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Posts Tagged ‘republic’

It seems to me a good idea for our laws to be based on truth.  If the meaning of “miles per hour” is ambiguous, I would want to find the true definition of miles and hour rather than arbitrarily setting up some other explanation.  No argument about how an accurate definition of miles would infringe my freedom to drive as fast as I wanted should be considered.  We might change the law to increase the speed limit if that is our argument, but we cannot keep the existing law and just lie about what all the words mean.

Personhood is such an issue.  We have a law that guarantees life and due process to all persons.  If we don’t like that law, we can try to change it so that not all persons are so guaranteed.  (That law, incidentally, is based on a moral judgment that murder is wrong.  Many of our laws are enforcement of morality.)  What we cannot do is alter the definition of a person to mean something that it truly does not.  Defining the word “person” to include my rocking chair would be absurd.  Including my pet would be a stretch not intended by those who wrote the law.  Excluding my neighbor with freckles is dishonest.  Saying that my neighbor in the womb is less of a person than me is too arbitrary to be good science or good law.

Some would argue that the truth reflected in our laws should be based on precedent.  This breaks down for a number of reasons.  First, we have the problem of where the very first precedents got their truth.  History does not record an eternal list of precedents.  Secondly, we can point to many court rulings that have been made by liars, self-serving judges who refused to acknowledge the truth.  For example, see the slavery decision Dred Scott.  Finally, precedents can (and sometimes should) be overturned.  The “landmark” ruling that made abortion legal throughout the USA, Roe v. Wade, overturned many state laws that had been in existence for years.  It wasn’t that the question of reproductive rights had never been in court before; this was simply the first time the Supreme Court said abortion was a mother’s “right.”  (I must specify that it was seen as a woman’s right, not a man’s right or a baby’s right – which is important.  Roe v. Wade rests in the supposition that the baby is actually a part of the mother, thus giving her special privileges to end his life.  US law does not give a man the right to decide a mother must abort.  In fact, it will punish those criminals who assault a preborn child.  Nor does the legal system ask the baby, who is demonstrably a separate entity from his mother, whether he wants to be aborted, or acknowledge his right to life.  This is what Personhood seeks to amend.)

Another supposed basis for the truth of our laws is democracy.  What does the majority believe or want?  While our government is set up as a participatory representative system, where the voice of the people influences the leaders making the laws and even at times the laws themselves, this is arguably not the best means for ensuring justice.  The majority has sometimes voted for terrorist governments.  Or for slavery.  Hitler got his first foothold of power through democracy.  A majority of people once believed the world was flat.  We human beings are special, but not powerful enough to mold truth as we wish it was.  Republics like ours, the founding fathers warned us, are only sustainable, only free, if they are comprised of a moral citizenry.  The people must acknowledge a standard outside of themselves, and align with that, for freedom and justice to exist.

Can science be used to decide such a moral and philosophical question as what constitutes life or personhood?  We already have these philosophical terms in our law.  These words have been applied to at least some groups of humanity since the law was written.  No one disputes that the word “person” applies to a large part of humanity (always including the one making the judgment).  And here comes science, demonstrating that there is no significant, meaningful difference between one group of human beings and another.  Science can demonstrate that skin color is not a factor in personhood.  Size does not make person more of a person.  In fact, science can tell us that a human being has the same unique DNA from the moment of conception, at their birth, as they grow from infants to adolescents to fully-formed adults, even as they age and their health declines.

Any lines that have been proposed distinguishing one class of human beings as non-persons have been arbitrary.  Every person needs two things to continue living: nourishment and defense from violence.  The fertilized egg, the single-celled human embryo, needs only these things to develop into an adult.  An infant 1 year of age is still very dependent on his parents for the necessary nourishment and protection.  But given these things, he will grow into a man.  A young woman has to go through puberty to give her the hourglass shape associated with womanhood (and the ability to reproduce).  Where do you draw the line?  Which of these stages begins personhood?

In the history of this debate, the line of personhood has been suggested to begin:

–         at some point after birth when the baby is still dependent on his parents.  (If we draw the line at 3 months, was he less of a human the 24 hours before he was 3 months?  Honestly?)

–         at the first breath of air.  (Are humans receiving CPR or on ventilators not people?  What about the pre-mi’s born and kept alive for months by artificial breathing machines, to be weaned off when their lungs developed fully?)

–         when the baby completely leaves the womb – birth.  (Ten inches decides the identity of a human being?  There have been surgeries performed on preborn babies that involve removing the infants from the womb and then returning them there.  Are they people while out of the womb, then non-people again?  What has changed in the baby?)

–         at viability.  (Come What May, a film produced by the students at Patrick Henry College, makes the point that when we talk about viability, we are talking about viability sustained by human inventions.  Most babies are viable in the womb.  When we talk about viability, though, we disqualify that means of life support and substitute our own.  Man is not better than God at providing a hospitable environment for the youngest among us.  Even aside from that argument, our technology is improving.  A child who was not viable outside the womb 20 years ago might be now.  Nothing changed in the abilities or nature of the children.  We changed.)

–         when the mother can first detect movement – sometimes called “quickening.”  (Some mothers are more sensitive to the movement of their child than others.  Body shape and other factors might contribute to missing the first sensations of motion.  Also, some preborn babies move less or less emphatically than others.  We know from scientific experience that the baby is moving: swimming – from day one when he moves to the uterus!, kicking, waving, turning, changing facial expressions.  Again, this line is not dependent on the nature of the being inside the mother.)

–         at the beginning of biological development – called fertilization or conception.  (At this point a new life is begun.  Already his DNA has determined his features, his gender, his blood type – all of which can be different from his mother’s.  Before this moment, more was needed than nourishment and protection.  After this he will grow at his own body’s initiative and direction.)

All but the last “line” are arbitrary – as arbitrary as me deciding you were not a person because you live in the country, or because your skin is a different color from mine, or because I can whistle and you can’t (actually, I can’t), or worse: if I can’t hear you whistle even when you are.  Science and a bit of logic can recognize that there is no objective difference between adults like us and the kids who are so needy and the preborn.  Draw the line at conception.  Anything else is discrimination.

One more point I’d like to address is the legal objection many put forward.  In most abortion laws, pro-abortion activists push for “exceptions,” when a baby may still be killed.  They say that oh yes, abortion is a tragedy and we want it to be rare.  But surely there are bigger tragedies that abortion could solve: rape, incest, the life of the mother.

Regarding the “life of the mother” exception: our definition of person begins at conception.  It doesn’t end at birth.  This definition includes mothers.  The life of the baby is not, by this truth-reliant definition, more or less important than the mother’s.  Doctors and parents would be legally required to treat that baby as a person, without treating the mother as a non-person.  That’s the answer to the most common “life of the mother” clause.  No exception is necessary in the wording used by Personhood groups, because they affirm the right of the mother to life as well as the right of the baby.

But there are other “exceptions” argued for.  These tragedies are chosen for the exception list emotionally.  Why not include in the list: financial incompetence, household over-population, genetic deformity?  And if you go that far, why not make exceptions for gender, for the mom’s busy career, for her relationship with the father?  I’m not saying that everyone pushing for a few exceptions wants all of these exceptions.  My goal is to make it obvious that to be consistent in their reasoning, they should include all of these exceptions.  In every case the baby is a person.

That’s why I want to finish by asking you a few questions:

–         Is a human being not a person if her father is a rapist?  Is a 3 year old not a person if her father is a rapist?  Do you have less rights if your father was a rapist?

–         Is a human being not a person if his mother gets cancer?  Is a 3 year old not a person if his mom gets cancer?  Do you have less rights if your mother gets cancer?

–         Is a human being not a person if he and his mother are in danger and only one of them can be rescued?  Is a 3 year old not a person if he and his mother are in danger and only one of them can be rescued?  Do you have less rights if you and your mother are in danger and only one of you can be rescued?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Christians occasionally run up against the argument that religious wars recklessly took the lives of thousands of people.  Take the Crusades…  So of course Christianity is a religion of hate and violence, and it is hypocritical for purportedly teaching about loving one’s neighbor at the same time.  Guilt by association is a hard reputation to shed.  It is hard for me to have to defend myself over a crime for which I don’t feel guilty, especially when I don’t feel guilty because I wasn’t alive then.  I want to be loyal, but consistency and honesty are more important to me. 
 
Pro-life groups have the taint of extremists who bombed abortion clinics.  But I didn’t do that or condone that.  In fact, I cannot remember a bombing of a clinic in America since I turned 13 and started paying attention.  Is murdering millions of babies ok because one of the thousands of protestors was inexcusably destructive? 
 
Zionists have been shamed by a branch of extremists who wanted to use terror to further their cause.  In the case of Zionism, as opposed to that of Islam, the difference was that they were condemned by the mainstream.  Strategists, leaders, and supporters of the state of Israel sought peaceful means of creating a Jewish homeland.  Only once attacked and threatened by hostile (to say the least) neighbors who denied their existence and legitimacy did Israel take a position of miraculous strength, and apply military power. 
 
Committing a crime yourself and framing your enemies for it is classic double-agent strategy.  The ultimate example is Emperor Palpatine and the Clone Wars in Star Wars.  Or if you’re more for history than fantasy, you might refer to Hitler excusing his invasions of Austria, Czechoslavakia, and separately of Poland.  Yes.  We’re talking the trigger for World War II. 
 
During our involvement in World War II, America made the distasteful and unjust decision to inter our Japanese civilians in labor camps.  In the interest of humble honesty, I always feel obligated to admit that occasionally my country is not defending virtue and liberty.  I’m a fan of history, not names and dates so much as the connections of the dots.  What were the politics, the motivations, the idealisms that drove countries to war and revolt, to peace and surrender?  What little difference in choices would have changed the course of the world? 
 
So I have to note that the president who ordered Japanese interment during World War II was a Democrat.  Knowing that makes me feel a lot less responsible.  There are almost two countries in this America.  They alternate power, a check and balance between irresponsible oppression and defensive freedom.  I never realized it before, but I’m more or less loyal to the Republican America. 
 
But. 
 
My Republican America participates and upholds the same Constitution that occasionally puts Democrat America in power.  Even if I’m voting against them, I’m still endorsing the system.  How much responsibility does that give me? 
 
Some lifestyles are a package deal.  For example, I’m learning that to believe Church should be held in homes is a lifestyle.  Substituting a gathering in a house doing all the biblical things for the Sunday morning “worship service” in a sanctuary isn’t sufficient.  My friends would call the package living missionally.  I already believe that Christian community does life together and that the most effective Church in history met more than once a week. 
 
Perhaps another package deal is living in a Republic requires political involvement.  I can’t just vote and say I’ve done my part.  In fact, for decades under the US Constitution there was no suffrage for women, and their participation in the government had to be more involved and influential than that.  They had to do marches and grassroots campaigns.  We must do that and more, like paying attention to our representatives in all three branches of government, and proactively holding them accountable.  Voting is saying, “Yes, I believe in and endorse this system.”  The responsibility, then, is ours to do everything we can to ensure that the system is honorable and efficient. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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1 Chronicles 26:32, “And his brethren, men of valour, were two thousand and seven hundred chief fathers, whom King David made rulers over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king.”

 

A shocking revelation: apparently the government instituted by King David (after God-provided release from the oppression of King Saul, but still while threatened by powerful and jealous neighbors) had great resemblance to the government of the United States originally set forth in the Constitution.  The one primary difference was that the government of Israel included oversight on spiritual matters.  There was no separation of church and state.  Rather the church served as part of the “checks and balances” alongside the king, much like our three-branch system of government in the United States. 

 

Levites were the judges (in religious, ceremonial, and cleanliness matters) and jailers, as instructed by Leviticus.  They kept the cities of refuge, in which men who had involuntarily committed manslaughter could live safely out of reach of the avenger of blood (not an official government agent, but a near relative of the victim; see the Second Amendment). 

 

David’s trusted military chiefs were made rulers in their respective tribal lands (states), but those men who were directly subject to King David were only responsible for matters pertaining to God and affairs of the king, implying that there are matters which are not affairs of the king or particularly pertaining to God/religion.  These are local matters (originally our country would have considered commerce, education, and ordinances like traffic laws to be the domain of state and local governments).  Elders in each city of Israel, on a clannish basis, were responsible for oversight of these more minor issues. 

 

See the definition of Federalism provided by dictionary.com:

 

Federalism

A system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units. “ 

and

 “A system of government in which power is divided between a national (federal) government and various regional governments. As defined by the United States Constitution, federalism is a fundamental aspect of American government, whereby the states are not merely regional representatives of the federal government, but are granted independent powers and responsibilities. With their own legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch, states are empowered to pass, enforce, and interpret laws, provided they do not violate the Constitution. This arrangement not only allows state governments to respond directly to the interests of their local populations, but also serves to check the power of the federal government. Whereas the federal government determines foreign policy, with exclusive power to make treaties, declare war, and control imports and exports, the states have exclusive power to ratify the Constitution. Most governmental responsibilities, however, are shared by state and federal governments: both levels are involved in such public policy issues as taxation, business regulation, environmental protection, and civil rights.”The king unified the tribes when necessary in defense against their hostile neighbors, just as the authors of the Federalist Papers defended as a prime reason for any kind of central US government (as opposed to a Confederacy). 

Of course we know that Israel’s federation endured a similar pattern to ours.  Solomon’s son became rather tyrannical, so a large portion of the tribes seceded, but in Israel’s case, successfully.  Eventually the people all fell to wickedness, and the government: kings and priests also became selfish and corrupt.  This was not a result, please recognize, of the union of church and state.  Rather, it was because the spiritual legacy was abandoned and replaced with paganism or humanism alternately, that the nation suffered decay. 

 

Warnings were given to Israel.  The people ought to have repented.  The government needed reform.  Refusing to heed, both sections of David’s kingdom were, short hundreds of years after his reign, conquered anyway. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 PS: This is what I thought of when reading 1 Chronicles 26 last night.  Any other thoughts?  I could be wrong about some things.   

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