We live in a world with an “us versus them” mentality. No, I’m not talking about the Patriots versus Seahawks game this Sunday. I’m talking about the way one particular group demonizes another group because they are not like them. It’s a circle-the-wagons mentality that sets up barriers, builds walls, and bullies. the heartbreaking part for me is much of this happens in the name of God. Yes, God.
A perfect example of this is the battle between the movements “Right to Life” and “Pro Choice.” We’re pretty much aware of the battle lines, but when you stop to think about it, who isn’t in favor of life? Who isn’t in favor of our freedom to choose how we will live?
“Ah,” you say, “but what about those who choose to live in ways that endanger life?” Good question.
And there’s the rub. Is there a universal answer to that question? In fact, are there universal answers to most questions? Some would say, “Yes.” But others would say, “No.”
So there we are. I’ve said this before: All of our choices are based on our interpretation of our experience. We are essentially interpreters. And because we come from different, diverse life experiences the idea of unanimity of belief, opinion, and practice has never been the norm from the beginning to this day. And that especially rings true when it comes to religion. Yes, even Christianity. Not so sure about that? Then why are there hundreds of “denominations” and “non-denominations” of Christian faith communities as well as three major Christian groupings, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Catholic and Protestant?
I believe in God because of my life experience of Jesus of Nazareth, who was dead and risen from the dead. I believe that apart from God nothing exists. I believe that God is always calling us into a future filled with hope and that we participate in creating that future along with God. I believe there will be a time when heaven and earth will become one. I believe that God has brought salvation to the world through the work of Jesus, which is articulated through the Gospels and interpreted through a four-fold method of integrating Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. I believe that the way to resolving conflict within and without the church is through Holy Conferencing where the four-fold method is engaged. That is to say we must face conflict with courage, trust and hope that together we will discern the will of God.
I also believe not everyone agrees with me.
The reason I have been thinking about this is I am aware that a group of religious leaders in El Centro recently advocated that the Board of Directors for ECRMC not recommend the signing of what is called a Transfer Agreement between medical facilities. A Transfer Agreement says that if one medical facility has need to transfer a patient due to an emergency the hospital will receive that patient. The medical facility these religious leaders do not want the hospital to work with is Planned Parenthood.
In effect these religious leaders are advocating the hospital not treat any and all persons in need of medical care, but only patients from medical facilities these religious leaders would approve.
I realize many think that Planned Parenthood is simply a place where abortions take place. I’m not even sure if that’s true. I am aware that Planned Parenthood offers many services that help prevent abortions in the first place.
Please. I am not advocating the practice of abortion. I do, however, recognize that tragic conflicts of life with life may justify abortion, and in such cases I think it is the role of the church to provide ministries to help and support women who make that difficult decision.
Not to demonize them and the agencies that try to help them.