As a Baptist, I can tell you not much happens in Baptist churches without a vote. We don’t change carpet, staff or nary even our underwear without a vote.
In the 1960s, I attended a Southern Baptist church in Berkeley, Calif. It was a time when anti-war groups were taking over churches to stage sit-ins. Our church spent hours discussing what we might do if the pulpit were hijacked until we voted.
The vote was unanimous. If our church were commandeered, the membership resolved to quietly stand and march around the church singing, “We Shall Overcome, Someday.”
My father-in-law, a Baptist pastor since those turbulent ’60s, told me of one vote he always dreaded. Every time Christmas came on a Sunday, the regularly scheduled evening worship service would be
subject to a vote.
With Sunday night worship a Baptist tradition since the invention of the light bulb, the vote was almost always in favor of having the service. My father-in-law didn’t mind upholding the Baptist tradition,
but he hated to be propping it up alone.
One year, he devised a plan. “All in favor and who will be in attendance, indicate by the uplifting of your right hand.”
With only a hand or two reluctantly raised, he alternately added, “all opposed and who elect to worship at home with their families, indicate by the uplifting of your right hand.” That was the year “home worship” won out.
This weekend another “vote” of sorts is scheduled. It’s the annual vote against abortion. Organizers say people “in over 900 cities across the nation and Canada will carry signs that proclaim, ‘Abortion Kills Children,’ ‘Adoption Is a Loving Option,’ and ‘Jesus Forgives and Heals.’ ”
The signs express strong opinions, but such a method might be closely related to the voting method used by the church members who voted to hold Sunday night service without obliging themselves. There can be more constructive ways of voicing your concern.
Several years ago, my wife and I were locked in a tie vote. It was 1-1. Our debate began as I opened an envelope and pictures of a blond-haired, blue-eyed 2-year-old girl spilled onto our kitchen table. The pictures were from the parents who had fostered our first two adopted children. The parents were giving us unofficial word that our children had a sister and our family would soon have another adoption option.
We faced a choice — a vote.
“Looks like we’re going to have another child,” I told my wife.
“I’m not sure we can do that.”
“Do we have a choice?”
The crisis we were facing felt similar to that of an accidental pregnancy. We argued with God, each other and anyone else who would listen. Five was big enough. How could six be in our future?
We already struggled with many blended-families issues. How could we find the patience for this many children? Neither our car nor our military quarters seemed big enough. How could our hearts possibly be big enough?
I asked my wife if we could “table the motion,” and asked the social worker to schedule a visit with the little girl. It was a dirty trick, but my wife knows I’m pretty good at parliamentary procedures.
After the visit, there was no longer a need to vote. The little girl joined her biological siblings and became facetiously known to her new parents as “our little accident.”
It was a great day, and not just because it meant getting a new SUV that would seat seven. It was a great day because God was giving us an opportunity to not just voice an opinion, but demonstrate that choice with commitment.
Voicing an opinion is easy. Making a commitment is not.
People on both sides of the abortion argument have reasons to commit to adoption; 488 foster children are missing in Los Angeles County alone. Both sides need to work on creating a system where mothers see unwanted pregnancies develop into wanted children.
As we all begin to look after the children that are already here, an environment begins to form where mothers can choose to bring babies into the world knowing there are full ranges of loving adoption choices.
For pro-life or pro-choice, adoption is the strongest statement you can make for your position. The corroborating scriptural teaching is, “Faith without work is dead.” The corroborating platitudes would be, “Put your money where your mouth is” or” Put up or shut up.”
Jesus scolded his disciples one day because they kept the noisy children away from him. He told them not to prevent the children from coming to him, because theirs would be the kind of spirits that would comprise the Kingdom of God.
As I watch demonstrators march down both sides of the line, I have to ask, has the debate become so noisy that we have drowned out the cries of those who have already been born and who are waiting for people of faith to cast their vote for adoption?