Jessa Seewald, one of the two married daughters in the Duggar family, almost certainly goofed in her social media preaching Friday evening. Her husband, Ben Seewald, and her brother-in-law, Derick Dillard, both occasionally share sermons or devotional messages on their blogs or social media posts. On Friday, Jessa seemed to have decided to do the same.
However, it was presumably by accident that Jessa actually included a message that directly opposes her family’s strong pro-life stance.
Pro-lifers, like the Duggar family, typically believe that life begins at conception. In fact, two years ago, Radar Online quoted the Duggar daughters’ book — a book the family released with Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger listed as authors.
“Your baby is not a blob of tissue!…It’s a baby from the time it is conceived.”
The young women’s parents have also expressed their views on the value of unborn children, even releasing a PSA titled “Every Life Is Beautiful.”
Jessa, a Duggar then and a Seewald now, since her marriage later that same year, didn’t set out to discuss issues of abortion, choice, and life, on Friday evening. Instead, she wanted to talk about the necessity of being “born again” — that is, of accepting God and becoming a new person in Him.
However, in Jessa’s post, being “born again” — that is, accepting Christ and becoming a Christian — is compared to physical birth, and indicates that one is not a “child of humans” until birth.
The full post (it’s long) is here. Lest it be deleted, you can see a screenshot of the relevant portion below.
The second paragraph of Jessa’s post reads as follows.
“These people are born again. It is as impossible to be the people of God without being ‘born again’ spiritually, as it is to be children of humans without first being born. The greatest reformation of life that can be attained without this new life from God may provide us with further delusion, but it will never gain us salvation.”
It’s impossible to be children of humans without first being born?
Planned Parenthood, which, obviously, is a pro-choice organization, asserts agreement with Jessa Seewald’s statement.
“Most medical authorities, including Planned Parenthood, agree that it becomes a baby after birth when it takes its first breath. But we value women’s differing feelings about when to use the words embryo, fetus, or baby.”
However, it seems unlikely that Jessa herself actually holds that opinion. She expresses the opposite on a regular basis. See this post from last January, for example.
“Headed to Little Rock right now for the annual March for Life! Join us at our state Capitol at 2pm, and together let us take a stand for the life of the unborn. ❤️”
Here she is in a video declaring that she “stands for life.” (If you want to skip to it, Jessa appears at the 47 second mark.)
So, how could Jessa Seewald pen a lengthy sermon and not notice that she stated that one can’t be a human child until birth?
Well, she didn’t.
The entire sermon is copied and pasted (she does give credit). There’s a PDF file here with the full text. It’s from The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, written in 1650 by Richard Baxter. Christianity Today describes Baxter as an Anglican moderate, who tried to foster peace between different Christian denominations.
Was Jessa’s sermon nabbed from a pro-choice pastor? Well, Baxter’s position on abortion isn’t clear in any of the material available about his theology, but the Religious Tolerance offers some historical context. For some periods of Christian history, the beliefs about abortion were not too rigid: during the 13th century, Pope Innocent III declared it only a sin after fetal movement could be felt, and others before and after him expressed similar stances.
It wasn’t until 1869, centuries after Baxter penned the piece Jessa would later copy, that Pope Pius IX declared no difference in ending a pregnancy, whether or not fetal movement could be felt.
So, it seems, Jessa Seewald likely copied and pasted, without noticing, a work from an author writing during a time when considering life sacred from conception wasn’t part of church canon.
[Image via TLC]