The Compassionate Liberal
Just the other day, I ran across a story that is still giving me shudders and tears, not to mention anger. In Ohio, police investigated an anonymous tip concerning child abuse. They found a 6 week old infant girl, neglected in a filthy crib, with the toes of one foot completely missing. Her toes had been gnawed off by rats. No doubt her cries of loneliness, hunger, discomfort, and abject physical pain went unanswered by her so-called parents.
I’ve got two daughters myself and one of them is only 8 months old. She is defenseless, trusting, and enthusiastic about the company of her parents and siblings. Her tiny toes are about the cutest things imaginable. When she sleeps in her crib, I take solace in her peace and comfort. When she wakes, her needs are simple . . . hunger is addressed through nursing and newly introduced baby foods. Her need for love is addressed in the arms of her parents and in the playtime with her siblings.
The life of that 6-week old baby girl in Ohio and the life of my infant daughter couldn’t be more drastically different. So, is one life worth living and the other not? Would it have been better off if the baby in Ohio, who has known nothing but pain, was never born at all? Liberal compassion says ‘yes’, spare the baby the pain in the first place. According to liberal logic, safe, legal, and inexpensive abortion helps to prevent such atrocities from happening on a more regular basis.
So, then, what do I say as a Christian conservative?
First, a tangent: the baby has been removed from the home and she is in fair condition at a nearby hospital. She is in my prayers and may she be blessed with a loving home whether it is with a foster parent, an adoptive parent, or a caring relative.
Now, as for her right to life? She is absolutely entitled to it. Neglect and abuse do not make a case that she shouldn’t have ever been in the first place. The neglect and abuse are evidence of man’s capacity for evil . . . we, as a species, are very accomplished in evil deeds. They, however, are not reasons to destroy life in a preemptive attempt to stop future pain.
The right reaction to a case of nightmarish abuse lies with an almost entirely overlooked aspect of reality. We, as a species, are not only individuals, but we are also a unity. And, it is this other aspect of reality that should dictate our reaction to such horrors as the neglected infant in Ohio.
What then is a unity?
We are quite used to thinking of ourselves as unique individuals among all human beings who have ever existed or will exist. And, that’s true, but it’s only one side of the coin when it comes to reality. The other side of the coin is the unity part. Christians, Jews, and Muslims should know this. We are descended from a set of original parents, Adam and Eve. God throughout the Bible has treated humanity both as individuals and as a unity. The first covenant with Adam and Eve and the results of its breakage are indicative that God created man as a unity composed of individuals. As stated in the New Testament, we are truly part of one body . . . the unity of humanity.
What are the implications of being a unity?
It means an evil act done in almost complete anonymity in some far flung corner of the globe does indeed affect me and you personally in at least a spiritual way. It also means that the cries of an infant in Ohio are my business. That infant and I are a part of the whole fabric of humanity. If a part of my own body were injured, I’d seek to doctor it, not chop it off. That infant is no less a part of me as I am a part of the unity of humanity. Again, it’s what we, as a species created by God, are.
Hence, evil done against that infant isn’t a call to abort her before any suffering takes place. It’s a call to come to her aid as you would for an injury to your own body. How best to do this though? We can’t all drop everything and run off to Ohio, nor can most of us dedicate our lives to the care of the poor and neglected on a full time basis. We have families who we are responsible for and to, as well as many obligations. But, we can still pray and we can be charitable. We have a call to love one another as ourselves, because in a spiritual way, fully known to God, “one another” really is “ourselves.”
The compassionate liberal kneeling at the altar of abortion has it all wrong. Pain and suffering is not a reason to prevent life in the first place. It’s an indication that man transgresses against the moral order of God and does so with dire consequences affecting both individuals and the unity of humanity (i.e. we are one body). Using the consequences of sin as a justification for abortion is a major error in cause and effect thinking. Furthermore, the compassionate liberal ends up suggesting the equivalent of amputating an entire limb because of an injury to one part of it. In doing this, they do not recognize the unity of humanity. Their championing of abortion for compassionate reasons ends up doing injury to none other than themselves.
“How about the government?” the compassionate liberal might ask . . . “Isn’t that just about the best “brother’s keeper” around?”
Historically, no it isn’t. Socialistic policies tend to promote sloth and selfishness in society. As a means to helping the poor, it has been a miserable failure that usually results in a deterioration of family life, work ethic, personal responsibility, and charity. The government does not exist to fulfill your obligations to God and your fellow man. When you someday stand before the judgment seat of God, you shouldn’t rely on a defense that you supported the nanny state. In effect, you will be no different than the servant who buried his one talent in fear of the master (Matthew 25: 14-30).
Government can protect and facilitate to a certain extent, but when it becomes a nanny, it more often hinders. For example, the long process, great expense, and waiting list that greet parents wishing to adopt children. There are many loving parents who would give the world for an infant just like the one in Ohio, but, thanks to bureaucracy, the line between loving parents and a needy child is anything but straight and short.