Looking beyond the labels
by Jennifer Cohron
May 18, 2014 | 1423 views | 0 0 comments | 79 79 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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When I was growing up, Jay Barker was the man.

I was a child and had very little interest in sports when the University of Alabama won the national championship in 1992. However, I understood enough to know that it was more popular at school to be an Alabama fan than an Auburn fan, and this Jay guy had a lot to do with it.

I went into the Pregnancy Test and Resource Center’s banquet this week secretly hoping that Barker would not spend 30 to 45 minutes rehashing old football stories.

To my surprise, his presentation was more like a sermon or a college lecture than a halftime pep talk.

Barker brought the same intensity to defending the PTRC’s mission that he used to display on the gridiron.

He was well-versed in Scripture and the subject at hand.

Other than one good-natured Auburn joke, he made no reference to his former life. Anyone not aware of his background would have assumed that he was a nice guy with a pretty wife, a lot of kids and a passion for pro-life ministry.

Before Barker stepped to the podium, I had already dismissed him as stereotype, a quarterback past his prime.

What I should have remembered is that a lot of life has happened since the early ‘90s. Barker is no more the man he was in college than I am the girl I was in kindergarten.

I was guilty of labeling, something that I had been warned against in a recent Christian radio podcast.

The Bible teacher on the program noted that the eighth chapter of John bears the same heading in almost every translation — “the woman caught in adultery.”

This is the woman whose life Jesus saved by daring her accusers to throw stones only if they had never broken the law themselves.

As the crowd dispersed and it became clear that He alone had the authority to condemn her, he set her free with the words “Go and sin no more.”

Yet in the pages of history, we are unable to forgive or forget her mistake. Since we do not know her name, we call her by her label.

How quick we are to define a human being by one moment in time.

Adultery was something this woman did, not who she was.

This is good news for anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of an angry mob, which includes women facing unplanned pregnancies.

More than once during the banquet, it was mentioned that churches are filled with women who have had abortions. Most take this secret to the grave with them because they are afraid of how they will be treated if it is ever brought out into the light.

However, the truth is that church members should be the last group of people to define someone by the choices he or she has made.

One of the first Scriptures that Barker quoted on Tuesday night was I Corinthians 6:9, which lists a lot of labels once worn by the church members at Corinth.

Paul reminded the believers there that they were once idolaters, drunkards and thieves, among other things.

However, at the time Paul wrote to them, those labels had been replaced by the love and grace of God.

As Barker told the PTRC supporters, “If you think you’re better than somebody else, you’re not. If you think you’re worse than somebody else, you’re not.”

Once more of us come to that conclusion, we’ll be in a better position to offer help to the hurting instead of judgment.