Friday, May 29, 2009

Since this just went public: a response to a couple comments down below

Since this discussion is now reaching a larger audience, I ought to clarify something. My basic philosophical and theological position has always been that laws are secondary to changed hearts. You can push this all the way back to Exodus 20, or even to the Abrahamic Covenant. God calls, God delivers, and only then does God lay down his expectations, his 'rules,' if you will. "I am the Lord your God, who delivered you out of Egypt. . .You shall have no other Gods before me." Grace comes first. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." "Therefore, since you have been saved, make every effort to. . ." Salvation, grace, redemption precede obedience and expectation.

So, in essence, I agree wholeheartedly with Ann's opening comments in the abortion thread below. In many cases, laws will only accomplish so much; if we aren't working on the human issues behind those laws, then we may cause more harm than good. I know the argument against that one - the William Wilberforce argument, that laws were necessary to end slavery; in the same way, the desperate plight of the slaughter of so many unborn children demands we pass laws to protect them. I understand that thinking; in fact, I would lean in that direction myself. However. . .while I would support laws limiting abortion for the sake of saving those children, that has not been my primary calling. I recognize and respect those who have a calling to the legal/governmental field. Well, most of them. I'm still not sure about Randall Terry. But, in general, I support the cause of those in the Kingdom who are pursuing this from a legal standpoint.

But I realized a long time ago that my calling is a different one. My calling is more along the lines of Ann's comment - to work toward healthy communities, to call people to Christ's message of sacrifice for the weaker and the marginalized (note: if you take that seriously, I think it puts you in the odd place of being both pro-life and a feminist as historically women have been the marginalized ones, and babies/children the weakest of the weak. I know. . .you can tear that apart.) 15 years ago I was part of a very conservative Bible Church, who regularly took part in voting drives and anti-abortion protests. Somewhere in there I realized we were defining ourselves as over and against, rather than coming alongside of. And even though I had yet to spend time among the Mennonites, I found myself feeling uncomfortable by this division, this violence in our language, this hatred being spewed in the name of Christ. The idea of being an alternative community, being salt and light, grace and peace was non-existent; it was all about power and control. And I realized I needed to do something different.

Since then, my passion and work have gone into coming alongside of people who feel marginalized, people without options, people who feel alone, people in broken situations, and leading them toward the healing power of Christ's Spirit. For me, it's been about building healthy communities where Christ's power infuses his people in such a way that they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the poor in prison, look after widows and orphans in their distress, AND stand up to injustice and oppression, side with the orphan and the immigrant, break the bonds if oppression. In other words, being the Kingdom of God, rather than forcing the Kingdom of God onto people.

So. . .back to the post a couple days ago. I was challenged in a response for the notion that I was supporting laws without thinking through the consequences of those laws. And I freely admit, I'm guilty. But not because I've been blindly supporting the laws; it's more that my efforts and endeavors have been put elsewhere. So the question was less about "hey - I'm an idiot for not thinking through my own position," the question was more put out there for those who have spent their time and energy into the legal side of things: I was echoing Hugo's question, recognizing that, perhaps, those who come along here are the real target of Hugo's question. My 'audience' would be more representative of the pro-life side, or so I assume, anyway. And I was really curious about the response, again assuming that people out there had thought this through, had spent more time crafting a response. I was curious what those people had to say.

So, all that to say, if you come in here, I just want you to know that I'm not your caricatured version of the anti-abortion crowd. While philosophically I am opposed to what I see as the taking of human life, and while generally I would vote for laws limiting abortion, the legal options are secondary to my greater desire to see God's Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven, but to come as Christ came, giving himself away, choosing love over violence, humility over power, freedom over coercion, sacrifice over control.


Anonymous said...

Well, you have to realize that you're not changing any hearts by giving the impression that you don't think through your positions and don't care about women. This is a very important issue to women, and if you haven't thought about it, that shows that the well-being of post-abortive women is not very important to you. People tend to think about the things that are important to them, no?

There's a reason your side has a reputation for only caring about the pre-born, not the post-born, and not having women's best interests at heart. I could understand if you were thoughtfully conflicted, but never having considered the issue reflects a deplorable indifference to the well-being of post-abortive women.

I just don't think you can get off the hook by saying that's not where your interests or talents lie. I think you *have* been blindly supporting these laws-- I read your apologia to say that you've just been looking the other way, which is the same thing, for *decades*. Years and years and years, and you never once wondered what might become of these women? I think it's indefensible.

You are supporting a policy, and you should accept some accountability for its consequences. So take a position and defend it, if you can.

Ann said...

Dan, your sentence describes my position, too: "note: if you take that seriously, I think it puts you in the odd place of being both pro-life and a feminist as historically women have been the marginalized ones, and babies/children the weakest of the weak." I think this is only an "odd place" because of the political debate, and because feminists have been perceived as combative and argumentative women, rather than as women assured of their worth and assertive of their views (being graceful without being destructive in either assurance or assertion). And, by the way, my perception of you from our acquaintance is that you're both thoughtful regarding issues and caring of women!