by the Night Writer
Back in January Mitch Berg had a post likening the abortion issue to a ribbon in the middle of a tug-of-war rope, with each side trying to move the ribbon (i.e. public opinion) closer to it’s position. Mitch thought he was seeing signs that public opinion has pulled more to the right of late. That naturally triggered a comment string that centered around the role of faith in one’s view and of legislating belief. Surprisingly, it actually turned out to be one of the most civil debates I’ve seen on his site, and one I was proud to have participated in.
I’ve thought about that discussion several times since then, and while the topic at that time was abortion, I’ve realized that my comments then pretty well encapsulated my thinking on many issues and, unintentionally, provided an explanation for one of the reasons for why I blog, limited as my contribution may be.
I’ve extracted the main portion of my comment from that day (addressing another commenter, not Mitch) and posted it here to help me remember, on nights like these when I’m really tired, why I keep doing this.
… I merely want to address your view that the abortion issue is an issue of faith. It is a matter of faith, but not necessarily “faith” as in being Catholic, Evangelical or Humanist, but in terms of “belief.” The underlying point I took from Mitch’s post is that what people “believe” about human life appears to be changing, and ultimately what a society believes is reflected in its laws (for good or ill). Inevitably some beliefs are going to be in the minority. Thank goodness the vast majority today believes it’s wrong to hang people from trees, though a few still say it’s okay to threaten to do so, while even fewer would be willing to do it. (At what point prosecution should enter into that example is a topic for another day).
It’s not a process of legislating faith (or belief), but of faith/belief affecting legislation. The fact that some will disagree or be offended by the result is not reason in and of itself to not act on the greater will. Thus the ribbon, as Mitch says, is moved. That does not mean, however, that the minority doesn’t have the right to protest, or to work continually to change the beliefs of the majority, even to the point of risk and sacrifice (since risk and sacrifice are what differentiates belief from emotion). Though I may be in a minority on a number of issues (or because I’m in the minority on a number of issues), I thank God (not goodness) that we live in a society where these beliefs can still be contested.