A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Social Justice Issue the UMC Continues to Ignore

David Watson has written an excellent post on abortion as it particularly relates to children with Down Syndrome. Watson has a son with Down. He writes,
Imagine that there was a pre-natal test, commonly recommended by medical personnel, to identify children who would experience depression throughout their lives. Upon receiving a positive test, parents were counseled: You know, you might not want to go through with this pregnancy.  You're headed down a very difficult path. You may very well see your son or daughter descend into misery. His or her quality of life will likely suffer greatly. This could lead to all kinds of other problems, including various forms of self-medication. Plus, this nation spends billions of dollars every  year on mental health costs. Think of all the good we could do with that much money! Therefore, terminating this pregnancy is a reasonable option. It may be best for you and for all involved.
This would never happen, right? Don't be so sure. 

It's already happening, not with people who will experience depression, but with children with Down Syndrome. According to an ABC News article, 92% of women who receive a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome terminate the pregnancies. Right now, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women be offered a Down syndrome screening test. Why should this test be offered as routine? The obvious answer is that children with Down Syndrome are not understood to be as valuable as "typical" children.
By the way, there's a word for this kind of thing: eugenics. What we're talking about here is the elimination of a people group. Many of us are uncomfortable talking about this matter because it relates to topic of abortion. Yet regardless of how we may feel about abortion, can we not say that the selective termination of pregnancies based upon genetic characteristics is unethical and unacceptable? If we think, moreover, that we can limit this kind of thing to Down Syndrome, we're fooling ourselves. As genetic testing becomes more sophisticated, will we act in the same way toward children with other forms of cognitive impairment? Children with autism? Children who are blind, deaf, or missing limbs? We can imagine a host of other traits that could be considered “undesirable.”
We talk about social justice more than we talk about God. Why, then, are we silent?
As I have said before, if we Christians are to develop a consistent ethic of life and hospitality, that will include extending that hospitality to the unborn. Watson asks why We United Methodists won't take a strong stand against this issue. It's because, as I have also argued, we UMs have become nothing more than an extension of the Democratic Party.

Until Mainliners forsake their DNC ways we will not have a consistent ethic of hospitality. And until evangelical Protestants abandon their RNC ways, they will continue to exclude immigrants from offering the open hands of Jesus Christ.

Jesus did not rise from the dead to make his people Democrats or Republicans to do nothing more than tout the platforms of the political parties justifying their positions with a little God language here and there. He did not die to make his church a religious arm for nation state politics. Jesus died to create his church to be an alternative to the world, to shed new light on the human situation and offer new life to all.

I find this all very discouraging, even on the day after Easter.


Morgan Guyton said...

It seems like a bit of a red herring to me. Who's ignoring this issue? What's the concrete legislative initiative that we should be taking up that people aren't taking up? Why not just raise attention to the issue without bashing the UMC in a broad stroke? As it is, this just seems like politically moderate posturing.

Allan R. Bevere said...


In my opinion, the problem is being ignored because if the UMC took a stand against abortion on the basis of eugenics, it would alien us from our Democratic constituency.

I see this as a much larger issue, and it is politically motivated posturing-- it is motivated by the desire to see the church as God's politics and not the nation state.

Allan R. Bevere said...

And by the way, I did not suggest legislation. Your question demonstrates my point. The first thing we think of when it comes to a moral issue is what laws can we encourage the nation to enact. I want the church to be a place that welcomes all into its midst, from the unborn to the their mothers to the immigrants, to gays and lesbians... you get my point.