Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Response

In response to the great comments that I've gotten to my previous blog, which have stirred so much thought and contemplation in me I thought I would share this e-mail I wrote to one of my commenters...

Thanks for your comments on my blog and your passion. I am excited to know that there are others who are passionate about faith and politics here on campus. You hit the nail on the head with what I’m struggling with in our political system in that neither party fully represents Christian values. I don’t agree with abortion but I also don’t agree with forcing a woman to go through 9 months of pregnancy and labor, and the stigma of giving a baby up for adoption if say she were raped. I also know that prior to Roe v. Wade abortions still happened in large numbers in poor “back alley” conditions. So will that be any different if we overturn Roe v. Wade? Can we overturn Roe v. Wade and somehow keep allowances for certain situations (like medical necessity for mom’s safety, rape, incest, etc)? How do we change the culture as a whole to stop unwanted pregnancies from happening? What I’ve heard is that abstinence-only training programs do not work. What are your thoughts?

I am legitimately wrestling with this conflict between supporting a party that is pro-life but won’t push for immediate, significant energy/environment change, won’t treat all people with simple respect and human dignity, will take action to remove a dictator whose biggest crimes were decades ago, but won’t step in to end genocide happening now. I have a hard time supporting a party that says we need to put criminals in jail longer, but will cut the taxes that pay for jails, a party that says life should always be protected but we will kill criminals because apparently their life is not the same life. I have a hard time supporting a party that says we need to improve our schools but will cut the taxes that pay for schools and teachers. Taxes are not pleasant but they are necessary. I have a hard time supporting a party that preaches individual liberty but will hold people in Guantanamo for years without even bringing official charges against them, much less a fair trial. This only promotes extremist hatred of the United States. I have a hard time supporting a party that says the Constitution (checks and balances) is the rule of law but wants the President to be able to veto anything that comes from Congress and to appoint judges who will legislate that party’s platform from the bench.

As far as I’m concerned, “the least of these” represents more than just unborn babies. It represents all of those lacking in salvation, so let’s talk about capital punishment, throwing people in jail for years but not funding those jails or rehabilitation programs, stopping genocide, treating homosexuals and muslims with the love of Christ while being firm in our faith. If you want to respect life, you must also respect those that are living outside the womb.

Let me go into more detail on some of the concerns I have with the Republican platform from a Christian standpoint. The model of Christ as a leader to me was somebody who interacted directly with those who opposed him or those living in sin and challenged them both firmly and compassionately to change their ways. That is in direct opposition to this statement in the GOP Platform, “We oppose entering into a presidential-level, unconditional dialogue with the regime in Iran until it takes steps to improve its behavior.” What my experience in life has been is that when somebody is threatened and not given some level of respect, they lash out. This is no different at the individual or governmental level. If you act arrogantly towards people and governments you cannot be surprised if they respond negatively. Jesus was impactful because he spent time with those who were used to being shunned. This obviously is very tricky to translate to diplomatic policy but I think it is important.

I also feel like an energy platform that does not put a timeline goal in place, like 10 years is absolutely in violation of our call as Christians to be good stewards for the earth. We’ve already seen the impact of 40 years (28 years of Republican Presidencies) of talking about changing our energy focus and not doing anything about it, expecting the market to take care of it and develop new technologies. We need specific plans with specific goals and specific timeframes. I’ve read the entire GOP platform on energy and climate change and while it looks good, it lacks commitment.

As a future healthcare provider I disagree with components of this statement, “No health care professional —
doctor, nurse, or pharmacist — or organization should ever be required to perform, provide for, or refer for a health care service against their conscience for any reason.” Every medical ethicist with any credibility agrees that we at least have a responsibility to refer patients if we personally will not provide a service. I also think it is horribly reckless to say we could deny care “for any reason”.

I’m sure I’ve probably stirred more frustration in you and for that I apologize. Discussion is good and you have challenged me to think more deeply about priorities!


megan said...

Wow Rick! I really appreciate this entry. You are the type of Christian that I respect and admire. You are certainly a good role model and I hope more people follow your lead of reflection and critical thinking.

Cali said...

I thought that I would give you some thoughts as a pro-choice advocate and I am in no way a practicing Christian so opposite spectrum. I really find your thoughts very interesting and well put together I think that if more people took your stance our world would be better off.
As for abortion I think that a lot of people think that pro-choice means pro-abortion and that we would rather have a women have an abortion that a baby. That just is really not true which I am sure that you are aware. Where do I stand I want physicians to give out medically correct information to women so that they can make the best decision for themselves and the unborn fetus. What is really disturbing to me is the religion based pregnancy centers and state governments that offer women free counseling services but tell outrageous lies to these women about abortion and try to guilt them into keeping a child. Just as an example in Mississippi it is mandatory to tell women that are seeking an abortion that there risk for breast cancer increases if they have an abortion even after countless research studies stating that is not true. Another one is that having an abortion increases your risk for depression and mental disorders also not true. Now even though both of these facts are not true you are required by law to tell your patents these things. Is that fair to our patents and providing the best care possible I don't believe that it is.
Now onto another passion of mine; Why do we argue over abortion when we could significantly reduce it if we educate our children, lets be proactive together and stop fighting this ridiculous battle we all cherish life, lets make sure that procreation doesn't happen if its not wanted. There has been a number of studies about abstinence only programs and their effectiveness it has been shown that they are not effective in reducing the number of pregnancies. Which makes sense to me if you hide sex away and keep it locked up and don' talk about it of course the curious teen is going to what to find out what it's all about, seems common sense to me if you are told that you can’t have it you just want it that much more. Comprehensive sex ed I think is the key, lets educate our kids! It’s all about choices and there are a lot of them out there now. Abstinence is key that is the only 100% safe method to guarantee that you will not get pregnant. But… what if they chose to have sex then what? We just left them hanging with no tools to at least try to protect themselves. Condoms and birth-control its easy, and cheaper then having babies. Sex education is not about telling these kids that they should go and have sex, its about conveying a message about what sex should mean, why its important, what the benefits are of waiting, what the consequences of having sex can be; the good and the bad, dispelling rumors like you can’t get a girl pregnant if you use the pull out method and last but not least if you chose to have sex these are the things that you will need. America has built such a stigma around sex that it has become this great mystery, something that you only do with the lights off, that’s its’ great appeal you want to solve it. Lets take a chapter from Denmark and educate, advertise and promote safer sex not stupid sex, it will give us less unwanted babies, less government spending on unwanted babies, less abortions, more healthy choices and peace between the pro-life and pro-life-choice.

Here is some information about the studies done for abstinence only ed. http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/stateevaluations/index.htm