Just How She Wanted It // The Highly Politicized Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Why I Won’t Stay Silent

CLARIFICATIONS

Before I step in these muddy waters, I want to be clear that, even as a pro-lifer, I am not particularly excited about the opportunity to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Not only was her death literally minutes ago, I think it’s short-sighted to assume that hastily filling her seat will rescue or significantly advance the anti-abortion movement. The situation is complex and, as we know from past appointments, there are no guarantees. So this post is NEITHER an endorsement or a condemnation of the Republican Party’s attempt to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice before November.

This post is also NOT an endorsement of either Trump or Biden for president because neither of them would be my choice for president. I know this will make many of you (on both sides) angry, but it is what it is.

This post IS a clarification of why I have chosen to openly discuss the not-so-beautiful part of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy so shortly after her death.

(My opinion about whether or not now is the right time to appoint is largely irrelevant and many of you may just want to skip this part, but for those of you who would really like to know here it is: I acknowledge that, according to the constitution, it is within the President’s and Senate’s power to appoint and confirm. While I am moved by Ginsburg’s final wishes, I don’t see how, constitutionally, those wishes can be binding in any way. Ultimately, it’s the President’s and Senate’s call, no matter how we feel about it. Personally, while I 100% want to see a pro-life judge on the bench so we can save the babies and the mamas, I am concerned that trying to fill the seat now is so divisive that it may do more harm than good in the long run. As for the “hypocrisy” accusation dominating the internet, I think it’s important to point out that hypocrisy abounds on all sides, and even Ginsburg herself had a different opinion when Obama was in office.)

SHE WANTED IT THIS WAY

Typically, I would agree that it’s too soon after Ginsburg’s death to get political about her record, to talk about her replacement, and so on. BUT (and this is a big but) Ginsburg herself chose to politicize her life and death, as clearly evidenced by her last wish, apparently dictated to a family member. That final act reinforces what we already knew: Ginsburg’s work was her life mission; she was nothing if not passionate about and fiercely dedicated to that mission, even to the very end.

Let’s also remember a some other things that brought us to where we are today: Ginsburg chose not to step down during Obama’s presidency because she wanted a woman president, specifically Hilary Clinton, to choose her replacement. When Hillary lost, Ginsburg decided to try to hold out for Biden. (I kinda love this about her, by the way.) But alas, that didn’t work out either. So now, just weeks before a highly-charged, practically pre-contested election, America finds itself down a Supreme Court Justice. Suddenly, Bush Gore 2000 is starting to look as benign as an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

As for Ginsburg’s family, Ginsburg clearly made no effort to shield them from the political drama, as she chose to dictate to them a dying wish about her replacement. The family then chose to step into the fray by publicizing said dying wish.

So no, I will not be silenced by those who argue that Ginsburg or her family deserve a less political response. We’re all adults here. We all know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg dedicated her life to political activism through the law. Even in her death she is still rocking our world. Ginsburg’s life and now her death are politicized because that’s exactly the way she wanted it to be.

Phew! And I’m not even to the part that really annoys people!

THE PART THAT REALLY ANNOYS PEOPLE

Please note, I make the following comments as a pro-life/anti-abortion feminist who deeply respects Ginsburg and also deeply disagrees with her on the issue of abortion.

As a woman who has had an abortion and lives with that choice every day, I am acutely aware of the fact that the responsibility of my baby’s death is ultimately mine. At the same time, I cannot ignore the effect our pro-abortion culture had on me. I was sold a lie – by our government, our leaders, the media, my teachers, my community, doctors, nurses and clinics – that abortion is a right, a symbol of freedom and strength; that abortion is an easy solution; that it would fix my problems; that my life would return to normal; that the fetus isn’t a baby and no one would be hurt.

Nobody – not the clinics, not the doctors, not the nurses, nobody – informed this 15 year old girl that nothing, not even abortion, would turn back time, make me “unpregnant”, make me “not a mother”; that my life would never go back to “normal”; or that I would bear the invisible scars of abortion for the rest of my life.

I thought I was having a procedure when I was actually killing my baby. I thought my problems would be over soon, when I actually fell headlong into PTSD. That is the just tiniest fraction of my story. I bought the lie. And the price was steep. Steeper than most can imagine.

Now, if you could pause for a moment…
take off your political armor…
And put on your empathy sweater…
(yes, your empathy sweater)

I think, if you genuinely try, you could understand how it might be difficult for me (and the millions of others like me) to watch Ginsburg be hailed as a hero of women and human rights without any acknowledgement of her radical stance on abortion.

Whether we like it or not, Ginsburg is complicit in the perpetuation of a lie, and the abortion industry it fuels, which have together led to the destruction of millions of babies (half of whom are female) as well as the suffering of countless women (and men).

Please remember that very few women are running into abortion clinics gleefully “choosing” to murder their children. Rather they are led there by people in positions of power who’ve convinced them that abortion is something other than what it really is. Because of the gravity of her position, Ginsburg is, at the very least, responsible for perpetuating this lie.

ABORTION IS ANTI-FEMINIST

Perhaps the biggest misconception about abortion is that it is somehow synonymous with feminism. Abortion is perhaps the least feminist thing about America’s feminist movement. First and foremost, approximately half of the millions of babies aborted each year in America are female. However, in some countries that allow sex selective abortion, preborn female babies are far more likely to be aborted than male babies. For this reason alone, abortion is inherently anti-female and therefore, anti-feminist.

As for the argument that abortion liberates women from oppression, consider just this one example of the contrary (we simply don’t have time for all of them): Abortion clinics and the pro-abortion lobby adamantly oppose showing women an ultrasound of her baby because, they say, it puts an undue burden on women. The truth puts an undue burden on women? Keeping women from the truth under the guise of protection is the height of manipulation, control, and dominance. There is nothing genuinely feminist about that. (Not surprisingly, most women, when they see an ultrasound of their developing baby, choose not to abort.)

And now, for the sake of time I will let this quote by Liz Hoskings sum up why abortion is indeed anti-feminist: “…mainstream feminism has sold out to what is a masculine worldview. Instead of fighting for equality on their own terms, women have been forced into adapting themselves to a wombless, male world.”


FINAL WORDS

I am grateful for Ruth Bader Ginsburg the person, and I am grateful to her for the important advances she made for the equal rights of (already born) women. While I would love to ignore all the drama and just reflect quietly on Gingsburg’s life, I cannot. Her role as a Supreme Court Justice and her own choices surrounding her tenure have contributed to the current intensity surrounding her death, and therefore demand our attention.

As a pro-life/anti-abortion feminist, I will not ignore the fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg failed to protect the rights of the most vulnerable women in our nation – the unborn. Nor can I deny that she was complicit in perpetuating a lie, and an industry, that leads women into bondage under the guise of freedom and empowerment.

So, yes, I am unapologetically questioning Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s record of protecting and advocating for “all” women. Yes, I am doing it days after her passing. That may shock you or bother you. But you know who I’m pretty sure is neither shocked nor bothered? Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Rest in peace, Ruth. I sure hope to meet you one day and talk together in the light God’s perfect love. I imagine there’s a few surprises in store for all of us.

© Nichole Q. Perreault

Just Mending | Thoughts on Women in Church Leadership

UNEXPECTED MESSAGE

Yesterday, while working my way through three different books about women in the Church, I needed a bookmark. Opening the drawer of our end table, I found a slip of 2” x 8.5” paper – something a neighbor dropped off to promote her sewing business. “Just Mending” it reads at the top. “Do you have clothes that need repair?”

I hesitated. It’s not really a bookmark. What if I lose this thing? I’ll never be able to replace that broken zipper on my Uggs. Does she even repair Uggs? Uggs aren’t clothes – they’re boots. Seriously, Nichole, are you ever going to call this lady anyway? But…

And then I read the title again, “Just Mending”. God speaks to us in the most unexpected ways, doesn’t He?

I folded the slip of paper in half and placed it in Chapter 1 of Jo Saxton’s More than Enchanting. Then I piled all the books together just so and took this lovely photo for you:Reading these books has been like walking along the ocean’s edge. Sometimes the waters lap at my toes and ankles. Other times, the waves crash into me, soaking my legs, knocking me off balance. I stumble as the sand sucks at my feet, and flail my arms to steady myself.

Anyone who’s spent a day at the beach knows that the sun, the sand and the waves work a sort of magic on your mind and body…leaving you somehow relaxed, revived and exhausted, all at once.

The words of these books, the stories, wisdom, reassurances and revelations, crash over me, wave after wave. Sometimes gentle. Sometimes startling

The emotions vary, ranging from joy to sadness to anger to regret to hope, but the feeling that most surprises me is what I can only describe as a sort of comfort. I’m not talking about a warm-hugs-fuzzy-blanket-hot-cup-of-tea kind of comfort. No. I’m talking about a heart-breaking-open, pain-spilling-out, poison-leaving-your-body, soothing-truth kind of comfort. I can literally feel the Lord’s truth rushing in…the lies, the hurt, the pain rushing out.

Thousands of years since the fall, thousands more since the resurrection of Christ, decades since I started following Him, and God is still flushing the poison from my veins.

The sensation, at times, overwhelms. I did not expect this.

AN ITCH I COULDN’T SCRATCH

Growing up, I had very little exposure to church or Christian culture. I became a believer as a teenager, simply because I was desperate for Jesus. I doubted so much – God’s goodness, the existence of heaven, the reliability of the Bible.

But there was one thing I knew for sure: Jesus.
When I could hardly breathe, Jesus.
When I was paralyzed with fear, Jesus.
When I was lonely, Jesus.
When I was condemned, Jesus.
When I was hopeless, Jesus.

“Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief,” became my daily prayer. He has answered faithfully.

By some blessed miracle, God revealed to me that understanding and even agreeing with everything in the Bible, are not prerequisites for following Jesus. So I entrusted my doubts to Him and have been walking in the dust of the Rabbi ever since.

I acclimated to Christian culture slowly, very slowly. (I think I’m still acclimating.) One thing I’ve wrestled with for a long time is the role of women in the Church.

I love our church. It has been, for many years, our home, our family. Our church’s people are my people, our hearts tethered to one another by the Spirit of God. And my church is filled with strong, gifted, Jesus-loving women who lead in more ways than I know.

Women are not, however, free to teach authoritatively at our house of worship. While many churches hold to that belief, they can each apply it differently. For us, it means that women cannot serve as elders (our governing board) or teach from the platform (pulpit). Seems simple but it gets a little weird when you think too hard about it. What is “teaching” exactly? Is it only when you “exegete”? Why can a woman share a brief message, a song she wrote or her testimony from the platform? What if a woman writes something that someone else reads from the platform? When, exactly, does God’s truth have less or no authority?

This confused me, but I saw the hearts of the people at this church, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit there, so I entrusted to the Lord my doubts about their position on women in the church. And just kept following Jesus.

Over the years, moving through various lay ministry and staff positions, I have not reached a place of peace about this issue. Even though I have never longed to be an elder or a pastor, even though I have never felt compelled to teach a congregation, it niggled at me, like an itch I could never quite scratch.

As a “strong” woman, with “strong” opinions and a “loud” voice, I have been known to upset an elder or two. I have asked tough questions and said hard things and been accused of being “disrespectful”. And I have wrestled with what this means. Am I wrong? Should I be meeker? Quieter? Is disagreeing with my brother, elder or not, disrespectful? Or is it a healthy conversation that may provide an alternative perspective for consideration? Does God want me to sit down and shut up?

Well, He wants all of us to sit down and shut up sometimes! But not always. I know because I find myself begging Him, Really God? Really? You want me to go and say that? Again? Isn’t there anyone else? And He answers, “Go.”

So I go. Remembering that I don’t have to understand every Biblical passage or agree with all-things-Christian-culture to follow Jesus. A little unsure and afraid, but holding Jesus’s hand, I go.

WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

Then last year, everything changed. As my readers already know, my family was wounded by a conflict at church that deeply affected our daughters, my husband and me.

It pains me to say that some of our church’s male leadership played a significant role in this conflict. Pains me because these men are our brothers, our co-laborers, our friends. They love the Lord and want to do what’s right and good. We love them. And, I believe, they love us, too. I do not want you to worry about the who or what or why or how. Know this: as in any conflict, we all made mistakes, and those involved have exhibited good intentions, concern, accountability, humility and grace. If you must do something, do this: mourn with us, lament for what’s been lost, weep for the brokenness of Christ’s Church and the disunity of His people. And pray for God to restore what the locusts have eaten.

I am sharing our story so that you will more clearly see this: We desperately needed women leaders to help resolve this conflict and to address the consequences that followed. But this didn’t happen…at first…

The hearts of women were central to this conflict. And male leadership was a significant part of the conflict. Add to this the fact that I am on staff, and the circle of involvement gets a little funky. In following the steps for Biblical conflict resolution, when it came time to involve another individual, we couldn’t reach out to a friend or lay leader. To protect the church and all involved, we needed to go straight to the leadership. And all the leadership is male.

We underestimated just how insufficient that would be. After a few weeks, I observed that we had to really work to help men understand the problems, but if I said three sentences about the issue to my mother or our women’s ministry director, they understood instantly. Women did provide support briefly, for specific reasons, but any momentum was quickly lost when their part was finished. Still, I wasn’t ready to accept that male leadership alone was inadequate. So I continued to walk the exhausting, precarious tightrope between advocating and submitting.

We asked God to resolve the situation. He didn’t. We asked God to release us and let us walk away. He didn’t. After nine long months, the situation had grown, its tentacles far beyond our family’s reach. That was when God gave us permission to let go. Not to leave, but to lay it down.

A couple of weeks later, two women in the church picked it up. When I told one of them that I didn’t want her to think we were giving up, she said, “Maybe it’s time for you to let others do the heavy lifting for a while.”

With a strength only God could have provided, these women leaned into the heavy boulder of the consequences of this conflict and began to move forward.

Because of these women, some things began to change. Not because the men were unfit, but because, in this situation, they were incomplete. This issue involved the hearts, minds and lives of men and women. To address the issue completely, we needed men and women to lead.

My gratitude to these women is best described by the tears welling up as I write. Perhaps take a moment to thank God for them, for how they have worked diligently, faithfully and passionately for our church family to the glory of God.

JUST MENDING

This experience has caused me to actively seek answers to my nagging questions about the role of women in the Church. As I feast on books like Jesus Feminist, and How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership, and More than Enchanting, I find that, like Ruth Haley Burton, I have not changed my mind about women in leadership but instead “I finally let myself believe something I had always known.” (How I Changed my Mind About Women in Leadership, p35)

That women are fully equal to men and should be fully free to serve God however He calls them. The body of Christ, and the world we seek to reach for Jesus, will be better for it.

As I continue to be overcome with many emotions, I find myself anxiously asking, What has this done to my daughters? What kind of changes do I need to make in my life? Who do I tell? What should I do? And on and on…

But then I look at my makeshift bookmark that reads “Just Mending” and I’m reminded of the heart-breaking-open, pain-spilling-out, poison-leaving-my-body, soothing-truth comfort that feels a lot like healing.

And I hear God say, Don’t worry about that, Nichole. Right now, we’re just mending.