Abortion and Government Intrusion

I’m going to deviate from my current format of discussing a few reasons why NVCC is different to discuss a current and quite polarizing issue, abortion, since this is the time of the year when attention is turned to the issue more than others, as we pass another anniversary of it’s legalization in America.

As part of our Sunday gathering last week I took a few minutes to address the subject (“God At the Outer Limits of Life”). On Monday, the day after, I received an email with a very thought provoking question related to abortion and the government of the country in which we live. At the consent of the questioner I want to bring you into the conversation we have to this point. After Reading it I invite your insight as well. If you would like to hear the entire message from the Sunday gathering (about 20 minutes long) you can copy and paste this address into your web browser address line and it will take you right to it. http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57

Hey Steve, I’ve been thinking today about your message and it’s made me ask quite a few questions of myself. From my point of view it seems as though the answers to my questions will be more based on the opinion of those answering than on scripture, though I’m hoping you can prove that wrong. Just to warn you, my questions involve politics….

If you haven’t closed the e-mail yet, you’re a brave man…

This general feeling applies to a lot of ideals in my life, but I’m going to use abortion just because to me it is the easiest to convey my thoughts on. First of all, from a moral and a religious standpoint, I am against abortion; He knew us before we were formed and so on (I’m not exactly an expert on the scripture). I firmly believe Christian doctrine in that God gives life and God alone holds the responsibility of deciding on the issue. However, from a political standpoint, I am pro-choice. To me, a government has no place in the personal lives of the citizens whom it protects. This is where I’m torn. I support a system of government that does not try and force its morality upon its citizens. Naturally I feel it’s necessary to push morality to a certain point to keep law and order, but in situations as personal as abortions I feel the government has no place. My question is is it wrong for me to oppose laws against abortion while holding to my convictions against it? Does it make me a hypocrite to say I don’t agree with something but I believe in a person’s right to be allowed to do it? As Voltaire said, “I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it.” America is a great country founded on the principals of freedom; am I wrong in wanting to perpetuate liberty at the cost of supporting a government that goes against what my religious beliefs dictate? I would love to get some scriptural responses and I appreciate your time.

My reply:

I have had a little time to give your question(s) some thought so let me bounce my ideas off of you.

I believe the bigger issue here is the point at which life begins. I believe science supports the proposition that life begins at conception and even though a nine month development process follows, everything needed to develop the fully formed child is there at conception. Therefore if that which is growing in a mother’s womb is a child why does it not deserve the same rights and privileges as a child outside the womb?

The irony of it all is that there are, I believe, 37 states that have made it a crime of double murder to intentionally kill a mother and child at the same time. Why is it murder for someone else to kill a mother and child when it is a “right to choose” for a mother to kill her baby within her if she so desires. What about the rights of a completely innocent child?

Here is how I see it. Our laws on murder and abortion are inconsistent and hypocritical at best. It is hypocrisy to declare it murder when intentionally killing the unborn baby of another person and then call it a woman’s privilege if it is your own baby. Killing is killing and murder is murder no matter who does it if an unborn child is really a child. And I feel that those who are convinced that life begins at birth should feel an obligation to support those who have the same convictions and will work to bring consistency to our legal system.

I also believe that it is dangerous to compartmentalize our convictions. By that I mean to believe that abortion is wrong but not believe that we want a government that will uphold those beliefs. Any belief worth holding should be a belief worth standing up for. If we are not willing to stand up for it is it that important to us? And if we do not speak out for the beliefs we hold dear you can be sure those who hold opposing beliefs will speak out for their beliefs and as a result dictate the direction of our country. People will not remain silent. Those with the strongest convictions and greatest sacrifice will determine laws and policies. To be silent is to allow opposing ideas to triumph.

One more comment and then I will invite your response. It kind of refers back to where I began. You said, “To me, a government has no place in the personal lives of the citizens whom it protects.” If it is the responsibility of government to protect us, why does that responsibility not include the unborn also? If the unborn is a child then why is that child not afforded the same privilege?

Please forgive me if I seem to be a little passionate in my comments. After all, this is a subject that has incited passion from all sides. And I am no exception. I would love to hear your further ideas.

Questioner:

I see your point in that any belief worth having is a belief worth standing up for, and if I believe that abortion is wrong then I should stand up for that both in my lifestyle and in how my vote is cast. I just still feel, to a point at least, that religion and moral convictions in general should be left out of law. By that I’m not specifically referring to abortion; I’m rather stating that I feel it’s wrong for our governing bodies to push interpret and push their own moral beliefs on us. I guess I feel that standing up and speaking my mind on my beliefs is an entirely different from the desire to have the government back my beliefs. As Christians it’s our responsibility to spread the news, not force it on people; I feel like putting morally and/or religiously charged issues into law is in a way forcing religion on the masses, and you know better than anyone that being forceful with religion does nothing but harm it’s cause. But, all that is an entirely different discussion.

As far as the abortion thing goes, I agree with you, life begins at conception and we have equal protection under the law, the unborn should be protected by the same laws. As far as legal hypocrisies go, I’d prefer to stay away from the subject; I don’t think either of us have enough time in our lives to dedicate to the subject.

So blog readers, what are your feeling on this issue of abortion and government intrusion?

fun but not frivolous

let’s pick up our discussion where we left off last time. we’re talking about how relaxedchurch.com or new venture christian church is different from a lot of churches. that’s different, not necessarily better.

let’s talk for now about how new venture christian church is a fun place to be. and i realize that the very mention of the word fun in the same sentence as church opens the door to all kind of objections and criticisms. because there are those who believe that church is not about fun. it is all about seriousness, sternness and straight laced attitudes. the very insinuation that church could have enjoyment or “pleasure” connected with it borders on heresy, at least that is what some think.

there are even times when people say, “are you that feel good church?” to which i respond, “what should we be, the feel bad church?” why is it that we think connecting with god should not make us feel good and be something we loathe rather than something we look forward to? i don’t know of anything that we should look forward to more than getting together with our father and the rest of the family. we want it and design it to be a fun experience.

fun at new venture usually displays itself from the very moment you enter the theater where we meet. there is a light, lively, loving spirit and atmosphere in the place. it is an environment that is enjoyable and healthy and you feel good about being there.

our services are characterized by strength, emotion, stillness, seriousness, energy, reflection as well as laughter. these are the kind of things that speak to the heart and bring out the best in us. these are the kind of things that make us want to return for the next gathering. these are the kind of things that make it easier to accept the correction god has for our life along with the enjoyment.

so if you are looking for a place to enjoy connecting with god as well as being shaped by god, new venture just might be that place. we don’t have clowns at the door or serve popcorn and sodas in the lobby but we are a fun place to be. hey, on second thought, the popcorn and sodas might not be a bad idea.

different not better

new venture christian church was launched in october 2004. we are on our forth year of existence and ministry on the south side of richmond. anyone who knows anything about this part of richmond is aware that there is not a shortage of churches to be found in these parts. for example, we use a house on courthouse rd (201 n courthouse rd) as a ministry center. courthouse rd could easily be renamed “church street.” it is one of the churchiest streets i have ever seen. just standing in front of our ministry center/house i can see one church and two pieces of property that are owned by churches for construction purposes.

so if there is one thing this area didn’t need it is just another church. and we did not launch nvcc to be just another church. but we planted new venture to be a different kind of church, not better, but different. so for the next few weeks i am going to devote some blog entries to talking about what it is that is different about new venture.

lets start with relaxed, after all, we are relaxedchurch.com. we attempt to have a relaxed approach to doing church. that approach might reveal itself in a number of different ways. for example, ATTIRE. we are not clothes minded. we do not make a big deal about how people dress. we invite people to be relaxed in their clothing choice. for some, that might be jeans and a polo shirt, for others it might be slacks and a blouse or t-shirt or a sweater. in the summer it might be shorts and sandals. and for still others it might be a skirt and nice blouse.

the point is, there is no dress standard. there is no clothing competition. there is no feeling that you are being judged for what you are wearing or not wearing. there is no thought that you are out of place because of what you are wearing.

now, i know that goes against the grain of what some people believe about church and god. some are of the persuasion that church should be the place where you dress your very best. that god deserves nothing less. and for a long time i felt the same way. i have even asked the question in the past, “if i were invited to meet with the president of the united states would i dress in such a casual way, or would i wear a suit and tie? would i dress up?” and my answer was, “i would dress up if i were meeting with the president because that is what the setting calls for.” but i am not meeting with the president each week. i am meeting with my father. and i don’t know about you, but i was never required to dress up to meet with my dad. nv is different in that you are invited into a relaxed setting with relaxed dress where we meet with our father each week.

now don’t misunderstand what i an saying. we are not relaxed in our attitude about god. we take him and respond to him with all seriousness. so, i guess you could say we are different in that we have a relaxed environment without a relaxed attitude. does that make sense?

next time i will talk about the “fun” issue.