Justice, Compassion, Conscience & ‘Biblical Values’

Whenever someone claims to be talking about biblical values, they’re likely just telling you about their own personal values.  But the truth about what the bible does and doesn’t talk about is often inconvenient for the anti-choice crowd.  Here’s what Rev. Matthew Westfox said last week:

“Choice” is not often thought of as a biblical value, and while the Bible affirms the value of sacred conscience—particularly for women regarding their own reproductive lives— the word abortion never appears in scripture.  Yet justice is a word found throughout the Bible and is a concept held sacred by many faiths.

And here’s Matthew’s appearance on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show last Saturday:

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Matthew is a fellow participant with me in The Faith & Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute at The Center for American Progress, where we have been talking and working together on diversifying the faith perspectives on issues like abortion.  He does a great job, both on the show and in this piece, highlighting a pro-faith and pro-choice view, emphasizing justice, compassion, conscience, and a ministry of presence.

“Justice is not merely about an absence of legal restrictions—justice is also about living in the right relationship with God and with all of our brothers and sisters in God’s family. When we restrict someone’s ability to find the services they need and restrict the ability of doctors to offer needed health services, there is no justice. When a person who wishes to be a parent cannot get a job or access to health care or all the other things that make parenting possible, there is no justice. The handmaiden of justice is compassion, and that was precisely what Sarah sought in my office. When such compassion is denied, there is no justice.”

 

About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


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