I want to help you understand my lament.

I'm hurting, friend. I'm hurting deeply. And I'm being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can. 

My heart is so tender, and I'm praying with each word that they will be received in the manner in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart. 

I occupy a unique space. Here is our family from a couple Easters ago.

I'm white, but four of my children aren't. I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I've been targeted online as a "race traitor" for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabling plus I have minor physical disabilities from childhood abuse), but I'm raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren't or don't. I'm a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn't "read books by women because they aren't any good." (And I'm a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that's not how I'm feeling. I have voted in five presidential elections, and my candidate only won one of them. It's not new for me to watch election results and see that it didn't go the way I voted.

But I've never felt this way before. And I want you to understand my lament. I want to try to help you grasp the depth of and heart behind this pain.

Before that, let me be clear about what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that I feel this way because the candidate I voted for wasn't elected; that's not the basis of my feelings. I'm not saying that I don't trust God; I do. I'm not saying that I reject anyone who disagrees; I find beauty in our diversity of all forms. 

What I am saying is please don't dismiss my pain or put a timeline on anyone's grief. Hold space. In the words of James 1, please be slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to become angry. 

(And if you're wondering, I've confessed to God and others when I've fallen short there too. I'm not pointing to a speck in your eye while I have a log in my own. I promise. And I wrote these words today instead of yesterday because I couldn't ask others to repent yet then without words dripping with my own sinful arrogance.)

I'm not going to list every way Trump acted or spoke in hurtful ways about groups to which my family belongs. This post isn't about him. He is our next president. I am praying for him. I'm even rooting for him. I genuinely hope none of the grave concerns I have about his leadership, character, and policies will be accurate. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.

But I believe Maya Angelou is right when she said, "when people show you who they are, believe them." This post isn't about who Trump is. We've known that for a while. This post is what the votes of white evangelicals have shown me about who they are. 

I don't believe most people who voted for him did so because of his expressions and actions of racism or ableism or xenophobia or misogyny or sexual assault or religious discrimination. I'm not saying that's who you are if you filled the bubble by his name. I want to think the best of my neighbors, so I'm telling myself you were driven by other reasons. 

But? Whatever your reasons, a vote for Trump required a rationalization. 

What he said about "the blacks" is terrible, but...

What he said on mic about sexually assaulting women is awful, but...

How he mocked several people with disabilities isn't okay, but...

His statement that immigrants are rapists and criminals was out of line, but...

I could keep going. I think you get the idea, though. In order to vote for Trump, something mattered more to you than his mistreatment or discrimination of certain groups. Whatever followed the "but..." is why you voted for him. Maybe it had to do with the economy or the Supreme Court or his anti-establishment vibe or [fill in the blank]. I trust that you had your reasons. Some policy aspect of his was compelling (or of hers was so awful to you that you felt like you had to vote for the person with the best chance of stopping Hillary).

But here's the deal: Your policy stance followed the "but..." Our personhood preceded it.

So to me, here is what I hear:

What he said about Patience, Philip, and Patricia is terrible, but...

What he said on mic about sexually assaulting someone just like you were assaulted is awful, but...

How he mocked Zoe and Robbie and you isn't okay, but...

His statement that Patience, Philip, Patricia, and Zoe are rapists and criminals was out of line, but...

Can you pause for a moment and empathize with how that feels?

You can say I'm being too sensitive. You can tell me I'm taking it too personally. You can try to dismiss my feelings. (You wouldn't be the first.)

I'm writing this because I want to help you understand my lament, though. I do. But it is sensitive and personal and rooted in some valid feelings. So trying to help you understand means I have to be vulnerable and open myself up to criticisms from the cheap seats. 

My heart was broken when I realized Trump had won. I didn't have much time to work through my feelings, though, because I'm a mom. Our kids had been being told by classmates that they would be sent back to Uganda if Trump was elected. I had been responding with truth and compassion, but I also didn't think he'd win. When he did, I had to struggle with how to find the words to help her feel secure and prepare her for how to respond when those kids said anything that day after, emboldened by a Trump win. (This is the same child who had a classmate yell, "go back to Africa!" at her last year after Trump's campaign had taken off with racist undertones.) I coached her white sister through how to respond and how to have her sister's back. I walked them in to the elementary school, and I spoke with my kids' teachers to make sure they were aware of these concerns. 

And then I walked back to my van and wept. 

And then I went on social media and was told that my grief came from being a sore loser, that I was being divisive by sharing my hurt, and that I was more concerned with the gospel of Shannon than the gospel of Christ.

And I wept some more. 

I don't think most of my white Christian brothers and sisters intended their votes as racist or ableist or misogynistic or anti-immigrant acts. But? Overwhelmingly, white evangelicals voted for Trump, deciding that their "but..." reasons trumped discrimination against our family. This isn't an isolated event, though; our previous church supported the adoption of black children but then members became critical of me and my faith when I began speaking out about racial injustice, and every week I hear from families who are asked to leave their church because their children's disabilities are too much to accommodate. That makes me feel like the church - at least the white church - isn't for my family, if their political priorities are more important than our personal pain. 

I knew how to handle it when my daughter didn't feel safe at school. But the church - especially the white evangelical church - does not seem safe to me right now for my family. I'm not sure how to handle that. I am listening to try to learn and love better, but what I'm hearing is often hurting me more deeply. I want to understand you, but I'm being wounded in the process. I really don't know what to do with this.

Right now, I'm feeling like the man left beaten and bloody by the side of the road, while my religious neighbors pass on the other side. A sizeable chunk of my white Christian brothers and sisters - maybe you among them - voted for a man who unapologetically disrespected so many groups to which our family belongs: immigrants, women, people of color, those with disabilities, and sexual assault survivors. It's good that my faith in God is firm, because right now my faith in his church is shaky.

I'm still for the church. I'm just not sure the church - at least the segment that looks like me - is still for me. 

And that's why I am lamenting. 

"You aren't pro-life anymore, are you?" they ask.

Back in the earliest days of my blogging, I wrote that abortion was the single most important position for me in voting decisions. It seems I’m not the only one. According to Gallup polling, 21% of voters say that a candidate must share their view on abortion to get their vote (and it goes up to 23% if you’re pro-life). Another 46% say that abortion is one of many important factors in making their voting choices.

If this issue matters to you, you’re not alone.

I don’t want to argue who is or isn’t pro-life in this post. I’ve previously blogged about my position there. Instead, I want to dig deeper into the issue at hand. What are we talking about when we discuss abortion in politics?

I mean, really, can we pause to talk about the issue? I mean, without yelling and formulating responses before we even listen? I’ve put my thoughts out there in some less conventional ways lately, and the backlash has been ugly. I’m not talking about dialogue and debate. That’s healthy. I’m talking about name-calling and insults and attacks.

The debates and dialogue? They’ve pushed me to research more deeply and think more critically. The insults and attacks? They’ve helped me discern where boundaries are needed when people have revealed the limits of their grace with me.

Both have had their benefits. But can we all agree, as we move forward, that debates and dialogue are preferable? We don’t all have to agree, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. I know we can. I’m sure of it.

Now, onward…

Who is getting abortions?

Generally speaking, low-income women are. In 2014, 75% of those getting abortions fit in that category (with 49% below the poverty level and 26% below 200% of the poverty line). This is why I strongly advocate for supports for those in economic distress. If abortion is a symptom of poverty, then we ought to target the cause, right? That makes sense to me.

While reducing teenage pregnancy rates is necessary for a variety of reasons, that demographic makes up fewer abortions than I would have guessed prior to digging into the numbers. Only 12% of those getting abortions in 2014 were teens, with only 4% being teens under age 18. Obviously, we shouldn’t abandon our efforts to continue these decreases, but 96% of those getting abortions are adults, with 88% age 20 or older.

I could continue to break down the trends for you, but here’s a helpful fact sheet for that. My purpose here isn’t to rehash all the current figures when those are readily available elsewhere.  

Are abortion rates dropping? Why or why not?

Abortion rates are decreasing, and that’s something to celebrate. No one thinks abortion is ideal, even if they don’t share my view that life is created at conception and should be protected from the womb to the tomb. When abortion becomes less common, we can call that good together, even if we disagree on political approaches, right?

In 1991, the rate of abortion was 26.3 per 1000 women, but by 2011 that had dropped to 16.9. And the ratio of abortions per live births is dropping too, from 27.3 abortions per 100 live births in 1991 to 21.2 abortions per 100 live births in 2011. By every measure, abortions are becoming rarer, as well as safer for the mother.

Are stricter laws behind the change? No. This decrease is happening both in states that have enacted stricter laws and those who haven’t.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life and a woman who I highly respect (having met her in DC this past January when we both spoke at the Evangelicals for Life conference), suggested that this is due to changing attitudes about life and abortion. I do think that’s part of it. More Americans called themselves pro-life in the past few years than ever before since Roe v Wade.

But that trend has shifted, with last year’s Gallup poll showing that for the first time in seven years, more Americans identify as pro-choice than pro-life. (That said, we’re still falling within the historical trends for both views.) Yet abortion rates are still dropping. So I don’t think an attitudinal shift fits as the primary force behind this good news.  

Returning to the issue of state laws, Yoest’s organization has been a driving force behind abortion restrictions, yet the only states with increases – Michigan and Louisiana – restricted abortion and yet saw their rates rise. In fact, 5 of the 6 states with the largest recent decreases in abortion rates were blue states in which few abortion restrictions exist and pro-life sentiment is lower than the rest of the country.

So what are these states doing differently?

Simple: They’re providing comprehensive sex education shown to decrease unexpected pregnancy rates, they’re offering supports to those in need so that raising a child (or another child) is more feasible economically, and they’re ensuring access to birth control which can prevent unplanned pregnancies. (In fact, all states are under the Affordable Care Act. Research shows that universal health care coverage leads to lower abortion rates, and increased access to birth control – especially more effective longer lasting kinds - lowers abortion rates). I consider these to be pro-life policies, as they both affirm born lives and reduce abortions of unborn lives.

(Side note: I’m not opposed to abstinence, as some accuse when I’m talking about contraception rates. My husband and I both received comprehensive sex education – including but not limited to abstinence – in our youth, which we found helpful. We both chose not to have sex prior to our honeymoon, based on our religious convictions, believing that the Bible teaches that sex is intended within the boundaries of a committed marriage. Those beliefs haven’t changed. But I don’t see how keeping kids ignorant by limiting their sex education to abstinence makes sense. Research supports that, showing that comprehensive sex education is more effective in reducing teenage pregnancies, abortions, and STIs than abstinence education alone. The data is overwhelming, so I can’t link it all. You can start by reading this and this and this and this and this and this.)

In other words, these states aren’t focusing on the where and how of abortion. They’re targeting the why. And they’re changing that, through economic, educational, medical, and social means. (Thankfully, this can continue to happen no matter who is elected president, though I don’t see much hope in the Supreme Court making a significant change here. Even if Roe were overturned, the issue would revert to the states. The most effective pro-life government actions, like the Prevention First Act, aim to reduce abortions by preventing unplanned pregnancies. Again, it’s changing the why that brings change, not attacking the where, when, or how.)

What about birth rates?

As I mentioned above, some anti-abortion advocates are arguing that abortion rates are dropping because more women are pro-life. But if more women were choosing life, then birth rates would be rising. They aren’t. In fact, they’re dropping, starting in 2008 as our country hit hard economic times.

The drop in birth rates is a contributing factor to the reduction in abortions, of course. If fewer women are getting pregnant, fewer will seek abortions. That’s basic math. But abortion rates are falling more than birth rates, so something else is going on.

(For example, from peaks in 1991 and 1988 respectively to 2010, teenage birth rates dropped 44% while teenage abortion rates dropped 66%. We expect to see those drop in unison, though the greater drop in abortion is greater than birth rates, so other factors seem to be at play here. Research shows that sexual activity among teens didn’t decrease in these time periods, though, so that’s not it.)

Birth control is a considerable factor here, along with other methods of family planning (and, for teens, a delayed start of sexual activity compared to the past). Some anti-abortion advocates argue that birth control isn’t as effective as abstinence. That’s true. But 68% of women at risk of pregnancy use birth control consistently. Those women only account for 5% of all unexpected pregnancies. Meanwhile, 18% of women of childbearing age use birth control inconsistently. They make up 41% of unplanned pregnancies. Finally, 14% of women use no birth control or take long gaps in use. The most unintended pregnancies – 54% - are to those women. In other words, if education, supports, and access were improved for the small subgroups of women who aren’t using any birth control and who use it inconsistently, then we could reduce the vast majority of unintended pregnancies.

I often hear my pro-life friends argue that abstinence is better than birth control because birth control can fail, even among those who use it perfectly. But when we only teach and promote abstinence, what happens when that fails? More unplanned pregnancies are the end result there than when birth control fails. In that 14% of women who take no birth control, leading to 54% of unplanned pregnancies, some of them were following a path of abstinence. So it would be just as logical, then, to argue that the failure rate of abstinence is concerning too.

Giving kids only one tool for avoiding pregnancy doesn’t mean they’ll use it; it just means their toolbox will only include one possible strategy.

Giving kids knowledge about ways to protect themselves against STIs and unwanted pregnancies doesn’t make them promiscuous; it makes them better educated. How is that a bad thing?

But don’t pro-choice folks want abortion up to 40 weeks of pregnancy?

Well, first, the pro-choice group isn’t monolithic, much like the pro-life group isn’t. I can’t honestly say that all pro-choice advocates oppose this, just like I can’t honestly say that all pro-life advocates oppose charging mothers with a crime if they get an abortion. Outliers in both camps hold extreme positions. That’s true of any issue. (And I’ve written and spoken out about those extreme anti-life folks who even suggest that post-birth abortion is a good choice.)

But this question is based in propaganda instead of reality. It’s easy to say anyone who voted against bans on partial birth or late term abortions is a monster who wants to kill babies. It’s harder to dig into the issue further, to discover that most of those votes were cast out of a concern for maternal or fetal health, as such bans lacked provisions for those abortions to be an option in cases in which the mother’s health is in jeopardy or the unborn baby is diagnosed with a serious fetal abnormality.

(And? I don’t really understand why we’re discussing partial birth abortions. They’re illegal. They were banned in 2003, with the Supreme Court upholding that in 2007.)

The reality is that 2/3 of abortions are before the gestational age of 8 weeks, according to the CDC. More than 90% are before 13 weeks. Only 1.3% of abortions are after 21 weeks, most occurring before 24 weeks. In 1997 – before the partial birth abortion ban – 0.08% of abortions were after 24 weeks; with changes in laws, I expect it would be lower now, though figures are hard to find. In other words, we’re talking about 1,000 deaths a year in this manner. Is that a tragedy worth discussing? Yes. But in the scheme of the more than 1 million abortions each year, why are our debates focusing on this sliver of cases, particularly when they’re more likely to involve significant fetal diagnoses incompatible with life, babies who aren’t expected to live no matter what?

Wait, I thought you advocated against abortions due to disability?

I do. My husband and I were never in that position (and we won’t be, as we opted for the permanent birth control method of a vasectomy for him a few years back), but we talked about what we would do. We both feel strongly that we’d carry a baby to term, even if he or she had a condition incompatible with life. I was moved by Angie Smith’s powerful book I Will Carry You about their family’s experience with that decision. But? As strongly as I believe that any viable pregnancy – including those in which a disability is present – should be carried to full term, I believe that there is no single right answer when an unborn baby receives a diagnosis that is fatal.

To me, it’s similar to when a family decides to pull the plug on life-sustaining machines for a loved one relying on them. Some families choose to make that decision right away. Some families hold out for a while. Each has their own unique reasons. The difference here is that the womb is the life-sustaining vessel for the baby who is expected to die before birth or very shortly thereafter.

Do some miracles happen in which a child lives much longer than expected? Certainly. Can every single day and moment be precious then? Definitely (and the story of Eliot, my friends Matt and Ginny’s son, proves that). Do some miracles happen in which a person is unplugged from life-giving machines and then is able to live without those helps? Sure. Do most families who choose to keep their loved one plugged in longer say that the extra time was valuable to them? Yes.

But these are painful and personal decisions. Just because I would make one choice doesn’t mean I think it’s the only acceptable option. Stories like this and this and this and more demonstrate the agony of these decisions. It’s not easy peasy like some make it all sound.

But I do know and love some precious children who were declared to have conditions incompatible with life but who didn’t die. Their parents chose to continue the pregnancy. They were born. And they are delightful children! Yes, they live with disabilities, but that isn’t a measure of their worth, is it? That isn’t a measure of whether or not they deserve life, is it? Can you look at this joyful child of mine and say that her chair or diagnosis of cerebral palsy means her value is diminished?

We chose her name carefully. Zoe means life. Amanda means worthy of love. We knew the world might try to tell her lies about who she is, so we wanted even her own name to declare that she is a life worthy of love, no matter what anyone else says.

And I know there are people who argue that her quality of life isn’t enough. They look at her wheelchair and shake their heads. The last neurologist to review her records prior to our adoption said, “This child will be horribly devastating.” But they are wrong. Zoe Amanda is more than enough, she rocks her wheelchairs, and no one has ever thought of her as horribly devastating since those awful words were spoken.

We need to change how we think and talk about people with disabilities. But we don’t change these perceptions through law. No, hearts are changed in other ways.

Consider, for example, the rates of abortion for unborn babies with prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome or other disabilities. I’ve written about this in depth previously. It’s not okay with me that unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are nearly twice as likely to be aborted as those without such a diagnosis. In the most recent comprehensive research review on the topic, the author wrote, “Evidence also suggests that termination rates have decreased in recent years, which may reflect progress in medical management for individuals with Down syndrome and advances in educational, social, and financial support for their families.” He elaborated in an interview with The Atlantic,

Families have significantly more educational, social, and financial support than they had in the past. For example, from a social standpoint, women of childbearing age are from perhaps the first generation who grew up in an era where individuals with Down syndrome were in their schools or daycare centers — perhaps not the mainstream integration that we see today, but still a level of exposure that was very different than in generations prior. They grew up watching kids with Down syndrome on Sesame Street.

In other words, it isn’t laws or court rulings that are decreasing abortion rates for children with prenatally diagnosed disabilities. It’s policies and programs available – from medical care to education to social supports and more – that affirm their lives after they are born. When we show that there are places in our country in which people with disabilities are welcome and loved, expectant parents feel more confident in choosing life instead of abortion when faced with a diagnosis for their unborn child.

So what does this all mean politically?

Under Democrat administrations, abortion rates have dropped. And the myth that a Republican president will end abortion or overturn Roe v Wade? Well, it’s been 45 years. In that time, we’ve seen 9 Republican House majorities, 10 Senate majorities, and 5 terms of Republican president. And? None have been successful in ending abortion. We’re insisting on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s insanity, not wisdom.

The reality is that 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion in 2011. That’s tragic. I’m not okay with that. But I want us to have real conversations about this instead of clinging to sound bites or repeating failed methods. Politically, I don’t think either side has it right.

(And Christians? Of those abortions, 17% are to women who identify as mainline Protestants, 13% to evangelical Protestants, and 24% to Catholics. As we’re railing against the world, more unborn babies are dying in our wombs than in those outside our faith.)

In other words, I’m not writing this to tell you which way to vote. I’m not writing this to champion a party or candidate. I’m not writing this to point to any side as having it right. I’m writing this to encourage us all to dig deeper and talk about the substance of the issue instead of the sound bites.

So are you pro-life or not?

I’ve written about how I reject most labels. I still do. But pro-life is one that I will always claim. I am pro-life. Or, more accurately, I am pro-lives.

I believe the life in the womb is valuable. I believe the life of the infant is valuable. I believe the lives of refugees is valuable. I believe the hundreds of lives lost in Haiti and dozens lost in the US in the recent hurricane are valuable. I believe the lives of people of color are valuable. (And I believe Black Lives Matter.) I believe the lives of immigrants are valuable. I believe the lives of people are valuable, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. I believe the lives of pregnant women are valuable. I believe the lives of our LGBTQ+ friends valuable. I believe the lives of Muslims are valuable.

I believe our value rests in our shared humanity, not what we do and who we love and where we live and who we worship and what our abilities are. If that makes me radical, so be it.

And I believe the life of Donald Trump and the life of Hillary Clinton are valuable – not because of what they’ve done but because God created each of them with intent – which is why I will criticize their words or positions when warranted but will never engage in hateful rhetoric or name calling against either. Doing so would devalue their lives. Doing so would make it clear that I am only situationally pro-life.

No, I’m pro-life. Period. Full stop.

I would like to be able to vote for someone who believes in the value of all lives from the womb to the tomb, and both major party candidates fail to meet that standard. I am grieved by the lives lost to abortion, and I disagree with those who dismiss those as less than anyone else’s life. I am grieved by the stance that says abortion has to be our primary issue in voting, though, because it treats born lives as less valuable than those in the womb.

(Side note: on that last point, I am particularly pained by these attitudes from evangelicals. I can’t fathom how we expect those who don’t believe in Christ to hear from us that God loves them as we vote against their care and rights, upholding the lives of the unborn as being more worthy of our attention and advocacy and votes than they are. My heart hurts when we rally for kids like Zoe to be born but then don’t rally for their care and education and dignity as fellow image bearers of God. This shows a hole in the gospel we’re presenting.)

I think parts of the Republican platform affirm life and other parts deny it. I think parts of the Democrat platform affirm life and other parts deny it. My pro-life stance is a major reason why I’m unaffiliated with either party.

I’ve shared previously who I’m voting for and why, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about showing how much more complex the issue of abortion is than either party would have us believe. Pro-life and pro-choice, anti-abortion and pro-abortion, and any other labels you’d like to use all exist on a spectrum. No political party has the market cornered on life.

So what am I? I’m #prolives.

I am #prolives. I won’t exalt one group of lives over another. At times, I will have to make hard choices when I vote, because I rarely see a holistically #prolives candidate on my ballot.

Please, as you vote and advocate and use your voice in all the beautiful ways you can, remember that we’re all in this together.

The lives of those who agree with you? They’re sacred. The lives of those who disagree with you? They’re sacred. The lives of those who share your passion? They’re sacred. The lives of those who are apathetic to what you value? They’re sacred. The lives yet to born? They’re sacred. The lives already born? They’re sacred.

My life? It’s sacred.

Your life? It’s sacred.

Let us treat one another as sacred beings, acting in a #prolives way of living and loving.  

Why the outrage now? And what can we do next?

By now, you’ve heard Trump’s latest scandal. His words led me to make the image below and post it – along with my personal story of sexual assault – on Facebook. And then I took a Xanax, because his words plus my own PTSD created a physiological anxiety that couldn’t be quelled without pharmaceutical help.

That post been shared thousands of times now, and I’ve had to ban nearly 100 people from my author page for horribly disrespectful comments, most in defense of Trump. Let me repeat that: After I shared a painfully vulnerable history, a variety of Trump supporters chose to argue against my experience and, in a couple dozen of those comments, personally insult me.

I’m not shocked, though I wish I were. But I am confused, not by the comments but by the newly found outrage about Trump’s most recently released misogyny. Where was this before now?

Trump has said other terrible things about women, both in recent news breaks and older stories. In fact, a rape case against Trump – with a 13 year old victim – goes to court in December. So why the new outrage now? Why are the numbers rising of Republicans and Christians denouncing him?

I’m thankful for the Christians who had already said no way to Trump. I signed this statement. I said no to him from the beginning. I stand by that. I still do. (And I think it’s noteworthy that the signatories on that statement are more diverse on many counts, including gender and race, than those often seen in evangelical leadership, but I’ll get to more on that in a moment.)

This week Beth Moore spoke out. I thanked her. Russell Moore continued to speak out. I thanked him again, having done so in person previously. Others are joining them, while some – like Franklin Graham and James Dobson and Eric Metaxas – have sunk in their heels. (I’ll gladly update this post if any of those back down; Metaxas has deleted his initial tweet dismissing the latest scandalous words from the candidate he’s endorsed, so I'm hopeful.)

And then Wayne Grudem, who endorsed Trump as the moral choice for president, took back those words. He admitted,

Some may criticize me for not discovering this material earlier, and I think they are right. I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.

I am thankful Grudem has withdrawn his support. I’m even more thankful that he admitted he should have done more research before his prior endorsement. He could have retreated from his previous stance with less humility than that.

But? Many sound responses to Grudem’s piece existed well before this week. (The seven I’m linking here are just a few.) Grudem had the opportunity to right his wrong. And he didn’t. Not until now. Why? I’m glad we’re finally collectively saying, “That’s enough,” but why wait so long, after evangelical support for Trump has already tarnished our reputation?

Why is this our breaking point?

Here’s the main difference I see: now the people targeted by Trump's words have my fair skin. These Christian leaders look like me or my husband. In other words, they’re white. They keep talking about their wives or sisters or daughters, who are also white. Now that white women are being debased with his verbal abuse, we relate. We care. We empathize.

In other words, this time we consider the victims of his hate speech and his sexual assaults to be our neighbors, because they look like us. (And, yes, sexual assaults. That is, after all, what his words described.)

Those who he’s previously insulted and verbally defiled – Mexicans and other Latinos. People of color. Those with disabilities. Muslims. Refugees. – don’t look like us or our daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers. And so? Because we’ve defined them as the other, we don’t relate. We don’t care, not in such a personal way. We don’t empathize. We simply change the channel or say, “but abortion…” as if these other lives don’t matter to us too.

In other words, those other times we didn’t consider the victims of his hate speech and his verbal assaults to be our neighbors, because they aren’t like us.

“Who is my neighbor?” a lawyer asked Christ in an exchange recorded in Luke 10.

Jesus didn’t answer that his neighbor is his mother or wife or daughter or sister. No, Jesus offers a story of an injured man on the side of the road, a brutalized victim belonging to a group considered to be different and other and less than and dirty. The priest wouldn’t touch him because doing so would have made him unclean and would have required a return to the temple to cleanse himself. He couldn’t be bothered. Likewise, the Levite passed by.

Then the Samaritan showed up – surprising the audience listening to Jesus (as Samaritans were generally despised by Jews and vice versa) – and became the unlikely hero. He showed compassion, backed it up with action and money, and set a model for us all. And Jesus said to the lawyer, “Go and do likewise.”

I’m glad we’re finally noticing Trump’s hateful words. But I wish we had cared enough for those who aren’t white women to notice it before. I wish we hadn’t disavowed black people, those with disabilities, Muslims, refugees, and so many more as our neighbors by withholding our outrage until now.

In other words, I wish we had all acted a little more like the Good Samaritan and a lot more like Christ.

Take heart, though. There’s still time. We have failed to love God with our whole hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves, but let this be the moment when the Spirit convicts us to confess and repent from our sins.

Let today be the day that we all start listening to the pain of our neighbors.

(All of them, and not just the ones who look like me.)

Let today be the day when we pledge our allegiance to the kingdom of God rather than to any political party.

Let today be the day we heed Christ’s words.

Let today be the day we go and do likewise.



What concerns me the most this election cycle? You might be surprised by the answer.

Hi, I’m a person.

Despite what some commenters think, I’m not a paid Democrat operative. Despite their theories, my piece wasn’t ghostwritten by Hillary’s team. Despite how some have argued and flooded me with links as if I didn’t research my post, I watched and read extensively from varied sources in the hours it took to draft what I shared last weekend.

One commenter wrote, "if this is indeed a real person, she either is a flaming pro-abort or is too busy with children to do much more than arrange sound bites from the liberal, dishonest media." Sigh.

I’m a person who spent a week on vacation and wrote a research paper on politics and pro-life ideology for fun. So, yes, I'm a nerd, but I'm still a person. 

I know we don’t all agree. I never asked or demanded anyone else to share my views. I was careful to express respect and care for those who hold other positions, even as I honestly expressed that I don’t understand how Christians can support Trump. (This post, also lengthy, does an exceptional job of expanding upon that. I don’t agree with a couple of his points, but I think the biblical arguments are compelling.) But I never attacked anyone for holding a different conviction than I do.

Meanwhile, my comment sections… mercy.

I usually police them. I didn’t this time. Part of it was because I couldn’t keep up with each one. But part of it is that I think we all need to be heard. So I was more lenient than usual.

I think I erred on the side of grace, maybe too much so. I allowed people to question my integrity and faith and intellect without shutting that down. When I felt like someone was harsh to a close friend in the comments, though, I jumped in to protect her and stop it immediately. When it came to me, I wasn’t as protective.

I’m going to need to spend a while processing what that means.

I know this, though: I’m learning to value myself as much as I value others. I’m definitely not there yet. My wrist might be branded with the word enough, but my heart doesn’t always believe it. As a result, I stood by, tolerating more heartless and unkind comments directed at me than I should have allowed.

I’ve always tried to make others comfortable, sometimes with severe consequences to my health or safety. Earlier this year, I stopped having any contact with someone who has persistently and at times violently abused me throughout my life. Afterward, my therapist said, “You’ve always limited your children’s contact with him. It seems like you’re starting to value your own safety and protection as much as you value theirs.”


Just as I deserved better than my abuse, we all deserve better than current political rhetoric offers. We are all better than the dehumanizing shouts and snarky digs that have become common at rallies and on the internet. We would correct our children if they ever spoke with such disregard for another person as we do about the candidates we dislike. (Ouch.)

If America needs to be made great, I can guarantee the answer isn’t the candidate who keeps promising that. The answer isn’t the other candidate either, though. The answer is a return to common decency and civil debate. The answer is re-learning how to disagree without being disagreeable. The answer is to model for our children how we would want them to act toward someone with whom they don’t see eye to eye. The answer is loving ourselves and then loving our neighbors as ourselves. The answer is to love our God and each other more than we love our political parties or patriotism.

I don’t know how to bring about this change on a large scale, but I know what I can do for myself. I am striving to see every human being – even [insert the name of the candidate whose positions you find abhorrent] – as a precious life created in the image of God. My theology says that is truth. This goes for every person, every commenter, who disagrees with me too. Reducing anyone to a caricature or stereotype and dismissing different views as indoctrination isn’t treating each other with dignity or respect. If I refuse to support a candidate for denigrating those he doesn’t like but then do the same to him, I have lost any moral high ground I claim. 

My Bible also says I’m to show honor and offer prayers to governing authorities. I don't think any of us has done that well, honestly. I watched as some criticized the humanity – and not just the policies – of George W. Bush while his supporters cried foul, and then I watched as those crying foul did the same exact thing to Barack Obama while those who had been cruel before chastised the people now occupying their still warm spots in the cheap seats. Pot, meet kettle. Both sides stand guilty here.

We can’t spend an entire election cycle dehumanizing the other side and then, if our candidate loses, treat the new leader as a person worthy of respect. Our brains and emotions don’t work that way. If we are called to show deference to those in authority, then we have to start when they are running for office. We can’t throw around disparaging words like Killary or Drumpf and then respect to President Clinton or President Trump.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying you have to respect the words or actions or platforms of each candidate. I'm also not saying I've changed my mind about my last post. (I haven't.) But I am saying, Christians, we must aim to respect the personhood of each one, as an act of worship glorifying to the Creator we all share in common. Even if you don’t share my faith, I’d encourage you to exercise the same principle, as a demonstration that our shared humanity is more valuable than our differences.

I’ve heard some friends say they’ve never been so dismayed for our country as they are by Hillary. I’ve heard others say the same about Trump. As for me, it's not either candidate who worries me. It's not Supreme Court appointments or emails or racism or marriage protections or misgyny or [fill in the blank]. No, none of those bother me the most.

I’ve never been so concerned for our nation and my children as I have by the lack of care we show each other over political differences.

This week I learned that some of my friendships were conditional. Some who I’ve laughed with and prayed with and cried with and worshiped with turned from me because I said I was voting for Hillary as an expression of my pro-life beliefs. Hurtful comments from strangers didn’t pain me, but slander and abandonment and unfriending from those who I love and who I thought loved me… that stung.

I’m a person.

So are you.

So is Hillary. So is Trump. So is each of the third party candidates.

So are Republicans. So are Democrats. So are independents.

So are those who vote for either major candidate. So are those who vote third party. So are those who don’t vote.

So are those who agree with you. So are those who don’t.

I’m not as concerned about if you’re Team Hillary 2016 – like me – or Team Trump 2016 as I am that we’re all Team Humanity 2016. Let’s disagree with policies and politics and positions, not with people. And if I resolve to do this and you do and so on, then I think we can change our political climate for the better.

We can do this. I’m sure of it. Who's with me? 

I'm pro-life. And I'm voting for Hillary. Here's why.

I'm pro-life. And I'm voting for Hillary. Here's why.

I’m pro-life.

Because I’m pro-life, I won’t vote for Donald Trump. Instead, I’m planning to vote for Hillary.

To many of my fellow pro-lifers, this seems confusing and inconsistent. I understand that. Hillary firmly believes women should have the right to abortion. In the earliest days of my blogging, I wrote that if I were to be a single issue voter, abortion would be that issue for me.

So what’s changed?


Well, nothing in my stance toward abortion. I’m still opposed to it. But since Roe v. Wade, most Republicans have talked a lot about abortion while doing little to make meaningful change in that area of policy. Furthermore, they’ve opposed or even stalled measures that could prevent abortions by targeting the underlying causes, like poverty, education, lack of access to healthcare, and supports for single parent and low-income families. In fact, I suspect these reasons contribute to why abortion rates rose under Reagan, rose under the first Bush, dropped under Clinton, held steady under the second Bush, and have been dropping under Obama. As such, I’m not sure we can hold that voting Republican is the best thing for abortion rates in this country.

That’s my nutshell answer, but I think this topic deserves a more detailed analysis. If you just want the summary, feel free to stop here. If you press on, please trust that I did my best to edit down my thoughts but you’ll still be wading through a few thousand words. I wanted to offer a comprehensive, thoughtful, and well-researched presentation of my stance, and I’ve never been one for brevity.

So buckle up, y’all. We’re in for a ride…

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