Monday, February 18, 2008

Christianity, Politics & Abortion

 this post has been extremely difficult to write and even harder to publish.  In fact, after having completed, proof-read, previewed and seemingly saved the entire post, it totally disappeared from Blogger when I tried to publish it. That certainly makes you wonder.

I am not writing this article in an attempt to change your views on abortion. I am writing this with the hope that it will be food for thought if you are tempted to judge a person’s faith by their political views on this issue.

Abortion has been one of the most politically divisive issues in US politics over the past 30 years. Persons on all sides of the political issue have, more often than not, manipulated the truth to advance their cause. And some, on the far political right of the evangelical community, have tried to use a person’s views on abortion as a litmus test of faith. 

Prior to the 2004 US Presidential election, “ the Roman Catholic bishop of Colorado Springs issued a pastoral letter saying that American Catholics should not receive communion if they vote for politicians who defy church teaching by supporting abortion rights, same-sex marriage, euthanasia or stem-cell research. “

As the New York Times reported Bishop Michael J. Sheridan stated:

''Anyone who professes the Catholic faith with his lips while at the same time publicly supporting legislation or candidates that defy God's law makes a mockery of that faith and belies his identity as a Catholic,

The article further states: “In a telephone interview, the bishop said: ‘I’m not making a political statement. I'm making a statement about church teaching.’ “

Well, whatever the Bishop might have meant, his comments were perceived as a political statement. His actions, without a doubt, had a political impact that was not lost on Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk. And, for the record, I don’t agree with his “statement about church teaching”.

Where do I stand on the issue of abortion, both as a matter of faith and politically?

  I am a Christian, pro-life and opposed to overturning Roe V. Wade. A contradiction -- not in my mind or in my heart.

Science and the dictionary define life as:

The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

According to Wikipedia:

An embryo (from Greek: ἔμβρυον, plural ἔμβρυα, lit. "that which grows," from en- "in" + bryein "to swell, be full") is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination.

And the Christian Bible says the following about conception:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. --- The Message (MSG) Psalm 139:12-14 (in Context) Psalm 139 (Whole Chapter)

Based on these definitions, I believe that at the instant of conception, the embryo is a life. Therefore, an abortion ends a life – a life which had immeasurable potential and inherent value.

So if I controlled the world and controlled people:
    •    all life would be valued,
    •    young men and women would be taught to value themselves,
    •    men and women would give more thought to the consequences of their actions,
    •    no woman would be raped,
    •    every child would be wanted from the moment of conception,
    •    there would be loving individuals willing to adopt every child who was not wanted by their     birth parents,
    •    every child born would be loved, cared for, appreciated and given every opportunity to achieve their destiny and,
    •    there would be no abortions.

I am pro life.

However, I do not control the world or its people. No human does. Christianity teaches that God gave man-kind “free will” or freedom of choice. So while I may not agree with another woman’s choices, I do not think that her life should be in jeopardy, if she chooses abortion as an option.
  The argument advanced by the religious right is that the unborn child is “innocent”. It is easy to view the child as “innocent” and the woman as “guilty” but is this what Christianity really teaches? 

Does Christianity teach that we should have more compassion for the unborn child than the mother?
I certainly do not condone the practice of using abortion as a method of birth control but do I believe that I can legislate behavior or conscience.  No I don’t.

So how do I believe Christianity views the woman who has had an abortion?

John 8:3-11
The Message (MSG)

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, "Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?" They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt.
They kept at him, badgering him.
He straightened up and said, "The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone."
Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. "Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?"
"No one, Master."
"Neither do I," said Jesus. "Go on your way. From now on, don't sin."

To me the only political argument left on the issue of abortion is whether it should be taxpayer funded, not whether it should be a legal option in every state.

 Churches should continue to teach the tenant of their faith. Parents should continue to instill their values in their children. And people of faith should stop letting people with political agendas manipulate them.

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