Against my better judgment I have decided to lose friends and alienate people with some posts on abortion. Ireland is legislating for abortion this year. I can’t influence that and I also can’t imagine that I can influence anyone who disagrees with me.
And for the record, most people disagree with me. Pro-life people think I am too weak on this position and don’t understand the severity of the issue. Pro-choice people easily disregard me as yet another religiously motivated pro-life zealot.
Chatting with people about this, I am surprised that Irish society doesn’t seem to see their conversation slipping into the kind of pitched culture-war animosity so common in America. Just as in America, movement on this legal position is driven by a contentious Supreme Court decision, not the ordinary organs of democracy. Just as in America, both sides seem to feel as if the majority is behind them. And just as in America, advocates for both sides, largely existing inside an echo-chamber of complementing viewpoints, struggle to even imagine why someone would take the opposition view.
If you struggle to understand why someone would not share your opinion, that usually isn’t a sign of the strength of your opinion.
Everything that I write this week will be addressed to the pro-choice side simply because I think I might be able to write in such a way as to be a faithful representative of the pro-life position that can be understood. I’m a cocky bastard sometimes. I am uncomfortable with much that goes on on “my side” of this debate. I think I can empathise with those on the other side of the debate. Hopefully I am not too far wrong.
Here is a tweet, remarkable only in that it is not at all remarkable. I don’t know Jamie, I am sure he is lovely, but this is not the best thing ever written by anyone:
Pro-Lifers are the worst, man. There’s nothing pro-life about your cause at all BTW. #abortionrights_ie
— Jamie Hinchliffe (@jhinchliffe) January 19, 2013
I am the worst, man. There is nothing pro-life about my cause, by the way.
Why am I pro-life? Because of my religious convictions.
Judging from my fairly close listening to pro-choice conversation online (admittedly based only on Twitter because I am not a member of Facebook or Google+), a probable response to that confession is that religion shouldn’t inform politics.
But if you don’t think my political positions should be informed by my religion, then you will find it hard to understand why I vote for the Green party. My voting is determined by the fact that I believe God created and sustains the world, loves the world and wants us to cherish the world.
Why should that religious conviction be excluded from my political rationale?
Well, you might respond, that religiously motivated political position is grand. But your abortion view is irrational.
But my pro-life conviction is based on my belief that life, in all of its forms, is a tremendous and wonderful thing. I think that human life is especially precious because of a religious commitment I hold at the very core of my life – that human beings in some special way reflect the glory of God. Now you might find my language archaic, but surely you will consider the outworking of this belief as anything but irrational. It elevates creativity in all of its forms as being superlative. It raises relationality to the very core of existence. It obliterates any basis for racism, sexism, or prejudice of any kind because the worth I aim to honour in human beings isn’t based on any qualities they may have but their intrinsic ability to reflect the divine beauty.
You might not be convinced by my perspective but it satisfies any rational definition of a reasonable position. It is consistent, coherent and complex. It does not demand adherence but it does deserve respect.
And here is the thing I am struggling with: my pro-life position has much more taxing angles to it than my opposition to abortion. I am against the death penalty. I am against euthanasia. But I actually try to follow through on that pro-life position all the way. I am against war in all places at all times. I am against hunger and drought. I am in favour of life and against death because I think human life mirrors the life of God out into the Cosmos. I have written in a more formal way here about what that means theologically.
Obviously, this is not meant for a moment to convince you either to embrace the news Jesus of Nazareth thought good or to forsake the pro-choice position. But I do want you to consider the fact that the guys opposite you are sitting on top of a rich and reasoned moral position. You might disagree, but there is no justification to disregard.
My peers with thin religious convictions think I’m courageous (naive, but courageous) when I advocate for comprehensive non-violence. Often, the very same people, when they hear that I am pro-life, think me crazy.
When that happens, it isn’t me who is irrational.
Your Correspondent, His one little extravagance is a live-in butler.