On Fridays, I take the kids to Moms' Group. My friend who hosts it also watches a few boys Sam's age during the school year, so as well as their usual summer circle of friends, Sam and Vava get to play with some new kids.
Yesterday they were so excited as we got ready to go. "Who wants to leave for Moms' Group?" I asked, and they cheered like football fans and ran to the door. Suddenly, Sam grabbed my arms and looked intently into my eyes. "What if the big boys are mean to Vava?" he asked. "Well, what would you do if you saw that happening?" I asked. "I would put out my hand like a stop sign and say NO and I would shoot them from my eyes!" he declared fiercely.
Sam already knows the answer to Cain's insolent question: yes, I am my brother's (and sister's) keeper.
We take care of the people we love. They matter. So yes - we put our bodies between them and the possibility of harm. We step out into traffic to grab our naughty toddlers, we nurse our sick spouses at the risk of getting sick ourselves, we get up in the night and drive to the hospital to sit with our friends.
And we do it for people we don't even know - mothers with morning sickness and tired bodies carry a 40-week burden to birth someone they've never met, donations pour in for disaster relief from pockets halfway across the world, firefighters run against instinct straight into burning buildings to rescue people trapped inside.
During a routine prenatal appointment a few weeks ago, a doctor asked me why we had adopted Sam. Adoption isn't something that's done in her culture, she explained, and she didn't understand what motivated people to adopt.
I didn't know where to start. Adoption was one way to grow our family, especially with my infertility condition and a good chance we'd never conceive on our own. But it's more than that - there's something about adoption that resonates in my heart - it's a physical expression of the gospel, it says Your life is valuable! I treasure you! Parents reach out all over the globe to take care of children who don't carry their genes - not out of obligation or duty, but because they believe with all of their hearts that yes - I am my brother's keeper.
It's why we respond with disgust and anger when we read about children being found sick with neglect, unwashed and unfed by the very people who ought to care for them most tenderly. It's why we ask "are you okay?" when we see someone crying. It's why our hearts ache with loneliness when no one reaches out to show us we matter to them.
It's why rape and murder are crimes and sins - the violent treat the victims' bodies as if they don't have a responsibility to them. We do. We have a responsibility to respect and care for our brothers, our sisters. Rape is an act that declares "your body, my choice." It's evil; it goes against the truth that we are our brothers' keepers.
I am responsible to care for you - at the very least, I am responsible to deny my desire to harm you (and believe me, if you cut me off in traffic, it's a very real desire). And as a Christian, God compels me to do more than just cause no harm - but to actively bless and serve and love the people around me, the people I can reach.
I'm not very interested in politics, but yesterday I read an article that could have been titled "My body, my choice." A politician was touting the pro-choice (poorly named - I think it's the side with the fewest choices occurring) stance that no one can tell other people what to do with their bodies - specifically, in the case of whether or not to abort their baby.
I think rapists and murderers would agree. "My body, my choice," their actions say, as they walk away from the carnage they leave behind.
Even Sam knows that's false. Even Sam knows he's responsible to care for his sister - not because I've told him so, but because no one should hurt her and if they do, he's on the job. If someone hurts her, he's going to put up his hand and make a stop sign and say NO and shoot them from his eyes. They can't freely choose to hurt Vava with their bodies as long as Sam's around to stop them.
I understand that pregnancy is hard and inconvenient and goodness knows the church has caused a lot of pain and loss by shaming those who have gotten pregnant unmarried. That's not what Christians should do, btw - we should put our arms around anyone vulnerable, (scared pregnant moms especially, because they're especially vulnerable!), and protect them because yes, I am my brother's keeper! And I'm not writing this to hurt those who have chosen abortion ... because I am my sister's keeper. I care. I care so much - and if you need to talk or want help or need someone to listen and care and be on your side, I am here.
I'm writing because I have to - my heart is full and heavy and these words need to get out.
I must stand against the ideology of "my body, my choice" because those who are most vulnerable and unable to stand up for themselves are
the ones we are most responsible for. I wouldn't expect Sam to defend
me against adults - but I am thrilled that his feisty little heart aches
to protect Vava.
I must stand against it because I am an adoptive mom. Sam's birth mom chose to use her body to bless
Sam and bless us - and any way you look at it, adoption is a sacrificial choice that declares yes, I am my brother's keeper.
Ordinary heroes and mamas and daddies and brothers and sisters, wrap your arms around this hurting world and stand strong. Be the good Samaritan in the place where you are, and whisper brave against sore hearts and lonely lives Your life is valuable! I treasure you!