Saturday, September 8, 2012

What I Want to Know Is...

Several years ago Natalie & I read a series of books called "Life of Faith." There are actually several series within the Life of Faith book line based on some books written in the 1800's. In one of the sets, a young girl has an insatiable curiosity about life. She forever was saying, "What I want to know is..." and followed with her query.

What I want to know is something that is probably more complex than I want to dive into headfirst. It has to do with the topic of abortion, probably the number one most heated issue in the USA today. People fall into one of two camps in general: those who are pro-choice, meaning the pregnant woman should have the choice to or not to abort the pregnancy, or pro-life, meaning the baby developing inside of the woman has the right to live to full term. Usually the terms used to describe the growth inside of a woman's body is different in each camp. Pro-choice folks use terms such as "viability, embryo, and fetus." Pro-life folks use the terms "Baby, from conception, and heartbeat" more often.

I am part of the latter camp, and that is no shock to anyone who knows me. Please don't stop reading just because I said that, as my question goes deeper. I think often pro-life people and pro-choice people can be very harsh towards one another. This is a deep seated issue that is not likely to be swayed easily in any person. When something is that personal and that deep, it evokes emotional responses, and typically not pleasant ones towards someone who believes differently. I will ATTEMPT to not do that in this post.

While I am 100% pro-life (perhaps even more so that some other conservative folks), I want to say that I understand why a woman would choose an abortion. If a woman is single and finds herself pregnant, especially if the father is not ready to commit to a lifetime of raising a child, she would certainly be in a difficult spot. It took 2 to create that pregnancy, but she is the only one able to make a choice about it. Maybe she is a high school student who had wanted to stay "pure" until marriage but had a boyfriend who persuaded her to have sex. Yes, she agreed, but he also did. Now, if she continues the pregnancy, she will be ostracized, likely, by her peers. Even if she wants to place the baby in an adoptive home, she will have to spend the next 9 months caring for the new life inside of her by caring for her own body. Maybe her boyfriend is forcing her to have an abortion. Maybe her parents are forcing her to do this. Or, maybe the pregnant woman finds out that the baby might not survive. Or maybe the pregnant woman has 5 kids and no income. Sure, she should have "thought of that before," but she didn't and now she wonders what in the world she will do. Those pro-lifers aren't going to come swooping in to pay for her new baby, most likely. Obviously, the consequences of sex are much greater for the woman than for the man. I understand.

Next, I also understand that if someone believes that an embryo is not truly a baby until a certain point in pregnancy, then I would not expect them to find abortion wrong. Perhaps they see the removal of an embryo much like the removal of a tumor. Again, I disagree, but I understand it. If you see it this way, or maybe as a part of the woman's body, rather than a separate being, then I get how you would see how a woman could choose this route.

Here is what I DON'T understand. I am not trying to sound angry or hurtful. I just really don't understand this. If a  person believes that a SEPARATE life DOES start from conception, THEN I don't understand how that person would say it is okay for a woman to have an abortion. I think the biggest fallacy is the line, "I think it's wrong to have one, but I think a woman should have that choice." IF you think the baby is a separate life, then that line is no different from saying, "I think it's wrong to shoot my toddler, but if a woman wants to, then that's her choice." That is usually followed by the "viability" statement: "It's okay to abort a baby before they are viable" meaning can survive outside the womb. NO baby can survive outside the womb without help being fed. And we've all seen or heard of babies being born very prematurely who survive and thrive.

Here is part 2 of what I don't understand. If someone believes that the Bible is God's Holy Word, then I don't understand how he or she could say abortion is okay. The verse that comes to mind is:

Psalm 139:13-14

New International Version (NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

If God's Word tells us that He put that baby into his mother's womb, then I don't understand how, if you believe that part to be true, could also believe a woman should have a choice to end that life.

Because this is an election year, the last part of what I don't understand is this: If someone believes abortion is wrong and is murder in God's eyes, how can that person support a candidate who not only believes abortion should be a choice, but wants to use taxpayer money to pay for abortions? Like the character in the book, I just don't understand and really would like to know. I might disagree with you, but it will help me to understand where you are coming from.

If you have an answer to this and do not want to post it publicly, I would really like to hear from you. My e-mail is If you are in the same "camp" as I am, I ask that you respectfully do not say harsh things in your comments, but share a measure of grace for those who disagree. Thank you!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Do We Need a Welfare System?

This may be the most heated presidential election of all time in the United States. Lines are not only being drawn between parties, but within parties. Just hearing about the decision first to remove any reference to God out of the DNC's platform, then returning it to the "boos" of those opposed, tells me that we are a very diverse country.

A new word has come to light during the past nearly 4 years in which we've had our current president. It is a word that rouses cheers from some and pleas for change from others. The word is "Obamacare." While it is the dubbed title of the "Health Care Reform Plan," it seems to scream the very essence of what President Obama stands for and to many represents his views on welfare in general.

If you spend 5 minutes on facebook, you will see people fuming on both sides of this issue. Some things I've seen include, "It is wrong to tax a person nearly to the point of death in order to provide for someone who will not work." Or on the flip side, "You say feeding the poor and helping them is wrong? I thought you were a Christian." As we get closer to the election, this topic is certain to fuel more fire.

Do we need these kinds of programs? Do we need medicaid, food stamps, etc.? Do we need to help others who need food, medical care and clothing? Are these the same questions? I don't think so. My view is based on what I have found in Scripture. First, do we need to help others? Does God call Christians to help others? Yes. A resounding YES! Clearly, even just reading this one passage, we know that God expects His children to help others:

The Sheep and the Goats (NIV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
When Christians say they don't support Obamacare and don't support food stamps, they usually aren't saying they hate poor people. At least I don't THINK they are. No one I know feels that way. Instead, they are saying they don't think the GOVERNMENT should be taking money from those who work and giving it to those who will not work. Notice in the passage above, it never says, "When I was hungry, you sent me to the right offices so I could get signed up for food stamps. When I was thirsty, you had the president give you something to drink." I believe the first key ingredient is that God calls His children to serve others directly, or as directly as possible. I believe churches and Christians should be helping others in need.

The second issue is taking money from those who work hard to earn it and giving it to someone who won't work. Check out these words that Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

If you WILL not work you SHALL not eat. Pretty clear cut. 

The ideal answer would be that individuals would help others. I have a friend who has different political views than I do, but she takes this to heart and helps a group of refugees who have fled their country due to persecution. They are here legally, but that brings up the 3rd big issue: should we be granting medical care, food, and more to those who have come to this country illegally? In Scripture, there were clearly countries and territories established. However, many that exist today weren't around back then. Should we let our country's borders keep us from helping others? It seems like the straight forward answer would be that we help all people. However, it's not straight forward. There is an underlying theme throughout Scripture calling for us to "obey the rules." We aren't saved through following rules, but through accepting Jesus' death and resurrection to pay for our sins, thus being "born again." But we are called to follow His rules, which means follow the rules of your country unless they go against His word. Remember, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's?" My ancestors came to this country over 100 years ago. They left all they knew to come here. They had to have all kinds of paperwork to get here. Have you ever heard of Ellis Island? While my ancestors came before the Island was a port of entry, the rules were the same. When you arrived at the Island, if you were ill or hurt, you were not allowed in. It seems harsh, but the reality was then, and is now, that our country cannot care for every one in the world. And we seem to be the only country that thinks we need to do this. Maybe it would be better to help Mexico build some better hospitals than have people risk their lives to get here and then give them free medical care. I have a good friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer and had no insurance. Obamacare became available around the time of her diagnosis. She discovered it was not free and her out of pocket cost would be outrageous. By going in as an uninsured patient, she received discounts from doctors and hospitals. She will be paying for her treatment for some time, but how to you place a value on a life? My husband had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor this year. Though we have insurance, we will also be paying bills for at least a year. 

I ask you this: Is it right for my husband to work hard to earn money to provide for his family, while I teach my children at home, including an mildly autistic child, and do part time work when I can to help us pay for our basic needs, then expect us to give money to the government for someone who comes to this country illegally and does not have permits to legally work here? 

Back to the subject: Do we need a welfare system? I think the bottom line is that yes, we do. In fact, there were times when we used the system to help provide basic needs. When I had our 2nd child, we used Medicaid and for a few years also used the WIC program. Were we sitting around idly while someone else paid for us? No. My husband was working full time. I was caring for our firstborn, then 2 young children rather than putting them into a free state supported preschool program (meaning, the government was not spending money to babysit my children). We also have had individuals help us over the years. Our parents have been very gracious and helped when they could. Friends have offered us help in a variety of ways (even giving us a second car to use until it died a sad death recently).  There are times when a person is in a tough spot and sometimes other individuals can't provide the help that is needed. Do I think our health care system in general needed an overhaul? Yes, yes, yes. Did you read what I said above that we will be paying bills for a year & my friend for years? One of my friend's medications was in the 10's of thousands. That is for ONE drug! Do I think we need reform? Yes. Is it the insurance companies that are making the money? Is it the pharmaceutical companies? Are doctors making a fortune? A friend of mine who happens to be our pediatrician makes an okay living, but she works long days, has to pay rent on the office building, pay her staff, pay for insurance for the clinic, and takes mostly medicaid and CHIP patients. Does she make a fortune? Well, she is also a co-Pampered Chef consultant to make extra money. Does that answer the question? 

In essence, yes, we need a welfare system of sorts, yes we need healthcare reform, and no, I don't have the answers. I find it tragic that some of the things this new program includes are considered "women's rights," even when it steps over the boundaries of what a religious institute believes. So much for that beloved phrase "separation of church and state," one of the most overused and incorrectly used quotes of all time. This is a springboard for a different post a different day. Now it is time to go to sleep for the welfare of my family!