Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Church and State

Portugal voted to legalize abortion but less than half the populous bothered to show up at the polls, so the vote doesn't really count. Abortion is one of the most difficult subjects so far as the discussion of the boundary between church and state is concerned because we confront the question of exactly when a person (or person-to-be) is entitled to the protections of the state. I offer that God entrusted the care of the pre-birth child entirely to the mother and as such, the state should not attempt to wrest control from her because to do so could interfere in her relationship with God. Each contemplated abortion is an opportunity for a woman to come closer to God, to learn ways to discern His will, and to wrestle with a challenging question given the particular circumstances. If a law curtails abortion, it also curtails that conversation with God, interposes itself between the mother and God, and robs her of an opportunity to experience God's grace without interference.

The same problem crops up any time we attempt to legislate morality - the law gets between the would-be criminal and God. Do we require moral legislation to have a righteous country? Then is the country righteous if it is filled with law-abiding citizens? Does obeying that law of morality make one more righteous? No, one should obey because of a reverence to God and because of an understanding of morality. Different people have different understandings of morality, and so long as there is no harm to another person (which points out the crux of the abortion problem), the law should not interfere.

Consider Jerusalem public transit. Haredi Jews have taken it upon themselves to enforce a dress code and seating assignments on certain bus routes. This is so that the men can concentrate on their work rather than being distracted by the hot chicks on the bus. Being a man, I understand the distraction point and I have occasionally thought that the Taliban, amidst all their faults, had one thing going right in the dress code, but what business is it of mine (or the Taliban's) to insist on certain modes of dress? No, we cannot insist on other people behaving in a way that we deem right and proper, regardless of the circumstance, and Jerusalem women are right to protest the discriminatory treatment they are receiving at the hands of religious zealots.
Speaking of zealots, Pat Robertson comes to mind. He's the worst thing for Christianity's public image since the Crusades. He gets on the television and spouts his exclusionary hate-speak, such as, "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." And then there are the lunatic statements where he claims that hurricanes are the wrath of God inflicted upon sinners.

But don't take my word for it - not any of it. Go read the Bible or another Holy Book and don't just pull out the quote, but study the message. Understand it in the context in which it was written, and come to your own Truth. Truth cannot be found from a televangelist. Truth is between you and God.

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