21 January 2017

Christians Who Understand Christianity Better Than Christ Did and America Better Than Our Founding Fathers

Without the support of the "abortion is murder" people, Trump would have lost. These people pretend to understand Christianity better than Christ and America better than our founding fathers. They don't.

In the first four gospels, the poor are mentioned 24 times and the rich 29. In Luke 18:24-25, for instance, Christ said,
Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
In Luke  14:13-14 he told a host,
when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. 
He left little doubt about his disdain for wealth and love for the poor and he expected his followers to have a similar ambivalence about wealth and compassion for the poor. There is no doubt about this.

In the first four gospels, abortion is not mentioned once. (Actually, it's mentioned nowhere in the Bible.) You might argue that abortions had not become as easy or common in his time as ours but keep in mind that Jesus's authority comes in no small part because he saw to the end of time and preached about all that would matter until then.

Evangelicals gave Trump the presidency. Without their vote, he would have lost. The central reason they voted for Trump is that these people believe that life starts at the exact instant that a sperm and egg collide and are appalled that Roe vs. Wade lets women follow their individual conscience about when that transformation occurs. To be clear, their belief is not based on anything Christ said. This is their own idea, one they've slapped the label of Christianity onto.

Many Christians don't share this belief. The Christians who see abortion as murder are less remarkable for their affection for Christ's teaching (again, this isn't even something he taught) than their personalities: these are the people who cannot tolerate ambiguity or gray areas. They need clear black and white boundaries and saying that life starts at a particular instant is very appealing to them. Such a belief is less product of soul searching than the compulsion of a particular personality type.

Nobody is arguing that we should kill babies. Nobody is arguing that we should protect the "lives" of sperm or egg cells. The argument is about when sperm and egg - the jetsam and flotsam of life - become a baby - the essence of life.

When does a child become an adult? 12 seems compelling. Until just a few centuries ago, every community around the world treated 12 as the legal age of consent, an age when young girls were commonly married off. Theaters and amusement parks still seem to believe a 12 year old is no longer a child. Or you might argue for 16, the age when we trust teens to have the cognitive capacity to drive, to stay focused on the road in ways that don't endanger the rest of us. 18 is old enough to let them vote or go off to war. 21 is when we trust them to drink to console themselves for the trauma of war or to celebrate the victory of the candidate they backed.

Most people can accept that the definition of when a child becomes an adult is fuzzy and might even depend on the context. Reasonable people disagree about when a child becomes an adult. Reasonable people also disagree about when a sperm and egg become a baby.

Our founding fathers gave us a government that provided freedom of religion and freedom from religion. What could not be proven through science or a vote - things that could be seen and verified objectively by other people - could be held as personal conviction but not imposed on anyone else. People were free to live according to their own conscience.

There are people who have a religious belief that the instant a sperm and egg collide those two tiny little cells too small for the eye to see are no different from a baby that you can't ignore. It's key to clarify two things. One, this is a belief, no different than the belief that the rich should sell what they own and give it to the poor or that when Venus intercepts Jupiter it is a good time to start a new relationship. And - this is really important so pay attention to the next few words - this religious belief about when life starts has nothing to do with Jesus's teaching. Like the guy in Times Square selling $12 Rolex watches, people have slapped Christ's name onto the "abortion is murder" belief but it did not come from Jesus's words. They made this up.

Force is central to this issue. Sex can be one of the most wonderful experiences of a woman's life and rape - sex forced on her - one of the worst. When force or chance terminates a woman's pregnancy it can be one of the most emotionally heavy experiences of her life; when she chooses to terminate a pregnancy it can yield one of her biggest reliefs. Sex and having a child can be radically different experiences depending on whether they are forced upon her or embraced by her.

Again, there is no way that Trump would have won without the vote of people who now believe that their definition of when life starts is God-given and true and that this revelation ought to be the basis for law. The truth? This definition of when life starts has nothing to do with Christ's teaching and even if it did, it wouldn't matter in a country based on religious freedom.

How do I know that it wouldn't matter? Because while Christ said nothing about abortion he was clear that divorce and re-marriage was adultery, a sin. Because of religious freedom, in this country a person is free to divorce and re-marry, as Trump has twice. The abortion is murder people seemingly want to live in a theocracy where religious beliefs are imposed on other people but it's essential to point out that the beliefs they want to impose are not based on Jesus' teaching. All theocracy is bad; theirs is a counterfeit theocracy.

Abortion is murder is a religious belief but not a Christian one. Like any Christian or non-Christian religious belief, it is something that people are free to embrace but not free to impose on others. It should not be the basis for law in this country. Unless of course you trust people who understand Christianity better than Christ and freedom of religion better than our founding fathers. I don't. Not any more than I trust Trump.


Timothy said...

Ron. Abortion is mentioned a number of times in the Bible. King Herod and pharaoh were both big fans of late term abortions. We also have penalties discussed in the law to dictate the punishment of those that caused women to lose their babies.

If taking an innocent life is morally acceptable to you, that is your choice, however please don't impose your values on me or any other Christian. At one time slavery was the law of the land but it was never morally right. Abortion is in the same basket

Ron Davison said...

I would hope that forced abortion would be treated as a serious crime at any stage of pregnancy. Even forced sterilization. This isn't about forcing values on you (although it's hard to imagine how you'd even have a pregnancy forced on you, much less an abortion) or forcing values on anyone.
And that's the heart of the matter isn't it? No one should force a woman to abort or carry a child to term.