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Wheaton, I am Pro-Life… Are You?

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?

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About the Author

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Kimi is a lover of words, coffee, oversized sweaters, and good friends. In her dreams, she's Beyonce. In real life, she's more like Leslie Knope. She is passionate about social justice in its various forms. #blacklivesmatter #itsonus When she's not watching Parks and Rec, she studies Womanist and Black theology as an Interdisciplinary Studies major at Wheaton College.

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for your insight, Kimi, and for your challenge to think more deeply about what it actually means to be “Pro-Life.” I am glad you wrote this 🙂

    These sentences struck me: “‘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.”

    And this question challenged me: “What would it look like for Wheaton to promote the freedom to get pregnant and continue attending Wheaton?”

    I don’t think that “purity culture” at Wheaton has NOTHING to do with purity, but I understand your point and frustration. I don’t have an answer for your question either. I don’t see how this could be possible (attending Wheaton while pregnant), since this (pregnancy) would be a direct and physical representation of violating the community covenant (because no one attending Wheaton violates the covenant, right?). But, actually, after saying that, I can’t see how it could be right to force the person to leave. Shoot, I have violated the covenant, and the administration has given me grace and allowed me to stay.

    So I guess the problem actually is, like you said, the “purity culture” of Wheaton, that would make it unbearable to be at Wheaton while pregnant. I can’t imagine the judgement one would face. So how can the administration, or students, “promote the freedom to get pregnant and continue attending Wheaton?” Because of the community covenant, I don’t think that the administration can (or would). So I think it sits with us students to do that promoting.

    I am challenged by your thoughts Kimi! Thank you.

    Like

  2. Prescott Woods

    This is a straw man argument. If you don’t like Wheaton then leave. Good riddance.

    Like

  3. Susan Curtiss

    This is beautifully thought out, and written. Thank you for being wise and brave enough to share your convictions.

    Like

  4. Ray

    Hi Kimi,
    I had a student 3 years ago who got pregnant and her family was helping raise the child while she was finishing school. She was not here while “showing”, or during delivery. She resumed classes after the baby was about a year old, spending that year bonding with her baby. The college and I made great efforts to help her be a mom to her child. So when she had to miss required classes for being there when her child was dedicated in church (the grandparents and child lived a few hours’ drive away), I would come up with alternate arrangements that I would never do for someone who needed to miss a test date to go to a social engagement. She finished her degree and is much better prepared to care for and support her child now. We don’t talk about it a lot, precisely because it is a precarious subject, not because it never happens. Of course, the students in those situations really don’t want to broadcast the situation. It is similar with divorce. I have colleagues here who clearly are no longer living with their spouse. Without them volunteering the information as to why (widowed, long distance work situations, divorce, etc.), I never feel comfortable asking them. I don’t want them to feel inadequate or judged over it and I know my curiosity can make them feel both of those and more. So I simply don’t talk about it, even in the general and theoretical, unless the topic is important and integral to some larger good. I think some of the silence and secrecy isn’t so much about the college or the students at large not being pro-life as it is about keeping things that are known to often cause pain from being propagated. But thanks for calling us all to try and be pro-life, not just speak pro-life.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. rmt11

    Hi Kimi!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns about the Wheaton culture, while providing some potential remedies. I think candid conversations and articles like yours are crucial to communication and helpful to all who are involved.

    This being said, I do have a couple thoughts that I am curious about. First, the entirety of your first paragraph on which you build your argument is speculation. When you are going to write an article trying to say how Wheaton is negligent to an entire group of people, it seems hard to gather credibility when the premises are “I guess” and “it is likely.”

    Following, I think your criticism that Wheaton must not be for pregnant women, if there are not any pregnant students is illogical. Could it be possible that you don’t see any of the pregnant students? Or as stated above that if students get pregnant then they take time off to be with their child? To jump to Wheaton being unsupportive of pregnant women is not fair to Wheaton. I also don’t think it is fair that you assume that Wheaton’s purity culture is leading to increased abortions as stated in paragraph 3.

    The entirety of paragraph 4 again is based on a possible situation, not one that exists (or at least from this article has been proven to exist). Does the absence of pregnant unmarried women necessarily imply that Wheaton has to “avoid the difficult work of standing for pregnant women, for unwed mothers, and for their children”?

    I agree that there is sexual activity that happens on campus and that it breaks the covenant, but is this to be celebrated? I don’t think that shame and judgment are the correct reactions, but I do think that Wheaton has a right to state its students’ expectations, be it alcohol, sexual activity outside of marriage, gender inclusivity, etc. and when this covenant is broken it ought not to be taken flippantly.

    Lastly I thought your words to conclude were well stated and clear, and I completely agree that Jesus is Pro-life, of everyone. And while I agree that the evangelical culture has not placed enough emphasis on caring for single mothers and the impoverished, is there not a special place to put the Most helpless, Most vulnerable, and Most dependent, being those who have yet to be born? Especially when so many abortions happen out of shame, out of fear of mental handicaps, out of racial fears! These humans must be protected and then cared for after birth as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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