[image description: In the foreground, a stone statue of Mary holding baby Jesus, situated in a flower bed that has greenery and a single, yellow tulip fully open. Behind Mary in the flower bed is the statue of a male-presenting monk with his back turned, and in the distance are several tree branches, a brick building, and a gray, cloudy sky.]

“Once a weapon is built,
there’s no way of ensuring
it will only be used on the enemies
for whom it was first intended”
— Andre Henry


Scripture tells us that
God even gave Mary the choice
of whether or not
to become the mother
of God incarnate,
yet men and women
under the influence of patriarchy
who claim to speak for God
believe they know choice better than
someone seeking medical care,
someone who is pregnant,
a couple struggling with a difficult decision–
even God

These patriarchal people
are taught to believe the only choices
available to anyone
should be what they
choose for them,
because patriarchy
is built on

Decades of rhetoric
have worked to train the reach
of their compassion
to extend only to certain groups
and they have been
convinced that there is
no place for complexity,
no space to hold the fact that
multiple things can be true
at the same time,
no possibility that
what they believe best
for themselves
might be trauma
for someone else.

They seem unwilling or unable
to see the truth that choice
is more than just one thing
and what they offer
as easy alternatives are,
in fact,
rarely simple.

Violation is a terrible reality
in our world, homes, churches.
Medical peril is real.
Poverty is trauma.
Pregnancy is dangerous.
Adoption is a labyrinth.
Birth can be death.
Sometimes all available options
are devastating.

This is not to say
there aren’t real moral
questions to address
regarding choice.

This is not to say
there aren’t those who
have sincere personal conviction
regarding when life begins or
what happens in the womb.

Yet too many have allowed the
beliefs they chose
to be used to secure the power
of those who wield their conviction
as the means to strip away
from the marginalized
meger, hard-won
rights of autonomy
because they have been told
it is only the rights of
those who agree with them
that matter.

Convinced their own rights
are absolute even if they
infringe on the rights of others,
convinced they are the ones
persecuted and denied rights
because they can’t always
impose their choices on others,
unable to recognize
that with justice
further undermined,
it could be
their choices,
their rights,
stripped away next.

Even as this seems
the inevitable outcome
of our current state,
I admit
I want to hold out hope
we can find a way
to other possibilities.

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