Religion Magazine

What Would the Midwives Do?

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard


My husband and I were in a conversation recently about something we are struggling with. As we were walking and talking, reflecting and observing, I suddenly said to him “What would the midwives do?”

We both laughed. I was referring to the show Call the Midwife where real life happens and grace abounds. Where values and beliefs are solid but love trumps all.

It’s really the truth and grace dilemma. The argument that goes on in my mind when I’m faced with that which I can’t agree with, that which I believe to be wrong. One part of me shouts “But it’s wrong. I can’t condone it! I hate this!” The other responds, quietly but insistently “But what about grace? What about love? How should you respond now that it’s a reality?”

In almost every episode of Call the Midwife real life happens. And life in the East End of London in the 1950s is not pretty. There is poverty, squalor, death, conflict, abuse, abortions, incest, domestic violence – all of life in its broken horror. But every show a baby is delivered – “God’s opinion that the world must go on.”* And with that baby comes hope and new life, new chances.

At the end of the day these midwives do all they can to preserve life, to preserve the dignity of human beings, to protect, to build relationships. Truth is never compromised but Grace is always given. That is their mission in this tiny slice of life in the East End. I have friends who are midwives and I was fortunate to have a midwife at the birth of my first child. Whether in Haiti or Pakistan, the Appalachian mountains or Chicago this is how I see them live, how I see them work. They do all they can to preserve life, to preserve the dignity of human beings, made in the image of God, to preserve relationships.

So when I posed the question “What would the midwives do?” to my husband that is what I was asking. What is Truth and Grace in this situation? What preserves life, dignity, and relationships?

It’s “what would Jesus do” with a midwife twist. 

*Quote from Carl Sandburg

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