Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Love, Tolerance, and Truth

by Lydia Trandem

Pro-life and pro-choice individuals have been clashing with words, theories, and laws for over 40 years now. The din hasn’t lessened, nor do I expect it to subside any time soon.  Having been a vocal pro-life advocate for several years, I often see and hear allegations and reactions from the abortion prone that can be hard to swallow.  What is most frustrating to me is how disinformation and phony empathy seem to be their tools of choice. 

Here in Fargo, at the Red River Women’s Clinic, a group of volunteers have been coordinating Plants4Patients. As I understand, the volunteers make small clay pots, plant succulents, write a note of sympathy, and the clinic offers a plant to a patient as they leave their facility. Under almost any other circumstance, this sounds like sweet and thoughtful gesture to someone in pain, however, this is not “any other circumstance”.  Abortion isn’t an accident, a disease, or old age. Abortion is never the only option. Abortion is the intentional killing of your child. I am well aware that many girls and women who opt for abortion feel like it is the only remedy to what they view as a problem, while others opt for abortion as a matter of process; it’s just the last step. I find it difficult to express adequate sympathy to a parent who has lost their child through miscarriage, sickness, or accident, but to sit down and write a note to a girl who has chosen to intentionally cause the death of her child is twisted and grotesque. I find it shameful that the Red River Women’s clinic has agreed to participate in this program. Women aren’t dense, we know that when we’re pregnant the end result is always, one-hundred percent of the time, a baby. We grieve when a miscarriage ends a pregnancy not because a random clump of cells is eliminated but because that unique set of cells containing DNA, a beating heart, and a soul – our child, with 23 chromosomes from father and mother will not be met, held, and loved here on earth. Do they really think women are so unintelligent that they are going to be comforted by a plant from the same hand they paid to kill their child?

Another Pro-choice organization recently called to my attention is rife with hypocrisy. I discovered a short time ago that I was being denounced as an “Anti-Choice Bully”. The website, Voice of Choice, is protesting opponents of abortion and seeking to, “temper the rhetoric and hate”. So they’ve created a webpage explaining their mission and a search engine so you can locate “bullies” in your area complete with their Facebook page, picture, address, and phone number. Apparently these Bullies, “prey on the culture of fear and stigma that surrounds abortion”. Fear and stigma? if it was really that strong would we be seeing 3,700 abortions daily in the United States, and 25 each week in Fargo? The demonstrations and vigils I and many I know have participated in have never been violent, unsafe, or uncaring. Most activists try to demonstrate in front of the clinic as a presence and to pray; some approach clients to ask if all of their options have been explored and if they’d like other information. We don’t shout, demean, or express anger. We are reaching out with tender love and care to hopefully prevent a mother and family from the hurt of abortion and death of their child. Since I discovered the list of “bullies” a few weeks ago it is now five times the size and I’m sure is yet a work in progress. I’m waiting for the peaceful and calm phone call from someone concerned that I might be intimidating a woman, preventing her from killing her child through my presence and prayer.

It is easy to accuse those concerned about the ill-effects of abortion of having malicious intentions and a radical view, and to those who are in a desperate situation and feeling as though they have nobody to turn to, it is probably very easy to believe those false allegations.  This underscores the importance of our reaching these women FIRST and showing them that our primary concern is in fact, their health, well-being, and the life of their child.  It is an immediate response to what could amount to a lifetime of regret and self-destructive behavior as well as the death of a child who is wanted.  If the response is heeded, the subject could not only realize the love of the responder, but the peace of having made the decision to spare the life of their child, and preserve their own dignity without regret.  I have yet to hear of a woman who wished she had aborted her child.

Through the strength and love of Christ I will continue to pray both for those who oppose my stance and for those involved with abortion because it’s the most peaceful rhetoric I know.

- Lydia Trandem


Monday, September 23, 2013

Inidividualistic Marriage: The Result of a Self-Centric Culture on Other-Centric Marriage

Rachel Lu in her article “Millennials and Marriage” very well captures the sentiment many young adults have towards marriage.  I, being a “millennial” myself, and having attended a small liberal arts college in Minnesota similar to St. Thomas, where Lu teaches, have felt the same sentiment from my peers.

One experience keeps resonating in my mind where my friend was talking about her roommate who had come to college with the purpose of finding her future husband.  She was severely disappointed after many heart breaks and the reality that most of the guys at our college weren’t even close to looking for a spouse.  She came to our college to find a husband because 20 years or even 10 years prior, most that attended our small college left married or at least with a ring on their finger.  Why have things changed?  Why are we so afraid to get married?

The problem is that no one taught us about marriage; no one in our schools, our parents, or even our Universities all failed to prepare us for one of the most drastic changes that most of us will experience.  Lu discovered this when her students expressed their wishes that they were taught more about marriage.  The truth is 70% of young adults still desire to get married, so it is something important to us and we want to be prepared.  If marriage is still desired by young people why aren’t we getting married?

Lu explains how while marriage is still important to us, it is now a lesser priority.  Marriage is something to accomplish after an education and career are established.  Lu alludes to the marriage problem we have, but doesn’t go into much detail.  We obviously have a problem with marriage, but why?

One thing that contributes is the dissonance between the picture perfect feelings-based romance the media has sold us and reality.  All of us have witnessed the pain of divorce; if not in our own families, in the families of those close to us.  Growing up we saw our parents or friends’ parents fall out of love and break apart their families.  Our friends cried to us and expressed how they felt their parents’ divorce was their fault.  We put our arm around our friend, reassuring them that it wasn’t their fault and wonder, “Is marriage worth the heart ache?”  No wonder why we are so hesitant to make a commitment that is so often broken.  

The problem with society’s view of marriage is that we tend to put ourselves first.  This is becoming even more so as we are shifting from a religious, family-based economy to a secular, individualistic one (Potrykus & Fagan, 2011).  We have always been a country where we value hard work and individual achievement, but it has been falling into the extreme.  

The negative effects of an extreme value system have been experienced throughout history.  In World War II, an extreme value of one’s national identity led to the death of hundreds of thousands who differed.  Our own history has even shown our own weakness as our individual selfish desires for wealth led to the African Slave Trade and the most bloody war in our history.  I’ve spent some time in Uganda where the value of relationship can go too far and turn into a poor work ethic because conversations are more important than work.  All our cultures have their strengths and weaknesses that we need to be aware of.

You’d think we’d be keenly aware of our weakness to make individual wealth a priority after it has caused the pain of many, but sometimes we fail to learn from history.  Our blindness to our cultural weakness is one major piece of the puzzle when trying to grapple with the crumbling state of marriage in the United States. 

Our self-centric weakness is evident in Lu’s article.  The students express that they want to be successful before marriage.  Really what I know many of us feel deep down is, “I can be successful on my own.  I don’t need anyone to take my focus off my career.  A spouse would definitely hinder my ability to be successful.”  And let’s be honest success in the United States equals material wealth.  Why do we put so much value in something that is fleeting?  As Lu points out, careers are not so stable anymore.  We need something that is attainable and purpose filled.  A career can’t promise this, especially in a time when careers are more difficult to secure.  As Lu writes, “The unemployed young, in particular, will end up rootless, purposeless, and lacking the stability that marriage and commitment can provide.”  Our priorities are skewed.  We put something that is fleeting above something that can last, bring purpose to our lives, and has so many benefits.

Doesn’t this point us back to our Creator who created marriage for a purpose?  God created marriage to reflect His covenant with us; a covenant that never breaks and is loving above anything else.  Is love easy?  No, out of love Christ died for us.  Love requires sacrifice and maybe marriages wouldn’t break apart so easily if we’d put the same type of work ethic into our marriages as our careers.  When we are willing to sacrifice our selfish desires for the good of our families something quite miraculous happens; it works.  What is even more astonishing is how sacrificial love draws out the love and respect of others.  God’s design is good and perfect.  Soli Deo Gloria!

This post is in response Rachel Lu’s article entitled, “Millennials and Marriage” in The Public Discourse.  To read the full article click here

To read more about the benefits of marriage please read “Marriage One Foundation”, a paper by North Dakota Family Alliance.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Human Trafficking in North Dakota: Sex Trafficking is Here

If you think we are somehow insulated from human/sex trafficking in North Dakota—think again.  While it is hard to get concrete numbers on the underground world of human trafficking, it is accurate to say “there is no community in the state safe from it”.  And as such, young teen girls are the primary target.  It is estimated as many as 100,000 missing children have been forced into prostitution each year in the US.

Check internet sites and you will find 30-50 new postings daily offering services of prostitution, and that’s just for one city in North Dakota.  While we may think the prostitution business may be only thriving in northwest North Dakota, it covers the entire state.  And with the huge influence of the multi-billion dollar pornography industry on the internet—the US trafficking industry has grown to $9.8 billion.  Why should we be surprised that the high demand for these young girls would result in the highly competitive, solicit at any cost, illegal practice of acquiring a stable of captives?  And they are captives.

Federal law criminalizes human trafficking, and in 2009 North Dakota added language to the ND Century Code.  Since then the prevalence of sex trafficking has increased and we need to respond.  The North Dakota Family Alliance is partnering with the newly formed Voice for the Captives and other Christian groups—to fight this inhuman atrocity.

Trafficking involves force, fraud, coercion, enticement, harboring, transporting, and promotion of these held captives.  It is a dark industry affecting the most vulnerable among us.  Small-time” pimps dominate the trafficking industry—it is important to be able to identify who “they” are.  It may be that new 24 year old, smooth talking young man showing up in the community; it may be a friend of the family, or even a family member. 

A fifteen year old girl working as a waitress is promised 10 times her wages and tips, and at the beginning all seems innocent enough.  But before she knows it she is full of guilt and shame and she is beholden emotionally, financially, and sometimes even physically.  It seems impossible to break free—it seems as if there is nowhere to turn.  All seems hopeless.   Ironically, the only security seems to rest in the one holding her captive.

We need to step up.  We need to be that security that restores the hope.  What can we do?  First, we need to raise the level of awareness, and then train teachers, law enforcement,  counselors, parents, church staff, and children how to recognize the tactics of the trafficker.  We need to prevent trafficking.

Next we need to rescue those held in captivity.  We need to provide a safe transition out of their bondage, addressing their needs emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually.  Some of this may need legislative action, but much can be addressed by our churches and civic organizations.

And finally, we need to prosecute those guilty of these barbaric actions.  We need to provide law enforcement with the resources to identify the traffickers and bring them to justice.

NDFA, along with coalition members including Voice for the Captives will meet with the Superintendent of Public Instruction to discuss informing parents and students, and then meet with the Attorney General regarding enforcement.

For more information or an opportunity to become involved, please contact Lisa at Atonement Lutheran Church with the Voice for the Captives at 1-701-237-9651 or Carly with the North Dakota Family Alliance.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

NDSU and Planned Parenthood: Not a Good Idea for ND, Especially Women

NDSU & Planned Parenthood

Not a Good Idea for North Dakota, Especially Women

There has been resistance this week by both professors at NDSU  and the legislature relating to the amendment proposed to end a sex education program that is a partnership between NDSU and Planned Parenthood.  A 1.2 million dollar federal grant was given to NDSU to begin a Planned Parenthood program for at-risk teens.  Those who oppose the amendment argue that the program could prevent the need for abortion.  

After the passage of several life bills this month, it is clear that North Dakotans do not see a need for abortion and that we believe it is morally wrong to end life.  The partnership between NDSU and Planned Parenthood is of the state’s interests because it contradicts the values of the majority of North Dakotans by partnering with an organization that performs abortions.

Abortion has ended the lives of about 305,000 babies so far this year alone in the United States.  Does Planned Parenthood really seek to prevent abortion when only 1 adoption is referred per 392 abortions performed?  There are crisis pregnancy centers in almost every major city across the state that can already help women with unplanned pregnancies that seek life affirming alternatives.  There is no need for a Planned Parenthood Program.

The partnership between NDSU and Planned Parenthood could be in response to the 2011 bill that enacted abstinence-only education in public schools.  The fact is that at-risk teens do have access to sex education at school, but this is a way for Planned Parenthood to get their message of contraception,  sexual health, abortion, and advocacy for sexual activity,  to minors.  The language of Planned Parenthood about abstinence reads,

People may find it difficult to abstain for long periods of time and may end their period of abstinence without being prepared to protect themselves against pregnancy or infection… Most people stop being abstinent at some point in their lives.”

This language attacks abstinence education because it assumes that abstinence will be ended.  It also implies that pregnancy is like a disease because it is both paired with disease and stresses the importance of prevention.  This language is also appealing to younger generations who are easily convinced by arguments that persuade through peer pressure and the difficulty of alternatives.  Other language used by Planned Parenthood includes, “You can only do what’s best for you” and that language creates a selfish mindset that dismisses the needs of an unborn child.  Planned Parenthood wants to bring this message to not only teens, but teens who most likely don’t have parents or absent parents.  The program responds to the breakdown of the family in a way that destroys future families.

Planned Parenthood would not only be harmful to these vulnerable teens, but to women.  Abortion is 4 times deadlier than a mother carrying to term (Elliot Institute, 2000) and abortion can also cause infertility (Danforth, 1993).  There is a risk for emotional trauma that has been termed PAS (post abortion syndrome) that increases the threat for relationship difficulties, future abortions, suicide, and substance abuse (Rue, Speckhard, Rogers, & Franz 1987).  As medical doctor Wanda Franz explained to US Congress in 1989, “They feel worthless, and victimized because they failed at the most natural of human activities – the role of being a mother”.  Feminism should value all human life from male to female, and from conception until death.  Doing otherwise would be hypocritical.  

One thing is clear; North Dakota has an interest in protecting its citizens.  We must protect vulnerable teens from the message of abortion Planned Parenthood advocates and we must protect women from the harmful effects of abortive procedures.  The future of North Dakota and our families depends on these protections.  



Responding NDSU's Planned Parenthood Partnership

NDSU & Planned Parenthood Partnership

Response to April 12th Forum Article 


The article’s opening paragraph sets the tone for the entire article, setting up the issue as an “attack on women and families”.  Not only is this premise inaccurate and disingenuous, it mocks the integrity of women and wonderful purpose of family.

For all the talking points ‘sound bites’ sprinkled throughout the article, it fails to mention the real purpose of the program—to inform teenagers of their options; before, during, and after they have had sex outside of a married relationship.  For according to the ‘comprehensive sex education’ taught by Planned Parenthood, a partner in the program, it is a given teenagers will have sex and we need to focus on eliminating the unwanted pregnancy.  The unborn baby becomes the problem, an obstacle which needs to be eliminated.

The program’s clientele is identified as “at risk Fargo teens”.  “At risk” of what?  At risk of not hearing that family planning is really about when having sex, try to protect yourself from disease and an unwanted pregnancy by wearing a condom, and if a pregnancy occurs—eliminate the problem by way of abortion.  Is this really what our ‘at risk’ teens need to hear?  And then to add insult to injury, the program’s strategy is to disseminate the program’s indoctrination to the ‘at risk’ teen’s peers.  

The article ridicules the legislature for trying to meddle in affairs they don’t know anything about, especially without a public hearing.  It was ironic that as news broke of this program partnering with Planned Parenthood, there was no ‘hearing’ responding to the public.  Pres. Bresciani’s only consideration was if it was legal, not whether it was the right thing to do.  And now that the legislature would clarify the legality by passing legislation, the cry is “how dangerous” and how “incredibly unusual”.

Yes it is “incredibly unusual” that a university program would reach down to 15 year olds to indoctrinate a vulnerable, at risk group.  Should it be “incredibly unusual” that “politicians”, whom we would call the public policy decision makers, would have an interest in the well-being of our children.  In 2011, the issue was debated in detail and the legislature passed an abstinence bill to be implemented in public and private schools.  

The article criticizes legislative involvement, touting it should be left to “health professionals”, with no guidance short of a “family planning model” from Planned Parenthood.  Should we should trust Planned Parenthood rather than the collective legislative wisdom of those representing the people?

The North Dakota Century Code clearly gives preference to life versus abortion and to abstinence education.  North Dakota law and the program planned at NDSU in partnership with Planned Parenthood are in direct conflict.  Legislators need to set the policy direction.



  © Free Blogger Templates Blogger Theme II by 2008

Back to TOP