I have had a love-hate relationship with Texas the entire 18 years I have lived here. I love the diversity of people in my neighborhood outside Houston. I loathe nationalistic white supremacy wrapped up in God-talk on bumper stickers, yard signs and now people refusing to wear masks during a pandemic.
This week, I have leaned more toward hate than love. How could my elected officials pass such manipulative legislation on reproductive rights and call themselves “pro-life”? How could they use the very language so many of us have declared as our warrior cry, “My body, my choice,” and then not only restrict Texas women to a six-week window for a constitutionally legal abortion, but also place a $10,000 bounty in the hands of anyone opposed to reproductive rights for women?
After the current governor signed this bill into law, I was ready to make some potent lemonade out of the seeming plague of lemons showering us. And then, in a midnight ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed this draconian law to remain intact. And something within me became immobilized. What country do I live in? What will the 7 million Texas women do who are faced with unimaginable life and health decisions without the protection afforded to us for nearly 50 years?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night but find no rest.
In this moment of chaos and fear, we would be wise to allow ourselves to feel the depth of lament as expressed in Psalm 22. Let go of your Sunday school teacher’s voice, who chastises you for speaking anything but happiness to your God. Instead, embrace the anger that is real, raw and authentic to the sorrow of this moment. This is not God’s first rodeo, and God certainly can receive my righteous anger with loving care.
I will say that as I lifted my fists to the heavens and demanded God explain where justice and righteousness live for vulnerable women in Texas today, I heard the whisper I already deep down knew — God is there. God is there with the women who awoke this morning fearful from their limited options for their own health and well-being. God is there for the reproductive health care providers, who risk their very lives to care for women. And yes, God is there for the abortion rights advocates immobilized by white supremacy-enforced legislation.
Lament means that we feel safe enough to share all our unfiltered selves with God. And lament means that God will receive it as the holy offering it is.
“I need to speak truth to the pharaohs of white patriarchy, to demand we dismantle our sexism and restore the rights of Texas women now.”
A few years ago, I volunteered at the Planned Parenthood near downtown Houston. As I entered the security gates of the parking lot, I was met by people claiming to be religious with the vilest images on their signs, which made me wonder how we worship the same God. When I went inside, I was greeted by professional employees who embodied God’s compassionate armor for the courageous women sitting in their reception area, protecting the women from those outside like the Divine Feminine herself. As I volunteered that day, I wanted to immediately remove my shoes because I knew that I was standing on the holy ground of God’s strength and dignity present in each woman that day.
The Civil Rights mystic Howard Thurman once said that Jesus always stood with the people whose backs are against the wall. If I am serious about following the ways of Jesus, then I need to stand with those Texas women who have fewer choices about their reproductive health. And I need to speak truth to the pharaohs of white patriarchy, to demand we dismantle our sexism and restore the rights of Texas women now.
Which leads me back to my love-hate relationship with Texas. I love the stubborn, independent diversity of the people of Texas. Just when I think I know who they are with labels of race, politics, class and gender, they surprise me in crises like a hurricane with hospitality that tears down every wall we’ve built around us.
It’s the wall I loathe. A wall comprised of white supremacy that protects white, middle-class, straight men and endangers millions of women, Black, brown, LGBTQ and undocumented people whose backs are against the wall every day.
But know this: God will have God’s back against the wall every day until the moment white supremacy is dismantled and the walls come a tumblin’ down. May it be soon and very soon for Texas and all God’s creation.
Ginny Brown Daniel grew up Southern Baptist in Auburn, Ala., is a graduate of Auburn University, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and Union Presbyterian Seminary. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, currently serving virtually as the supply conference minister for the Montana-Northern Wyoming Conference while living in Spring, Texas.
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When your religion goes against my religion | Opinion by David Bumgardner
When being ‘pro-life’ really isn’t: How I became a Democrat who opposes abortion | Analysis by Chris Conley