changing. Vocations change. But the identity given to me by God never changes. It cannot change. I will always be God’s daughter.

And that’s the reason why Satan hates me. It’s why he prowls around stirring things up. He does to me what he did to Eve. He deceived her into forgetting who she was. And then he tempted her to doubt God, fear vulnerability and desire control. Satan wants me to stop acting like I am God’s child so that I can’t show children and grandchildren how to act like His child.

The battle isn’t me against my neighbor. It’s me against the devil and this world. It’s me against my own fearful and selfish nature. In this spiritual war against evil, it’s me united with my closest neighbor—my husband—for the sake of generations.

When Satan targets me, he is really attacking my Lord. When he targets my marriage and children, he is attacking what the Lord has made. When he targets my home, he is attacking the place where my Lord has promised to dwell. Satan attacks the Lord by targeting His children.

Satan wants me to forget my identity so that my words, attitudes and behaviors cause division between me, my neighbor, and God.

The whole “love your neighbor” thing takes on a deeper meaning for the Christian when we remember that Jesus lives in us. So, what I do to my neighbor, I do to Him. Saul hurt his neighbors. He stoned Stephen. When he was blinded on the road, Jesus asked, “Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

Oh. My. Goodness. How many times have I wounded the Lord who gave His life for me? The number should burden me to such despair that I no longer want to live. But wait! God doesn’t measure or judge me by my failures and sins. When He looks at His daughter, He sees Christ in me and as my Father opens His arms to me.

God doesn’t love me because I’m loveable. He doesn’t love me because I make Him happy. He loves me because I am incomplete and lost without Him. He chooses to be merciful and forgiving even when I’ve betrayed Him. He pursues me with His Spirit.

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16). Jesus suffered on this earth. I can expect suffering in my vocations and relationships, too. But at the end of the day there is peace in crying, “Abba Father.” And…

He answers, saying, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27a).

   Linda Bartlett
10-30-19

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How odd, observed G.K. Chesterton, that many women consider it slavery to be the master of their own home, but working under a man in a place of business to be freedom.

Deception is a foul thing. But it is necessary for the destruction of the family. And so the world uses words like trivial, drudgery, and slavery to describe the work of a homemaker. With one question, the hissing serpent tempts women to doubt the goodness of domestic privilege. “Did God really say that you must be confined?”

Leaving home for a while can be the most wonderful adventure, but not necessarily freeing. Volunteering or working for pay can be rewarding, but not necessarily freeing. Being given a title may be flattering, but not necessarily freeing.

When I leave home to accept a job or assume a public position, I am obliged to work under the expectations and ideologies of someone else who sets the conditions for my labor. My talents and abilities are metered to the tune of an employer or board of directors. In my home, however, I labor not to grow a business or a corporation but to grow hearts and minds.

Never once did I think of my father’s mother or my own mother as being confined to the drudgery of their homes. My grandmother and mom were not free from day-to-day difficulties, but neither were they captive to slavery. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, they were blessed to find contentment in doing their best work from and for their households. They did their husbands good, not harm; they looked to the ways of their children; their lamps burned at night. They made time for hobbies and served in the church and community. Their tables welcomed family and friends. Relationships were strengthened. Neighborhoods were richer for it.

Within my home I am free not to compete with men or other women, but with myself. I am free to create, design, rearrange, make use of culinary skills, practice hospitality, organize, correspond, buy and sell, study, teach, train, mentor, read books, write books, engage through websites and blogs, supplement family finances, welcome neighbors, keep my lamp burning at night, and tell children and grandchildren what God has done.

The home where men and women complement one another in their roles as fathers and mothers is the foundation of a thriving society. A man may build and protect the house, but the woman makes and keeps the home. When chaos threatens, a woman can nurture a calming environment. By way of her quiet and gentle spirit, a woman can win an unbelieving husband for Christ. With grandchildren in mind, a mother in the home sets the moral compass for her children.

The way of the world makes no sense to me. Nor to Anthony Esolen who writes, “We must rid ourselves of the feminist spite that pretends to despise the woman of many talents and many tasks in the home, preferring the specialist who … does one thing well.” Esolen continues:

To do fifty things in one day for which you alone are responsible, for the immediate good of the people you love, is deemed easy, trivial, beneath the dignity of a rational person, but to push memoranda written in legal patois from one bureaucratic office to another, at great public expense and for no clear benefit to the common good, now that is the life. Chesterton put it well when he said that the work of a mother is not small but vast. A teacher would bring to fifty children the arithmetical rule of three, and though that is an interesting thing, it is but small and limited. The mother brings to one child the whole universe. That is no sentimentality. It is exactly true.

It is true that a woman may be needed by her family to temporarily leave the home to help provide for the home. But, writes Esolen, the “home is not a flophouse where we stay and recuperate so that we can go back out and earn money, much of which we burn in the very earning of it.” There is a difference between “money you make for yourself” and money made for the health and well-being of the family.

The world asks: Shouldn’t we save women from the drudgery of home and family? A civilization with eyes on the future asks: Shouldn’t we save home and family by holding in high esteem the home-making vocation of women?

There is hope! There is always hope! The Proverbs 31 woman, wrote St Bernard of Clairvaux, was not praised because she was so magnificent. She was praised for “not being deceived” by the world.

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What did I see the night of the President’s State of the Union Address?

I saw people gathered, some believing that had come to tolerate the words of a fool.

When this fool exposed New York’s celebration of legalized full-term abortion and the governor of Virginia’s promotion of infanticide, I saw a senator from New York with a smirk on his face. This man, in office long enough to know that the camera might very well be focused on him, continued to smirk while a fool spoke what some pastors will not: “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children—born and unborn—are made in the holy image of God.”

I saw women dressed in white stand with applause when a fool recognized women’s rights and bursting opportunities as legislators but sit stone-faced when that fool spoke of “dignity of every person,” most especially “children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”

I saw those women dressed in white, but why? The early suffragettes once wore white as they sought the dignity of voting rights. But Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others agreed there was no dignity in the right to abort children. “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” (Stanton in a letter to Julia Ward Howe, 1873)

I saw a fool speaking against socialism. I saw people stand and applaud while those women in white remained seated and silent.

I saw a fool renewing his promise to “build a wall” in order to stem the tide of human trafficking and sexual slavery. When the chamber burst into applause, those women in white called attention to themselves by their silence and stone-cold betrayal of defenseless women and children. But another fool—his name Nehemiah—told the citizens of Jerusalem to build a wall. Of course, the neighbors surrounding the crumbled Jerusalem laughed at the ridiculous notion. Wouldn’t it, after all, be the mark of progressive people to see all ideologies as equal, all blessings evenly distributed, and a utopian dream come true? But Nehemiah understood human imperfection and the potential for corruption. So, for the sake of homeland security, he instructed that the wall be built, the gates repaired, and the citizens armed with weapons and the Word.

I saw a fool who was unafraid to speak truth. Admittedly, I have never spoken to this fool whose buffoonish ways irritate restless souls. But his words to American citizens remind me of who I am called to be.

“… We have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you [disciples] are wise in Christ … When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).

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This morning, the FB post of a young friend of mine caught my attention. The post read something like this: My attitude is based on how you treat me. I took a deep breath and responded, saying: Or, my friend, there’s this. I’ve been working on having a better attitude… no matter how anyone treats me. Sometimes I need to confront my own negative spirit so that I can adjust my attitude concerning a person or situation.

My friend thanked me. But our conversation didn’t end there. My reason and all my senses encouraged me not to shy away from a deeper conversation. So, transitioning to a less public mode of correspondence, I confessed my fear of offending her. But here’s the thing, I told her: There is a negative spirit spreading not just across the country but in our congregational families and homes. At times, I feel this negative spirit wanting to consume me. I must call it what it is… and press back against it. It’s too easy to give myself a pass and just say what I want or maintain the attitude that justifies my cause. But, truth be known (and more often than not), it’s my own attitude that needs adjustment.

Stay the course, I encouraged my friend: Don’t forget who you are! You are God’s own daughter in Christ. Knowing that, you are equipped to battle all wrongs… in the spirit of humility and truth. Your family needs you. Your life and how you live it matters to more people than you know.

Only a few minutes passed before my friend reached out. “I appreciate your honesty and am not offended at all,” she told me. “But lately it seems as though I’m a literal rug laying on the floor of this home. Some days it’s so hard to keep going… to keep giving… knowing that everything I do is for people who don’t seem to appreciate me. Deep down, I know they do, but they sure could do a better job of showing it! I know… I’m selfish. I admit it. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when I feel like I’m taken for granted.”

It wasn’t difficult to recognize myself in this younger woman. And it would have been unkind of me to just let her confession hang in thin air. I took another deep breath and wrote these words to her:

My dear friend, I do understand. Some challenging experiences in my life once prompted my husband to share this verse and commentary with me. I’ve never forgotten them. St. Paul writes, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17). The commentary that speaks so well to this Scripture is from Oswald Chambers who wrote,

Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful—to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say—”I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying, ‘Well done.’ It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a doormat under other people’s feet … Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?

Remember your Baptism! As Lutheran Christians, you and I are both God’s children through Baptism. God has given us the gift of faith! He has called us by His name! He has made us His heirs! We are redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit! Believing this, we begin to reflect more of Christ and less of ourselves. Our attitude toward others changes.

Oh my! I wish I would have better understood the Lutheran teaching of vocation when I was a younger wife and mom. God has been patient with me and now, as a grandmother, He is showing me that a vocation is the station in life where God places us and from where we serve others.

Think on this! You have vocations of woman, wife, mother, daughter, niece, friend, and so on. In all these vocations you are called by your heavenly Father to serve your neighbor. You are called to be faithful in these stations whether you feel appreciated or not. Why?

Because in doing good for others we are loving God. Those we serve—whether they acknowledge our service or not—are receiving the benefits of our love for God.

As for our own personal care and nurture, well, God knows our needs better than we do. He provides just what we need when we need it most.

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Maura is “hooked,” but she has faith in the Savior of her life. His Word is real to her. It will speak to her conscience. Maura also has a friend who will be honest with her and always remind her why setting boundaries and guarding body, mind and soul is healthy and hopeful.

But, Nichole has faith in the things of the world. She doesn’t have a friend who will be honest with her. She, too, is “hooked,” but doesn’t realize it. Nichole, like Maura and most every other young (or older) woman, doesn’t know about neurochemicals.

Oxytocin is a neurochemical. It is present in both male and female, but is primarily active in females. The female body releases oxytocin at four different times. Take note! Each has to do with procreation and the care of children. Oxytocin is released:

During meaningful or intimate touching with another person (Action: bonding and trust)
During sexual intercourse (Action: bonding and trust)
During the onset of labor in a pregnant woman (Action: causes uterine contractions, results in birth)
After baby’s delivery (Action: stimulates nipples and produces flow of milk from mom for nursing)

How does the human race continue? God said that husband and wife would become “one flesh.” Sexual intimacy results not only in the bonding of two people, but in procreation. Oxytocin plays a vital role in the continuation of the human race. With sexual touch, the woman’s brain is flooded with oxytocin. She wants to be with the man she has bonded to. Long-term connectedness often results in healthy male-female relationships. It is actually rare for an American woman in an intact marriage to have sexual intercourse with anyone except her husband. Such stability is affected by oxytocin. Think of the significance. The bonding of father and mother greatly increases the chance for a child to be raised in a healthy, two-parent home. Such a child is blessed, not necessarily with a perfect home (do they exist?), but with a hopeful environment for becoming all God desires them to be.

The world speaks about the emotions of love. The emotions of connectedness. In reality, the desire to connect is more than an emotional feeling. Bonding is like glue. And it can’t be undone or ripped apart without great emotional pain.

Whether Maura or Nichole realize it, they are “hooked” to the men with whom they are sexually intimate. The flow of oxytocin serves to promote trust. Oxytocin will trigger the bonding process even if a girl hasn’t “gone all the way,” but has kissed and hugged a boy. For this reason, if he wants to “do more,” it will become increasingly difficult for her to say “no.” Parents! Do you know this? When you allow your thirteen-year-old daughter to spend long periods of time with a boy, you are placing her in serious jeopardy. Her protective boundary of modesty and inhibition will gradually break down with each kiss, each touch, each pledge of love… even though the boy she’s with has no intention of marrying her or having children with her.

Maura’s confession to me said it all. “. . . It’s so very strange. The more time I spend with my boyfriend, the more I need to be with him.” Does Nichole find herself in the same circumstance? Before a well-meaning counselor, Planned Parenthood clinic, or parent gets her on The Pill (or whatever), do they tell her about oxytocin? Do they explain that she’s going to be “hooked” because neurochemicals are doing what they’re supposed to do?

The cruelty is this. Our culture removes all the boundaries. It encourages sexual activity among boys and girls. Then it washes its hands by saying, “We explained how to do this safely.” But, who turns off the oxytocin? Maura has difficulty breaking with the boyfriend who isn’t good for her because she has bonded with him. Nichole has been in several intimate relationships. She has “hooked up.” Has “friends with benefits.” All seems so casual. So harmless. So sophisticated. But, oxytocin is at work. Every time that Nichole and her “friend” break up and she moves on to a new sexual partner, a bond is being broken. This is emotional. Painful. Sometimes paralyzing.

In truth, being sexually intimate with one person, breaking up, and being sexually intimate with another is like a divorce. Repeating this cycle again and again places a girl in danger of negative emotional consequences. Nichole doesn’t realize it, but she is acting against — actually fighting — her own body and the way she was designed to function. Eventually, damage is done to her brain’s natural connecting or bonding mechanism.

Sexual intimacy, as Maura has discovered, is addictive. But, she has the hope for change in God’s Word and the honesty of a friend. What does Nichole have? Who will speak on her behalf? Who will guard her body? Mind? Soul?

(Source: Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D., and Freda McKissic Bush, M.D.) Recommended reading: The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity by Linda Bartlett)

Note: This blog was first posted on May 18, 2011. Since that time, Maura separated herself from an unbelieving and verbally abusive man to begin a new life. Today, Maura cares for others as a nurse and has stepped in to rescue her youngest sister from a mom addicted to meth. Maura, who sees what is good and right, has undertaken the huge responsibility of raising a sister, yet she herself is still “hooked” to sexual intimacy outside of marriage. There is someone special in Maura’s life, and she hopes to marry. But while the neurochemicals of her female body tell her that she should become the wife of a loving and protective man, her fears seem to have paralyzed her. My prayer is that Maura will trust the One Man, Jesus Christ, who knows her body, mind, and soul.

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