March 2002—A quarterly news letter for United Methodists


Contents

bullet THE 2002 LIFEWATCH SERMON
bullet THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS REMAINS SILENT
bullet NPRC PRESS RELEASE: AGAINST HUMAN CLONING
bullet PRESIDENTIAL REMARKS
bullet A LIFEWATCH LETTER
bullet YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT
bullet BOOK ORDER FORM
bullet SEND LIFEWATCH TO A FRIEND!
bullet Our Mission

 

THE 2002 LIFEWATCH SERMON

What follows is an edited version of the sermon delivered at the Lifewatch Service of Worshipheld at Simpson Memorial Chapel in The United Methodist Building, Washington, DCon January 22, 2002. The preacher was the scribe of this newsletter.

"CALLED TO BE SAINTS TOGETHER"

This morning’s sermon text is from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Church at Corinth, the first chapter, verses 1-9. Hear now the Word of the Lord to us and for us. [I Corinthians 1:1-9, RSV]

Stay strong in the struggle within our church for respecting and protecting the lives of all human beings.

Yes, this is most certainly a classic case of the bait-and-switch routine! Dr. Sondra Wheeler—who is the Martha Asheby Carr Professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary here in Washington, DC—had been scheduled to deliver this morning’s sermon. With great expectations, we had looked forward to her sermon. However, because the health of her infirm parents is failing, she was called out of town to be with them. Therefore, this morning you are stuck with a substitute preacher.

All of us would agree that, by lovingly caring for her parents, Dr. Wheeler is being an obedient, loving Christian daughter who honors her mother and father. Let us pause to pray for her parents and for her...

O God, as you constantly love "the least of these" (Matthew 25), may your love be known through the presence of Dr. Wheeler with her parents. And may your grace give Dr. Wheeler the strength and desire for continuing works of mercy for her parents, and for continuing words of truth to her classes and to her readers. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

CORRUPT CORINTH

Corinth was an important city in New Testament times. It was located less than fifty miles due west of Athens. It was the capital of a province of the Roman Empire. And it was on a much traveled trade route between Rome and the East. Corinth was cosmopolitan, worldly, and morally wild and woolly. That is, Corinth was morally corrupt.

There were many symbols of Corinth’s moral corruption. For example, a temple for the ancient goddess Aphrodite dominated the City of Corinth. At one time, this pagan temple employed 1,000 temple prostitutes. During the first century AD, the phrase Corinthian girl meant a prostitute. Also in ancient times, the expression to live like a Corinthian meant to live like one who has "friends in low places"—our thanks to Garth Brooks.

In 50 AD, on his second missionary journey, St. Paul travels to this city, to Corinth. There the apostle Paul preaches the Gospel, and the Church of Corinth is born. There Paul remains for extended congregation building. After an eighteen-month stay in Corinth, he leaves and hits the missionary road once again.

Four or five years pass. Through the Church grapevine, Paul receives word of divisions developing in the Corinthian Church. Some members of the Corinthian Church are following St. Paul. Others are following Apollos, a Greek teacher of the Christian faith. Others are following Cephas or Peter, the servant-leader of the Twelve. Still others claim to be the only authentic followers of Christ. Basically, this is the problem: Corinthian Church members are choosing their own leaders. They are treating the Church like a store: they enter the establishment, and then they exercise their own choices, according to their own preferences. So, the Corinthian Christians are simply attempting to choose their own styles of faith within the Church. Not surprisingly, tensions grow, and quarrels follow.

Paul responds to this messy situation in the Church. He writes his First Letter to the Corinthian Church. He pleads: center on the Gospel, the word of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ! Even though Christ crucified looks like a shocking scandal to some (Jews), and even though Christ crucified looks like a joke to others (Greeks), this Christ crucified is the power of God and the wisdom of God! According to St. Paul, Christ crucified is the one, true, saving reality for the world, and Christ crucified completely erases all petty differences.

Because of the Cross of Jesus Christ, the Corinthian Christians and all Christians are "called to be saints together" (1:2). That is, the Corinthian Church and the Church universal are called to be consecrated together, called to be blameless together, called to be holy together. According to St. Paul, the Church of Christ Crucified is not about choice, having it your way. According to St. Paul, the Church of Christ Crucified is about all Christians being "called to be saints together."

SAINTS RESPECTING AND PROTECTING

Again, the Church is united on, in, with, through, by Christ crucified. The Church is made one by Christ crucified. Therefore, Church members are "called to be saints together." All members of the whole Church are called to live holy lives, together. All members of the whole Church members are called to live saintly lives, together.

Through the ages, the Church, made up of those "called to be saints together," has always included respect and protection for the life of each human being. The Church has always taught and practiced that each human being is special, unique, created by God, and created in the image of God. Therefore, each human being is to be respected and protected by Christians. Again, respecting and protecting each human being—which sharply contrasts with the world, with Corinth—is an essential, nonnegotiable part of being "called to be saints together."

The January 14th issue of The Wall Street Journal contains Mark Bauerlein’s review of Philip Dray’s new book, At the Hands of Persons Unknown (Random House). This book covers the history of race-based lynching in the United States. It begins with the killings that tried to stop slave insurrections in the 1830s; and it ends with the killings that targeted civil-rights workers (black and white) in the 1960s. The descriptions of the book and the review are horrifying: the whippings, the limp bodies hanging from trees, the charred remains, the torture. As we know, Christians, real Christians, Christians "called to be saints together," did not participate in that kind of brutal, anti-human-being, anti-human-dignity behavior. Being Christian ruled that type of gruesome behavior out of order. Being "called to be saints together" ruled those murderous acts out of the Christian imagination. For being "called to be saints together" means that we treat people, all people, with respect and grace them with protection.

Through nearly twenty centuries, the Church has respected and protected the unborn child and mother. That is, for nearly 2,000 years, the Church has taught that the unborn child and mother are human beings created by God, in God’s image. In addition, the Church has mercifully and lovingly labored to protect the unborn child and mother. So respect of, and protection for, the unborn child and mother are a part of historic, ecumenical Christianity. This respect and protection are an essential part of the community gathered around the Word and the Sacraments of Christ crucified. Respecting and protecting the unborn child and mother is a nonnegotiable part of being "called to be saints together."

THE WESLEYAN WAY

The brothers Wesley and the Wesleyan tradition have always emphasized being "called to be saints together." Wesleyanism has always underlined the unity and holiness of the Church. And a part of the Church’s unity and holiness is respecting and protecting human life. The Wesleys and Wesleyanism, at their best, have respected and protected human life. They opposed slavery. They ministered to the poor, urban laborers of the early industrial revolution in England. They reached out to the imprisoned. They built educational institutions and hospitals for those in dire need of schooling and doctoring. They advanced the civil rights of minorities, women, and immigrants. Today, United Methodism stands with many of "the least of these" who live defenselessly at the margins of society. For example, The United Methodist Church is against physician-assisted suicide, against human cloning, and against the destruction of the human embryo. Why? Because Wesleyans and Methodists are "called to be saints together," and because a crucial part of being saints together is respecting and protecting human beings, especially the weakest among us.

THE UNITED METHODIST EXCEPTION

Unfortunately, The United Methodist Church’s present, official position on abortion, stated in Paragraph 161J of the 2000 Book of Discipline, is an exception to our standing up for all human beings. On abortion, The United Methodist Church has an ambiguous, official position. Therefore, on abortion, The United Methodist Church is officially pro-choice. This is similar to what the Corinthians were doing hundreds of years ago: some followed Paul; others Apollos; and so on. In United Methodism today, some are for life; others are for choice or for abortion; others simply do not care; and it is all considered okay. On abortion, ours is a Church of Choice.

Last week, driving from the St. Peter’s United Methodist Church parking lot (Morehead City, NC), I steered our family car up to the T-intersection of Hodges Street and a very busy stretch of Highway 24. There and then, I noticed that the stop sign was down. It looked like a vehicle had hit and broken the sign’s four-by-four, wooden post. So the octagonal, red sign was over there in the grass. Without the stop sign in its usual position, a dangerous situation was created. A driver, unfamiliar with the traffic patterns in the neighborhood, could easily drive unaware through the intersection and endanger himself and many others on that busy section of the highway. This could happen because the stop sign was down.

Through the ages, the Church universal has maintained a stop sign in front of abortion. The Church maintained that sign; kept it up; kept it painted; kept it visible; gave reasons for the sign being there. The Church did this because its people are "called to be saints together." And a part of being saints is respecting and protecting all human beings, even the tiny human being in the womb and the human being who carries the little one.

For reasons that we need not cover, The United Methodist Church has officially taken down the stop sign in front of abortion. The United Methodist Church, in principle, no longer considers the unborn child and mother worthy of respect and protection. Bishops, general-church executives, thousands of pastors, and millions of laity are quiet about the matter of abortion. Therefore, as millions of unborn children are lost to abortion and their mothers are damaged in countless ways, most United Methodists remain silent.

WHY ABORTION MATTERS

Some would reply, "Hey, preacher, United Methodists are respecting and protecting most human beings, most of the time. So why worry about our church’s unclear position on abortion?"

Martin Luther, the great reformer, provides the answer: "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." (emphases added)

So we United Methodists are "called to be saints together"—with Baptists and Catholics, with Pentecostals and the Orthodox, with all other faithful Christians. And a part of being saints together is respecting and protecting human life, even the lives of the unborn child and mother.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, stay strong in the struggle within The United Methodist Church for respecting and protecting the lives of all human beings, including the lives of the unborn child and mother. This is "dignity assertion," a phrase that the United States Holocaust Museum uses (see Update, December 2001/ January 2002, p. 2). Engage in "dignity assertion" for the little one and her mother. As Luther might put it, this is a part of confessing Christ. As St. Paul might put it, this is a part of being "called to be saints together."

CHRIST’S STRUGGLE, CHRIST’S GIFT

But this struggle for holiness and human dignity is not primarily our struggle. It is primarily Christ’s struggle. And He will provide us with the ways and means for participating in His struggle, for holiness and human dignity, in love.

This morning, brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ offers Himself to us anew. He will give us Himself—His own Body and His own Blood. So come forward, and receive the real presence of Jesus Christ. Be renewed in the calling to be saints together. And be renewed in the calling to respect and protect human beings, especially the unborn and the mother.bullet


THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS REMAINS SILENT

The years wear on. Annual abortion counts, while declining, are shockingly high—now around 1.2 million per year—in the United States. The cumulative abortion total for American society, since the United States Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, is over 40 million. It is not surprising that abortion continues to be the most contested moral issue in American public life.

All the while, The United Methodist Church, breaking ranks with historic Christianity and with the overwhelming majority of churches today, remains a pro-choice denomination, though United Methodism’s commitment to choice seems to erode at every General Conference. And yet the Council of Bishops has been and is silent about abortion. That is, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, as the Council, refuses to address the matter of abortion.

How can this be?

In "The Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty," completed and advanced in the late 1990s, the Council of Bishops writes and speaks powerfully for the importance of The United Methodist Church engaging in ministry to and with children and those in poverty. Yet they neither write or speak one word about abortion.

In their recent pastoral letter on September 11th, the Council of Bishops boldly declares: "We, your bishops, believe that violence in all of its forms and expressions is contrary to God’s purpose for the world. Violence creates fear, desperation, hopelessness, and instability. We call upon the church to be a community of peace with justice and to support individuals and agencies all over the world who are working for the common good for all of God’s children..." (Emphasis is added to underline an obvious contradiction. Also, it should be noted that this episcopal statement makes no distinction between violence and legitimate, armed force.) And yet the Council of Bishops turns away from the very real violence of abortion, which involves the ruthless destruction of the weakest members of the human community by those who are immeasurably stronger.

Again, how can this be? How can the Council of Bishops remain silent about the matter of abortion? After all, historically and ecumenically, the bishops of the Church have been given and accepted the charge to advance, teach, and defend the doctrine and morals of the faith of the Church. And historically and ecumenically, protection of the unborn child and mother has been an essential and nonnegotiable part of the Church’s faith. Yet since 1973, for nearly 30 years, the Council of Bishops has remained silent on abortion.

Once again, how can this be?

Two reasons come to mind. First, the Council of Bishops has accommodated itself to elite opinion in American culture. Since the overwhelming majority of elites in American culture—in prestige journalism, in academia, in the entertainment industry—are unqualifiedly pro-choice (if not pro-abortion), the bishops follow their lead. Along the same line, it seems that our bishops, following elite opinion, would never dare to say or do anything that could be construed as politically or culturally conservative. For this reason, the Council remains silent on the matter of abortion.

A second explanation comes to mind. In its meetings the Council of Bishops strictly obeys this principle: all Council statements and actions are to be based on consensus. That is, all bishops must agree with every word or deed that emerges from the Council. This principle, therefore, rules out of order any matter that might result in a divided Council of Bishops. Hence, on abortion, not a word is uttered. And that silence continues for ten, twenty, and now thirty years.

By not speaking on abortion, the Council of Bishops permits the pro-choice ideology to direct the church.

However and unfortunately, silence, in reality, speaks. By not speaking on abortion, the Council of Bishops allows the teaching of pro-choice America to control the teaching of The United Methodist Church on life and abortion. By not speaking on abortion, the Council of Bishops permits the pro-choice ideology to invade and direct the church the Council serves.

Know this with certainty. Lifewatch is not interested in the Council of Bishops launching into the condemnation of anyone on the matter of abortion. Rather, Lifewatch hopes and prays that the Council of Bishops will speak the truth about abortion in love—in a way that would increase protection of the unborn child and mother, and in a way that would bring divine forgiveness and holy freedom to those who have participated in abortion.

May God give courage and voice to those bishops of The United Methodist Church who know the Christian truth about abortion and who are waiting to propose it in the Council of their brothers and sisters. (PTS)bullet


NPRC PRESS RELEASE: AGAINST HUMAN CLONING

[Washington, DC/November 26, 2001]

The National Pro-Life Religious Council [that is, NPRC, to which Lifewatch belongs]—representing constituent groups within Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Oldline Protestant, and Orthodox churches—denounces in the strongest possible terms the cloning and destruction of human embryos recently announced by Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts. We, clergy and laity, unite our voices to urge Dr. Michael West and his company immediately to cease and desist their activities in this regard. We also appeal to all similar companies and research groups to suspend any human cloning activity.

Furthermore, we respectfully request a meeting with Dr. West to discuss the grave moral and ethical consequences of cloning, destroying cloned humans, and profiting from that destruction. With the Church through the ages, we believe that God is the Creator of human beings, who are indeed created in God’s image. Therefore, no human agency is qualified to play God by manufacturing human beings and/or by deciding who is of value and who is not.

In the meantime, we also ask that churches, religious organizations, and pro-life advocacy groups urge their constituents to contact immediately their US Senators and US Representatives to express support for the Weldon-Stupak Bill (HR 2505) that will ban human cloning and the destruction of human embryos.

Contact: Rev. Rob Schenck, NPRC President ([703]257-5593, ext. 1#)


PRESIDENTIAL REMARKS

President George Bush telephoned the following, brief speech to the March for Life participants on January 22, 2002. As you read, recall that President Bush is a United Methodist.

We are a society with enough ... love to care for both mothers and their children ...

Nellie [Gray, who organizes the annual March for Life in Washington, DC], thank you very much. I want to thank you very much, and I want to wish everybody a good afternoon. I’m calling from the state of West Virginia.

I want to begin, Nellie, by praising you and your dedication to the cause of human life. For almost 30 years, Americans from every state in the Union have gathered in the Washington Mall in order to march for life. This march is an example of an inspiring commitment and of deep human compassion.

Everyone there believes, as I do, that every life is valuable; that our society has a responsibility to defend the vulnerable and weak, the imperfect and even the unwanted; and that our nation should set a great goal that unborn children should be welcomed in life and protected in law.

Abortion is an issue that deeply divides our country. And we need to treat those with whom we disagree with respect and civility. We must overcome bitterness and rancor where we find it and seek common ground where we can. But we will continue to speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society.

We do so because we believe the promises of the Declaration of Independence are the common code of American life. They should apply to everyone, not just the healthy or the strong or the powerful. A generous society values all human life. A merciful society seeks to expand legal protection to every life, including early life. And a compassionate society will defend a simple, moral proposition: life should never be used as a tool, or a means to an end.

These are bedrock principles. And that is why my administration opposes partial-birth abortion and public funding for abortion; why we support teen abstinence and crisis pregnancy programs, adoption and parental notification laws; and why we are against all forms of human cloning.

And that is why I urge the United States Senate to support a comprehensive and effective ban of human cloning, a ban that was passed by an overwhelming and bipartisan vote of the House of Representatives last July.

We are a society with enough compassion and wealth and love to care for both mothers and their children, and to seek the promise and potential of every single life. You’re working and marching on behalf of a noble cause, and affirming a culture of life. Thank you for your persistence, for defending human dignity, and for caring for every member of the human family.

May God continue to bless America. Thank you very much.


A LIFEWATCH LETTER

On February 6th, Lifewatch sent a copy of the following letter to each US Representative and US Senator who is a United Methodist.

The Honorable
House of Representatives/United States Senate
Washington, DC 20515/20510

Dear Rep./Sen. :

At some time in the near term, you will be considering legislation regarding partial-birth abortion. On behalf of the Lifewatch community of United Methodists, and with hope that you, as a member of The United Methodist Church, may be seeking clarification of our church’s position on partial-birth abortion, I offer the following statement from The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2000, Paragraph 161J: "We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life."

Because of all the controversy surrounding abortion, you will perhaps be contacted by others who would have you oppose any restrictions on abortion, including the partial-birth abortion procedure. But please recall that The United Methodist Church clearly opposes partial-birth abortion with two exceptions as noted above. This is official church teaching. It is official church teaching because of what Paragraph 509 of The Book of Discipline states:

"509. Speaking for the Church

"1. No person, no paper, no organization, has the authority to speak officially for The United Methodist Church, this right having been reserved exclusively to the General Conference under the Constitution. Any written public policy statement issued by a general Church agency shall clearly identify either at the beginning or at the end that the statement represents the position of that general agency and not necessarily the position of The United Methodist Church (Par. 717).

"2. Any individual member called to testify before a legislative body to represent The United Methodist Church shall be allowed to do so only by reading, without elaboration, the resolutions and positions adopted by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church."

Thank you for the political leadership you provide in governing our nation. We trust this clarification of United Methodist teaching or policy on partial-birth abortion will be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

(The Rev.) Paul T. Stallsworth

Editor, Lifewatch


YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT

bulletThank you, and thank you again, for your very generous support of the Lifewatch witness! We are grateful and humbled by the recent outpouring of your gifts. You know, when we stop to think about it, our attitudes toward money are interesting. It seems that if we have too much money, or too little, we become concerned, often overly concerned, about it; we begin to worry about it. Well, Lifewatch, back in December 2001, had no funds with which to continue the ministry; and even though we are strong believers in God’s providence, you will forgive us for doing a bit of worrying about Lifewatch’s financial situation. Anyway, your response to Lifewatch’s need has been gratifying. Thank you for your faithfulness to Lifewatch. (And please continue your generous support.) We are privileged to serve as an instrument of your commitment, within The United Methodist Church, to the Gospel of Life.

bulletFor the past several years, Mrs. Kim Turkington has served as the Outreach Coordinator of Lifewatch. In that position she has accomplished many things extraordinarily well. She has articulated the Gospel of Life through the spoken word, through the written word (letters and publications), through materials and artwork, and through other special projects. And she has faithfully represented Lifewatch at the 2000 General Conference and in other conference settings. For these reasons, Lifewatch is very grateful for Kim’s exemplary witness and service.

However, given her many responsibilities that have accumulated over the years, Kim needs to step down from the position of Outreach Coordinator. This she will do after Lifewatch secures a replacement.

Therefore, if you would have an interest in becoming Lifewatch’s Outreach Coordinator, taking on the tasks noted above, please send a resume and a cover letter, as soon as possible, to Mrs. Ruth Brown/Lifewatch/512 Florence Street/Dothan, AL 36301.

Again, Kim, thank you!

And thank you, members of the Lifewatch community, for your responses!

bulletWhile we are on personnel matters... Lifewatch is still looking for a representative to contact the offices of United Methodist Representatives and Senators—on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC—to promote United Methodist teaching on life-related issues. This could probably be accomplished in five or ten workdays. The Lifewatch representative’s expenses would be paid, along with a small honorarium. If you are interested in this temporary work, please send a resume and a cover letter to Mrs. Ruth Brown/Lifewatch/512 Florence Street/Dothan, AL 36301. Thanks, in advance, for your responses!

bulletYet another personnel matter... Lifewatch needs a contact person in each annual conference throughout The United Methodist Church. If you would like to be the Lifewatch contact in your annual conference, please let Mrs. Ruth Brown (Lifewatch/512 Florence Street/Dothan, AL/ 36301/(334)-794-8543) know. Thank you.

bulletHave you, as a member of the Lifewatch community, considered becoming a candidate for delegate to The United Methodist Church’s 2004 General Conference? If elected by your annual conference, you, as a lay or clergy delegate, could become a witness for the Gospel of Life at the next General Conference. This is a matter that has more to do with serving Christ and His Church, and little to do with self-promotion. It might simply involve offering yourself, as a potential candidate, to your annual conference. Please give it some prayerful consideration.

bulletMr. Jaydee R. Hanson is the Assistant General Secretary for United Methodism’s General Board of Church and Society, which is headquartered in Washington, DC. He spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill, on November 26th, the day after Advanced Cell Technologies announced that it had begun to clone human embryos. Mr. Hanson’s comments included these remarks: "United Methodists are...convinced that people are created by God and are more than the sum of our genetic heritage and social environment. We recognize that human knowledge on this issue is incomplete and finite and that it is possible that we will never know all the psychological, cultural, social, or genetic consequences of such procedures. The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society has endorsed and continues to strongly support immediate passage by the Senate of HR 2505, the House bill received in the Senate and enrolled on August 3rd after an overwhelming, bipartisan victory in the House. We also urge all 8.4 members of The United Methodist Church in the United States to be in contact with their senators and to urge them to support and vote for that bill." (National Right to Life News, December 2001) Let it be known that Lifewatch heartily commends Mr. Hanson for representing the General Board of Church and Society’s and The United Methodist Church’s opposition to the cloning of human embryos.

While advancing United Methodism’s official position against Advanced Cell Technologies’ recent activities, Mr. Hanson attempted to separate the issue of abortion from the issue of human cloning. Said he: "It is one thing for a woman and her family to make a really hard decision [on abortion] in a tragic situation. It is another thing for scientists in a lab to patent human embryos, to make a bank of human embryos, and the only way you can get to it is by paying them money. Do we really want an industry that depends on paying poor women for their eggs to do research—"(United Methodist Reporter, 12/7/01)

While convinced by Mr. Hanson’s bold statement against human cloning, Lifewatch is not convinced by his attempt to differentiate between abortion and cloning. Notice that, when addressing the matter of abortion and the matter of cloning, he shifts attention away from the unborn child and the human embryo. But the unborn child and the human embryo are, in fact, the genuine center of concern. For the unborn child and the human embryo are human beings at the earliest stages of human development. These tiny human beings are created in the image of God and given dignity by God. These tiny human beings are not objects or things to be manipulated or eliminated, bought or sold, at will by other, more powerful human beings.

Therefore, Lifewatch respectfully urges Mr. Hanson to see that abortion and cloning are not "very different" moral issues. They are the same moral issue. For abortion and cloning involve the destruction of human life—at its most vulnerable, defenseless stages. Therefore, trusting and obeying the Word of Life, The United Methodist Church should resist these practices which undercut the dignity of human life.

bulletIt has been reported that, at a recent General Conference of The United Methodist Church, a seminary professor asked a rather unfortunate question that went something like this: By forcing a pregnant woman to carry her child to term, are you pro-life people turning the woman into a cow? Such a question can stun, silence, and anger the one questioned.

However, cutting through the extraordinarily explosive rhetoric, we might answer the question in this way: "We believe that the woman you have mentioned is a human being, who is created by God in the image of the same, loving God. We also believe that the unborn child she carries is a human being, who is created by God in the image of the same, loving God. Therefore, both the woman and her unborn child are deserving of the protection and nurture of the Church. To dehumanize the woman, by suggesting that she can be made to be like a cow, or to dehumanize the unborn child, by suggesting that she can be destroyed at will, leads to the undercutting of the grand dignity that God gives to each person He creates. The Church’s mission and ministry is to acknowledge, recognize, and defend the dignity of the human person—not to engage in dehumanizing words and deeds."

bulletPlanned Parenthood is at it again. After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center towers, Planned Parenthood of New York offered free "reproductive health services," which include abortion, to some women of New York. Begun one week after the attack, the initial offer was to "the many New York women who have been displaced or may otherwise be in need due to the World Trade Center tragedy." In other words, Planned Parenthood was offering to pregnant women, who had been victimized by the terrorist attack, the opportunity to obtain free abortions. Jeanne Head, of the Manhattan Right to Life, replied: "Why would these women be thinking about reproductive care of any kind in the first days of their mourning? Why would they be interested in killing their babies? Is this really what Planned Parenthood thinks that distressed and grieving women want? Could they think of nothing positive to do? Offering to take another life from those that have lost so much already is not a human response." (Pro-Life Times, Nov. 2001)

And Planned Parenthood is at it yet again. The chapter based in Roanoke, VA, recently began "offering red, white and blue condoms to raise money for those affected by the September 11th terrorist attacks." And they were available from a drive-up window. (Washington Watch, November 2001) Talk about convenience. And impropriety...

Again and again, Planned Parenthood proves itself to be an instrument of the Culture of Death—even in the aftermath of terrorism’s considerable advancement of the same culture.

bulletThere really is a politically correct vocabulary, that is growing larger by the day, out there in American public life. In a recent newspaper column, John Leo lists tens of politically correct terms. His entries related to abortion and the Church, which follow, are most striking:

¶ "beings: replaces ‘human beings.’ Removal of the word ‘human,’ with its warm and positive overtone, verbally sets the stage for the killing of infants and incapacitated oldsters, while at the same time making animals the equals of humans. (Thanks to Wesley Smith.)

¶ "procedure: abortion;

¶ "choice: abortion;

¶ "anti-choice: anti-abortion;

¶ "selective reduction: abortion;

¶ "effecting fetal demise: abortion;

¶ "exercise of a woman’s right: abortion;

¶ "pregnancy-related services: abortion;

¶ "late-term abortion: partial-birth abortion;

¶ "reproductive health community: abortion lobby;

¶ "inappropriate: crooked, totally immoral; and

¶ "organized religion: an outdated and prepackaged faith; any form of spirituality not invented recently by you or your friends, or not seen recently on ‘Oprah.’" (The Carteret County News-Times, 7/13/01)

Lisa and Bobby Hill would like to share their many blessings with you and your unborn child. Feel confident in your decision by meeting with them and letting them assure you that they will love and nurture your child, and give him/her the security that might be hard for you to provide at this time. Please call Lisa and Bobby Hill, toll free, at 1-(866)-592-6054; or you may e-mail them at: lhill2@ec.rr.com.

bulletRoman Catholics and United Methodists have been in serious and constructive dialogue for decades. In November 2000, The Joint Commission for Dialogue Between The Roman Catholic Church and The World Methodist Council released its most recent report, which is entitled "Speaking the Truth in Love: Teaching Authority Among Catholics and Methodists." Available from The World Methodist Council (P.O. Box 518/Lake Junaluska, NC 28745), this outstanding report proves once again that, in dialogue, Roman Catholics bring out the very best in United Methodists. For starters, the report asserts that truth plays an essential role in the faith and life of the Church. Section II—"God’s Prophetic Community, Anointed with the Spirit of Truth"—is especially excellent. According to this section of the report, the Church is "Anointed in the Truth," is "Abiding in the Truth," is "Preserved in the Truth," has "Co-Workers in the Truth," and is "Called by the Truth." A part of Paragraph 37 declares: "Individuals and groups can fall away from the truth and from holiness of life; the pilgrim Church today is, as it always has been, a community of saints and sinners. Each person’s ‘I believe’ should participate fully in the communal ‘we believe’ of Christ’s Church: ‘Faith is always personal but never private, for faith incorporates the believing individual into the community of faith.’ It is the corporate belief of the whole people of God that is protected from error by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. The ‘faithful’ are those who, ideally, are full of God’s gift of faith, a faith which is the faith of Christ’s Church, his body anointed with the Spirit of Truth." Since the Church’s truth covers both doctrine and morals, and since the Church’s morals include teaching on life and abortion, this document is of special interest to the Lifewatch community. Thanks be to God for this dialogue, for this report, for this clear and hopeful thinking. May this dialogue continue, in the grace of God, "speaking the truth in love."

 

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Lifewatch is published by the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

 

Our Mission:

Out of obedience to Jesus Christ, the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS) “will work to create in church and society esteem for human life at its most vulnerable, specifically for the unborn child and for the woman who contemplates abortion.” Therefore, TUMAS’s first goal is “to win the hearts and minds of United Methodists, to engage in abortion-prevention through theological, pastoral, and social emphases that support human life.”

 

Lifewatch is published by the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality, a network of United Methodist clergy, laity, and churches. It is sent, free of charge, to interested readers. Editor, Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth: 111 Hodges St., Morehead City NC 28557 (252)726-2175.Administrator, Mrs. Ruth Brown: 512 Florence Street, Dothan AL 36301 (334)794-8543/E-mail: cindy@lifewatch.org Web site: www.lifewatch.org

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