A Consistent Ethic of Life

One of the things that I learned a bit more about this past quarter was having a "consistent ethic of life". This is something that the Catholic church is good at adhering to- caring about people from womb to grave and all the points in between. So this would pan out as being against abortion, euthanasia, war, and capital punishment. It would also be reflected in supporting people at all stages of life, helping deliver from oppression and poverty, and generally valuing the soul of every, single person as a reflection of God's image, no matter how distorted it may be.

On the surface, I can whole-heartedly say, "Yes! Count me in! This describes me!" But every once in a while something comes up where I can tell that it isn't all the way in me. Today I read a news story about a man who put his baby girl in the microwave. THE MICROWAVE. And this is after punching her and putting her in the hotel safe and fridge. My gut reaction is wanting this man to be dispatched to his eternal reward immediately. But is that right? God wants this sicko's soul just as much as he wants and cherishes mine. At the same time, God has historically known and acted when someone is a lost cause. I've been against the death penalty since I first investigated it in high school, but these thoughts I have make me question my loyalty to that. Gimme a break, I was even sad when Sadaam Hussein was executed because that was a human being created in God's image who was killed. I have no idea why I had more sympathy for him than this guy in Texas.

In any discussion of pacifism, there is always the elephant in the room: Hitler. If I believe that war is always wrong, then do I think that we should have just let Hitler go on his merry way, praying that the Christians in Europe would get their heads out of their asses and rise up? (Non-violently, of course). No. I think.

This is where labels fall apart and we realize that as much as we would like to be consistent and never veer towards hypocrisy, we're humans who live in a screwed-up and complicated world. I could just make life easier and say that I'm in the Just-Peacemaking camp (see Kingdom Ethics), which I mostly think is an awesome philosophy. It just seems that the Bible is pretty clear about the whole peace thing and that all of our efforts are to justify our human tendencies towards war and violence. Then again, we are humans, and we cannot possibly live up to all that God wants of us.

Does that mean we give up? Not at all. I will try as much as I can to have a consistent ethic of life and honor the God of Justice and Mercy. Being that I am not personally responsible for executing anyone, I'll stick to what is in my sphere of influence: trying to alleviate suffering, praying, and voting in ways that will decrease poverty and oppression. It's truly is the Best thing I can do.