Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Mavra Stark is president of the National Organization for Women's Morris County, N.J. chapter. She is protesting the double murder charge in the Laci Peterson case, fearing detrimental repercussions to her organization's goals if Laci's child is accorded the status of having been a person, though unborn. She has said, "There's something about this that bothers me a little bit. Was it born, or was it unborn. (Refusing to accord the child the dignity of using his name, Conner.) If it was unborn, then I can't see charging (Scott Peterson, the victims' husband and father) with murder."
Conner ceased to live - forcibly - as a fully formed eight month fetus; a child under normal circumstances fully viable outside his mother's womb. Stark's fear is, "If this is murder, well, then anytime a late-term fetus is aborted, they could call it murder." Yes, they could, and many do. Regardless of the stand one takes on abortion, third trimester abortions are relatively rare after the 21st week simply because most people won't consider it. The advancement of medical technology in sustaining fetal life outside the womb has forced the general public to question many aspects of abortion, some questioning for the first time it's value altogether. Conner Peterson is indeed an effective argument against late-term abortions, at the very least.
He is certainly not the first unborn baby to be regarded as a human being deserving state protection. More than two dozen states have fetal homicide laws and two recent convictions of murder and manslaughter have been returned as a result of mother's being murdered along with their eight-month pre-born children. Kathleen Parker, writing for the Orlando Sentinel rightly concludes that this case has highlighted the inarguable truth, " that late-term abortions and dead babies are one and the same."
How did we get to this point in our national psyche? Where we can so insensitively refer to someone's loss as an "it" and debate the legalities of death depending on other's arbitrary desire to recognize or deny life. Many point to the converging influences of the free sex movement, the re-definition of aberrant sexual behavior as normal for some, the removal of prayer from school and God from the public arena. But I take heart, cautiously, in the indications of some rethinking among many concerning what is acceptable in our society. My caution comes from the realization that change of any kind, especially in thought processes and human behavior rarely happen quickly; coming about in slow stages that are only recognized and understood all at once. Likewise cures come, to our frustration, by degrees as well.
Several years ago we re-examined ourselves; our ethics, morals and belief systems - and found them lacking. Not always a bad thing. We need to periodically look at who we are and what makes us that way to strengthen our sense of right and wrong as well as our commitment to a code of living that will bring us personal fulfillment yet enable us to live reasonably with others. At some point in this process, some decided that no longer mattered. A moral code? Do what you want with - or to - whoever you want. Ethics? If it feels good, do it. As long as it doesn't hurt anybody else, what's the problem? (Which is almost never the case) And if it does, so what? To each his own, live and let live - it's every man for himself!
But are we happy? Are we more fulfilled? Are we truthful and fair in our dealings with others? Do we treasure life and its opportunities, taking excitement from the vistas open to us in our futures? Do we respect the rights of others and strive to ensure that we all have the same opportunity to succeed? For many, no. The culprit being a lowering of our sense of what it means to be human and the absence of a relationship with a personal God who is interested in us as individuals and who has expectations of us.
When we tell children they are little more than rutting animals with little control over their lusts; should it surprise us when they exercise none? If we tell them that in expressing themselves, concern for others is secondary to their right to be who or whatever they want to be; can we be shocked at behavior that is demanding and insensitive? When we proclaim an end to absolute truth and a sliding scale for morality where everyone is allowed to totally express their individual identity, developing their own private sense of right and wrong with no outside interference; can we be disappointed when no morals are developed except the one, "I want what I want when I want it!?"
Much is said today of the impossibility of legislating morality and the danger in allowing religion to be used in establishing a code of ethics, fearing it's imposition on the rest of society. The real question however is not whether "we the people" will allow an imposition of morality as history has repeatedly shown that in every society someone's code of behavior will be imposed. The real question is whose sense of right and wrong will it be, what can we reasonably expect from that and do we really want that code as compared to the one many nations have patterned themselves after already?
Do we really want children having children? Then should we encourage, however passively, children to have sex by excusing and enabling such behavior? Do we really mean to cheapen life? Then why support or excuse killing, whether the unborn or elderly? Can we say, no you shouldn't but yes, you can; and not totally confuse those we are trying to teach a sense of moral responsibility? How can we rejoice in the creation of life with one couple yet, in a matter of weeks or months, decide that life is not viable or worth keeping in another?
Miss Stark's gross insensitivity is appalling but the mindset that allows for such an agenda is frightening, and must be countered with the love of Jesus fleshed out in the actions of his followers. Her behavior is the result of the faulty reasoning of the "me first and only" generation. It must be replaced with the self-less love of Christ. (Philippians 2:5-11 and Romans 12:9-21)
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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