With all my heart, I wish everyone were Christian. I wish divorce, drug abuse, alcoholism, spousal abuse, racism, and every sort of the exploitation and moral degradation amidst which we all live everyday were gone forever, burned away in the bright light of God's infinite, immediate love for each and every one of us.
But I don't live in a place where that's what's happening. I live in this place. This world. This country.
Many in America are, as I am, Christian. Many ain't. But all of us Americans live under the same form of government, one mandated by its defining documents to forever endeavor to strike with us, and for us, the best balance possible between Doing the Right Thing, and Doing Whatever We Want.
We can drive whatever car we want -- as long as it's licensed, and we don't drive it too fast.
We can make all the money we want -- as long as we give the government the percentage it requests/insists upon.
We can have all the sexual congress we want -- as long as the act isn't contingent upon us or our partner getting paid for it. And so on.
And sometimes, of course, those laws get into some zones where it's naturally difficult to determine where one set of rights and concerns ends, and another begins.
Like with, say, abortion.
I'm against abortion. So are you. So is everyone. The primary reason I'm against abortion has nothing to do with the fact that I'm Christian, and everything to do with the fact that I'm human. Everyone thinks abortion is horrible. Everyone wishes no one ever felt the need to get one. Nobody gets or agrees to an abortion cavalierly; no one thinks of it as just another form of birth control.
Everyone loves babies. Everyone thinks babies are cute. No one wants anyone else to murder babies.
All people love babies. Okay? So could we Christians please stop talking about anyone as if they "support" the murder of babies? That's beneath us. We're better than that. And so are the "baby-murderers" at whom we keep pointing fingers, waving signs, and screaming.
The tragedy of abortion is the tragedy of abortion. No one who's ever had an abortion gets too often lost in wondering whether or not it was the right thing to do. For those who have suffered through such an experience, the consideration of its relative moral merits tends to get very quickly overwhelmed by the visceral, absolute knowledge of how freaking awful it is, period. The one thing any woman who's ever had an abortion knows for sure is that she doesn't want to have another one -- just like she didn't want to have the first one. So much of the rest is just guys in suits posturing for cameras.
We Christians need to remember that being Christian gives us no uniquely deep claim on the abhorrence to abortion. Abortion is as much a "secular" concern as it is a Christian one. When I was a teenager, a Muslim friend of mine had an abortion, and the tears her own father cried when he found out about it were as real as any that ever fell to earth. I once accompanied a young homeless woman to her abortion procedure. She was a Christian. She was also poverty-stricken, drug-addicted, and the victim of a vicious rape.
Sometimes heaven wins. Sometimes the earth does.
What we have to do is make sure, insofar as we're able to, that love is always there, if not always immediately victorious.
When it comes to the issue of abortion, we Christians would do very well indeed to acknowledge that virtually everyone agrees on the end we all desire, which is no one ever wanting an abortion, ever. Christians, atheists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, car salesmen, budget analysts, movie stars, my insane next door neighbor with the crazy rottweiler -- it's a certainty that 99.99% of people alive on the planet right now would agree that in a perfect world every baby would be welcomed, loved, cherished, fed well, and dressed in the sweetest little baby clothes ever.
That relative to abortion everyone wants the exact same end -- no abortions, ever -- isn't in question. It's only the means by which we attain that end about which people have varying ideas. But agreeing on the end of our desire for a matter should make for a very definite cooling of the rhetoric of the conversation about the means by which we might most effectively achieve that end.
If we're really intent upon showing our concern for babies, the first thing we need to do, right off the bat, is to be sure we act like adults.
You might also enjoy/hate my "Anne Rice: "I Quit Christianity!" Yaaaawn."