“Rejecting” Jesus

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-peoria-bishop-politicians-who-support-abortion-rights-reject-jesus-20121031,0,1711108.story

“Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord,” Jenky added. “They are objectively guilty of grave sin.”

“Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against,” he said. “But I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

Understand, this is not an attack on the Roman Catholic church. My words would be no different if the clergy member who issued this statement was Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denominational, or any of the other 40-some-thousand denominations out there. Upon reading the article, this is my reaction:

He is absolutely right. Except, he’s not. And here’s why.

He says that those who condone abortion are deserving of public ridicule by Christians for taking a life, which, absolutely, is against God and against our neighbor. But he’s wrong. Not because killing isn’t wrong and evil, though. Not even because we shouldn’t confront each other when we fail.

It’s because I don’t hear this same claim being made against our police officers who take a life in the course of their duty. Or against our soldiers, sanctioned murderers whose job it is to kill people we decide need to be killed. When was the last time Christian clergy en masse spoke out against these lives taken?

The truth is that every single one of us is deserving of the public ostracization and ridicule that the letter heaps onto those who condone abortion. Not one of us is better than the other. So to stand up and say, “These people are deserving of the attention while others are not” is hypocritical at best and equally sinful at worst. Those who issue statements such as these can only be truthful if their next words are, “And I’m just as guilty”. The Bishop who issued this letter, by nature of nothing else than simply being human, is just as guilty of rejecting Jesus as his Lord and has put his own salvation at risk: we all are and we all have.

We reject the love of God given to us every day of our lives, every one of us. As Paul puts it, “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and “Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded.” Not only have we all screwed it up, none of us can say that we are better than another or that we screwed up less than anyone else.

That’s my problem with Christianity’s “hot button” issues. Why are they more important, more hotly contested than any other issues? Why are people on one side or the other evil or un-Christian? Abortion and murder are terrible sins, and we need to wrestle with them, but so are neglecting the poor and needy, lying, exercising greed, and any other action we take or word we say that hurts God.

If we are to start publicly calling each other out on our failings, then we need to widen the scope and understand that the cross-hairs we aim at others will point right back at us, whether we want them to or not. We no longer have any high ground on which to stand. In fact, we never have.

Advertisements

Author: Pastor Ken

Ken Ranos serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

16 thoughts on ““Rejecting” Jesus”

  1. I accept your criticism with a couple of changes: Police officers do not go to work with the intention of killing. In the vast majority of cases, they kill in self defense. A woman who wants to have an abortion deliberately steps out of the house with that intention. Apples vs. oranges in my world. I don’t think our soldiers personally want to kill either. They would rather be part of a peace-keeping force somewhere-the fact that all nations have to have soldiers is the sin.

    Like

    1. Those are own self-justifications. We have decided that we are allowed to commit murder in some circumstances, but not others. It’s still murder. That doesn’t mean I don’t myself accept those justifications, because I do. I’m not much different than everyone else, after all. But I have to also recognize it for what it is–we sanction murder in some cases, but not others. And we have no trouble deciding who is guilty of worse crimes than others based on solely our own criteria. In truth, every time I lie (which I do surprisingly often), whether it’s a little lie or a big lie, I am no different and just as guilty as a soldier who kills another solider or a doctor who performs an abortion. To pretend otherwise is hubris and pride.

      Like

  2. “Not one of us is better than the other.”

    This is a specious argument, and unfortunately the end-result of the Protestant mode of thinking that we are “simul justus et peccator. Yes, we are all sinners. But we are not all sinners equally, because not all sins are equal. Everyone has a sinful nature, but not everyone commits mortal sins such as murder. Those who don’t are not guilty of the same sins as those who do. The fact that we are all sinners does not mean that the morality of sin and righteous, right and wrong, becomes meaningless and relativistic, just because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    “Neglecting the poor and needy, lying, exercising greed” are bad things and sins, yes. But neglecting the poor is not of the same moral weight and value as walking down the street with a machine gun and slaughtering the poor. I’m sorry, but it’s just not. Our legal system doesn’t think it is, and even if we all are in some sense special little filthy snowflakes, the commission of a sin like murder is not morally equivalent to a sin of omission, of failing to be charitable.

    A police officer or a solder who kills in the line of duty only kills in defense of the public or of country. They only kill those, in theory, who are threatening to harm others (there are accidents and mistakes) — who effectively bring about their own deaths. Unborn children are innocents. They have not earned death. Killing them is in no wise equivalent to killing criminals and enemy combatants, and killing in the line of duty is in no wise equivalent to murder.

    Abortion is a grave evil. The political issue of abortion is especially grave because those who are “pro-choice” are not just in favor of “choice” — they are in favor of no restrictions at all on abortion, not even late-term or partial-birth abortions, effectively infanticide of a live child. Arguments can be made that first-trimester abortions are not as “bad” as late-term abortions (I think these arguments are specious, too) — and for the sake of argument, I’ll concede that. If a moderate politician wanted to run for office on the platform of banning late-term abortions and limiting abortion to the first trimester, they’d be driven out of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party platform is pro-abortion. No matter how the rhetoric is shaped, it condones and permits abortion in any form, in any situation.

    Like

    1. ““Neglecting the poor and needy, lying, exercising greed” are bad things and sins, yes. But neglecting the poor is not of the same moral weight and value as walking down the street with a machine gun and slaughtering the poor. I’m sorry, but it’s just not.”

      Yet in Matthew, those who are singled out for eternal punishment are singled out not because they killed anyone, but because they didn’t take care of the poor and needy–something I’ve always found puzzling. God takes oppression with the utmost seriousness alongside what else we have labeled mortal sins.

      ” The political issue of abortion is especially grave because those who are “pro-choice” are not just in favor of “choice” — they are in favor of no restrictions at all on abortion, not even late-term or partial-birth abortions, effectively infanticide of a live child.”

      Straw man. The Democratic Political Party Platform does place no restrictions on abortion, which I do not agree with (but, neither am I a Democrat). Not everyone who is “pro-choice” wants to end all restrictions on abortion. You might say that my church, for example, is “pro-choice”, because it does not support a blanket ban on all abortions period. Instead, our social statement on abortion clearly and emphatically states that abortion is an evil and not a part of God’s will for the world. It outlines only three cases in which it considers abortion to be acceptable: 1) when the pregnancy is a clear and present danger to the life of the mother, 2) when the child is conceived through rape/incest/coercion, and 3) when the child is so badly deformed that life outside the womb will be incredibly short and painful. Consequently, it opposes both political extremes, that one must either remove all regulations on abortion or that all abortions must be eliminated. It also explicitly says that once a child can live outside the womb on its own, abortion is no longer an option.

      I like Shane Claiborne’s view on the matter: “I must say I am still passionately pro-life. I just have a much more holistic sense of what it means to be for life, knowing that life does not just begin at conception and end at birth, and that if I am going to discourage abortion, I had better be ready to adopt some babies and care for some mothers.” (The Irresistible Revolution, 44). The opposite straw man, which Shane tackles, is that “pro-life” means that once the child is born, the fight is over and won until the child is sent off to war, where it’s life is no longer as precious.

      tldr: “pro-choice” does not automatically mean “free abortion for everyone no matter the reason”.

      “killing in the line of duty is in no wise equivalent to murder”

      I’d strongly disagree. A life is a life no matter whose it is. We can (and do) say that, while killing is always wrong, sometimes, for human life, it is necessary. That doesn’t make it right, but it forces us to still look at our actions through the eyes of Christ and recognize that we are broken.

      Like

      1. I will reply in brief, and then I’m through with the politics of this world for a good long while.

        “Yet in Matthew, those who are singled out for eternal punishment are singled out not because they killed anyone . . .”

        I guarantee you that if the Pharisees and Sadducees or rulers of Judea were involved in sanctioned mass murder on a wide scale the way our society is today, Jesus would have more than called them out on it. That the taking of innocent lives is a mortal sin should go without saying. I am horrified that in our society it is a protected right.

        “Not everyone who is “pro-choice” wants to end all restrictions on abortion . . .”

        To my knowledge, the only restriction on abortion now in place is the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (2003), and the majority of congressional Democrats fought that one kicking and screaming. What is more, that law now has no real effect: it bans only one specific procedure (“intact dilation and extraction”); abortionists have moved on to other methods for extreme late-term abortions. From the Wiki:

        A 2007 article in The Boston Globe reported that, in response to this statute, many abortion providers had adopted the practice of injecting the fetus with lethal drugs before all late-term abortions. Typically, a concentrated salt solution is injected directly into the fetal heart using ultrasound to guide the needle. Even though these providers do not perform intact dilation and extraction procedures, they feel the broad wording of the ban compels them “to do all they can to protect themselves and their staff from the possibility of being accused.”

        The Democratic Party has since solidified its stance against any restrictions on abortion. When I say the party’s stance is “pro-abortion,” I am not accusing any individual, but the position of the party in practice. This is not a straw man. In practice, supporting “choice” without restriction is effectively the same thing as supporting abortion without restriction. This is the mandate America has given the Democratic Party. To speak otherwise, as we have learned in this election, is to be a misogynist and anti–women’s rights.

        “I’d strongly disagree.”

        So you really, honestly think that a soldier who kills in combat in defense of freedom and country — say, one of the “Greatest Generation” who fought against the evil of Nazi Germany, labeled a hero by most of the world — has, in the eyes of God, committed a sin as grave as, say, the rape and murder of small child? There is no difference in the eyes of His justice, when He judges us according to our works (Revelation 20:13)?

        Like

      2. When you said “pro-choice”, you did not attach it to a political party. I agree with you that the Democratic Party platform that includes no restrictions on abortion is wrong. My argument is that “pro-choice” does not equal “no restrictions”. Pro-choice means that in some circumstances, abortion needs to be an option–circumstances that I outlined. We both agree that abortion available at any time for any reason is wrong. (Incidentally, I did not vote Democrat in this election; I didn’t vote Republican, either).

        And yes, I do believe that a soldier who killed Nazi soldiers in the second World War was guilty of grave sin. Am I glad they did it? You bet. It had to be done. Many more lives were saved because of their actions. But a life is still a life, and the violently taking of a life still wholly contrary to God’s desire for humanity. I also firmly believe in the grace of God being extended to all, liar, prostitute, rapist, and soldier alike, so that as we are all equally fallen and devastated in this world, in the coming reign of God, we will all be equally justified and sanctified.

        Like

    1. Of course not–of the many impressions I wanted to give in this post, that wasn’t one of them, so I apologize if that came through.
      It’s funny, though, because that was the accusation laid against the early church, especially the churches founded by Paul.

      Like

  3. I agree that murder is murder, killing someone is murder. The question to ask tho is this, What remorse do I have when or if I kill someone? A soldier? A police officer? An abortionist? Which of us truly fear the living God who created all things?
    Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    Like

  4. “gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.” This statement is the one that disturbs me most. Abortion is an emotive topic so if you throw in “baby killing” you can justify just about any comment. I think our eternal salvation is a bit more secure than this statement voices. It is fear mongering – I am not saying pro or against – I am saying a statement like this is fear mongering and not right.

    Like

    1. To which part do you object–that gravely sinning makes one morally complicit? Or that it places salvation in jeopardy? And yes, abortion is a highly emotive topic–it’s why it is so hard to talk about.

      Like

      1. I object to the attempt to sway opinion by making a statement about salvation being in jeopardy. Correct me if I am wrong, he is saying that by voting a particular way you are making yourself “morally complicit” and in danger of losing salvation. In other words, if you do this…..this will happen – it is legalism and it is using fear as motivation. It is not how Christianity is meant to be. I know you visited my blog – did you read Lutheran – a primitive religion part 1 and 2 can be found here – http://tapfotoreflections.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/lutheran-a-primitive-made-up-religion/
        I believe the Gospel message is slowly being compromised.

        Like

      2. I believe we have the same objection. What prompted my post was my reaction to the statement and how I perceived it to be manipulative. I did read Lutheran part 1, but I don’t think I’ve read part 2 yet–I’ll have to check it out.
        I would say that the Gospel message is slowly being compromised. Rather, it’s been compromised from the moment that the Romans attempted to silence the messenger. Even the church has not always done a good job of proclaiming the message, which is why the Reformation was necessary and why another one might be necessary very soon.

        Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s