Friday, January 22, 2010

A Strange Remembrance

On this day in 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that laws restricting abortion were unconstitutional. While we recall this 37 year anniversary, we find ourselves also tuned in to the trial of the man indicted for the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller (a member of an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation). This man has confessed to the killing and justified it by saying that he was preventing lives from being taken by the doctor. On this very day an elderly woman and a young man were pulled from the rubble alive following the devastating earthquake in Haiti over a week ago.

What a convergence! Legalized means of death, justified murder by the murderer, and miraculous rescue of two unexpectedly alive. All three in the news. But think of how they relate...

On the one hand, right to privacy and the autonomy of a person over his or her body trump the rights of the not yet born. On the other is a shameful crime which is justified as righteous (with the immoral argument of the end justifying the means). And in the midst of all of this, the world watches as rescue crews do whatever it takes to steal death away from an earthquake and find two victims alive.

First a couple of observations... abortion will not be ended by making the practice illegal but neither will it be reduced as long as it is considered a morally acceptable choice... Just because it is against the law does not mean that the practice will disappear when and if the law is changed. Those who are pro-life do not campaign for the illegality of abortion because we believe this will end the practice. We do so because there is no morality of a society and a culture when the weakest and most vulnerable are left unprotected and their lives without sanction. We must make abortion illegal not in order to make it go away but in order to secure and protect our culture and our nation from the empty morality that protects the life of but a few. Reducing the instance of abortion will not come through legislation or a judicial ruling, it will come when we teach from an early age the necessity of protecting those most at risk of being oppressed. You win this battle one person at a time. Hopefully the first casualty of this war will be the notion that sex is either safe or without consequence.

...those churches and Christians who believe abortion to be murder must stand against the murder even of one of its purveyors... Our cause is weak and our position untenable unless we condemn the murder of one as much as we condemn the legalized murder of the many. Every church that would presume to be pro-life must condemn violence against the purveyors of its death every bit as much as they condemn the violence it does against those not yet born. No life is unworthy of the respect for life due it and to the one who creates and preserves life. We cannot be selective in the lives we protect and those we feel justified in taking. No. Every life must receive our prayerful and vigilant protection or none will be secure -- not even our own!

...we cannot be allowed to glory in what we do to prevent the death of victims of an earthquake unless and until we learn to apply the same energy and passion to the life of those not yet born... I believe that the people of Haiti deserve our prayerful, financial, and active support in their hour of need. I urge you to contribute to Lutheran World Relief or to LCMS World Relief and to designate your gift to Haiti. But... do you not admit that such concern for those in Haiti requires that we be consistent in our concern for and protection of the not yet born -- or as close as our neighborhoods and communities? Is there not a problem with a morality that works so hard for a country and a people suffering and then stands unmoved and unchanged before the murder of millions at the whim of a medical system and mothers who chose convenience or pleasure without responsibility over truth, life, and mercy?

John Paul II once said that the culture of death went all the way back to Cain and Abel, to one brother who asked "Am I my brother's keeper?" I am not sure about keeper, but I know that at the least I am my brother's brother... the brother to all in need... the brother to the weakest and most vulnerable... the brother to those who have no one else to claim them... the brother of those whose voices cannot yet speak the cry for mercy and justice.

So will you join me in prayer... will you become a member of Lutherans for Life or another organization equally dedicated to opposing choice over responsibility, me over the rights of my weakest brother or sister... will you work for the triumph of mercy -- whether in a Middle East military action against oppression and injustice or a moral stand against the legalized death of abortion... or a compassionate call to look beyond yourself and see into the face of those in need of physical or spiritual care and redemption...

A strange day... a poignant remembrance... a powerful call to be steadfast and immovable in the cause of life, truth, and mercy...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post.

As I watched the news yesterday regarding the trial of Dr. Tiller's murderer, I noted the images of the Lutheran Church (ELCA) where he was killed and the pastor (with his clerical collar). How could this church allow Dr. Tiller to remain a member in good standing? It was clearly known he was a high profile performer of late term abortions. Dr. Tiller's murderer was wrong in doing what he did. He will be judged accordingly. At the same time, this church also bears a heavy sin for allowing Dr. Tiller to remain a member of good standing. If the church won't take a principled stand for life, who will?

James Donnelly