I like to converse with strangers, though I’m out of practice after this long pandemic. The other day I discussed abortion after rape with a stranger. I put this account on Facebook and it got a lot of response, so I’ll capture it here as well.
On the airplane yesterday, my seat mate was a woman about my age, nicely dressed with lovely jewelry. I was wearing a U2 T-shirt and sandals which are good for my feet but ugly for everyone’s eyes.
She asked me if I was going home and I said “Yes.” To be polite I returned the question. She said she was going to NC to visit a granddaughter. Then I’m sure my body language communicated that I wasn’t interested in talking further. I felt very sad to be leaving my mother — I had just visited for the first time in two years, and she’s 93. At least wearing a mask makes it easier to shut down.
At the end of the flight, as we began the descent to Dulles airport, my seat mate asked me what kind of work I do. It’s safe to speak when you know you’ll be out the airplane door in a few minutes, so I told her the truth. (I have learned that it’s usually better to deflect this question from random strangers.)
I said I was a pastor and author. She became very excited, saying that she just knew it, she had sensed it, she knew I was a powerful person and spoke to lots of people. Then I listened as she told me about her church and her daughter and her daughter’s church etc. She ended all this by saying that I better keep working because there’s a lot to do because the world is in such a mess.
The Polite Conversation Turns Real
I replied, “The legislation in Texas is killing me.”
She reacted with extreme surprise, which did not surprise me at all. Very few people understand that most pastors are much more liberal than their congregations. (Our job requires us to spend a lot of time reading the words of Jesus, so yeah, it tracks.)
To her credit, my seat mate recovered herself and asked why I opposed the Texas legislation. She seemed genuinely interested so I said something like, “I support a woman’s right to choose. She has bodily autonomy and agency, because she’s made in the Image of God.”
My seat mate wanted more, so I said “When I was a young woman I was raped at gunpoint and could have gotten pregnant. Religious people told me that a pregnancy would be the will of God. That was a great evil in my life.”
Abortion After Rape?
It was my turn to be surprised. She nodded and said “My mother was born as the result of rape, a 14 year old.”
The landing gear was grinding down and the engines were doing their reverse-revving sound so it was hard to hear, but the gist of the story involved Canada, a bogus teaching certificate as cover, an adoption, and a DNA search.
As we disembarked I gave her my business card. Maybe I’ll hear from her some day. I’ve written on similar topics many times, especially here where I discuss abortion after rape. I hear from many readers and always welcome their responses.
But I’ve been wondering: If you had a story like this in your family history, why would you want the State to legislate a woman’s choices?
When people fail to integrate their personal stories and their faith, that perplexes and disturbs me.
Note about photo: I saw this gorgeous painting on Sunday: “Abandoned” by Armand Merizon.