On the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let’s talk about being pro-life at Wheaton College.
I’m a junior at Wheaton this year, and I cannot remember a public discussion about a fellow student’s pregnancy during my time at Wheaton. My guess is that, in spite of the Covenant, not every student enrolled at Wheaton has been abstinent for the last two and a half years. So likely some Wheaton students have been pregnant during their time on campus. I recognize that some people may leave Wheaton for the duration of their pregnancy. Still, it is very likely that some people with unwanted pregnancies on campus are getting abortions. Why?
For an institution that is publicly pro-life, where are the pregnant students? Where are the moms? Where are the dads? It seems like, statistically speaking, there should be at least one or two. Why are the only babies we interact with professors’ and visitors’? We can pray a prayer of repentance in chapel for Roe v. Wade’s legalization, but do we support pregnant women? What would it look like for Wheaton to promote the freedom to get pregnant and continue attending Wheaton?
I fear that pro-life purity culture at Wheaton leads to more shame and silence then it does to freedom – especially for women. “Purity culture” has nothing to do with purity at all. It has everything to do with appearances. Wheaton as an institution and as a student body seems fundamentally concerned with women maintaining the appearance or illusion of “sexual purity” even when it leads to something Wheaton vocally and perhaps rightly stands against – abortion.
I fear that our communities’ public stance against abortion has enabled us to avoid the difficult work of standing for pregnant women, for unwed mothers, and for their children. Wheaton as a student body has more mothers and fathers than we are aware of or want to acknowledge. They are present, going to class, sitting in chapel. They carry secrets of their sexual activity and possibly shame for having an abortion or encouraging a girlfriend to terminate a pregnancy. They are likely not being loved and supported because of the silence around sexuality at Wheaton, and may be guilted into secrecy and regret by a shallow, nominally pro-life institution and student body. Attending Wheaton may be the reason they chose to have an abortion in the first place.
I am writing this because I am pro-life. I am deeply, fundamentally for life. My faith has clearly and profoundly influenced my commitment to life because I believe in a Savior who has come to give life everlasting. As a lover of Jesus, I am grateful for the life that He has enabled. Jesus gave me new life. In His death and Resurrection, I am free to live, move, & have my being. I am also called to stand against anything that tries to limit or exclude the people whose lives are valued and supported.
My pro-life commitments are not evidenced by attending pro-life rallies or throwing bombs at Planned Parenthood (who have made some excellent videos about consent, which everyone reading this should go watch). My pro-life commitments include loving the lives of friends who have had abortions. My pro-life convictions include loving friends who have chosen to do the extremely difficult task of being pregnant and having a baby as an unwed teenager or college student with strength, grace, and deep love for Christ. My pro-life commitments are not limited to the metaphorical “unborn” that Evangelical Christians like to support, but to doing life alongside single mothers and their children. My pro-life commitments are the reason I wear a #BlackLivesMatter bracelet. Because I believe Jesus is pro-life: pro unborn life, pro single mother life, pro black life, pro gay life, pro impoverished life, pro broken life, pro redeemed life, pro Muslim life.
Before we label ourselves “Pro-Life,” especially on this anniversary that many are celebrating and many are mourning, we must ask whose lives are we for, and if there are any we are against. Wheaton, I am striving, hoping, and praying to be deeply pro-life. On this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I must ask, are you?