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Pro-Choice Proponents Declare Themselves Slave Owners

In the U.S. we fought a Civil War over the issue of slavery. The primary issue was the states’ freedoms to conduct themselves without undue deference to the federal gov’t., but the signal division was whether the fed had the right to impose regulation over slavery or to phase it out. The foundational division was over the institution of of human slavery.

The side fighting and dying for the soon or the eventual elimination of slavery won. The side fighting and dying for the continuation of slavery lost.

In other words, we here in the U.S. decided unequivocally that it is illegal and immoral to own people. We definitely established that long ago. I am right, aren’t I?

Yet I have discussions with people regularly who claim that they have a legal and moral right to own human beings.

It is the pro-choice position that a woman may dispose of her own fetus any way she likes because she owns it. I have been told this countless times. Are pro-choice advocates then proposing that an unborn child is her mother’s slave?

Here are the arguments presented to me:

1. A fetus is:

not human

not sentient

not sentient enough

not living

not a separate body from its mother;

2. Therefore, not a possessor of human rights.

3. I own it. I may do as I please with it without consequence:

It is in my body.

It is the same as an organ which I may donate.

I can keep or dispense with it as long as it is dependent on me.

4. It’s settled law.

You have no right to tell me what I can do with my property.

5. Yes, it is my slave. I am its slave owner.

( Note: Often, justifications #1 and #2 are skipped as unnecessary, the sole justification given as “it’s in my body.”)

It seems that  just moral decisions made long ago are still denied. Slavery is alive and well.

 

It is true that in this fallen world, the imposition of power by one over another is inescapable. In many relationship contexts, one party is weak and the other is strong. But under such circumstances, moral people do their best to maintain a just balance. And moral people do their best to mitigate harm. In fact, we the strong are all called upon to defer to the weak, to defend the weak, to protect the weak.

In the context regarding unexpected pregnancy, there are two paths to go down. You can assert the power to rule over your own body, and further, your power to rule over the weaker being in your body. Imposing your rights over hers, and ending her life (violently, since there are no nonviolent methods). Establishing that you are accountable to no one.

Or you can recognize that you are a self-determining adult member of a society, accountable to societal morals. You may even recognize that you are accountable to an objective, transcendent moral code. You recognize that all human beings have equal value, and therefore all human beings have equal rights. If you’re not a science denier, you admit that babies in the womb are both living and human in the same manner that you are.

Therefore, you have no right to superimpose your rights to your preference over your baby’s right to life.

You make the best of a difficult situation and choose from options which preserve the fetus’ life as well as your own well-being.

Which of these paths is the more reasonable? Which is the less dire? Which results in no deaths? Which respects the humanity of all parties?

Let’s end slavery for real.

 

 

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Why Shepherds?

The heavenly announcement that Immanuel had arrived first came to the least likely people. Shepherds were loners, spending most of each year outside the population centers, keeping watch over sheep. They were an essential component of society but they were nevertheless part of an unsightly underclass. They were probably the most remote, least social, most invisible people to spend this news upon.

The message came not to the important nor the socially connected. Not to the centers of city and government but to the forgotten wilderness. Why?

Consider that they were shepherds! Christ called himself a shepherd: we are his sheep. He lays down his life for the sheep. His sheep hear his voice and follow him. They trust him and only in him do they find comfort and safety. These men understood the role of the shepherd and to shepherds first this Shepherd became known.

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There is a simple principle in Scripture, and in God’s economy. The least will be greatest; the last shall be first. The father knows that it is the neglected, the humble, the poor who are likely awake to his message.

The shepherds were awake. Jesus Christ was born deep in the night. Most people were in every way asleep. The most significant announcement in all of human history did not put on an extravaganza in the palace of the most powerful ruler. Only these lonely shepherds, wide awake and vigilant, experienced an angel’s announcement and a heavenly host’s praise!

Note that we are commanded more than once to be, like the shepherds, “awake.” This piece of news was not anticipated nor expected. There had been no prophets for 400 years. Aside from Holy Writ, God’s voice had remained silent for generations. How astounding was it that these few overnight shift laborers encountered such a message! Almighty God opening his intentions to the world, sending a message of hope and comfort, through these humble men. What a privilege.

God has always commissioned humble messengers. The rich and powerful were rarely chosen to be the bearers of his message. The shepherds— poor, outcast, possibly unkempt — ran and told what they had seen and heard to everyone who would listen. They presented a challenge to their hearers! One had to meet their news with one’s own measure of humility in order to believe their story, and to join them in becoming “awake.”

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Christmas Thoughts Still

Angels from God announce the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus the Christ. We marvel at Mary’s great faith when she humbly consents to the angel’s commission. We contrast her attitude with Zechariah’s, a request for proof from the angel. Both say something like, “How can this be?” But he is questioning the truth of the message while she is humbly asking how it could be accomplished (how can I have a baby, since I am a virgin? I am the Lord’s maidservant, but how?)

Given that Scripture records every person who is confronted with a heavenly messenger needing to be reassured first: “Do not be afraid,” both responses are remarkable.

Here is Zecharaiah, faced with an angel straight from the presence of God, overwhelming, terrifying. Yet he finds space to question whether the message could be true, and whether it will be possible for God to accomplish His will.

For Mary, the angel’s presence is enough. His appearance to her obliterated any need for proof, any doubts about what he would have to say. He is an emissary straight from God!

For Mary, the angel’s message is daunting but at the same time, reassuring. His words are straight from the God who sees her, knows her, blesses her above every other woman. She is one who honors God and she chooses to hear what He has to say in perfect trust. Of the two, it is her response which is the more reasonable.

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The world will not blaze a path for you because you are commissioned with God’s work. Think of Mary again. Wasn’t it enough, she might have complained silently, that I bore for a time the shame of unmarried pregnancy, that I bear this child, but I must be present NOW so far away to be accounted like a sheep? The census decreed by Augustus was timing’s perfect storm for Mary. She rode ninety miles on a beast of burden just before it was her time to give birth.

Many of you remember what that nine-month burden feels like: heavy, awkward, the “dropped” baby lying full weight on your bladder. Now imagine riding on a donkey for ninety miles just like that. Make no mistake—that was real misery. No doubt Mary bore the unbearable circumstances better than most of us would have.

It is enough to say this fallen world will only make it harder to do right, much less to bear the greatest burdens that the Lord asks of us.

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Thoughts on Christmas #Forever

This year in our part of the world, there was a shortage of live Christmas trees. We didn’t know about this until we went out on the evening of December 19 to buy one. Some lots were closed, sold out, some had six sad trees. We had to settle this year for the first time ever, for a short tree with its top lopped off and sparse, thin bottom branches. It seemed dry too.

We are not purists who must have the perfect tree. We delight in it, decorating it together is a special event, and this year was no exception. It’s only around for about three weeks anyway.

My sister in law once had a tree lose all its needles by Christmas Day. But we have never had a tree fail to last through the first full week of January, at least. Our ugly little tree is still going strong. Decked with lights and ornament, loved and enjoyed. It’s evergreen.

The baby in the manger. We pass over the Christmas scenario quickly, pushing on toward more serious devotional thoughts once the week is over, or once Advent concludes on Christmas Day. I think the Incarnation bears reflection every day of the year. It’s evergreen.

Imagine you have never heard about the Nativity. Imagine hearing the news that The Creator of the Universe, Almighty God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the I AM…had been born a little human baby. What would be your reaction then?

Some key points:

1. A human newborn is helpless, weak, dependent, powerless. Jesus was fully man, submitting to all the limitations that we must, so he was fully a baby. Not a silent, wise, powerful baby. A baby. God chose to be as vulnerable as a person can be, utterly dependent on his earthly parents, at the mercy of mundane general harms, and exposed to malicious dangers arrayed against him personally.

2. The Incarnation was not symbolism. It was not a stunt, a metaphor, or an illustration.

The experience— committed to, seen through, walked, lived— was every second real. He was not performing, backstage while he performed the mundane, on stage when he performed the moments written down for us. Every minute had real significance, first because the Second Person of the Godhead had taken on flesh like ours and had submitted himself to everything we endure. But also:

 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him

There was purpose embedded in every minute Jesus lived; He was not marking time or simply demonstrating. We cannot comprehend how the All-Sufficient could be in a position to learn, but we can recognize that the moments of his life lived were real and meaningful to Him, and that every second had perfect purpose.

3. I am still trying to comprehend the Incarnation. That The God of the Universe chose this way to express His Nature. This way— physical, messy, fraught with danger. Actually absurd! Think how He chose the way of service and total selflessness. He came to serve us in the most humble and humiliated manner possible.

In this way, He expressed his love and mercy toward us. He came close to us.

Here is stanza of a poem by George Herbert.

O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,
Wrapt in night’s mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right,
To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger:

Furnish & deck my soul, that thou mayst have
A better lodging than a rack or grave.

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Thoughts on Christmas #3

First a Christmas thought. The third member of the Godhead, the eternally existent Creator, the Son, actually became Jesus of Nazareth, the man, at  certain time, in a certain place. It was real.  He was born a helpless baby, needy and dependent. As precious and sublime as any new child, and exposed to every danger and despair common to man. Uncommonly, death and hatred overshadowed his cradle the moment he was in it.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Why did he do it? If to reconcile all things to himself— No deus ex machina, no magic wand, no jedi mind tricks. He came. He became. He fully committed. He submitted to fetus, birth, baby, growing up, living a particular life, walking this sad world as a human being. Being misunderstood (but actually understood), dismissed, condemned, hated, pushed away, cast out, abandoned, tortured to death.

In order to reconcile all things to himself. For that is where all things belong, reconciled to him. It is where you and I belong too. He made us and our proper state is in reconciliation with him, in harmony with him, at peace with him.

That precious baby in the starry night is a pretty picture. Let us not forget all that it holds within.

A new routine. I get out of bed, I go downstairs in the dark. I light the tree only. I read on my ipad from an advent calendar (ccca.biola.edu) which accompanies its devotionals with art and poetry. I google more art from Medieval and Renaissance, mostly. I am intrigued by some insight, or several, in what I’ve read and seen. So then I write, and make a connection between the thoughts and the pictures.

It’s shamefully easy. Not like the life-wasting processes which produced the works, their creators to be compensated inadequately and the work seen by few. I lazily shuffle them together and present to the world via internet. Genius.

Nevertheless, I think My Father has been using this stingy bit of focus I achieve to speak to me. The centerpiece to each day is Scripture. I honor Scripture as the inspired Word from the lips of the Creator. So I give the Word its central place, and I see the connections from the art and the words leading to Scripture. They are reflections of it, illuminating it, illustrating it, bearing its Truth. And so the artists from hundreds of years ago still have much to say, thinkers throughout the ages can connect to what is said there and produce insights, meaningful synergies happen. The artists and scribes did all to the glory of God. And Glory to God, the works of hands and of ancient pens and of thoughts from last month proclaim the good news as if the Incarnation happened yesterday.

The news is relevant, fresh and still astonishing. Its meaning touches on everything, makes meaning where before we could see none. The Nativity is not a pretty children’s story, an old myth meant for simpler people, nor, thanks to God, a meaningless cultural trope.

Merry Christmas 2018, and a Happy New Year 2019.

Thoughts on Christmas #2

An Advent devotional I’ve been reading points out the clash between two simultaneous events: the census under Caesar Augustus and the birth of the Saviour. The census was an impersonal process, a bureaucratic measure of people as masses. The birth was a unique event wherein a particular person, more unique than most, was born in a certain place at a certain time. The census was an expression of government power over populations, the birth an expression of powerlessness embodying significance, and a single person’s investment in all human creatures as individuals.

It seems the birth happened just after Mary and Joseph’s arrival, the registration in the census after that. So that means that Joseph, Mary and their newborn were counted in the census.

Think about the implications.

The newborn babe, Jesus of Nazareth, was included in a counting of all the human beings in the empire.

From the moment of his birth, in every possible way, Jesus Son of Man identified with us and became one of us.  He was counted as just one more number in the numbers of persons to be ruled and taxed. Throughout his life, he exposed himself to every possible indignity, for being numbered is an indignity, a reminder of one’s subjection to power, a note to keep one’s place.

The Son Of God and The Son of Man, upon birth, became an undistinguished number on an official government record.

He exchanged omnipotence for complete dependence. He exchanged ultimate authority for grinding subjection. He exchanged glory and honor for dismissal and oppression.

But also note God’s thoroughness: it is recorded that Jesus was a real person, registered under duly established government. For God is a playwright whose scripts are real and perfect.

Merry Christmas.

 

 

Regarding “Women’s Day” and Similar Stunts

“A Day Without a Woman.” Are we still doing this or did it flop?

So my new feminist overlords want me to be a woman who refrains from:

Paid job (Ah–but not the unpaid job!)

Emotional Labor (What does this mean)

Childcare (Please arrange for a competent substitute before you do this. And do explain to the children that, on every other day, you are being forced to care for them by your patriarchal oppressors.)

Diapers (Please don’t make the babies suffer. Secure a competent substitute.)

Housework (No complaint here. But can’t you refrain from this without an international event?)

Cooking (No eating.)

Sweeping (Why precisely sweeping…?)

Laundry ( Because men never do laundry.)

Dishes ( Because men never do dishes.)

Errands ( Because men never run errands.)

Groceries ( Sure– buy your groceries another day.)

Fake smiles (Only women have fake smiles; and all women’s smiles are fake. So no smiles — take that.)

Flirting (Awww. Because we’re so dumb we want permission to feel alright about not being forced to flirt.)

Makeup (Because every other day I mindlessly obey male-dominated societal expectations by applying the slave-paint as expected. We all know the fashion industry, the make-up industry and popular women’s magazines are totally male owned and operated.)

Laundry ( I get to not do laundry twice today.)

Shaving (It’s March. Not a problem.)

The women most likely do be excited about not doing these things probably aren’t doing them already.

So my niece is supposed to abandon her 14 month old son for the day? Her cousin, who cares for him on weekdays should refrain from caring for him also?

Are these the things which make me a woman?  Are these things exclusively feminine? Are these the things that oppress me?

If all the women who keep our society rolling every day really did strike, the results would be bad indeed. I don’t mean the few who will actually take a paid day off from their jobs, or the few who will pass off their childcare to another woman. Or that dishes will not be done. I mean the things women do that really make this world go around.

 Do we achieve peace and harmony through anger? Do we change minds by taking our ball and going home? Also,  if you think you need someone’s permission to strike, then aren’t you admitting that you’re a puppet every other day?

As a mere homemaker, I do what I do intentionally. No one forces me and I don’t need anyone’s permission to stop.

The most embarrassing aspect of an event like this is that it can only appeal to 1%-ers; meaning all of us in the first world. People with leisure, time and money to play at it. It accomplishes nothing for the woman who is actually poor, hungry or powerless. You couldn’t promote a movement like this in places where there was actually a problem. If you have the opportunity to choose to take the day off and shop at only small, female-owned businesses, you are one of the privileged, not one of the oppressed.

That being said, I’ve read some commentary from people who ought to know better along these lines: Even if women really struck, the world wouldn’t fall apart. Now if MEN went on strike, everything would grind to a halt.  An unfortunate sentiment which would encourage some to say we need a women’s strike.

Please, think about the women in your life refraining from the things they do every day which keep your world running smoothly. Think about what you wouldn’t know without what the women in your life have taught you. 

Let’s not confirm the division. Anything which is about dividing the sexes, about pitting them against one another, including the championing of one sex at the expense of the other…all of it tends toward destruction, conflict, tragedy. Nothing good can come of it.

Why? Because we were meant to be compatible, complementary, supportive of each other, invested in each other’s well-being, health, wealth, progress, and good outcomes. We were meant to do things together which neither of us could possibly do alone. Rather than seeking the destruction of one another, we were meant to build together.

And it unwittingly confirms the predictions God made about us at the beginning of human history. Men and women would struggle with each other for supremacy. We would perceive inequality where there was none and fight for our turf.

I think of myself as a human being. We human beings need to love each other, support each other, strive for better things together. If I divide myself from half of the planet, and half of the people in my life, I suffer for it, and so do they.

Gimmicks accomplish little, and division is nothing if not destructive.