By Rev. Ellen Campbell Gardner[i]
Last Sunday the Golden Globe Awards ushered in the movie-award season. Traditionally, each award is followed by a speech thanking all the people who have had a part in making the award possible. It is a perfect opportunity for thanks, as well as political posturing. This year Michelle Williams, accepting the Best Actress Award for a Limited Series for her role in “Fosse/Verdon,” voiced the dark confusion surrounding the politicized topic of “Choice.”
I say “dark confusion,” because her thoughts “writ large” show the highly emotional - yet confused - nature of the choice argument today. On one hand, she was “grateful to have lived in a moment in our society where choice exists.” In the next breath, “because as women and as girls, ‘things can happen to our bodies’ that are not our choice.” She celebrated a “Life of [her] own making, not made for [her],” that she “carved” [a chilling metaphor] with her own hands as her choice; a life where her choice comes with the questionable hope that, “all mothers know that the scales must and will tip towards our children.”
Her pretty words (and there are more of them) point to the dangerous reality we face when just one side of a discussion is allowed to be aired, when confusion is not questioned, when inconsistencies are fueled by emotion and little else. For sadly, we do not live in a society where choice exists for everyone. Every year, for over 1.6 million defenseless girls and boys killed in utero, “things will happen to their bodies” that they have no choice over. Girls will be carved out by their mother’s hand, and not, “all women will know that the scales must and will tip toward our children.”
Michelle revealed the real motivation behind her choice argument when she urged women, “to vote… in your self-interest,” continuing that, “It's what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them.” Sadly, her solution, “to make the world look like us,” offers no salvation for anyone, even Michelle. No, female self-interest is the same blood thirsty idol as male self-interest. That confusion, that emotion, that inch-deep thinking, are what make her words so alluring, and in the same breath, so sinister.
Christ calls us to do the really revolutionary thing, to make a truly self-interested choice by accepting the life God predestined for us. Scripture is full of women (and men) who understand that “true choice” is the freedom to trust their role in Salvation’s Story to God’s own making. It is the “Choice” Mary made, the choice God in the incarnation made, the choice that will “tilt toward all of GOD’S children,” each as they are made in the image of God from inception to death and beyond, even past the end of time.
This is the work of Presbyterians Protecting [ALL] Life (PPL) that lies ahead. Our challenge is to find ways to bring THIS side of the Choice debate into every-day speak. A natural place for Christians to start learning our part in the dialogue is in worship (where everything starts for us). We must move past our fear and OWN God’s response to self-interest. What resources can help us do this? What prayers and liturgies are available to gracefully yet truthfully lift up God’s gift of choice? Next month we will be offering ideas and liturgical examples from every aspect of PPL’s mission. More to come… soon!
[i] Rev. Ellen Campbell Gardner is a PPL Board member and PC(USA) Minister of Word and Sacrament located in North Carolina. This post is the first in a series of articles on bringing life into our worship.