Sarah Catt illegally aborted her own baby at 39 weeks (15 weeks after the legal cut off point). Convicted of taking a “deliberate and calculated decision” to abort her child, Catt has been jailed for 8 years.
After her affair, Catt purchased drugs from India over the internet and took them in the final phase of her pregnancy.
The abortion debate is usually heated and brings out the worst in people. The pro life camp often make women who have had abortions feel like dirt. Sometimes they treat them like dirt too. The pro choice crowd can also be intolerant of the other side’s beliefs. I remember being told by a pro choice advocate that I wasn’t allowed an opinion on abortion. The reason? I’m a man.
As a Christian, I’m most likely to be pigeon-holed as pro life. If you’re reading this from America you might even imagine me standing outside an abortion clinic waving banners and shouting at and looking down on women entering the premises. For the record: I’ve never done that and never will.
Whatever I write here about abortion will upset someone somewhere. That’s the risk you take with bearing your deepest thoughts, feelings and opinions on a public blog. But if we’re going to disagree – and no doubt we will – I’m determined that disagreement will happen with mutual love and respect being shown on all sides.
The fundamental question for me is, ‘When does life begin?’ This country has rightly prosecuted a woman for killing a baby inside the womb. But if she did this a matter of weeks earlier, it wouldn’t have just been legal, it would have been supported by the medical profession.
The cut off point for an abortion in the UK is currently 24 weeks.
At 24 weeks a baby is about 3o centimetres long with fully developed lungs. If the baby was born at this point, he or she would have a good chance of surviving. Yet according to UK law, it’s OK to abort the baby at this point.
Hopefully even the most ardent pro choice person can see the logical inconsistency here. I’m not saying that those who have abortions should be locked up like Catt. But I am arguing that the law needs to be looked at again.
OK, I admit it. I’m not just gunning for a reduction in the abortion limit date. I don’t just want to see the cut off point dropped a few weeks (although that would be a step in the right direction).
I’d actually like to live in a perfect world where no women are ever raped, no women are forced to choose between their life and the life of their child. And yes I’d like to live in a world where no women use abortion as birth control.
But I’m a realist.
So for now can we have a friendly good natured discussion on when life starts? OK ok, that’s too difficult a question. Let’s make it simple: Can anyone see where I’m coming from with the current legislation being inconsistent? A baby can survive being born at 39 weeks so if someone aborts it, we jail them. A baby can also survive being born at 24 weeks. But if someone aborts that baby, the medical profession goes out of its way to assist the mother.
Comments are open. Please be nice.
NOTE: If in the likely event I’ve mis-represented or dramatically misunderstood the complexities of either sides, I promise to amend and edit the above post. Thank you for your understanding. I’m not expert on this, but I do want to learn.
It’s a question I recently put to Owl City. I found his answer really interesting:
“If you create something and it’s sincere and you’re not writing a song to get airplay solely based on ‘I have to write a song this way because I know it will get played on the radio’. If you finish a piece of music and you’re so thrilled about it and nobody can convince you to change it, that’s where you know you’ve captured a level of success that the industry doesn’t know how to measure.
“So much of the way the industry is run is based on ‘we have to make this kind of sound because we know it’s going to do well or is hot on the radio right now’. If a song is finished and means something to you, whether it goes to number one or doesn’t get released at all there’s something special about that.”
Is success money-dependent?
Before you point out it’s easy for a musician with a contract at Universal to make such comments, let’s remember where Adam Young came from. For many years, Adam was using his sleepless nights (he’s a long time sufferer of insomnia) to make music in his parent’s basement.
Uploading his music to Myspace, he had an audience which started with a handful of fans. Today he has over 500,000 friends on Myspace (I know! Who are these active users of Myspace? I haven’t met one for about 10 years)
The point is that Adam Young knows what it feels like to make music that doesn’t make it big. To him success is not associated with numbers – both in terms of size of audience and size of pay packet.
On the other hand, it’s all very well talking about how true success is just staying true to yourself. But many would argue that if ‘staying true to yourself’ results in bankruptcy then Adam’s comment loses its impact.
Is success everlasting?
I believe that one of the most important things anyone could ever learn about success is that it’s always temporary. Superhero’s lyrics: “In the end it’s all gunna burn up so we’re just taking what we need for the journey” highlights this. The truth is when we die – and whether you believe in an afterlife or not – our possessions, our success, our wealth and our fame remain on earth.
Look at the Pharaohs of old who were buried with all their wealth. Where are these great kings now? What’s left of their bodies may be left in those pyramids or museums but they didn’t take their armies or treasures with them to the afterlife as they once believed. Their soul, their personality and who they were as individuals is long gone.
Reflecting on death isn’t something I’d normally recommend, but when it comes to the topic of success, this is a helpful avenue to go down. If all your success, wealth, possessions etc is temporary then the rat race is at worst questioned and at best loses all of its power on an individual’s life. If you understand that the legacy of how you treated others would be remembered and celebrated a million times more than how many DVDs you collected or how many promotions you received, perhaps we’d all live a little differently?
Is success poor?
There’s been quite a bit of talk in the Christian world of late about living “radically” and giving literally everything away to the poor. Such preachers will take Jesus words out of context to provoke their audiences into believing that God requires the same thing of every individual - to sell everything and give all the money to the poor. (If this were true then the rich would become poor overnight and the poor would become rich overnight – so nothing would actually be solved. The roles would merely be reversed.)
Giving away your worldly possessions. Giving millions to charity. It sounds very admirable, and of course it is…
But I come back to Superheros lyrics – which I believe to be based on Biblical principles. They do not read: “In the end it’s all going to burn up so we’re not taking anything anywhere”. No! We live in a world where some things are necessary for our time here on earth.
Money is not the root of all kinds of evils. But loving money is. This allows for a system where Christians don’t have to feel guilty about being wealthy or having nice things, but they do have to guard their hearts to make sure they are not worshipping money.
It seems to me a balance must be struck between being truly generous with our time, money and possessions – so that we can help those in need – and recognising that having nice things is not sinful or wrong.
If we can learn to just take what we need to get us through the journey (our time on earth) and not feed the consumerist monster that lives inside of us all, then this tricky word ‘success’ may start to make more sense.
Is success salvation?
I’ll leave you with a thought from Paul on his view of success. As you can imagine, it’s a lot better than anything I’ve written so far:
“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them crap, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
And that’s my musings on success, with the help of Owl City, the Pharaohs and St Paul. Now it’s over to you: What is success? Let me know in the comments.
This may be a generalisation, but I’d argue the secular world doesn’t do a great job at portraying religious life.
Take Q Magazine’s comment about Christian band delirious, for example: “Without God they could be massive” (talk about missing the point!!) or the BBC’s awful programme “The Heaven and Earth Show” which was about as flaky as dandruff. Secular organisations just don’t seem to understand Christianity. (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised)
So when Hollywood decides to churn out another ‘post-apocalyptic’ film which features Denzel Washington’s character (Eli) carrying a Bible around and killing people, you can’t blame me for thinking ‘here we go again’.
Discovering ‘The Book of Eli’ has a tonne of swearing and some pretty graphic violence doesn’t help either.
Enough speculation though, on with the film. My brother puts the DVD on and I’m drawn into a wonderful tale. The Book of Eli turns out to be one of the best films I’ve seen all year.
I cannot tell you how good it is to see the message of the Bible portrayed not only truthfully, but also in a non judgemental, non cynical and non offensive way. Not only that, but the special effects, plot and characters are all well thought out and portrayed on screen.
Here are some quotes from the film that I particularly enjoyed…
Eli talking about a time before ‘the flash’ (the end of the world)… “People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other now.”
How true is that? In today’s society we have no idea what is of value and what isn’t. We think accumulating possessions will give us fulfilment, it’s what we live for, yet it never brings satisfaction. The Bible says in 1 Timothy: ”Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble.” If the recent economic crash doesn’t prove that I don’t know what does!?
The simpleness of how Eli prays is a beautiful thing as he recognises that despite his troubles, God has provided for him. “Thank you Lord for a warm bed to sleep on, thank you for the food we are about to eat, thank you for a roof over our heads on cold nights such as this, thank you for companionship in hard times like these, Amen.
There is a great exchange between the two main characters about the nature of faith. Eli has read the book so he knows what faith is like. Solara has not read the book, so how could she understand faith?
Solara: Have you ever thought that maybe you were lost?
Solara: Well, how do you know that you’re walking in the right direction?
Eli: I walk by faith, not by sight.
Solara: [sighs] What does that mean?
Eli: It means that you know something even if you don’t know something.
Solara: That doesn’t make any sense.
Eli: It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s faith, it’s faith. It’s the flower of light in the field of darkness that’s giving me the strength to carry on. You understand?
Sure, it’s not the most theological sound definition of faith, but the sentiment is there.
Why is Eli walking across America with this book? God spoke to him. Again, I’m so pleased the writer of this film did his research and talked to alteast some of the millions of people who claim to hear God speak to them. It would have been so much easier to make the following quote sound ridiculous and dis-credit Washington’s character. But the writer, Gary Whitta doesn’t do that.
“And then one day I heard this voice. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like it was coming from inside me. But I could hear it clear as day. Clear as I can hear you talking to me now. It told me to carry the book west, it told me that a path would be laid out before me, that I’d be led to a place where the book would be safe it told me I’d be protected, against anyone or anything that tried to stand in my way. If only I would have faith. That was thirty years ago and I’ve been walking ever since
Solara: And you did all this because a voice told you to?
Eli: I know what I hear, I know what I heard, I know I’m not crazy, I didn’t imagine it”
Now, before the agnostics, atheists and people of other faiths think this film is blatent Christian propoganda…check out this quote about one character’s perception of the book.
“[The book is...]A weapon aimed right at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate. It will give us control of them. If we want to rule more than one small town, we have to have it. People will come from all over, they’ll do exactly what I tell ‘em if the words are from the book. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.“
I’ll end by quoting Eli’s warning for today’s “people of the book”. “In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it…do to others what you would have them do to you”
Sadly I fear I’ve often fallen into the “tight” category, but I think I’m learning as life goes on that giving and generosity go a lot deeper than many people think.
What’s your reaction to the words “giving” and “generosity”?
For most of us, we immediately think money. But you can be generous with so many other things. In fact I’d claim our most precious resource is also the most overlooked one!
We all lead busy lives. So when we give up our time for others, we’re sacrificing something important and we’re being generous. Surely that’s a good thing.
Not convinced? Then cast your mind back to Christmas. Hopefully you were lucky enough to receive some nice presents. I also hope you gave some too! How did you feel when your friend or family member opened the present you bought them?
Jesus had something interesting to say about this. “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. Sure, I loved the presents I received, but I also got a huge buzz out of seeing friends and family’s faces light up at what I had bought them.
But I’m focussing on money. Being generous with time is just as important and rewarding.
Last week myself and some friends from church spent the evening washing people’s cars. We didn’t know the car owners personally at all. We weren’t doing it for money or for people’s appreciation. Neither did we do it so I could come home and write a blog about how wonderful and generous we all are! So why do it? It was a lot of fun, and it made a lot of people very happy. Surely that’s two good reasons for all of us to be generous?
It may be giving up an hour to help a struggling friend revise for an exam, or spending half a day helping someone move house. It could be offering to walk someone home from the pub at night (because Southampton is not a safe place!), even though you’d rather be at home sleeping.
One more example…some of my friends were walking through one of the parks in the centre of Southampton when a dog attacked my friend’s guide dog. Thankfully, no damage was done due to the fact my friends immediately rushed to intervene and help in the situation. It was a very obvious, but important way of giving and being generous. Here’s what one of my friends later said on their facebook status. I think it sums up my point perfectly…“I’d never called 999 before tonight. I’m telling you, there’s NOTHING that matches up to the buzz of helping people. God is so good…”
Whether you believe in Jesus as God or not, I think most of us can agree with his words. “It is more blessed to give than to receive“. Or to put it another way…”You’re far happier giving than getting.” Putting these words into action is always a struggle for me personally. But I’m trying.
I have met some incredibly generous people in my life. Most of them have been people who have given up hours or even days just to listen to me, pray for me and/or help me out practically. These people inspire me. I want to be more like them. And that’s what this blog post has been all about.