Yes, I’m sorry, but it has come up (again) and it is an issue I really care about. Abortion.
Maria Miller is the new women’s minister and weirdly, there’s no news. She’s been criticised for voting for lowering the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks in 2008 and then defending and reinforcing that view now. She makes it clear this is because of advances in medical science that means a premature baby born before 20 weeks can survive and that she is a “very modern feminist.” Pro-choice supporters are angry with David Cameron for appointing her to her position, just as they were for appointing Jeremy Hunt to Health minister as he is also in favour of reducing the limit – although he would like to halve it to 12 weeks.
As a side note, although these appointments clearly aren’t preferable for pro-choice supporters, it doesn’t make sense to me for them to be angry. Two-thirds of the public and three-quarters of women in the UK would support a reduction in the limit and Marie Stopes International in 2007 found that two-thirds of GPs want the limit lowered (stats from Christian Medical Journal‘s blog via God and Politics UK). So actually these appointments are exactly as they should be; representative of the public’s views.
I am a firm pro-life supporter. This may be down to my religious views in that I believe that all life is precious and should be protected. And certainly that is probably my motivation for my views but they’re not just blind religious following; they make moral sense. Why is the mother’s choice more important the baby’s life? Pro-choice supporters like to talk about situations where the mother’s life is in danger, rape and incest as the reason it should be allowed. Where the mother’s life is in danger we have a very different situation where abortion is justified that Catholics call the Doctrine of Double Effect. It is now the mother’s life we’re saving not the baby’s life we’re taking away. As for rape and incest I would still say abortion is not preferable but especially in the case of rape this is very fairly down to personal feeling. But I would say why should the baby be punished because the father has committed a terrible crime? But even if these were the reasons most abortions took place I would be much happier with the situation. While in actual fact these cases are the minority.
There are seven grounds for abortion, A, B, C, D, E, F and G. 98% of abortions are carried out on Ground C :
‘the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.’
And actually only about half a percent of these are because of the mother’s physical health; so the rest are for the mother’s mental health. The Abortion Review, published by BPAS, an organisation that provides abortion care admits that:
“the construction of the British abortion law still presents a problem for women and doctors. It is not the case that the majority of women seeking abortion are necessarily at risk of damaging their mental health if they continue their pregnancy. But it is significant that, because of the law, women and their doctors have to indicate that this is the case”
Now, of course, there will be many cases where the mental health would really be affected and even seriously but I would challenge, even then, is the baby’s life worth less than that? And what about the mothers who simply don’t have time for a child or for whom it would be inconvenient? How can we really, as a society, say that someone being a bit too careless with their sexual activity has the right to end a life?
Mothers-to-be need counselling, advice and a listening ear, especially single mothers. And I would say someone like me (ignoring the fact I’m male) would not be appropriate to do this. They would need to be impartial, listen to the mother’s feelings and be able to present all the options. But I think that abortion should be a last resort and that at every point of the process the mother should be asked if it is definitely what they want.
So I would support a reduction of the limit. But actually the amount of abortions over 20 weeks is relatively small and although I would like them to stop, I would rather Ground C was simply better used and not for “social abortions”. To do this we would need to change the image of abortion and what it is. Because it is the killing of what most would at least call a potential human life, and what many would call a human life. How we can see it so, so differently from killing a newborn is something I simply can’t fathom. I have watched footage of an abortion (the perks of a Catholic school education) and I feel like saying that all women who will potentially have an abortion should do the same but I think I could be seen as insensitive, however the detail should still be known. This article recounts a description from a doctor who has carried out many abortions and has since become pro-life.
Full statistics for 2011, including ones I have mentioned can be found at https://www.wp.dh.gov.uk/transparency/files/2012/05/Commentary1.pdf
There’s something else I want to make clear. I will never tell a women who has had an abortion that she is evil or judge her or anything like that for having done so. I would be interested as to her reasoning and possibly challenge it but for a variety of reasons I cannot pretend to understand individual women’s situation or what she went through. I’m for loving discussions, not hateful condemnation. My example is Jesus Christ. He was perfect God; he had the right to condemn the sinners he met and yet he didn’t. He treated them with love and respect and simply discussed their issues with them. I fight for the principle, not against the individuals who have been through it. Fighting to stop it happening in the first place rather than condemning those who believed they were doing the right thing.
I know there’s a lot in here but if you have any questions on what I’ve said or think I’m way out of line or in fact agree please comment below. Over to you.
EDIT (7/12/12): There’s whole point I’ve realised I’ve missed here, something I touched on in the Presidential election – tackling the causes is much more important and effective than reducing the limit (let alone banning altogether). This will just push many women who feel they can’t bring a baby into the world to finding illegal means of terminating their pregnancy, putting the woman in danger too. If we can fight the causes; poverty, family instability, the lack of abstinence and use of contraception among young people and more; we have a real chance of reducing the abortion rate.
This is a continuation of my last post but there is no need read the last one to understand this one as it’s about a different events. After a few weeks of doing very little at home I was off to Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset for New Wine CSW (Central & South West). If you don’t know what it is, it is a Christian family conference that runs for 6 days where there are numerous seminars throughout the day, with main morning and evening meetings with what you could call “headline” speakers. There’s also various cafes on site and a marketplace with stalls of various charities and resources. This was my first time but I got a bit lucky in that I got to go for free and have meals and accommodation provided! This was, of course, not in exchange for nothing. At my home church I am a sound technician and have been for a few years. Our church has connections to a Christian recording studio so I got asked if wanted to go and record and duplicate seminars to sell onsite (there are also available to order or download online afterwards). I really loved serving in this way as I enjoy “technical” jobs (no surprise I am studying computer science!) but love them even more when I’m serving God while doing it. It also meant I was in various seminars that, given the choice by looking at their titles, I may not have attended. Generally was glad I did. I wasn’t able to get too into the main meetings as the team was needed to be duplicating and packing the discs but it didn’t bother me. I was there to serve and I got a lot out of doing exactly that. And I got to work with a great team of fellow volunteers too!
Another reason why I wasn’t too worried about not being able to go to many meetings and seminars was that I knew that I’d be coming home, getting a day and a half to recover and be heading back to the exact same place with my youth group for Soul Survivor. And those 5 days were for me and God to connect. Soul Survivor is very similar in structure to New Wine but it is aimed at youth (in fact it was the youth of New Wine becoming so big they needed their own conference!). Again, I won’t give you a breakdown, just some highlights.
Rend Collective Experiment led worship at a couple of the main meetings and they were AMAZING. If you ever get a chance to see these guys live and you want to hear some really real worship from the heart then do it. They are band of Northern Irelanders who get together with 20 or so people and make music worship praising the Lord, then a bunch of 5 (I think) take the result around the country (and the world) and record it! Since coming home I have found it hard to stop listening to them actually, although I much prefer their live performance – the recording just doesn’t seem to do them justice. Some highlights of theirs are Build Your Kingdom Here (awesome anthem for the church), You Are My Vision (best update of Be thou my vision I’ve ever heard), Second Chance and Desert Soul. Check them out! And if there’s any other cool worship bands you’ve seen or heard put them in comments!
My other highlight is more than just a cool thing that happened or I saw or heard. God gave me a mission through this – he told me what he wants me to do through my life.
There’s this quite awesome guy called Patrick Regan. He founded and runs XLP, a charity that runs in London, working with the young people who are lost, rejected and unloved. He and his team (and their buses!) go into the estates the authorities think are too dangerous to reach out to those who have no one to look to, or worse who are in right in the middle of the gang culture that exists there. Check out their work at www.xlp.org.uk. I’ve been interested in him since he couldn’t make it last year because he was talking to people like Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Ed Miliband about what to do about the London riots. It said to me if they are looking for his advice, he is right in there with those people who aren’t reached by social services or community support officers. It struck me that that’s exactly what we as Christians should be doing. Over the year I looked into XLP’s work and Patrick himself a little but ashamedly I sort of forgot about it all. This year he was there and was down to do three seminars over the weak all looking at this theme of reaching out to the marginalised and the unloved. I got along to two of them and felt I was being inspired. But yet the desire to act wasn’t strong enough. Sure, I’m meant to do something… I guess I should sometime…
The killer came when he took the stage as a guest speaker in of the evening meetings. He built on the same themes and also gave us stories of where he had been around the world and saw people in different situations from different cultures. Yet these people who didn’t know where their life was going and so got involved with gangs or sold themselves or lived on the streets all lacked one thing that would change their lives. Hope. If a person believes their life has meaning and they can achieve something through it and that someone cares for them, they can do amazing things.
How do you give them this hope? Well I’ll let Patrick’s words tell it because simply, they’re the best:
“The greatest poverty is lack of friends. Would you let your best friend live in a cardboard box? Would you stand by and watch as a friend slowly killed themselves with drugs? Of course you wouldn’t! Drug abusers need friends, homeless people need friends; young people with no parents need friends… they need people to love them, to stand up for them. It’s only when we’re willing to step out of our comfort zones and love people like we would our close friends that we can fully demonstrate the kind of life changing love that Jesus so radically taught.”
I find that Patrick’s way of talking is just so real. He’s seen this happen and seen how the work he does changes lives. It’s not theory it’s purely practical. While he was speaking about his experiences and what he had seen and the state of our world I felt something boiling up in me. It was like an aching in my chest very much like you feel when someone is annoying you so much you feel like you want to punch them. But this anger wasn’t aggressive in that sense. It was a righteous anger. It’s why I believe God gave us the ability to feel angry. When we see something in our world that isn’t right righteous anger is what gives us the passion to act on it and to go do something about it. As Patrick was speaking I felt God was saying “This is where I want you to go, be a friend to the friendless, the unloved and the marginalised.”
Wow. I’ve got a mission from God.
Woah, woah, woah, hang on a sec, I’m meant to be going to university in a month – should I be going somewhere else? Do a year with XLP or another charity doing similar work? I prayed and thought over this and within a couple of days I understood. Go to university as planned – there’s people there who need you.
So today I make the journey and move in and I have no idea where to start. But God’s got it. He’ll show me and I’ll be ready. Ready to love my fellow students, whoever they are and wherever they’re at. It’s going to be hard but I’m not alone.
Mike Pilavachi (founder of Soul Survivor who usually does the evening talks) then came and added on how the Bible is full of, well, orders really, to do exactly this work. Apart from not worshipping idols it is what is demanded most in the Old Testament and is also the most mentioned in the New Testament and specifically is what Jesus talks about (and does!) the most. So Christians have no excuse!
Has anyone else felt like they’ve been given a mission from God? How did he do it and how has it affected you?
What do you think about hope and having it being a driving force of a person’s life?
If you are a Christian do you feel this is an important ministry to be involved in anyway? Do you already do it? If you’re not Christian did you know how central it should be to the faith? Does it surprise you?
There is a part three to my summer but it is likely that it will be put on hold due to me arriving at university later today and I will post soon about how I’m settling in!
Thanks for reading!
So on Saturday I’m leaving my hometown where I’ve lived all my life to go and live somewhere that I’ve visited only once, and even then only the university campus, for the next four years. This really dawned on me on Sunday evening after being at my last service at the church I’ve grown up in and realising I won’t see it again until Christmas. All the “goodbye”s and “good luck”s from many people I don’t even know have felt surreal but I have accepted that I’m leaving.
But don’t get too worried, I am extremely excited and can’t wait to get stuck into university life and enjoy it. I also, possibly ashamedly, can’t wait to leave home and my parents, due to some issues that they have mainly with each than with me, but details on that are for another post. I’m looking forward, not to reinventing myself, because I’m not changing who I am, but reestablishing myself, making clearer who I am and what I live for to people who have no knowledge of my past.
The feeling that I will be soon having to live independently, sharing a kitchen with ten other people, with four bathrooms between us, none of whom I’ve ever met is also quite a scary prospect. Lots of things my friends going elsewhere have been saying are: What if I don’t get on with the people I have to live with? What if their attitude to life is really different? What if they’re really messy and leave stuff all over the kitchen? What if they don’t clean up after themselves in the bathroom? I’ve got to live with these ten people for the next year (or 9 months anyway) and I reckon it’ll be okay, and if the testimony of the majority of students I’ve talked to is to be believed; there’s nothing to worry about. And I’m ready just to jump in and try it despite all the possible problems. Freshers week in many ways has me scared though, as it seems the centre of it is getting drunk, which isn’t what I do, and clubbing, which isn’t my scene; I just kinda find it boring. I have a friend from my church who is a couple years ahead at the same uni who has already been through it all and she has reassured me it’s okay especially when you stick by what you say you will or won’t do. It’s really cool having someone around I know who looks at things the same way as me. It’s even better that her boyfriend is basically my best mate from church who regularly comes over for visits!
Also my Christian faith and belief in God is probably the most important thing for me and it’s probably quite likely that none of the people that I’ll be living with are religious, let alone Christian, and it’s also quite possible there’ll be someone who will be staunchly atheist, looking to attack faith. Just to be clear, this doesn’t worry me because I think anyone will shake my faith, I have no doubts about what I believe. What I am worried about is how I behave and how I project the image of a Christian to these people. Because actually I’m not going to university just to study and get a degree (I hope!) but it’s a mission field. It’s where God has sent me to spread his incredible word. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be preaching to anyone (in fact that’s extremely unlikely) but the first step is to show a real representation of Jesus Christ in my life. Hopefully if that is successful I will have opportunities to tell others why I act differently. Meanwhile the first thing I want to make sure I do is get involved with the CU at the university and find ways that it does outreach in the university and get stuck in! As well as that I want to find a church that does mission in the city and serve the people of it. I feel God has given me a real calling to serve those who feel unloved and marginalised, and for a short time I wasn’t sure university was actually the place he wanted me to go but I then understood that’s where he wanted me to carry this out – more on how that came about in the next post. This leaves me excited for how God will use me during my university life and I honestly can’t wait for it.
I reckon that’s good place to end this post, in the next day or two I’ll post about my adventures over the summer. Please comment and share if you liked it!