Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr Day and Civil Rights

Today as I bounced between a few blogs I was reminded that today is the Thirty-fifth anniversary of the Roe verus Wade decision that took away ALL civil rights for children of all races in the United States of America, beginning with the primary right to Life and extending to the rights of Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness of which the founding document of this nation declares.

It struck me as quite peculiar that this year the anniversary happens to follow on the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. One day after the honoring of one of the recognized leaders of the African-American Civil rights movement follows the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that declared that babies have no rights prior to full parturition.

Is this merely a coincidence? Good question!

This question applies primarily to the issue that with the increase on focus of the claim to rights of individuals of certain categories that society began focusing upon the cries of certain groups and responding to those cries. Those that were able to march and to cry out loudly, especially if they were able to cry out with a connection to any type of presumed injustice to their group, these groups were able to demand action. The key to their success was that they were able to make their voices heard.

But what of those who have no voices, or at least none that can be heard in an organized protest? What happens to such as these? What happens to those who are truly powerless to cry out in such a way as to make themselves to be heard?

Such is the plight of the gestational children of our country. Often they have their lives literally ripped from them, but they are incapable of crying out as a group. Sometimes their cries are silenced by amniotic fluid still in their lungs. Yes, the very fluid that the mother’s body provides to surround the child with protection, silences the screams of the little one who is being destroyed. Other times the cries are not silenced, as the little ones are actually still alive and screaming out, abandoned in a trash container to face the harsh elements of the world until their strength is used up.

Yet our society that prides itself on being so noble as to have a day set aside to honor the civil rights movement, also prides itself for granting women their say over their so-called reproductive rights. How strange that in the name of civil rights such incivility to millions of babies is condoned.

How can this be explained?

There is an explanation, though few ever seem to recognize it. That explanation is that society, a.k.a., people, presume to be judges of what is right and what is good. When society imagines that the majority is supreme in judging what is good, when society presumes to be supreme in determining justice for all, that society becomes prejudiced in its judgments. Such a society will always determine its judgements according to its own prejudices. The most powerful of these prejudices is the presumption of inherent goodness and self-determination.

This is why even the best intentions of the civil rights movement have always created more tension rather than less tension between the various groups of people in society.

True justice, true righteousness, true fairness is not something that can be promoted by civic movements. Civic movements are always reactionary. Justice, righteousness and fairness are not reactionary. They are foundational.

True justice, righteousness, and fairness are founded upon Love. And Love is of God, for God is Love. God’s justice is manifested not in His declaration of the Law, but in His self-sacrifice on the cross. His Law declares what should be. His Love established it forever. His law condemns wickedness. His Gospel reconciles the unloving. When society knows the Lord as the author of all that is good, love moves the hearts of the people to act justly and mercifully, even as they know God’s mercy for themselves.

This is why the demand for rights always fails. Even when pro-life advocates picket and cry out for the rights of children, only temporary victories are achieved by means of evoking guilt. But as the Scriptures declare, love does no wrong to its neighbor. People will never learn to act justly while seeking to be just in their own eyes. Justice does not flow from the knowledge of good and evil, but from knowing the One who is good. When a people’s God is the God of Love, then what will fill their hearts and lives? When a heart is filled with the knowledge of God’s forgiveness and love, what else would be that heart’s view toward others? In the days following Pentecost the world beheld such a vision, and when the pure Gospel is heard and received today, forgiveness and love still rule the day. Pursuing and defending and claiming one’s rights makes one a slave to those rights. But in the God who holds love even above the demand for what is right, one finds the life of love and peace by which the very definition is given to being free.

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