Abortion

Pro-Life, Protests, and the Hopes for the Proliferation of the Truth Through Grace and Love

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

It's not the easiest discussion to have and yet a few days ago, when a friend posted THIS article, I felt compelled to begin a conversation and explore what it means to rightfully stand for a Pro-Life agenda while not compromising a Christ like mindedness and nonviolent mission. I do agree and understand standing for pro life values. Yet, the judgmental exploitation of graphic images can cause greater harm to those who have been through abortional issues. I ask the question; is this how Christ would respond to the "woman at the well"? (John 4:1-26) My hope is that as Christ's followers we can learn to respond to these issues with more a Spirit of love!

The Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform has for several years protested against the practice of abortion for several years here in Calgary by posting graphic images to bill boards, and protest signs openly on street corners and in front of clinic buildings. Any unsuspecting passer by from the age of 50 down to 5 would be instantly subjected to the violence of aborted fetuses and gruesome death. Is this really how we should protest against the tragic loss of life due to these issues? Must we force everyone from senior citizens to children to be visually aware of this grotesque misrepresentation of choice?

It is argued that if the sexually explicit images of naked bodies and such could be used to promote sexuality in media, television, and promotional ads; then these graphic images to which the CCBR are using could also be used in the protest against abortion issues. It is true that our culture and society are deeply affected by sexual immorality and we cannot ignore the misuse of such advertising and should likewise protest against such images. Yet, sin is not graded nor quantified. You cannot compare graphics from abortions to sexuality. Nor do I think the acceptance or use of one cancels out or excuses the use of the other.

We as followers of Jesus need to embody a message of protest which lovingly takes the discussion of abortion into the public with a practice of grace and not judgement. But, we must be willing to ask how and who does this also. Statistics may advocate for a faster more immediate response but are always a poor base for Christian social activism otherwise, one man's death would count for nothing! With regards to who... Perhaps only one percent of those who struggle with the contemplation of abortion are reached by the Crises Pregnancy Center but, who's fault is that? We need to have a community which not only embraces the truth but builds a community of openness and interdependence upon one another. One which builds relationships in the practices of grace! Proper Christian activism spends less reliance upon the movement of para-church organization and instead takes the message of truth directly to the heart of the formation of community and church.

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love." Martin Luther King Jr.

Several years ago I remember reading a book by Philip Yancey where he described an art exhibit called something like the Cadaver Museum. In it you would find everything from the preserved lungs of a smoker, the heart of an obese man, bodies riddled with cancer, and even aborted fetuses. It was meant to promote an awareness to the many health issues and effects they have on the human body. A small portion of it I believe came through the Glenbow Museum here in Calgary maybe a year or so ago. The city was shocked and in an uproar as to the ethical issues this placed on them and yet the display was not public nor visible unless you actually went into the exhibit yourself.

Do I think graphic and violent images can be shared in the Spirit of love? the short answer is yes, but not in the way the CCBR chooses to do so under their understanding of love. Yes, the CCBR does have the freedom to protest and yet true freedom is not the ability to do what you want to do. Freedom is not the ability, the right, to do what I want to do. Freedom is the power to do what we should do. I do not protest the CCBR's RIGHT to protest; I protest the WAY they choose to protest!

It is true that many war memorials and Holocaust Museums have horrible graphic images as to the atrocities the Jews and others have been through. Yet, these images are not paraded and displayed on the street corners for any and all to see. They are shared in places and environments which build bridges of relationship and foster healing and not deconstructive separations between absolute rights and wrongs.

King David had committed a horrible sin; he had committed adultery and after it was discovered he would be exposed, he then committed murder to cover it up. The prophet Nathan rather then convicting him the the public courtyards then took him aside, and he told him a story of a a rich man who stole a poor man's lamb. David was enraged by this sin and it was only after this that Nathan told him that it was him and David repented remorsefully for he knew that God was the one speaking to him. (2 Sam. 12:1-15)

I ponder whether the outcome of this story would have been different should Nathan had forcibly convicted David in the public eye. If we have learned anything as followers of Jesus, it's that we should not scare at the images of violence in this world. Were it not so then the cross would have no meaning. Jesus promised us, "In this world you will have tribulation." Yet we cannot allow those images to be used outside of a Christ like manner. We cannot dismiss that it is not us who will overcome but the amazing graces of Jesus who has "overcome the world." (John 16:33)

"Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” - John 21:20-22

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Broken

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I starred blankly at the news screen as they described the story of a stranger who was listening and after hearing the faint cries of a baby, leapt into a garbage bin. After peeling away the layers of garbage they took off their shirt and wrapped it around a new born boy who with its umbilical cord still attached was rescued from the clutches of death. It wasn't until later that the stranger would find out that he was not a stranger at all but the unexpecting father of the child. Let's face it; it’s a story we have all heard so many times before. We cry out in frustration, "What's wrong with that person!" "How can they just not know...?"

A Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces is arrested and charged with sexual deviance, rape, murder, and other horrific charges. Teenagers are found gang raping teenagers in the school yard. And prostitution is legalized in certain states and provinces. It all seems so wrong, so decayed, so grotesque, so... Broken.

I was four years old when I was exposed to the realities of a broken world. My mother worked long days and would leave me at a day home behind our condo in SW Calgary. I remember the lady running the home would keep us locked in the basement all day exclaiming, "That's where children belong." Usually with a few "F" words in the mix.

It was here that the eldest daughter of the lady who ran the home began taking me with her to the darker corners of the basement. I don't remember much, but I remember that I spent most of my childhood trying to hide it and make sure no one ever found out. Most importantly, I tried to make myself forget it ever happened because I thought it was my fault. I was Broken.

I was broken and because I was broken the world will never look the same to me again. The world has become a place of overt violence with battlefields in every marketing advertisement plastered on the billboards and storefronts in shopping malls and road ways; in snippets of film, movies, television, and commercials as they provocatively  exploit the psyche of human relational conjecture; in the one liner jokes we so innocently speak to one another with; and in the headlines of news media leading to social judgements based upon the bias of social and personal exclusion from the stories context.

My Brokenness has caused me to become angry. Why can we not see the exploitation of human sexuality and relational identity as the violence which it truly is? Why has it become normal to treat human sexuality as a consumer product and individual right rather then a relational identity and spousal gift? I suppose the reality to which I found is that I am broken, just as everyone is has been broken. The world is Broken.

Jesus' brother James gives us something we can use in our brokenness. He wrote and called us to, "confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." and promised us that, "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (James 5:16-17)

I don't have all the solutions to the broken realities of our world but I do believe James is right. We need to first recognize our own Brokenness; and once we've accepted that we need to expose it, confess it to those around us, and talk about it. When we can be open and real with one another about the struggles we have, the challenges and fears that are a part of our lives; we can be honest in the midst of communal grace and truly seek to transform those realities. Then we can see the real beauty, the real gifts God has placed in our lives.

Secondly, we need to pray for one another as well as ourselves. Speaking to God about our need for healing and openly asking for his hand in our broken reality brings an internal connectivity which reaches to the very depth of our created being as it was meant to be. In Jeremiah God speaks to us saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)

Lastly, we must live with grace for one another; accepting that we are all Broken in a reality to which none of us can ever fully understand, experience, or comprehend. Forgiveness is not always easy to work out but, judgment is never ours to make lest our own judgments come upon our own brokenness.

This world will never be the same to me as it will never be the same for you. I will pray for you though just as I pray for the Broken people which I wrote of in the beginning of this post. I hope you would do the same for me.

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Campolo's Justice: Reflections & Thoughts

global_justiceAfter visiting with Bonnie's mom in the Rockyview Hospital and grabbing a quick dinner at Montana's we headed to Ambrose College to hear Tony Campolo speak on his views of Social Justice and the role of Christ's followers. I wish that I had invited a few more friends from MTC to come hear him speak but since I had only known about it for the past week it was difficult to let the others know in good enough time; not to mention that it was a week night and therefore harder to get people to come out. Anyways, we were both looking forward to it and I knew Bonnie would like his comedic storylines. Needless to say we had a few laughs throughout the night and we both got into quite a deep conversation during the drive home about the things we reflected on in his presentation.

WWJD - "What Would Jesus Do?"

I think it was the late 80's when I first heard the question and terminology "What Would Jesus Do?" It was thought provoking and most definitely influential in the way I think many approached their daily activities. Campolo seemed to talk a fair bit about this in the early parts of his presentation with particular stories of how it influenced his thoughts and actions during the Korean War. It was funny listening to him talk about arguing with his CO's (military lingo for Commanding Officer) about whether or not Jesus would drop a bomb on the enemy. Coming from a military family though, I find in the reality of the situation that I highly doubt he put up much of an argument less he spent much of his drafted career in the military stockades.

wwjdThe question of "What Would Jesus Do?" has always bothered me though throughout the last decade. If it is implying "What would Jesus do?" then it seems to have an unspoken assumption and bias that he is not currently already present and doing it. This assumption marginalizes and then prejudges contexts and individuals according to the biases and beliefs of a specific person. So that when an individual deems that a person is non- Christian, pagan, unbaptized, and apart from "the Church" it is assumed they are without God and Jesus has nothing to do with or in there lives.

Bonnie and I began to picture how this looked in relationship to our own contexts. After visiting with Bonnie's mom in the hospital it was easy to identify with how here mom struggled to see how Jesus was a part of her life. It was true that she was not baptized, she did not really know how or in what way to approach prayer and understanding God's Word in her life, and she was not really a part of a specific church but; she did know love, she did have family who prayed with and for her, and she did care and show compassion for others. She may not have known Jesus in the personal and intimate sense but Jesus does know her!

For Bonnie and I then the question was not "What Would Jesus Do?" but rather, two fold; "What Is Jesus Doing?" and "How Can We Do It With Him?"

"The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him." - John 1:9-10

Power & Authority

Campolo's views on Power and Authority really resonated with me. Particularly in his statement that, "The Church needs to speak to the effects of sexual immorality in our culture with authority." It seems very much that the Church speaks more with the implied essence of power to our culture today rather then with authority and integrity; particularly when it comes to sexual immorality. It gives off a sense of arrogance and false self pride as the Church dictates judgments over homosexuality, promiscuity, and immoral social and economical habits.

Please do not get me wrong. I believe there are great reprehensible consequences to participating in such activities but, as followers of Jesus we must let the presence of integrity and personal life actions give authority to our voice as a church and not let ego or institutional religious conviction be a determining factor to action or voice.

I sometimes wonder if our personal understanding of time is a consequence to our rash actions and convictions as a church and as individuals. Rather then letting our authority of culture and society be shaped through the journey of relational time giving with the focus on communal practices which go beyond any one person or life span; we want change in the time span of now so that we can "see it" and perhaps receive personal recognition for it. Perhaps it is better to receive and recognize the unstated recognitions of Jesus' promises rather then risk the dangers of worldly acknowledgments throughout history both good and bad.

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence oearth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is wthe second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:11-15

[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/02-freedom.mp3] The Katinas - Roots - Freedom

Pro Life and the Right to Choose

Throughout the night Tony alluded to issues surrounding the crisis of the infant mortality rate in the United States and the implications of abortion as a woman’s right to choose. Although not spending a lot of time on these issues it seemed he had a very strict black and white approach to such medical practices. I wish he spent more time on this subject.

Abortional practices I believe can have a great strain on ethical responsibilities particularly when we approach the issues of the right to choose as being more of a self motivating principle. However, it is anything but a Black and White issues. Nor do I think we have a right to stand as judge and jury over the past actions of individuals who have been involved or affected by the history of such practices.

If we are to have faith that God can and is working through the power of Jesus' death on the cross then we must allow for the practices of grace to extend to the many gray issues in life such as euthanasia and abortion. Let me make this clear; I am not an advocate for either practice. I simply think that as followers of Jesus we need to spend more time dialoguing and exploring these issues together in close proximity to prayer rather then insulating and retreating from such issues. Ignorance cannot be an excuse for our lack of action or involvement in any of these issues. It is our love, compassion, and unconditional acceptance of those who have been affected by such issues which will allow for communal growth and restructure in such areas of society.

Stagnation and the Lack of Social Involvement Regarding the Church

Towards the end of the night one of the Profs on stage asked a question relating to Social Activisms and Church Involvements. I must confess that I do not remember the question verbatim but in paraphrase I believe it was stated, "What do you think is causing stagnation to the Churches involvement in Social justice and communal activism?"

This is where I think Tony's response was perhaps most sketchy and lacking in structure. He articulated a great depiction of how the Church has maybe become a little influenced by a slave mentality to the social norms of consumer practices. Personally I wonder if he isn't cutting it a little short. If I were to state it I would think that the Church is perhaps falling into the pattern of Religious Institutionalization and the idolization of perpetuating imperialistic or dogmatic practices. I might refer to a previous post I wrote awhile ago called The Christian Church, Ideologies, and Some Random Thoughts (Click Here).

angelina_and_babyIn following his picture of enslavement, Tony gave some basic encouargement for those listening just to go and be involved with social environments with particular focus on adopting children through World Vision. This is a great avenue to being active in the social justice movement but in honesty it seems lacking in substance, structure, and purposeful meaning or mission. If we are to be truly active in the Social Justice Movement both as a Church and as individuals we need to be deeply rooted as missional incarnations and followers of Jesus.

I know that in the conversations of missional and organic practices incarnational living can be diverse in nature and in a lot of ways I think that is the way it should be as God intended his creation to be creative, unique, and diverse. But, with any of these identities it is always important to be first locally present and culturally attuned to the needs, practices, and proximity of those around us; both those who are in the majority and those who are in the marginalized minorities.

As for Bonnie's and my structure... We just live for Expressions.