About a year ago, you could hardly turn a page in the newspaper or a channel on TV without reading or hearing, “Where are the women?” It was an over-used, under-thought-out, misplaced phrase. It was supposed to evoke thoughts of back alley abortions, repressed women and hate groups (that means Christians) whose only purpose in life is to suck the joy out of it.
“Where are the women?” is so 42 seconds ago. The real question is: “Where are the faithful women?”
I’m so glad you asked.
World, meet Katie Schuermann, wife of the Rev. Michael Schuermann, child of the heavenly Father, baby smoocher, song singer, book writer (He Remembers the Barren), chef extraordinaire, intrepid reporter . . .
Ok. Let’s face it: This list could really get quite lengthy if you took the time to list all of Katie’s admirable qualities, and she’s probably already blushing.
But one of her most pious qualities, however, is her gentle humility, especially in the face of understanding what it means to be barren. She commiserates with the women who also pray for children but to whom the Lord has not given them, who suffer when their prayers seem to go unanswered, who are on the receiving end of unhelpful comments and flippant remarks. She listens. She understands. She quietly observes.
But when the time is right, she also speaks. And she doesn’t speak just to be speaking. She speaks because she has something worth speaking up for, worth speaking out about. One of those things is barrenness. Another is children. Still another is the danger of “reproductive technology.” And that, perhaps, is the most difficult to speak about at all.
The world doesn’t want to hear it. Some Christians too. But as Dr. Robert Weise noted in the January Lutheran Witness:
“When a husband and wife or a female parent goes through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or Direct Egg Sperm Injection (DESI) into an ovum (egg), the resulting embryonic human being is graded as to its viability for implantation. If the human embryo is not viable to the naked eye, the embryo will be destroyed. If the embryo is viable, he/she will be implanted with the extra or spare fertilized embryos (4–7 day old) frozen at -3210F in liquid nitrogen. There are more than 500,000 unwanted, homeless embryonic human beings remaining in liquid nitrogen. These may be thawed and used for embryonic stem cell research, which results in their destruction. You cannot parent a frozen embryonic human being. When frozen embryonic human beings are thawed, 7 percent to 57 percent will die. Again, this is not caring for the least of the tiniest human beings amongst us who are God’s creatures with a body and soul. Human beings, regardless of their stage of development or age, should not be frozen, but we should instead ‘defend them,’ according to the Eighth Commandment.”
Katie defends those tiny human beings. It isn’t easy. It’s not popular. But she is faithful. She takes our Lord at His Word that He loves life, that His children are precious to Him no matter their size, that He loved them so much He gave up His own life so that theirs–no matter how young or old–might have value and worth.
And that is why Katie is this year’s Sabre of Boldness awardee.
Given by Gottesdienst, the journal of Lutheran liturgy, the editors of the journal noted that,
“Mrs. Schuermann is the author of the book He Remembers the Barren, and had spoken to groups of women burdened like her with the affliction of barrenness. In the course of these meetings she soon found herself hearing from women who had turned to in vitro fertilization as a last resort to ease their pain. In spite of the sensitive nature of the matter, she felt constrained to tell the truth in love about the unacceptability of in vitro fertilization. For us who know that life begins at conception, there is really no ethical alternative than to reject in vitro fertilization, in whose process fertilized embryos are always discarded. For her to have the courage to say so in such circumstances, and to speak up for life, for which she has endured much grief and rejection, is commendable.”
Katie’s award wasn’t achieved on her own. She’s the first to admit that. It’s by virtue of her Baptism, because of Christ at work in her, because He has a good plan and a good purpose for her life. She is quick to redirect the attention to the pastors in her life, to her husband, to those men who point her again and again to the comfort and assurance that are hers in Christ, despite of the evidence or feelings to the contrary.
“Where are the women?” was the question of 2012. “Where are the faithful women?” might be the better question for 2013. They’re here. They’re the ones bearing bold Witness to Christ, living in Mercy toward their neighbor, abiding joyfully in a rich Life Together. They’re the women God is molding and shaping minute by minute, prayer by prayer. They’re the Katie Schuermanns in your life. And for the baby smoochers of the world, well, that’s a pretty classy resume.