The “A” Word Part 2 by Steven Phillips
The “A” Word, Part 2 By Steven Phillips
If being a people divided is a hindrance for a nation, perhaps, we are looking at the very reason our “Great Nation” status may have slipped in the past 50 years. A single issue, out of all the myriad of issues in our history, out of all the tyrants who have come against us, out of all the disasters we have faced… this issue has brought us to an unworkable, political stalemate.
Before moving on… I have waited a long time to say something, publicly. THERE IS NO VIABLE CANDIDATE RUNNING FOR NATIONAL OFFICE TODAY, NOR HAS THERE EVER BEEN A VIABLE CANDIDATE, WHO ACTUALLY WANTS TO SEE MORE ABORTIONS! To think otherwise is like saying that there are candidates who want to see more open heart surgeries. I suppose someone might argue that there are always a few “freaks of nature” out there who could disprove my statement – people who own stock in a clinic that provides abortions or some sadist who loves inflicting pain. But aside from the outrageously minuscule exceptions – NO LEGITIMATE CANDIDATE FOR ANY NATIONAL OFFICE WANTS TO INCREASE THE PERCENTAGE OF ABORTIONS IN OUR COUNTRY. Abortion is a serious operation, known to have many risks involved, and potential emotional, relational, and psychological side effects. No candidate wants to increase the number of any surgical procedures. The divide on this issue is NOT about there being a group of people who want to see more abortions – IT’S ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT A WOMAN HAS THE RIGHT TO HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE THAT DECISION WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT MAKING THE DECISION FOR HER!
If you are about to turn off, please stop for a moment and listen to what I am really trying to say – please consider how obtuse and divisive this issue has become. We are standing on the brink of failing as a nation. If that is going to happen, shouldn’t we at least pause long enough to ask why this is happening?
My wife and I have lost several pregnancies due to miscarriages, including one late term. We had no way of knowing that those losses occurred because of a genetic disorder that my wife has which only recently was confirmed to increase the risk of miscarriages. I can personally tell you of the pain and gut wrenching questions that living through such a scenario can cause. Having to live through that scenario, in light of how heated the abortion issue issue has become, caused us to do some soul searching. We eventually had to grapple with the realization that each time were in those experiences, we were also in a place where our doctors might have been telling us that carrying the pregnancy to full term could have presented life threatening concerns for my wife’s health. As we considered that we could have faced that possibility, we tried to imagine how we would have responded to hearing that information. We asked ourselves, “How would we have felt if we were caught up in that crisis and knew that we had NO SAY in deciding what to do. How would we have felt if some politician had already made that decision for us without ever looking at our case specifically.
That is exactly the position the Pro-Life movement is advocating – You don’t decide… a politician does.
I can assure you that we would have resented losing our choices… but we would have resented, even more. being made a pawn in a political game even more! If you think this is not what we are risking today, then let me remind you that Mike Pence, when he was governor of Indiana, actually proposed a law to require unborn fetuses to have a proper, legal burial as defined by Indiana law for the death of any other citizen. He further proposed that this law should govern the loss of the fetus even if the loss was due to either a miscarriage or an abortion! Moreover, he proposed that every miscarriage case should be reviewed by a medical review board to determine whether or not an abortion was the real reason for the loss of the fetus. In the proposed legislation, there was to be criminal prosecution should the reason for the lss of the pregnancy be determined to be the result of an abortion. When he finally realized that he was receiving a backlash even from women within his own party who felt they were being “demonized” simply because they were unable to carry a pregnancy to full term, he backed down on this position, but stated that all he was wanting to do was to get people to understand the viability of unborn life. This is perhaps one of the most extreme example of how far ProLifers are willing to go to force others to agree with their position.
This is the man that Donald Trump has chosen for his running mate – and the man, if Trump is elected, who would be just a heartbeat from becoming President, if Mr. Trump was unable to finish his term. That is a staggering thought when put in perspective. If elected, Donald Trump would assume the office of President as a man in his seventies. Mike Pence would also be the person who would preside over the Senate to decide any “tie” votes.
Are the proposals of Mike Pence representative of the America we truly want?
The question of when life begins, is a matter of great debate. However, since right wing Christians have made this a matter of religious conviction, it should be noted that there isn’t a single scriptural reference, whether in the Old or New Testament, that clearly supports the ProLife argument. To arrive at any other conclusion, one has to try to piece together a sort of “if this, then that” sort of case which brings it back to the real position of this issue being a matter of personal opinion.
This obvious “gap” in reasoning cannot be tossed aside by saying such practices weren’t performed during biblical times for very clearly they were. Medical solutions for a pregnancy termination have been widely practiced in some form since the beginning of known medical history – in fact it could be argued that early medical practice was significantly interested in abortion issue since so many of their patients were concerned about having to provide for another hungry mouth when families live on virtually subsistence incomes in the vast majority of cases.
This is especially true in Roman times, where a plethora of records verify that such pregnancy termination solutions were widely in use in Roman and even Hebrew circles. The notion that no self respecting Hebrew family would ever have considered this option is simply not supported by the facts. To think otherwise is to delude oneself into thinking that there was no crisis of faith within the Jewish community of the day. For a Christian to believe that, virtually negates much of the message of Jesus – to confront corruption within the religious establishment of his day.
Why is that particularly important? Because it means that during the time of Christ’s life on earth, when abortions were clearly practiced in the culture, no mention was made about the practice in the scriptural record. No condemnation was even mentioned. Why didn’t Jesus or the apostles leave any record of their opinion on this issue?
There is, however, a critically problematic issue for Christians today. A doctrine cannot simply be assumed or added to the record, according to canonized procedural precedence which has been followed on virtually every other doctrinal position since that time.
This is even more problematic when one considers the ministry of the Apostle Paul, whose work expanded Christianity throughout the Roman world. In discussing this issue, there are those who argue that abortion was simply rarely practiced at the time, and thus explains the omission of the subject in scripture. But this idea flies in the face of the historical record of both Roman and Hebrew cultures. After all, the Roman culture was noted for lavish, public, sexual orgies and many promiscuous liaisons, which have been documented throughout that time. Problems with unintended offspring could often threaten inheritance issues among rich and powerful, upper class families. Sometimes abortions were simply ordered by those in power to eliminate potential challenges to their chosen offspring’s right of succession. Thinking that this was not available within that culture also ignores how advanced even surgical medicine had become by that time – especially in the areas of pregnancies and childbirth. Remember, it is commonly believed that the very name, “Caesar,” reportedly came from the ancient word for a caesarian section – a procedure far more complicated than most simple abortions.
When one considers the record of the Hebrew world at the time, one has to deal with the infamous example of King Herod, who once ordered the slaying of every baby boy who was born in the surrounding area of Bethlehem, within a two year period from the purported time of Jesus’s birth. This was done simply to try to eliminate the offspring of Mary. This was a culture with blatant callousness towards horrific acts of infant genocide! It is difficult to try to argue that they would, however, have been loathe to practice abortion – especially when you add to that picture the fact that abortion solutions were in medical practice in that day.
Records abound that ancient doctors and health practitioners were very knowledgeable in many pregnancy termination options, including numerous procedures and herbal potions. Does it then follow that the biblical texts upon which all of Christendom is founded would remain silent upon this issue? If today this is one of the fundamental beliefs of conservative Christians, shouldn’t it have to pass the test of every other position they set forth as “doctrine” – a clear, unambiguous biblical reference?
If it were ANY other issue such as; mandatory vaccinations, deciding how your children receive their education, deciding on virtually any governmental regulations, etc., conservative Christians are the same voting bloc who most want the government to stay out of people’s private lives. They would be virtually up in arms to say the government has no right to mandate their private lives.
In that regard, it should also be said that the ProChoice Movement does not seek to propose ANYTHING that would require any person to seek an abortion – nor, indeed, would they. You cannot say that they would violate your personal right to choose NOT to have an abortion. Nor is there any threat to compel conservative Christians nor organizations to refrain from teaching or promoting their ProLife beliefs.
NO! THESE ARE NOT THE ISSUES HERE! THE ISSUE IS THE REVERSE! The fact is that conservative Christians are trying to force others to comply with their view by re-writing our laws to make people to comply with their opinion
The sad truth is their reason for taking that stand. They have failed in their efforts to convert people to their beliefs through their teachings, literature, or the sharing of their faith.
This is my problem, as an American and as a Christian. I am deeply concerned that the future of my faith is now tied to this controversial issue – even though the ProLife stand is not founded upon clear constitutional grounds nor clear scriptural doctrine. Let me be clear on that concern and speak directly to non-Christian for a moment. This is NOT something you have to have ANY opinion about to accept the message of God’s love. This is NOT something you will “be asked at the gate of heaven” in order to get in! There is no Anti-Abortion answer that determines your eternal destiny. This is NOT a central issue of Christian doctrine – period!
On the conservative Christian side, the belief is that life begins at conception, and on the Pro Choice side, the belief is that people have the right to have beliefs that differ with that opinion. That’s important… because…THIS IS AMERICA!!! We began our democratic nation by proclaiming that people with differing views can come here and not have to worry that someone else will force people to believe something different. I’m sorry, but our founders were NOT so ignorant as to think that people of other faiths or belief systems would never move here. Indeed, many people who were not Christians were in America at the time we were founded and even fought to secure those shared freedoms.
In point of fact, this is one of the central, core issues that has propelled Donald Trump to where he is today. For many on the far right, their agenda goes far deeper and the abortion issue is simply something they are using to try to cobble together their vote with the ProLife vote for greater numbers. They have seized upon the people who once taught me the gospel, who now are in a virtual panic that they are losing the race to keep America Christian. Let me tell you something. You Are! But Not for the reason you think. You have sidestepped the clear message of the gospel and replaced it with a message that God wants a conservative agenda. Whether or not you see that fact, it is, nonetheless the message that others are hearing. Buy tieing that message with people who aso don’t like Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, or Jews, you have sent the most damaging message that has ever been sent within American Christian Life – one that says, “You are outside of God’s message of love. Because, for the people behind the scenes who have manipulated your fear into a place to support the candidate who least represents Christian values, the issue is really about any changes that are coming in America. They clearly understand that ProLife people are upset about change – in fact, they are counting upon it! They know that people are concerned that too many people are coming here who do not hold with “our way of thinking.” These people know that that some people are afraid of a threat to “our way of life” because it means we will have to change. But for some people in that top circle, they hold a “WhiteConservativeChristianAmerican Dream” – ONLY!
These are the exact same tactics that were used in 1930’s Germany to manipulate German Christians of that day. The economic picture of the day were similar. The perception that Germany had lost it’s place in world prominence was a painful reality. When the same type of manipulators gave Germany a couple of groups upon which Germans could vent their anger and frustrations, the cake was baked. When German Christians finally came to the realization that they had been used, they repented, and sometimes, died for doing so. But the rich history of Christianity in Germany was NEVER able to regain the public trust.
BUT CHANGE is what this democracy has ALWAYS been about – especially regarding religious beliefs – but also regarding political, social, cultural, economic, and virtually every other type of belief. If we are against change, then we would have stayed colonies and had it mandated what we believed, how we lived, what we could own, what “social class” we were a part of – based upon the dictates of a sovereign’s choice. The one thing that separated us at the time of our founding from the conventional beliefs of the day was FREEDOM OF THE INDIVIDUAL!
Therefore, where I fully support the rights for conservative Christian people to hold their beliefs, I am ADAMANTLY AGAINST the same people seeking to impose their beliefs on others. Frankly, as a person of faith, and as a minister with almost fifty years of ministry leadership experience, I would have to point out that God seeks people who choose to believe in Him, who choose to follow His priorities. who choose to ask for His companionship. THERE ISN’T ANY justification to force others to believe as you do? The message of the gospel is one of freedom and this issue is not addressed in it at all.
This issue has, nonetheless, brought us to this divide. It is the primary linchpin that has kept us in gridlock for so many years. We cannot even pass a national budget without a political civil war with devastating social consequences – all of that tracking back to this single issue. Now it has come full circle to the point that the worst choice ever offered by a political party – a person whose public and private life bears NO THREAD OF RESEMBLANCE to the values that conservative Christians were brought up to emulate in their own lives – that person is now enjoying their support. All of this has taken place while the very party that has played this dangerous game to keep the support of conservative Christians in line now stands on the precipice of extinction! But you know what? Even this is not a sacrifice too great for those who have championed this unwinnable cause for so long. They are now offering up their past leaders as sacrifice lambs – proving that nothing is too great a price for them, to have the right to tell other what they MUST believe!
Not convinced? Then perhaps we need to look at the actual record.
COMING TOMORROW…… The Conclusion of “The “A” WORD
I’m Steven Phillips.
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