The greatest of these is … love
posted at 12:12 pm on May 5, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
It was impossible for me to read this recent article in Redbook without thinking of the ubiquitous wedding reading from 1 Corinthians 13 on the nature of love. We often think about this passage in terms of romantic love, but it has almost infinite application. In this case, a young unmarried debutante from Philadelphia’s Main Line found herself pregnant in 1963 — and her parents wanted her to abort the child from a summer affair. When she refused, they committed her to a mental hospital in an attempt to pressure her to get rid of the child — but young Julie Mannix perservered, out of love for the child:
I wrap myself even more tightly in my wrinkled camel-hair coat. Just then, I feel a vague stirring in my stomach. Seconds later, another soft flutter. I reach down and cover my belly with my hands. Here, in this room that smells of vomit and floor cleaner, my baby decides to announce itself for the first time.
Surrounded by strangers engulfed in grief, I feel a surge of joy. I’d steadfastly refused the abortion my mother had done everything in her power to get for me. Now I know for sure my baby is alive.
In 1963, abortions were illegal. Threats to the mother’s physical or mental health were the only grounds on which one could be performed. And when my mother informed me I was pregnant—something the family gynecologist had revealed to her, not me—she also told me that he had, conveniently, diagnosed me as severely depressed. In our circles of Philadelphia society, you were considered charmingly eccentric if you were given to extreme mood swings, romantic depressions, even the odd suicide attempt. Giving birth to a bastard child, however, was unforgivable. Although my mother was a staunch Catholic, she had so convinced herself that an abortion would save my future that she was able to justify an act she normally would have abhorred. I was committed to a private psychiatric facility, where an abortion could be performed legally. Except, much to everyone’s dismay, I wouldn’t sign the papers to authorize the procedure. I held out even after they moved me to the state hospital. I didn’t object to abortion on moral grounds; I just desperately wanted my child—a baby conceived in love, with a man I loved—to live. I had no idea what would happen to my baby, or to me, as a result of my decision. But I’d never felt such conviction before.
This is a story that has to be read in full. It’s told not just from the perspective of the young unwed mother, but also from the daughter she gave up for adoption, and indirectly from the father who married young Julie and inscribed their wedding rings with the birth date of the daughter they didn’t know for decades. It is, in short, an example of how love triumphed over fear, and how self-sacrifice and determination enriched the lives of countless others.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
And kudos to Redbook for publishing this. It’s undated, so I’m not certain when this first appeared, but it’s a wonderful testimony regardless of its publication date.