Monday, November 28, 2005

Progressive Christians are Right

Wouldn't it be wonderful if life was all about peace, love and feeding and caring for the poor of the world?

I'd like nothing more than to just retreat into my own surroundings, make life as perfect as I can for those I love in my life and to spend all my political energy in making the world a better place through purely humanitarian efforts. Wouldn't that be nice?

That seems to be the agenda of Progressive Christians. Feed the world's hungry, provide life saving medicines to the world's diseased-poor, making sure every American has free (tax payer sponsored) health care, however, many seem to be of the mistaken view that if a Christian spends any of their time fighting for moral issues which could effect the future of all Americans and have potentially great impact on our every day lives in America, that they are somehow less "holy" than those who want to focus on love, peace, nutrition, the environment and health. They make that position clear each and every time they sneer at a Conservative or evangelical Christian who opposes certain legislation based on moral reasons as though they are judging others and refusing them God's grace.

If those of us who believe in the Republic of the United States of America, look away from the political ramifications of some of the policies which activists in this country would like to implement then we will be at risk of losing the very Republic, the very United States of America that we love.

Progressive Christians hearts may be in the right place. That is why I can be sympathetic to them. That is why I can agree with them on some levels. Progressive Christians are, in many cases, promoting a beneficial Christian service to the greater community, though their position is somewhat naive if they believe they can do that solely on the issues of their choice, while being totally disinterested in other pressing moral issues. Helping the poor is a moral issue, feeding the hungry is a moral issue, showing God's grace and love is a moral issue, but isn't safeguarding our heritage a moral issue, too, when that very heritage is based and founded on Christian principles?

This week the United States Supreme Court has before it a case which will determine whether parents have the right to know when their minor daughter is going to undergo the invasive medical procedure known as abortion. They will be reviewing a lower court ruling which had struck down New Hampshire's Parental Notification Laws. The previous law had required that parents must be notified of an under 18 year old child's abortion plans, either in person or by certified mail, a full 48 hours before the abortion procedure could proceed. The excuse for disallowing parental notification has to do with "health exceptions" for the health of the minor. My question would be, if a minor child has health reasons to get an abortion the parents should have a right to notification of those health issues, as well. This is about who your children belong to...do they belong to you or do they belong to the State or Federal Government? The idea that the State or Federal government should have the authority to bar you from knowing whether your minor daughter is going to have an abortion, or has a health risk which requires an abortion, is reprehensible and should be reprehensible to every parent.

Next, gay marriage. Progressive Christians would like to reduce the argument to being one of love, tolerance and acceptance, grace, if you will, of individual gay persons. Certainly, I agree that we should show love, and grace to ALL people, not only homosexuals, and I have no problem with doing so. What I cannot tolerate is the undermining of the institution of marriage, which was established by God, Himself, by granting gays the special right to marry based upon their sexual orientation. I've said enough about this issue in the past, no need to re-hash it again, but I cannot discuss issues in the political arena which are opposed by Conservative Christians and seem to be supported by Progressive Christians without mentioning it here.

The broader issue of abortion. Conservative Christians generally oppose abortion on demand. Progressive Christians appear to be quite torn by this issue. They seem to feel that if they deny a woman the right to murder a child in their womb, for the reason of convenience, that they might be seen as being less than loving, tolerant and accepting of that person. They leave the voiceless child out of the argument, all together, because science cannot conclude exactly when life begins.

I am a CSI fan. A few weeks ago there was an episode on CSI wherein "Gil Grissam" tells "Katherine" that a spiritual argument can be made that blood represents life and that until life-blood is present in a fetus there is no life. I found that intriguing. In WHEN DOES LIFE BECOME HUMAN LIFE?, found at religioustolerance.org they make this statement:

"We assume that blood first appears at the time that the human embryo's heart begins to beat. (We are confident that we will receive a flood of Emails correcting us if this is not true.) This occurs at about 18 to 21 days after conception -- before the embryo develops limbs, a head, a brain, etc. It is about 1/12" long, the size of a pencil point. It most closely resembles a worm - long and thin and with a segmented end."

This would be a good argument for Progressive Christians to take up, in defending their position, if they would like to see abortion limited to the first 18 to 21 days after conception, but they do not seem to want to limit abortion to that stage only. They use this argument for their supportive position on embryonic stem cell research. As far as I can tell they have no good argument for a pro-choice position other than they don't want to appear to be condemning of the mother who has had an abortion because they think it will make them appear to be less than loving, tolerant and accepting of that mother.

And that's another issue, embryonic stem cell research, Conservatives oppose it while many Progressives generally support it and look for arguments to back up that support. I don't know, to me, valuing an unborn baby's life less than an adult or an already born child just isn't right. Which baby would Jesus kill? (I only throw that in because Progressives like to ask us "who would Jesus kill" when it suits their purpose, and it suited mine).

I really don't mean to generalize about Progressives or about Conservatives, it's just that that is a very difficult thing not to do. I am fully aware that there are Progressives who are pro-life, just as I am sure there are Conservatives who are pro-choice, but for the sake of argument we have to start somewhere, don't we?

My overall point, and I have made it before, is that Progressives have a purpose just as Conservatives have a purpose. Each of us can make a contribution to the calling of Christ.

There is room for humanitarianism and there is room for the rebuking of those who would subvert normal and healthy lifestyles, kill babies in the womb on demand, in most cases simply because they are an inconvenience to the mother, those who would manufacture life only to destroy is to save other life, and those who would remove parent's authority over their children and give the ultimate authority to the State or Federal Government.

So, yeah, this is sort of on the theme of the body of Christ again, and another small effort on my part to bridge a gap of, what I consider, to be misunderstanding of goals of Conservative and Progressive Christians. Christians should have the same goals, not opposing goals. God is not double-minded, He doesn't change. He will not tell one Christian that abortion, for instance, is wrong and another Christian that it is acceptable, and before you ask, no, I certainly don't claim to know the mind of God. Do you?

5 comments:

pak said...

Dear Jake,

You certainly have an interesting way of introducing us to your views about abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research and the like. The problem is you still don't get what Progressive Christians are about. It isn't all grace, peace, and love. It's about governmental authority--when it begins and ends as well as what it claims as it's power.

Determining and maintaining life is a moral issue but fetuses are just a small part of the life argument and you certainly know that. While you go on and on about the moral crisis of allowing abortions to occur, you say nothing about public spending for the pregnant woman to sustain both a pregnancy and her child. You would prefer that health care not be paid for (by the government) and our lack of health care kills people in this country on a daily basis. You also ignor the issue around the death penalty and killing of innocent civilians in an illegal war. When you talk to Progressives about life issues we say, bring it on. Most of us are really prolife and not just profetus. There is little ambivilence on our part.

To address the issue about no parental consent on the issue of abortion, you need to know just how many of those young women are victims of incest and I guarantee you, the number will astound you. In order eliminate that problem we Christians should all be screaming at the top of our lungs about preventing child abuse--especially preaching sermons on the issue since the largest number of incest victims come from fundamentalist families. Look it up--it's really true. Now, once that issue is resolved, then and only then should we be demanding parental notification.

My stance on gay marriage is pretty simple. Most of us believe marriage to be a sacriment of the church. As such, only the church should marry people who understand and uphold that sacriment. All other unions should be civil unions. I don't think Christ would want someone denied health and inheritance benefits based on his or her gender. Spouse abuse, alcohol and drug abuse,poverty, pornography, and infidelity are much more of a threat to marriage than gays and lesbians making long term commitments to each other.

While I would like to spend time discussing stem cell research, the science itself has almost resolved the issue with the ability to form stem cells using other parts of our body. One thing that we clearly don't understand is what is wrong with using stem cells from a placenta that is going be discarded or from fertilized eggs that are going to be discarded as well? It doesn't make sense to us not to use them to see if they can save lives--it's another prolife issue that you've gotten all wrong. While you folks wring your hands protecting fetuses, the rest of us are concerned with protecting ALL of life--lives of children and adults. We want to insure we have safe drinking water, safe food, safe air so babies aren't born with birth defects or disabiling diseases and children and adults don't suffer from often fatal pulmonary diseases such as asthma. We think it is a function of government to pay for it and for everyone--including corporations and wealthy citizens--to support it through progressive (as opposed to regressive) taxation. We believe in public education to insure that everyone gets a fair chance to participate at the table of blessings. We believe the Biblical mandate to be our brother's keepers and it doesn't stop with when a child is born.

We would like for folks like you to join with us rather than fight us at every turn.

We are as vigilent as you, we just believe we have a larger Biblical mandate.

Pilgrim

Jacke M. said...

Pilgrim,

Are you replying to me? Because much of what you say ignores most of what I wrote.

You seem to scold me for not "getting" what Progressive Christians are all about while in the process of making sweeping generalizations about what Conservative Christians are all about. I don't see that my conclusions are much different than your assertions. You say:

"While you folks wring your hands protecting fetuses, the rest of us are concerned with protecting ALL of life--lives of children and adults. We want to insure we have safe drinking water, safe food, safe air so babies aren't born with birth defects or disabiling diseases and children and adults don't suffer from often fatal pulmonary diseases such as asthma. We think it is a function of government to pay for it and for everyone--including corporations and wealthy citizens--to support it through progressive (as opposed to regressive) taxation. We believe in public education to insure that everyone gets a fair chance to participate at the table of blessings. We believe the Biblical mandate to be our brother's keepers and it doesn't stop with when a child is born."

I said:

"That seems to be the agenda of Progressive Christians. Feed the world's hungry, provide life saving medicines to the world's diseased-poor, making sure every American has free (tax payer sponsored) health care..."

and:

"(Progressive Christians) want to focus on love, peace, nutrition, the environment and health..."

Perhaps I left out education but I don't see that I missed any of your agenda other than that.

You assume that Conservatives are not interested in anything but the fetus because I didn't go into the separate issue of aiding the poor, here, the fact that I didn't go into that, in depth, here is no indication that I don't care about anything but fetuses, but you have no problem with concluding that. You are simply wrong, that is a separate issue and a generalization I have been faced with before and which I resent.

I am not the one refusing to work with you, or "join" you, as you put it. From reading your comments, I see that you offer no concessions to Conservatives at all, you even go so far as to assume we care about and fight for nothing but fetuses and once babies are born we couldn't care any less about them. If that were true then perhaps you could claim a larger Biblical mandate, since it isn't true you have no basis or foundation for the claim.

Clearly we do have different beliefs about the boundaries of role of government, but for you to claim the role of government as your agenda? Well, I could claim the boundaries of the role of government as my agenda too, then we'd be on the same page, right? That is not your agenda, what you would like to see the government involve itself with is your agenda.
So, what I am saying is that I don't disagree with your agenda, only the way you'd like to implement it but that wasn't the topic of my entry, you failed to comprehend the point I was making which was that you have worthy goals, but Conservative Christians ALSO have worthy goals.

If you had read my entire entry you would realize I was trying to find common ground, not "fight you at every turn." Most of my personal experience in discussions with Progressive Christians has been confirmed by what you say here, that your agenda is somehow "holier" than mine because of misconceptions you have about my agenda in the first place.

Rather than spending so much time telling me my views and agenda and informing me of what I am not interested in you might consider opening your ears and actually listening or trying to comprehend what I have actually written.

From blog entry:

"My overall point, and I have made it before, is that Progressives have a purpose just as Conservatives have a purpose. Each of us can make a contribution to the calling of Christ."

I too would like to see Christians working together, in order to achieve that I think there must be a little compromise and flexibility. I am offering that olive branch, what I have not received from the "tolerant" Progressive Christian is that same willingness to concede that Conservative Christians are also serving the Body of Christ, just not with the same agenda. I ask no more from you than I have been willing to give (and actually I have received affirmation that I should follow my convictions by ONE Progressive Christian, in the course of previous discussions).

I'm curious, were you made the voice of all Progressive Christians by some sort of consensus or did you take that burden on your own shoulders to speak for all of them?

I try to make suggestions about why Conservatives may oppose certain social agendas but I can only speak for myself. It seems presumptuous to try to speak for all Conservative Christians in America. I have politically conservative views but first and foremost I am a Christian and I would like to see Christians of all political viewpoints working together. I believe there is a "larger Biblical mandate" for that than these political issues.

At any rate, thanks for your remarks, I just think you missed the key point I was making entirely.

wildwest said...

Have you seen Jimmy Carter's new book, *Our Endangered Values*?

Jacke M. said...

No, wildwest, I have only heard a few things he has said and I did see Charlie Rose interview him. I'm sure it will not be much of a surprise to you that I am not a fan of Jimmy Carter. His legacy was puke and he is the only ex-President in history who has traveled the globe to such an extent in an effort to undermine a currently sitting President.

I'd love to read the book but I'm not willing to give the man a dime of my money to do so.

Merry CHRISTmas!!! :)

wildwest said...

Anyway, good book!

Happy HOLYdays!! :-)