Christ turned to the inquiring pharisee
and asked for a coin. Pointing to the likeness
imprinted on the metal disk he asked, "who is
this?". "Caesar" was the reply. "Then", Christ
advised, "render unto Caesar that which is
Caesar's and unto God what is God's".
Is Christ's answer
regarding allegiances timeless? 'Pertinent to contemporary
democratic government? Is it possible to 'render unto Caesar'
while actually BEING a self-governing 'Caesar'...and still
withhold the more proper portion of our faith for
that which is God's? The resolution of these questions
continues to be a challenging interpretive task, particularly
when those distinctions between civil law and the rights
of all citizens and the religious persuasions and the rights
to maintain them seem to be working at cross purposes.
Since the builders of the American constitution forbade the
creation of a 'state' religion while guaranteeing the freedom
of worship, the resultant 'balance' produced by this simultaneous
restriction and privilege draws us as American citizens into
a situation not unlike what courts might refer to as 'personal
recognizance'; that is the encouragement of individual faith
by the inhibiting of state religion...
And this delicate balance between the competing concerns
of faith and control is also found in us as individuals.
given the complexity of the multi-leveled concerns that make
up the abortion 'issue', it is understandable then that one
of the common assumptions within the christian community
is that to allow the Roe vs Wade decision to stand is tantamount
to giving 'permission for murder'. But we need to be reminded
that the Roe vs Wade decision is not a ruling about the 'rightness'
or 'wrongness' of abortion. It is more particularly a high
court's considered opinion as to whether, and to what degree,
a person's moral accountability is to God or to the state.
(Actually and ironically, the reversal of Roe vs Wade could
provide the legal precedent for the state to 'monitor' the
fetal development of its future citizens and, though such
control is certainly not the vision of pro-life forces, neither
is it beyond the scope of a government grown repressive and
whose exercise of control and 'concern' becomes more important
than the freedom of its people.)
In a country as diverse in its ethnic base as America, some
concerns of the individual cultures will blend some will
not. "Life has no quality without Freedom" say some. "You
have to give up your life to find Life" say others. "Come
to Me..." whispers our Creator. "Within Me there is the resolution
of all conflict. Within my Love there is True Freedom. Within
my Love there is Life Everlasting."
I do believe that even the most oppositional of perspectives
are healed within God. Many would call this 'faith', though
after over twenty years as a Christian I find it many times
to be just as much a 'trust based on past experience'. Still,
call it what you will, by virtue of this trust/faith, I have
come to accept some significant concepts as Truth.
For instance, I hold as true that the uniqueness of personhood
is present at conception though it is a fact that a child
in the womb is NOT physically separate from the mother. However,
while I may feel spiritually certain that a mother and child
ARE each known uniquely in the Mind of God, it is after all
MY certainty and possibly not that of the woman actually
bearing the child.
Therefore it seems that what is understood as True for one
of us may not be necessarily understood as True for another
until such time as another's faith allows. And, while pregnancy
may represent a joy and a promise to one, it very well may
be an overwhelming responsibility and danger to another.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the 'mandated baby'.
If the mother does not want the child but is nonetheless
forced to bring the pregnancy to full term, who then bears
the responsibility for the infant should the mother still
not want the child after birthing? Do opponents of the roe-wade
decision assume that private adoption agencies will have
enough parents standing in line to adopt the three or four
million children 'saved' annually? Or will the child become
a ward of the state? There's something very orwellian about
the concept of several million babies per year becoming orphans
of the state.
Though many of us have learned that hardships bring growth,
maturity and wisdom, there is no temporal law that commands
us to face hardships with nobility and trust and faith; that
is rather for us to discover...
If we 'render unto Caesar' our moral accountability, we will
find that we have sacrificed the future of even those we
are trying to save. For, it is in the commitment of error,
and yes, occasionally sometimes irreversible, devastatingly
permanent error, that we come to learn certain eternal truths;
our own limitations, and the resultant 'pain' of freedom.
It is lamentable that the 'unborns' die daily; victims of
a battle that began before their conception. But coercion,
violence, selfishness, manipulation and ignorance will not
cease simply because we pass a law forbidding them. One cannot
engender within another heart, by the passage of a law, the
understanding of the preciousness of life or a vision of
pregnancy in its miraculous nature anymore than the granting
of a marriage license can produce a 'desire' to make a marriage
some things we must learn for ourselves...