Friday, October 28, 2011
Post #27 - Preserving Life
In recent years, many attempt to place Christians entirely at one end of the political spectrum. Worse than that, morality, rather than being a embodiment of Gospel teachings, has become identified with a narrow range of ethical issues, and de-linked from a number of other important concerns. Many of us plead for a more coherent and comprehensive view of how our faith should inform our politics. Sojourners calls this “voting all your values.” If we object to the undermining and destruction of the family, shouldn't we also protest the degradation of the natural creation that God gave us? If morality is our touchstone when it comes to sexual behavior, shouldn't it also be applied to international relations? Consistency in our protection of the life God has given us is absolutely essential.
We can do much better than we have in weaving a seamless garment of respect for life. Any taking of life – abortion, capital punishment, drive-by shootings, aerial bombing or child neglect – should be of concern to all of us. Our thinking has become so warped that we see some lives as precious and others as dispensable. Fr. John Garvey, an Orthodox Christian priest, wrote about it this way:
"...those who call themselves pro-life and defend capital punishment based on the argument that the murderer has forfeited the right to life by taking the life of another...[make] us too important, and God's role as creator a wimpy cameo.
"How I regard the life of a child in the womb...does not matter in the face of the fact that this unique being exists. To argue that it is a tiny collection of cells and therefore unimportant is not far from arguing that it is not so grave a matter to murder a dwarf as it is to murder a giant; and it makes my attitude toward another life more important than that life's existence, its God-givenness.
"To argue that the life of a murderer can be taken because the murderer has violated the life of his victim is to say that the murderer gets to define the limits of the sacred. The terrible fact is that the murderer's life is sacred, because God has willed that life, and none of us has the power to cancel the holiness of having been called into existence from nothingness...Christians have to bear witness to the sacred character of all human beings, no matter how innocent or how guilty, all of them people for whom Jesus Christ died. We are not our own. This applies to the newly conceived baby, and to Charles Manson."
A poem of the Persian poet Hafez expresses the same reverence for life:
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God's palm
As I move through the Earth's
Want to touch
Any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is my
Has happened to my
Understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full
Of wonder and kindness.
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God's body
That is right beneath our own foot,
With precious life
(Poem quoted by Farah Garan, member of a 2006 peace delegation to Iran, in a report on her trip.)