This week has, from my vantage point, been consumed with news of the unborn, newly born, and efforts to end their lives. We like to talk about “classes” of people a lot in this country and whether a class is worth special legal protections. I have always found such talk dehumanizing for it says that individuals in whatever class is under discussion are somehow unable to stand up for themselves. That existed when there were institutional barriers like slavery or Jim Crow laws. But in the absence of institutional barriers it just says “You are weak.” But there is a class of people that are obviously weak and unable to take care of themselves – the unborn being a prime example, but also including the severely infirmed through either illness or aging. These are people who literally cannot take care of themselves; who actually are weak and who probably do need special protections.
Yet legally we handle these two situations very differently. For the commonly considered special classes we pass “anti-discrimination” laws and regulations to try and boost their standing as people. It is a bit oxymoronic telling them they are weak in order to help them get stronger, but there it is. But this class of the actually weak we handle entirely differently. With them we provide advocates of some type – parents or guardians – people who are not weak who are supposed to stand for the actually weak. But in so doing it seems like in many cases the actually weak are rendered as chattel – possessions to be fought over and discarded. In the end, all the discussion this past week about birth canal and post-birth “abortion” has been about whether that child is a human being with rights of some sort or the material possession of the birth mother. If we recognize that child as a person, such “abortions” are murderous. If that child is a mere possession, then the birth mother may elect to discard it.
As I have reflected on this this Sunday morning, Psalm 139 has floated to mind:
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
Let’s think about that for just a minute.
I have spent a long time trying to figure out how, legally, to remove the chattel aspect of how we treat this class of people that is actually weak. But we cannot, we have to have someone to speak for them – or else it will end up being the state that speaks for them which will be even more dehumanizing that it is for the commonly considered classes. The problems arise when the advocate fails to recognize that just because the person they are supposed to advocate for is weak they are not less that “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Often we become so enraptured with our own status as “fearfully and wonderfully made,” that we forget so is everyone else. Which is why there is also a Psalm 51:
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
How interesting, God “wove us in our mother’s womb,” and yet we are “conceived in sin” and “brought forth in iniquity.”
There was a time when our courts were not merely legal agents but moral ones. When someone achieved advocate status for someone that needed it, that status came with a reminder that the newly proclaimed advocate served the weak, the weak did not exist to serve them – that the role of advocate was about the “fearfully and wonderfully made” status of those they advocated for, not the advocate his or her self.
I commented yesterday about how the Vice President thinks these are the dying thrashes of the abortion movement. The primal nature involved here would indicate such, but it also reveals just how deeply flawed we humans are – how much we need God’s touch not to be reduced to the purely animalistic – or apparently in Rep Tran’s view less than animalistic.
I have had a few applause lines in my life, very few. But the biggest came when I was a discussion leader at something called “GodBlogCon” a long time ago now. I said that there were two ways to end abortion. One was through law, the other was by reaching every single human with the gospel. If the latter happened, abortion would end regardless of permissive laws. These new laws in NY and VA make plain that the only way this atrocity will end is through the gospel.
Sunday morning is when we purposefully turn to God in hope that we will be reminded to seek Him throughout the week. Such is what allows me to share the Vice President’s hope. This morning at church let’s try and think about the fact that the oddball that always sits in that pew, or the kid with special needs in the wheelchair, or the person in the early throws of dementia, or the baby in the belly of that young woman is just as fearfully and wonderfully made as I am.