Friday, July 21, 2006

A Consistent Ethic of Life

Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart commented on the Bush veto of the Stem Cell Research bill.



For those of you without sound on your computer or just not wanting to spend five minutes watching Jon Stewart, he basically picked up on the idea that Bush vetoed the bill because in his eyes, it is murder to kill viable embryos for research, but apparently feels that 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths is acceptable to spread democracy. While Stewart eventually takes the argument to the extreme (as he is prone to doing), the argument definitely made me think about it.

Within the broader evangelical movement there seems to be some inconsistency when it comes to the subject of life. For example, we are more than happy to fight for the rights of an unborn child. However, once that child is born, we seem to back away, particularly if that child is lower class. And maybe "back away" is not the best term to use there; maybe conveniently forget is better. Similarly, there are many who feel that the spread of democracy and the protection of Iraqi citizens from the rise of an Islamic fundamentalist regime is of tantamount importance in the Middle East, but the "collateral damage" to those citizens while they are protected is an acceptable cost to the war.

It seems to me this is one of the easiest hole nonChristians to pick at Christians with. If we say we are for life or pro-life, doesn't that mean we are pro-life in all of our doings? If we are for the child in utero, mustn't we be pro-life ex utero? I think it would be an equally strong statement of life for people to offer a choice to women who feel they have no other choice but to get an abortion?

This is difficult because it would be stepping out of comfort zones and offering real, lasting solutions to people and not just slogans we can speak, or petitions we can sign, and then go home and forget about it until the next election year.

All of this calls for a discerning heart and willingness to commit to life, even if it is inconvenient. If Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest, I don't think there's any other stand his followers can make.

4 comments:

JMG said...

I said almost the same thing this morning at my blog.

Great minds think alike!

Phil said...

Or mediocre minds, depending on your point of view...

JMG's great post is here

scott said...

I taught a class a few weeks back on the "seamless garment" theology, or having a consistent ethic of life. I was struck by a quote from Joseph Cardinal Bernadin's landmark speech in 1984:

"The range of application is all too evident: nuclear war threatens life on a previously unimaginable scale; abortion takes life daily on a horrendous scale; public executions are fast becoming weekly events in the most advanced technological society in history; and euthanasia is now openly discussed and even advocated. Each of these assaults on life has its own meaning and morality; they cannot be collapsed into one problem, but they must be confronted as pieces of a larger pattern."

We must be consistent. That means life lost in Lebanon is just as important as those lost in Israel.

Thomas+ said...

Scott's quotation above is apt. Not only for what it says, but for who is saying it.

The Catholic Church has done a vast amount of work in the realm of moral thelogy, and their conclusions far surpass most evangelicals. Compare, for instance, John Paul II's "Culture of Death" teaching to Pat Robertson's call to assasinate the President of Venezuela, and I think you will see what I mean.

One of the great tragedies of contemporary politics has been the Republicanization of evangelical Christianity, and the continued merging of our religion and the most jingoistic of American values. The number of giant SUVs with Jesus-fish stick-ons next to their W--The President stickers is a clear sign, at least to me, of this phenomenon.

Of course, a merging of the Christian faith with liberal politics is just as ugly (see the Episcopal Church), its just not as wide-spread.

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