A Pro-Life Confrontation with My Conscience
Mark Twain once said, “Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.“
Such would be a rather uneventful existence. One free from the friction of discord with foes, rigorous labor, and the inevitability of introspection. But our lives are not that predictable and ordinary. And our efforts to secure this kind of perpetual calm would surely be frustrated by life’s inconveniences. Tonight, my life was interrupted, demonstrating yet again that Twain’s utopia is far from ideal. The interruption came not by phone call or knock at the door. Rather, the latest party-crashing came by that thing we call conscience; our personal compass that connects humankind to God.
GOD SHOWS UP IN THE MOST INCONVENIENT TIMES
This evening’s debate between Vice President Job Biden and Senator Paul Ryan produced a smorgasboard of political fodder for the campaigns, political parties, pundits, media, and rank and file party faithful. I arrived at this debate, a staunch 2012 elections boycotter whose reasons for sitting out this year’s vote were many. During the course of the debate, Ryan reminded viewers that the next president will most likely appoint one or two Supreme Court Justices. Ryan’s reminder was nestled between other words that defined the choices before the American public and Ryan’s particular commitment to a Pro-Life value. And after months of promoting elections boycotting, to the chagrin of my friends and associates, the guest of that inner voice and the conduit through which the Lord speaks, found me confronting my decision to boycott.
My thoughts moved from Ryan’s comments to drawing a mental picture of me standing before the Throne of God. He was reviewing my life and the review came to 2012. “Kenneth“, the Lord spoke to my spirit, “I watched you standing on my word regarding the murder of unborn babies.”
In the vision, my posture before the throne grew calm with an assurance that I had done something that pleased God. Then God continued, “But I have an issue with you.“
“Yes, Lord“, I answered.
“Well, Kenneth, I noticed that you boycotted the 2012 election“, God said.
Confident that my principles would honor God I replied, “Father, I boycotted because the American political system grew so corrupt that the very voting franchise itself was diminished to rubble.”
Then God startled me, “That I understand. But what disturbs me is, as much as you talked about supporting life and as much as you know that pleased me, why did you forfeit your only opportunity to vote for a candidate who, for all you knew, could have been the last of your lifetime willing to appoint Supreme Court Justices to reverse the sin of abortion that has claimed 54 million babies. People died simply for the right to vote. And you did not vote when a cause so great was set before you.“
A TIME TO DIE
Each of us dies one time. Christians believe that time of passage through death’s door is appointed by God. [Hebrews 9:27] Beyond the bodily death that is common to mankind is a death Christians are called to endure each day of our lives. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” [John 12:24 NIV]
Dying is the daily vocation for those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Death is the indispensable pursuit for which we are called. After four decades of subscribing to the Christian faith, I can attest to the continual need of God’s grace to grow in this area. C.S. Lewis said, “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ.” And yet, the debate, and specifically, what followed Ryan’s comments call me to die in order to help others (unborn babies) avoid death.
What I had committed to and developed a case for, electoral boycotting, was now being challenged. Not by appeals of photos arriving in my email messages of blacks hanging in trees for the right to vote — something I found as a cheap trick to guilt-trip blacks into voting for President Obama. The challenge came not by some renewed hope in the American political system. No concerns economic, fiscal, or environmental had moved my concern for either candidate winning The White House. But in those few seconds, what Mahatma Gandhi called the “court of conscience” had interrupted my plans for this political season.
Obviously, no one can gauge with certainty who will win the presidential election. Former Governor Mitt Romney might win in close election or lose in a landslide. For that, I am not accountable. However, when I stand before the Lord, there will be others there who arrived in Heaven as a result of an abortion. I simply want to hear the Lord say, “When I spoke to you, Kenneth, you responded. And because you and others heard my voice, so many other unborn babies avoided that death tunnel of abortion and were given an opportunity of life.“
This evening, as I consider the upcoming choice that Americans will be making, there cannot be a more pressing issue. Further, it is inconceivable that a greater motivation exists than the Lord saying, “Well done“. For these reasons, I am moving away from the election boycotting position in which I have invested intellectual capital in order assume a position strictly determined by matters of faith.
America needs the pro-life candidate to lead us in ridding ourselves of the egregious sin of murdering unborn babies. Our inalienable rights, extended by a Holy God have never and will never include the right to deny human rights to unborn babies. This irony of ironies we have accepted to shield us our national conscience that knows better. That shield was on display this evening as Joe Biden, when asked about murdering unborn babies, alluded to his Catholic religion and then proceeded down the path of discussing fairness for poor and disadvantaged Americans. These are laudable aims, indeed. But the question is one of murdering unborn babies. We can be sure that before God’s Throne, that question or murder will not be so easily avoided.
Treatment of the abortion issue during the debate highlighted a profound choice about leadership. Ryan responded to the moderator’s question in a way that will cost the Romney-Ryan votes; sadly even some votes of Christians who espouse some mythical “right” that God never granted. Conversely, the Biden response was intended to secure votes , irrespective of God’s will for our nation. Real leadership is sacrificial leadership; a principal tenet of the Christian faith. That sacrifice has cost people throughout the history of our nation. As such, I can no more sit on the sideline of choice on the matter of babies being murdered no more than Christians during the 17th century could justifiably sit on the sidelines as Europeans and Americans were making economic choices to enslave Africans.
CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS
1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,
who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:
2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence,
wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if
we walked according to the flesh.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God
to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself
against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ;
[2 Corinthian 10:1-5]
The Apostle Paul writes that Christians are to cast down imaginations that comes against the what we know of God’s will. The NIV reading better captures verse 5 that we are to “demolish arguments”. This follows from the Greek transliteration of “argument” as logismous; the word from which we derive logic. As I consider the abortion issue, the prevailing pro-abortion arguments are couched in reasoning that exalts itself above the Lord.
Abortion is a Right in A Free Society. The very idea of pro-choice conjures up notions of freedom, but disguises the moral limits of freedom. This is no just freedom to commit murder, whether the victim is outside the womb or inside the womb. Choice without context is amoral. It is meaningless without a context. The real, inconvenient context is murder, the murder of innocent babies. To be pro-choice is to be pro-murder in the same way that a nation that would stand idly by during genocide is complicit in it. Unfortunately, African Americans know this well, but have politically-aligned ourselves in a way that represses the mandate before us. In 1960, what would our response had been to bystanders of jim crow, who left that way of life up to choice? Surely, our grievance over segregation would not have been quieted by some idea that states had the right to choose separate but equal. Murder is not a right, and certainly not an unalienable right to choose. To the contrary, the pro-life position affirms the aspirations of our Founding Fathers, extending the right to life to the unborn living.
Complexities of Rape and Incest. Invariably discussions about abortion evolve to a conversation about rape and incest. The argument is at-best a distraction from the moral mandate to end this practice. According to Ryan, the Romney-Ryan team supports exclusions for rape and incest. These are sensitive matters and deserve our attention. However, raising rape and incest does not justify abortion, but rather, serves as a political cover to prolong confronting our national conscience. In 2004, The Guttmacher Institute surveyed 1,209 abortion patients at 11 providers to analyze why women have abortions. It’s findings, published in paper entitled Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives, cited reasons “Was a victim of rape” and “Became pregnant as a result of incest” in 1% and <0.5% of abortion cases, respectively. Rationalizing abortion on the basis of rape and incest is tantamount to placing every Muslim in our nation in internment camps based on the premise of finding a relatively small number of radicals affiliated with terrorist organizations. The rape and incest exclusions leave us with moral questions that must also be answered. Nevertheless, by ending abortions, Americans will have crossed 98.5% of the moral hurdle.
The Mother’s Life Moral Dilemma. Another often cited reason for legalizing abortions is the case of circumstances whether the life of the mother is in-jeopardy. The Guttmacher Institute survey indicated that 12% of abortion patients cited health reasons. This, however, does not indicate the mother’s life was in-jeopardy. And I suspect, had that specific reason been included in the survey, the percentage would have been considerably smaller. Further, for the Christian, the Word of God makes a distinction between just and unjust killing. That is, murder is killing, but not all killing is murder. In Scriptures, God says, “Thou shall not kill”. Here, the word kill is Hebrew transliterated, ratsach, or murder. This is confirmed in Matthew 19:18, where Jesus specifically says, “Do not murder”, that is in the Greek transliteration phoneuó, which is to commit intentional (unjustified) homicide. Taking any life necessarily raises moral dilemma, and it should, as God’s gift of life is precious. Such is true for questions of war, capital punishment, and protecting one’s household. Clearly, in cases where the mother’s life is at-stake, we sadly appeal to the Lord in our human frailty for mercy on a difficult decision. We can contemplate this issue, even as we move society forward with a pro-life ethos. We cannot take solace in continuing an immoral practice simply because of the relatively small percentage of cases that require making a choice between two lives.
Other Injustices Beyond Abortion. There was a time I wavered on voting because both major parties engage in activities that conflict with Christian values. I reject the notion that peacekeeping validates our pre-occupation with warfare. Indeed, the very idea is a false narrative that any serious study of the Word reveals. Likewise, I disagree with our callousness about capital punishment, a practice that has layers of embedded injustice. These and other concerns deserve our attention. However, the murder of unborn babies is independent of other issues. We can address this issue today and continue our parallel march towards a more just society in other areas.
The Stakes. The pro-abortion lobby has engaged in longstanding mis-information on what exactly is at-stake at The Supreme Court. Some perceive that a conservative Court would strike down laws that permit abortion. However, no Justice on the Court, including Scalia, has ever voted to ban abortion, outright. Justice Scalia has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. But the most ambitious Republican outcome at the federal level would be for the Court to return the matter to the States for their autonomous decision-making.
It is my prayer that others hear the voice of the Lord during this season and vote for life. Indeed, I pray that people of faith honor Life. Make the most of Liberty by influencing society in the things of God. And by doing so, find Happiness in storing up treasures in heaven by this our good works on earth. Finally, I still hold that the integrity of America’s political system is severely compromised. Consequently, I remain an advocate for electoral boycotting and will discuss this topic in a subsequent article.
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