Friday, May 4, 2012

People . . Religion . . Messy

Ah, another post to rile my friends.

I'm pro-life.  My friend is pro-choice.  In fact, she used to work for the late Dr. Tiller in Wichita.  She's an intelligent, reasonable woman, so for some time, I've wanted to have a conversation with her about our respective opinions on the matter -- because as she says, I often learn more from those I disagree with than from those I agree with.  I finally initiated that conversation yesterday.  I expect the conversation will continue, but it has already been enlightening to me.

For one thing, I find that we agree on more than I would have guessed.  In fact, I think we would likely be tracking point for point except for my adherence to Biblical standards.  And there's my trouble with the whole abortion debate.  My opinions on abortion are based on the Bible.  Duh.  But not everyone in the country bases their opinions on the Bible.  So I'm not convinced our laws should be based on the Bible. 

I know I have Christian friends who have just lost a lot of respect for me with that proclamation, but I guess I'll deal with that.  I would love if every American used the Bible as their guide for truth and right behavior, but they don't.  And we can't legislate them into doing so.  We can only persuade them to do so.  And in fact, I'm not sure that persuading is even our job -- it's the Spirit's job.  We make our case for the truth, live our lives in the light of the truth, and let the Spirit change hearts and minds.  We certainly don't coerce them through the threat of legal action.

In the Old Testament, we have an example of the nation of Israel as a theocracy.  The laws of their faith were the laws of the king as well.  Even then, it didn't work well.  In fact, God told them from the beginning they wouldn't want it that way.  You don't want a king like all the other nations, he told them.  But they insisted.  I don't believe the account of the history of Israel is meant to be proscriptive for us today in terms of how we set up a government. 

And so, I'm as uncomfortable with attempts to legally define the beginning of life at conception as I am with judges striking down anti-gay marriage laws.  I will always vote based on my beliefs, because I think if the majority of people in a "state" believe the same way and want their laws based on those beliefs, that's how a democracy works.  But I recognize that this will come back to bite me in the butt someday.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure there's a better way.  Living with other people is . . . messy.


CRu said...

What a thought provoking essay. I occasionally read them when I get a chance (I do enjoy reading your posts). I wanted to comment on your statement that "pro-life" is based from biblical beliefs. Since many religions and cultures value life so highly it is natural to think that only "religious" people are "pro-life". However, many non-religious people value life. There are many faiths / cultures that have virtuous truths and may emphasize life at different stages (conception, birth, childhood, adulthood, old age). There are cultures that are "pro-life" but if the child is not born a male the infant girl is killed.
My personal beliefs have changed over the years. When I was younger I was raised to believe pro-choice (and I grew up in a church - it was my very liberal mother who taught me pro-choice), but I also did not value my own life. I think my not valuing my own life played the bigger part in my earlier beliefs. Over the years my beliefs on abortion have changed. I now believe that every life (including mine) is so precious. My heart aches that a woman thinks abortion is her only option and I pray for any woman who is ever in that situation that their hearts are softened to make the right choice. Now if a woman is just being irresponsible and just being callus to rid herself of responsibility - that just makes me sick. With that said it is not for me to judge another for their decisions. I know I do not liked to be judged.
Any way, thank you for sharing.
- Carol O

GJK said...

Carol -- I wasn't saying that only religious people are pro-life. I was saying that my own personal reasons for believing that life begins at conception are based on my beliefs which are rooted in the Bible. There are clearly many reasons for one to believe this that have nothing to do with religious beliefs. If nothing else, I contend that we don't really know -- and may never really know -- exactly when "life" begins, and that we should always err on the side of life.