VP Politics

“How does your Catholic Faith shape your personal belief on abortion?” That was one of the questions asked Joe Biden and Paul Ryan in their Vice Presidential debate last night (and their response was not mentioned at all in the Chicago Tribune this morning). Biden stopped smiling (for once) and said that he personally agreed with the Catholic Church’s view on abortion but would not impose it on anyone else. His response reflects not only the realism of politics in a post-modern culture, but also the recognition that (to Biden and others) abortion is not a moral issue. I am sure that he would have no difficulty legislating morality on other issues in which he personally believes, such as health care for the uninsured and higher taxes for the wealthy. Paul Ryan, on the other hand, said that he was Pro-life not just because of his religion but also because of reason and science. He cited the example of seeing the ultrasound image of the human “bean” shape of his first child in utero and hearing her heartbeat.  His response also reflects the political realism that it is not sufficient for a moral issue to have a religious basis; it must also be tagged with the higher authority of reason and science. We certainly would object to having the moral standards of our nation decided by Sharia law, and can hardly imagine the shooting of a young girl by Taliban in Pakistan justified simply because she championed education for women.  Nor could we countenance the one-child policy of the Chinese government which is also a war on women. However, this is not Pakistan or China. This is the USA founded on the principles of the Judeo-Christian religion (though some may argue “natural law”) which are written into the very fabric of our nation’s laws. The Scripture says that Man, as male and female (Gen 1:27), were created in the image and likeness of God. It is this principle, I believe, which informs the very basis of our morality, and anything that deviates from that standard should be restricted by imposed law. Thus it matters not whether I am a Catholic, a Protestant, a Muslim, or a Jew in America; at the very foundation of my faith there is a God-given dignity and value that separates us from every other form of life. You may not be a religious person and may disagree with the whole concept of Creation, but our entire system of law and justice, freedom and responsibility flows from the biblical Imago Dei. And all of us are beneficiaries of this principle whether we believe in it or not. Thus the slave in the Civil War south was not a possession, s/he was a person.  The fetus is not a mere tissue, s/he is a person; the Muslim school girl is not a subjugated member of society, she is a person; the little girl in China born to parents who want a boy is not a throw-away mistake, she is a person.  So how does my faith shape my view on abortion? I am Pro-person. Since I believe that women and men are created in the image of the God I love and worship, I have a responsibility to love and respect those He created. It means that I should not draw lines that polarize my concern for both the pregnant person and the unborn person she is carrying. It also means that my care and concern should be for the poor as well as the wealthy, the stranger and alien as well as the native born. Our political system seems to feed on dividing and playing one side against the other hoping to curry enough favor from a certain side to get elected.  I do not believe that any of our political parties (major and minor) completely reflect this holistic perspective that cares for the sacredness of all people. Does that mean I am not going to vote this November? Of course not! Such an action would be irresponsible for a citizen of this country. However, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God I must sit down and list out the issues, and then decide which candidate comes closest to reflecting those Kingdom values, one of which is being Pro-person.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul on October 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Pastor Dave, you did a great job of verbalizing a number of thoughts that I had – and some that I didn’t – when that question was asked and answered.

    As you stated with regard to Vice President Biden, he has no qualms about imposing his sense of morality on others in all sorts of ways – why then is he squeamish about something as foundational as protecting human life? May I assume that all forms of murder are OK by him, as he wouldn’t dare impose his sense of morality (on the matter of human life) on others?

    As for Congressman Ryan, I wonder why he is opposed to abortion at all, if he would make exceptions for his opposition. In no way do I mean to minimize the trauma and pain of rape. (Incest, cited in this context, is just a particular type of rape, not a distinct reason why a woman would choose to abort her pregnancy.) Where “the life of the mother” is concerned, I admit ignorance. I can understand the need to induce delivery prematurely, which naturally poses increasing risks to the child the more prematurely it occurs; but I am not familiar with a situation that presents a purely “it’s-the-mother-or-the-child” stark choice. In any case, if one opposes abortion because innocent human life is sacred, how do rape and at-risk pregnancies alter that sacredness? That “compromise” tells me that Congressman Ryan (and others who share his view) knows the truth of what is right, but does not have quite enough courage to stand by it.

    Neither answer came as a surprise to me; but one continues to appall while the other continues to disappoint.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Wayne Van Vorst on October 13, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Hi Uncle Dave
    While abortion isn’t (at the moment at least) on our political agenda it’s amazing how politics mirrors itself on both sides of the Pacific and probably in most other countries as well. The type of debate we’ve seen this week, primarily around sexism has made it clear we have no attractive option for the election coming up some time in the next 12 months.

    Reply

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