Doubt Month: Right to Life

January 11, 2010

If there’s one thing a lot of Christians in America like to fight for, it’s the “right to life.”

I think we’ve got a good thing going with this “Doubt Month” thing.  You’ve all given me so many great comments and so much to work with.  I think I’m going to enjoy this!

Anyway, I don’t know how it is in other countries, but the “right to life” is definately a hill to die on here.  It’s in our Declaration of Independence that everyone is given by God the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Yes, many people love defending the rights of innocent life, and I do too.  I’m not a banner waving protestor, but I’ve stood up for my share of fetuses.  It seems the right to life topic is one of the few things the Catholics have one-upped some of the Fundamentalists on.  Some Fundamentalist is out there protesting at an abortion clinic…

Fundamentalist:  “All life is sacred!  God’s judgement is on you!  You’re going to hell, murderer!”

Catholic:  “You make a good point.  Life is sacred.  In fact, it seems to me that life is so sacred, married people shouldn’t be using contraceptives.”

Fundamentalist:  “Woah, slow down!  Let’s not go crazy there.”

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m kind of doubting there is such a thing as a “right to life.”

Hear me out, now.  It’s not quite what you’re thinking…

One of the big problems people have with the Bible is how nice God seems in the New Testament, but how mean and nasty He seems in the Old Testament.  God seems all fire and brimstone before Jesus comes along, and then we assume God got saved, and took care of some of His anger issues, learned the five love languages, and became Mr. Nice-God.  I’ve thought that way a long time.

Let’s face it.  God sanctioned a lot of war in the Old Testament.  War is bad, especially when it comes at the cost of innocent life.  So God has a seedy past.  If He showed up in church, He’d have an awesome testimony of getting saved!  Everyone likes a story of a hardened drug dealer or a prostitute or a deity who comes to Jesus.

But I started doubting this.  God didn’t really change between the Old and New Testaments.  The Old Testament is much more full of “love” and “peace” then we give it credit for, and the New Testament is much more full of “hell” and “judgement” then we care for.  God doesn’t have a chemical imbalance; He’s the same God.

Second, and even bigger, is that word “innocent” that we like to attach to things.  When someone gets murdered, we’re outraged because we say they were “innocent.”

So you can see, if you think all the people that Israel warred against and killed were “innocent,” (i.e. not sacrificing babies to their gods, and whatnot,) you’re going to have a tough time with God.  If you think they had a “right to life,” you’re going to think God is a pretty mean dude…maybe even un-American.

Remember that story where Abraham begged God to not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?  God was all too willing to spare the cities if only a handful of “innocent” people could be found.  (This was in the Old Testment, mind you.)  Turns out, there weren’t any.  Besides that, when we point the finger of shame at God and the Israelites, we tend to forget all the times God let other armies come in and kill His own people, because they had been naughty.

So if you think people are generally good and deserving and “innocent,” you’ve kind of got a problem.  It’s even possible that this whole notion of a “right to life” could be a stumbling block.  Sure, we’re commanded not to murder each other, but when it comes to God, well, I don’t think we really have any rights…

…which just makes it all the more amazing that He keeps any of us around at all! 

For the record, I think God’s mercy and justice extends far beyond what we can imagine.  Who’s to say what He did with all those people Joshua killed while conquering the Promised Land?  Not me.

How do you deal with that rather messy Old Testament?  Is it a problem for you?  I can’t say I like it, but that’s how I see it.  What other problems with the Bible or God’s personality do you have?