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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Personhood Amendment Debate

The Personhood Amendment Debate

          On this blog I took a very strong stand in favor of Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment.  One week ago, in fact, when it did not pass, I titled my post Defeat!  I believe that was the correct position to take, though as I wrote a few weeks ago, the notion that we should need an initiative to tell us that life begins at conception is ridiculous.

          However, the bishops and National Right to Life did not take as strong a position in support of the amendment.  The bishops basically did not comment, while the NRL opposed the measure.  I, however, remained uncritical of them.

          The three different approaches taken by myself, the bishops and the NRL raise a very important question that we ought to examine.  Certainly all three of us agree that life begins at conception, but where we differed was over the issue of prudence.

          The NRL felt that the Personhood Amendment was not wrong, just wrongly timed.  Without question, had it passed, it would have been challenged in court, and certainly would have made its way to the Supreme Court.  At present, the court is not favorable to the position of life.  Five of the nine justices could have been expected to vote against the measure.  The NRL felt that a defeat in the Supreme Court would have set back our cause immeasurably.

          The bishops, however, seem to have taken an approach closer to my own.  I do not wish to speak for them, so I will only put forth my own conclusions, which are that they likely chose not to get involved because they recognized the legitimacy of the NRL’s concern, yet as guardians of Truth, I imagine they could not bring themselves to oppose a measure that upheld such a fundamental and obvious truth.

          Therein lies my own approach to the issue.  I may not have brought forth the measure at this time, in the hopes that more fertile judicial ground is coming.  However, once it was on the ballot, I felt that a statement had to be made for truth, and that the consequences of voting down the Personhood Amendment might also be far-reaching.  (Pro-abortion groups have been touting the outcome as vindication.)  Of course, I understand and respect the approaches taken by both the bishops and the NRL.

          This whole thing begs us to contemplate an important question.  Sadly, our defense of human life does require political strategy.  Prudence is not out of place.  At the same time, prudence can make for a convenient excuse to do nothing.  When we have the opportunity to take a step, should we take it and trust in the Lord for its success?  Perhaps.  Of course, Jesus Himself warned us to be as wise as serpents.  He doesn’t seem to be asking us to set aside political realities entirely in our pursuit of the good.

          I fear there is no simple answer to this dilemma.  Each time we approach it, we must do so with prayer.  And without question, from time to time we will make poor decisions.  When we do disagree on these points, however, let us remember that we are fighting the same fight.  Our motives are pure, even when we disagree.  And in the end, may we remain faithful to the cause.  Victory is the Lord’s.