March 2002—A quarterly news
letter for United Methodists
What follows is an
edited version of the sermon delivered at the Lifewatch Service of
Worship—held at Simpson Memorial Chapel in The United Methodist
Building, Washington, DC—on 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
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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 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
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
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 (257-5593, ext. 1#)
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
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.
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
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.
(The Rev.) Paul T. Stallsworth
YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT
Thank 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.
For 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
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
While 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!
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.
Have 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.
Mr. 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
It 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."
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,
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.
There 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,
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
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."
ORDER FORM: jTHE
RIGHT CHOICE: Pro-Life Sermons; kTHE
CHURCH AND ABORTION: In Search of New Ground for Response; and lTHINKING THEOLOGICALLY ABOUT ABORTION
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Simply provide the information requested below. Also, your contributions—however
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Please mail to: Lifewatch/512 Florence Street/Dothan AL 36301.
Lifewatch is published by the Taskforce of United Methodists on
Abortion and Sexuality, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
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.”
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:
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