Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

SERMON: “The Right to Life” by the not-so-reverend bob

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

The rising visibility of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum — as well as President Obama’s recent executive order (that triggered such a backlash from the evangelical community) — has made the cultural tug-of-war over the unborn a front-and-center topic once more.

Back in my Christian days, I was basically told that “pro life” was the only Godly view, so I stood uncomfortably on the steps of the Colorado capitol building one January day in 1979 to protest the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Christian no longer, I am now “uncomfortably” pro-choice.  Not because I have doubts about a woman’s right to exercise control over her own body, but because I don’t think that the volitional deletion of a potential fellow human is ever going to be a simple thing for anyone to deal with.  But this is not — as I think about it — a notion that flows from any sense of morality (at least any Divine morality), but more from a deep awareness of the apparent fact that we only get this “one life” to lead, and as such, it is a fairly precious thing and not to be taken (or taken away) lightly.

But I think another part of my feeling on the issue comes from the sheer driving force of the life impulse.  I think this “drive” is a most basic expression of any living cell, and that this mindless impulse is so much a part of our makeup that it naturally finds a sort of expression in our consciousness (which is, after all, a product of the living tissue that supports it).

Having said that, I think that many who are so fervently pro-life carry their beliefs in a kind of fact-free vacuum, lacking in much of any perspective about the biological reality of life as it actually exists.  The very natural tendency of us humans to see “the world” in the smallest possible units of our immediate environment, friends and family mitigates against seeing the world, life and ourselves as we really are.  In short, it’s hard for us to move from a personal/local view to a world/global one.

What does this mean?  It means that we think of life in mystical, almost fairy-tale like ways.  We talk about the “miracle of life” like it is a baby-factory of immaculate perfection that certain evil-humans are attempting to subvert with abortion and birth control.  What we ignore (and probably with good cognitive reason) is just how messy life really is.

The fact is that right now every living thing that exists on the planet is maintaining it’s existence by feeding off of something else.  In the case of animals and insects (and humans), that means actively killing another living creature in order to convert it’s energy stores into our own (and plants count on that score).  We don’t like to confront this.  So we have cartoon tuna or funny Holstein cows selling us our fish or chicken sandwiches.

But what about the actual miraculous baby factories that human women possess (and that the religiously-conservative seem to want dominion over)?  Up to half of all fertilized eggs die before the women know they are pregnant.  Known miscarriages occur about 15-20% of the time.  Still births occur approximately 1 in every 115 births (in the U.S. alone, that’s about one every twenty minutes).  The March of Dimes estimates that 3-5% of United States babies are born with birth defects.

I’m not good at math, but it seems to me that “nature” is killing roughly 70% of us humans before we even get out of the gate!

These are sobering numbers.  But when you understand that biology is a natural process (and have some familiarity the fact that genes mutate with regularity) these are not surprising statistics.  If, on the other hand, you think that God has made all things wisely and wonderfully, well, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.

Things are not as the religious believer thinks they are.  But they have reason to continue to see things in simpler terms.  Irrational belief is irrational because it must exist in spite of countering facts and information.

The larger issue I see is that the overly-religious hold desperately to a set of “facts” (really just mythical notions) in order to preserve what they see as the “dignity” of life, even if in order to preserve that sense of dignity, thousands of living women and children must suffer for it.  What is gained is, to my view, so little for such a high human cost.  Whereas if the hyper-religious could be willing to accept the grim realities of biological life on this spinning planet of rare beauty they might come to a truer appreciation of the actual value and preciousness of life.

In this as in so many other areas, religious “truth” that is ballyhooed as having the power to “set one free” does nothing of the kind.  By fearing a reality that threatens their world view, believers live in a world even darker than the one they imagine awaits to consume them (should they ever let down their guard).

Proverbs 22:13 says: “The slothful man says, There is a lion outside, I shall be slain in the streets”.  This, I think, perfectly sums up the fundamentalist mindset.  In order to forestall an imagined future evil that is not real, many smaller genuine evils are visited upon the innocent women who are faced with difficult life decisions in the here and now.

There may be good and solid reasons to think twice about abortion, but irrational religious belief is not one of them.

t.n.s.r. bob