The Right to Life and the Responsibility to Protect It
What is the worst thing that can happen to the Church? Not torture, murder, threats, persecution, or even the whole world conspiring to exterminate her from the face of the earth. That already happened once, and the result was the greatest growth the Church has ever seen.We live in a country (America) that claims (constitutionally) that all people have a right to life. And not just to life, but to a life of dignity. This is why America does not sanction slavery, human trafficking, prostitution, or testing substances on unwilling humans.
The worst thing that can happen to the Church is what is happening to the Church now in the West, namely that the Church is deliberately conforming to the world. This is a betrayal of her primary task, which is to conform the world to Christ. The leader has become a follower. The Lion of Judah has become tame.
Nowhere has this deadly process been more apparent than in the very thought processes and categories that modern Christians use. They are the categories of the world. What categories? The modern world politicizes everything and imposes the political categories of Right and Left on everything. They are the two knee-jerk categories that save us from the awful necessity of thinking through issues on their own merit.
Understanding the love of God frees us definitively from the domination of these two secular political categories.
Excerpted and abridged his book “The God Who Loves You”. (Emphasis added)
However, we live in a country that contradicts itself. A country where the constitution claiming that we have been endowed by a creator with the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would now be ruled unconstitutional. For to say that we have been endowed by our creator with rights that no one can take away would be to recognize that many of our laws are unjust and that there is a moral standard that we cannot define. This is becoming an issue not just for our politicians but for our every-day people as well. We no longer live in a culture of life but in a culture of death and violence.
Society tells us that we have a right to be happy, a right to do whatever we want to do "as long as we 'don't hurt anyone else.'" That we have a right to the pursuit of happiness and freedom. And we do, but most true of any of the beliefs that we - especially us Christians - hold is that human life is sacred. Man has the right to life.
Just about every legal code in the ancient world had dire consequences for the slaying of a human being. Scripture tells us Christians clearly that the law does not define the sanctity of life, for when Abel was murdered by his brother, Cain, God punished Cain for the stealing of life - before the law was implemented.
Communism states that a person gets its worth from society.
Christianity states that society gets its worth from its people.
Life is important because it is. We were created with an immortal soul, with free will and intelligence - no other creature in the universe, not animals, not angels, not anything, has both of these. But we were given both as gifts. We were given the unalienable right to life. Our rights are not dictated by our potential, by what we can contribute to society, or by what society says our rights are. Our rights are innate, inalienable, and "endowed by our creator."
This is why the Nazis had to brainwash their followers into believing that the Jews were not human but vermin. This is why those who propose mass genocide have to put down and de-humanize their enemies to get their followers to kill hundreds or thousands of people. This is why we had to define that, regardless of skin color, a human is a human.
We do not have the right to a car at 16, a plush bank account, designer clothes, or our dream job. We do, however, have the right to food, water, clothing, and shelter. We have the right to access health, home, work with just wage, family, culture, health care, expression of culture, and religion. We should never be forced to do something that violates our consciences. In short, all people have the right to life, dignity, and respect, regardless of their walk in life, regardless of where in life they are.
Our constitution claims this is irrevocably true. And it not only claims it is true, but it emphasizes how important and crucial it is to our nature and our society: We cannot be free to pursue happiness if we are not free, and we cannot be free if we have not life. Therefore, the heart of all American policies - national, state, local, or school-board wide - should be the dignity of the human person. Not one of us can create life. We can be cooperators and procreator as parents, but we cannot create life, we cannot will it into existence. God alone can do that. We are merely caretakers and guardians of life.
And our being caretakers and guardians is not an option, it is a responsibility. By the very nature of our being alive, we have a responsibility to protect others, especially those most vulnerable and those most in need of our help. Pope John XXII, in 1963, wrote an encyclical titled Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), where he wrote,
"Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with a maximum determination." (38)
This understanding should affect our actions, but in the political sphere and out. We have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves. We do not have the option of sitting aside and letting the world go to the dogs. We are supposed to be the caretakers of the world, and we must care for it.
We have an obligation to vote for the candidate who will best support and protect the sanctity and dignity of every human life - those closest to us and those far from us. We cannot be "single-issue" voters. We have to look at the entirety of a politicians policy. And we must choose the person who will best support all those in need, not just those we have to see every day or feel most strongly about. We have to stop looking at the titles people wear and the stances of "republicans" or "democrats" and start looking at what we as humans, as Christians should fight for. Neither the republicans nor the democrats have it all right. And guess what? That's OK! It makes voting hard, but we are not supposed to just go with the flow and vote because of a title. We have to vote for what is actually important - what protects life and the dignity of humanity.
But almost more importantly, we must allow this ideology to permeate everything we do. Our discussions should be geared toward that which most supports the dignity of human life. We should support those things that support life. We should not be ashamed of supporting events and groups that support life. We must do all of this in love, but we must do it.
How can we do this?
- We can support groups like 1flesh.org, Abolish Human Abortion or share their images (which these came from).
- Support films like The40Film, All That Remains, Bella, and October Baby.
- Change what you talk about and how you talk about things related to these issues.
- Re-evaluate some of the things that you've always been taught are right in light of the right and sanctity of life. Knowing that life is sacred, what does that mean in regards to the death penalty, abortion, the day after pill, contraception, nuclear and biological warfare, immigration, welfare, health care, sexual orientation. and any other heated issue. (Hoping to write some blog posts about some of these at some point). You may find that your opinion is unchanged. But you may find that, in some cases, your opinion has to be changed.
- Write awesome snarky blog posts like this one comparing our situation in America today to the Lord of the Rings. (Though I disagree with his casting all democrats as the bad guys and all republicans as the good guys) or the two "letters to the president" blog posts by Marc Barnes (On the HHS Mandate. On the 'Accomidation'.)
"Without cost you have recieved; without cost you are to give." (Mt 10:8)