A Stone’s Throw Away From Compassion

I’m a little riled up over the continued erosion of the constitutional right guaranteed to women in 1973 courtesy of the Roe v. Wade decision. I can’t believe we are still talking about a woman’s right to manage what is going on in her own reproductive system. It’s 2021, but we seem to be moving in retrograde.

In 1973, there were nine men on the Supreme Court. Seven of them voted in favor of Jane Roe, and six of those men were Republican. But, for the past 48 years, conservative religious groups have made it their steadfast goal to overturn the decision of those men. And each and every year in recent memory, conservative states have worked to make obtaining an abortion virtually impossible despite its legality. From instituting mandatory counseling and mandatory waiting periods to discourage women, to slowly diminishing the number of abortion clinics (six states currently only have one abortion clinic) to create a logistical obstacle, women’s right to choose is slowly slipping away state by state. Outlawing abortion, however, does not solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies. We could greatly reduce the number of abortions in this country if we made reliable birth control widely available and affordable. But since many religious groups also believe any form of birth control is anathema and instead promote an abstinence-as-birth-control stance that simply does not work for most humans at sexual maturity, it seems to me that abortions must remain legal.

At its heart, the current abortion debate centers around the religious views of some being imposed upon all women, whether or not they hold those same beliefs. When Governor Abbott of Texas signed their latest, most restrictive anti-abortion legislation on Wednesday, he said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.” What does the “Creator” have to do with citizen rights in a country that was built around the separation of church and state? Religious communities have decided that life begins at conception, making abortion akin to murder. As a non-religious woman, however, I believe that life begins when the fetus is able to survive outside the uterus, which falls somewhere after 24 weeks in most cases. And, even then, a baby delivered at 24 weeks will need medical intervention to thrive. If we agree that a fetus is dependent upon the woman serving as host for its survival until it can viably exist outside the womb, then its rights should not surpass the rights of the woman carrying it. In this case, the chicken comes before the egg.

A plurality of Americans support Roe v. Wade, and a minority are pushing to expunge it. That seems undemocratic to me. If you think abortion is murder, don’t have one. No one is forcing you to abandon a pregnancy you would maintain. And unless your religious group is planning to financially support all the future babies it wants to save from abortion, then we’re kind of stuck because it seems the people who are against abortion are also against creating a welfare state or funding Medicare for all so the baby will have guaranteed healthcare or ensuring affordable childcare so women can work to support the life they must keep. Children are expensive.

I believe in the separation of church and state. I would deny no one their right to practice their own faith according to their beliefs. If you follow Jesus or Buddha or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it’s no business of mine. If your faith says abortion is a grievous sin, you are free to make your sexual and reproductive decisions accordingly. That said, however, I’ll need to you to keep your faith off the body of anyone who isn’t you. You have a right to your religious beliefs, but you don’t have a right to impose them on anyone else, least of all a woman who needs your faithful compassion rather than your judgment. After all, wasn’t it Jesus who said let he who is without sin cast the first stone?

My God Doesn’t Make Junk

There is beauty everywhere.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ~Audre Lorde

This morning while driving the boys to school, we got into another one of our deep discussions about life. In particular, today we were discussing the Bible, Christianity, and love and tolerance for all types of people. Very ambitious subject matter for 8 a.m., I know, but I cherish these conversations with my boys because it’s in them that I see the amazing young men they are becoming.

Today’s conversation started because I was talking about something I had read where two young, gay men had been asked to leave a public place they had every right to be in. In fact, they were told they would be thrown out if they did not leave willingly. This type of exclusion bothers me a great deal. Every time I start to think that as a society and a country we are moving forward with acceptance, I read something like this and my faith in us is diminished a bit. My boys are being raised in a home where it’s acknowledged that homosexuals are the same as heterosexuals except that they fall in love with someone of the same sex. We’re raising our boys this way because 1) it’s what my husband and I believe, and 2) they have family members in same sex relationships and we’ve never wanted our boys to think that it was unusual. We’ve decided the best way to teach tolerance is to discuss it and demonstrate it.

“I don’t know why people care who someone else loves,” I said. “Gay people deserve our respect too. Just because they’re walking a different path doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. If Jesus could love the sinners, beggars, and lepers, why can’t His followers find love for different types of people too?”

“I don’t know.” Luke said. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said with a bit of pride. Then, after thinking about it for a minute he added, “Why does it bother people?”

“Well,” I replied. “many Christians quote the Bible and say God says it’s not right for men to be with other men. Personally,” I said, “I think it’s a little crazy the way people pick and chose things just the things they want to support from the Bible. I mean, do we go an eye for an eye or do we turn the other cheek? You can read an awful lot into Bible text. If every life is precious, then that means the lives of gay people are precious too. If we’re going to chose things from the Bible to follow in our lives, you’d think we’d pick the positive ones…like love your neighbor as yourself.

I allowed for a little pause while the boys chewed on that tidbit.

“Sometimes people fear what they don’t or can’t understand,” I added.

We sat in silence for a minute or so. Then, Joe spoke.

“You know, in the X-Men show we watch, they say humanity crushes what it does not understand.”

“Exactly, Joe,” I replied.

I was so proud of him just then, proud that he understood what I was saying enough to draw his own parallel to support it, even if that parallel was the X-Men. Sometimes my boys surprise me with their wisdom. To explain people’s differences, I tell them what I truly believe. A Christian should follow the example of Christ first and foremost. We are not God and we can’t understand His wisdom, but we can strive to accept that He does not make junk. Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t make it wrong.