When DOES life begin?

Does life begin at conception? Is a fetus a human being with rights? Does abortion stop a beating heart?

For some folks the answers to these questions are quite clear. Yes, yes, and yes.

Me? I am not so sure.

I am uncomfortable with clear cut, black and white thinking and answers especially to complex and multifaceted situations like abortion. In fact, in the last six years, I have come to treasure vagueness, ambiguity and doubt because it allows me to ponder, and meditate on anything and everything more deeply allowing for transformation.

But to answer the question, when does life begin, I contemplated death first.  When does one’s body die?

“If brain death is confirmed, why does an individual’s heart continue beating? As long as the heart has oxygen, it can continue to work. The ventilator provides enough oxygen to keep the heart beating for several hours. Without this artificial help, the heart would stop beating.”

When brain death occurs, beloveds must make the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw life support from their dear one.

I had the utmost honor of being present when my mother crossed over. The first thing I noticed as she got closer to the finish line, was how her breathing changed.

My father and I were immediately alert to the fact that her end in form was near, as her breathing became more shallow with longer intervals between breaths. We huddled near, holding her and watched, grieving, as she gradually stopped breathing and gracefully slipped toward glory. For me, it was the most profound experience of my life to witness her transition.

Breath …

“Then ADONAI, God, formed a person (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

… “the breath of life.”

If life ends when one stops breathing, then life must begin with breath. Neonates delivered at 36-38 weeks after confirmed fetal lung maturity are at higher risk of adverse outcomes than those delivered at 39-40 weeks.”

Just in case someone gets caught up on the word ‘person’ … “A well-known Hebrew name, Adam means ‘son of the red Earth.’ Its meaning comes from the Hebrew word “adamah” meaning “earth,” from which Adam is said to be formed. The name also refers to the reddish color associated with human skin.” All the elements are in place … hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen—the potential for life exists. Yet the formation of all those elements is not a “living being” until the lungs gasp their first breath.

I am not sure why this is unclear to some Christians …

… which makes me wonder. Are their objections to abortions really about when life begins or whether a fetus is a person with rights, or whether human rights begin as a beating heart? Is the issue for them really about babies?

I raised three sons. On more than one occasion, we talked about birth control, relationships, and the responsibilities that accompany engaging in sexual activity.

I wanted them to know that sexual activity and pregnancy were matters that were not to be taken lightly. I told them point blank that birth control was NOT the woman’s total responsibility—that they were responsible too. This included getting a vasectomy when their family was complete, should they decide to have children, so their partner did not have to continue taking birth control pills due to all the possible side effects.

They also knew if they did get a woman pregnant, that I would be there to help and offer support in any way I could if they needed me.

Some reading this may think I went too far. Maybe, maybe not. I never wanted any women to find themselves in a position to have to decide to have an abortion or not … because it is NOT a simple decision!

What IS simple is forcing people to do something without a thought or care to their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. The “just do it” mentality allows the enforcers to metaphorically wash their hands of the whole business.

“What do gays believe?”

This seems to be the question du jour within circles surrounding the contentious split in the United Methodist Church. “After decades of rancorous debate over the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists, a special session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference and three postponements of a vote to formally split the denomination, the schism finally came …” and the conservative Global Methodist Church is born.

However much there is conscious choice and desire, I suspect gays believe God loves them, that God cares about them and that God is active in and through their lives just as God is active in and through everyone and everything.

I love that the rainbow flag is the symbol for the LGBTQ+ community.

Is the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet—spectrum of light really as straightforward as it looks? Or are they infinite hues and variations from one color to the next? Of course there are, so why would it be so difficult to believe that gender and sexuality are also a broad, multi-diverse spectrum?

Yes, I know what the Bible says “… he created them male and female; he blessed them and called them Adam [humankind, man] on the day they were created.” Genesis 5:2  Notice the use of the “them” pronoun referring to “humankind.” Do you really think the “them” is referring to just Adam and Eve … standing there … naked?

Suppose male and female represent the polarities of the human spectrum just as red and violet represent similar for the rainbow. Allegorically speaking, this seems like a more logical approach rather than a literal rendering and understanding of the book of Genesis.

Consider the variety, range, span, scope of all the animals and creatures that are and have ever walked the earth. Our feeble minds cannot comprehend the length and breadth of God’s creativity and diversity. So why would God confine human beings to simply heterosexual male or female? Just so we can be fruitful and multiply? Could ‘be fruitful and multiply’ mean something beyond simply having babies?

Now is about the time in this writing that some folks would quote the Bible verses that they believe condemn homosexuality. Don’t bother. I have read them.

Isn’t there the slightest chance those verses are referring to something else? What could be more sexually offensive, deviant, perverted than pedophilia? I am not judging nor justifying in any way this complicated behavior.

All of this to say that I think peoples’ objections to the LGBTQ+ community have more to say about what is lacking in their own hearts and minds rather than the hearts and minds of gay folks.

You know what I think is really bothering the indoctrinated, judgmental Christians?

Freedom …

… freedom is really what is at stake here …

… women’s freedom of autonomy over their own bodies, freedom for diverse genders and sexualities to marry whom they choose … freedom to marry inter-racially … among other freedoms.

Those who want to maintain control cannot stand freedom.

When I was a teenager, the 1971 musical, “Godspell,” by John Michael Tebelak, was popular. The youth group that I attended actually performed it several times one summer. Suffice it to say, I listened to the album over and over and over again. To this day, I know the lyrics of all the songs by heart.

As I think about Trump, DeSantis, Abbott, Graham, Tucker, Locke (Greg), McConnell, Greene, Cordileone, Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Cavanaugh, Barrett, et. al., I picture Jesus singing to them “Alas For You,” particularly this second verse:

Alas, alas, for you
Lawyers and pharisees
Hypocrites that you are
Sure that the kingdom of Heaven awaits you
You will not venture half so far
Other men that might enter the gates you
Keep from passing through!
Drag them down with you!
You snakes, you viper’s brood
You cannot escape being Devil’s food!
I send you prophets, and I send you preachers
Sages in rages and ages of teachers
Nothing can mar your mood

Because their hearts are so hardened and controlling, theocratic Christians have reduced Christianity to an artificial set of polarized beliefs in duality–dos and don’ts—aimed simply at getting into their imagined afterlife. This is not freedom. This is superficial hogwash and completely denies the God-given free will of Grace.

“ADONAI, God, gave the person this order: ‘You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.’” Genesis 2:16-17

Is this passage really about ‘original sin?’ Or could it be that this is the death of our awareness that we are direct descendants of the Creator? There was a choice to be made. Eat the fruit of polarized duality and separation and buy into the Big Lie, or not eat the fruit and lose the opportunity for Love to be conscious of itself in and through each and every aspect of Creation.

Without being forced, we get to choose to know and be Love in relationship with Love.

Between 1892 and 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance went through two different rewrites and additions. In 1954, President Eisenhower “in response to the Communist threat of the times” urged Congress to add the words “under God.” Personally, I think that was a huge mistake.

One phrase, however, was never altered in all three versions …

… that phrase is “… with liberty and justice for all.”

Synonyms for liberty include freedom, independence, autonomy, self-determination among others.

Seems rather hypocritical to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while removing Americans’ freedoms. Do the words ‘under God’ justify the hypocricy?

There is nothing set in stone with this writing, I understand anyone’s disagreement with what I have written.

These wonderings of a 63-year-old, white, heterosexual, cis-gender female who has doubts about her faith, is disappointed for and worried about all women—whether cis, trans, queer or straight of all ethnicities–and is disillusioned about the direction in which her nation is going are my way of working through my feelings.

Thank you for walking with me.