Lesson 10: Pro-Life or Pro-Choice

A cartoon about what it means to protect life.A start to resolving the conflict would be an agreement to converse with one another using creative healing words and to do so as a family that is committed to working things out. The conversation would not be an abstract discussion of natural laws or eternal truths, but an attempt to improve a disturbing situation that causes human suffering.

Just as the members of a family share problems and acknowledges their own part in them, so the conversation would begin with an implicit confession of our participation in society’s sin. We all share some responsibility for the role sex plays in our male-dominated society, not only in rape but also for all sorts of practices that force women to make decisions about abortion.

The conversation would extend compassionate love to all those involved, the fetus and the woman who carries it, as well as every other living person involved. It would recognize that a fetus is a living person who cannot speak for self, but it would also take into consideration that many other living persons suffer without a voice in our society. And that would apply to the woman who carries the fetus if some had their way.

The goal would always be to heal, not aggravate the situation. It would be assumed that you do not sacrifice the attainable good for unattainable perfection. The present society is not the Kingdom of God, but Christianity’s visions of the future still inspire our actions.

The discussion would ask where we can draw reasonable and compassionate lines. That has always been recognized in the “Do not kill” commandment. We consider circumstances such as accidents, self-defense, warfare, intention, maliciousness, extent, etc. With abortion, this involves questions like where personal freedom ends and when it is not appropriate to intervene in the development of life.

Everyone has always drawn the line at least somewhere between taking the life of an animal and a dying person in pain. Often in the abortion discussion, this is presented as determining where life begins between conception and birth. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, might take the line all the way back to the intention in the minds of those choosing to have sex. Today the issue has grown much more complex as technology has blurred, if not decimated, what once were natural beginnings and endings.

But perhaps most important, the conversation should take place as if the pregnant woman and her loved ones were present. That in no way is a rejection of debate seeking to establish ethical principles. It is simply a recognition that compassionate love is called for in this situation. And I at least find it in the nature of Jesus healing the person before him who suffered regardless of the religious law as read by the scribes and Pharisees. Christians have to be very careful going beyond Jesus being drawn to and meeting every human need and in this case, the need must be focused on the pregnant woman

This, of course, is not what is taking place for the most part in the current discussion. It is tempting and easy to begin listing the exploitation of the issue found daily in the news. It is perhaps enough to note the lack of integrity evident in many of the loudest speakers. Hopefully, enough of us will begin a conversation that heals rather than harms.

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3 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Scott Noon says:

    I agree with the cartoon. The pro-life movement should really be called anti-abortionists. They certainly aren’t pro-life. They clearly have more compassion for a fetus than refugees, for example. And many of these pro-life folks support capital punishment.

    The Right likes to call the pro-choice advocates “pro-abortion,” stoking the fire with hyperbole. No one I know is pro-abortion. But I’ve seen too many tragic cases where abortion is a necessary evil. I also believe that governments should not broadly legislate these critical decisions which often happen in fringe, difficult, and deeply personal circumstances.

    The Christian Right has damaged the brands “Christian” and “Evangelical.” And they should never be called “Right.” Back in Jerry Falwell days, I was quick to say, “The moral majority is neither.” I feel similarly about today’s Evangelical movement.

    The main stream church must mobilize to take back our Jesus. The so-called Christians who claim that Trump was anointed by God fail to understand the first commandment.

    I have given up on direct conversation with Trump conservatives who I know personally. Instead, I focus on non-judgmental interactions and modeling Christian love.

    The conservatives I don’t know tend to get the brunt of my frustration. The Q-Anon and Trumpsters spreading misinformation need to be addressed.

    • Fritz Foltz says:

      People who have talked to me about the lesson pretty much agree with Scott. They looked at my efforts to provide guidelines for a public conversation as futile. Some think there is nothing like a public discourse and never has been been. They point to a breakdown in our election process as the primary problem. I think the responses deserve further thought and plan to give some in the next lesson.

  2. Fritz Foltz says:

    I want to post part of Lupe’s email that perfectly critiqued the lesson. Perhaps her experience as a journalist and political prisoner enabled her to see I was trying to be so careful that I became irrelevant. I find her advice to be extremely helpful in correcting this. Here’s some of what she wrote:

    “Everything you say in today’s mail is true. Everything you say is thoughtful and compassionate. But, my dears, you do not sound convincing, or even convinced. The first sentence mentions a way to “converse” with each other. …What we need to do is talk to each other honestly, with affection and truth, and not choose words as if they were pain-medication pills…

    “Almost every word in that first paragraph is “written-style”, not spoken language, which distance the reader, and words like “committed”. “disturbing” and “discussion” taste like a visit to a professional counselor. ..But my dears, and allow my old age to speak here, we do not counsel each other. We hold each other, comfort each other, admire and praise each other, or frankly, criticize and even blame each other.

    No formal, encompassing words define or describe what we do, but we use very basic words for feelings, emotions, grudges, anger or pain. “I’m furious” could be an honest comment, explained further. “I feel disturbed and react with anger” sounds false and rehearsed. I know what you mean, and I agree with you, but in all my years of life, and decades of cork as a journalist I’ve learned that plain words work better to convey true feelings…. This latest letter just rang, somehow, as rehearsed and carefully written sentences of what you think you should say, than what you really would want to say. ”. ..So, again, my dear friends, and you are dear to me, though we have never met in the flesh, I freely accept the fact that I’m imperfectly communicating my reaction, but I promise that every word here is meant and meant with love. I read you always, and appreciate your thoughts, efforts and prayers. Please understand that I believe you could have more impact with less formality. Lupe

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