Oklahoma Fails the Test and I Am Proud Of It!

Statue of liberty detail edited 5

This is one test I wanted to fail.

In fact, this is one test that I have expended considerable political, social and emotional capital in an effort to fail.

NARAL’s so-called Women’s Reproductive Report Card is out, and Oklahoma got an F. Unfortunately, we’re not the best state in the Union in which to be an unborn child. North Dakota won that one.

But still … Oklahoma did “fail” the pro-abortion test, and I am proud to tell you that one of the pro life bills that Oklahoma passed last year to earn this failing grade was passed by me.

In fact, I went through the list of Oklahoma’s pro life regulations that NARAL dislikes, and I authored the bills that made quite a number of them law.

Now that I’ve told you how “proud” I am of this, I need to back off and back down and admit that I also, back in the years before my conversion, killed most of the same legislation that I have since helped pass.

Back when I was pro choice, I never heard a kind word from pro life people. In fact, they were pretty ugly to me. Fortunately for me, that was not true of a good many pro life legislators. It was their Christian witness of being able to love me just as I was (oftentimes while being excoriated for doing it by a few members of the pro life community) that softened me up.

This softening up played a big part in my ability to turn to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. But even then, I didn’t ask forgiveness for what I had done about abortion. That came later, after the Holy Spirit convicted me of the wrong I had committed. Christ Himself accepted me, as the hymn goes, just as I was; warts, sins and all. He forgave me for things I didn’t realize at that point that I needed to be forgiven for.

I think we need to take a page from His book in dealing with lost people.

That does not mean that I am advising you to tell people that their sins are not, in fact, sins. That would be a grave injustice to them. I am saying that none of us is as bad as the worst thing we’ve done and that none of us — and that means you and me, my friend — is fit to stand before God based on his or her own righteousness.

Our salvation is found at the foot of the cross. It is an unearned and unearnable grace; a free gift of love from the God Who made us.

Do not go around banning people from the Kingdom because they fall short of your idea of personal righteousness. Your standing in the order of things is that of the created, not the Creator. You do not get to ban anybody from the Kingdom. That is not your place in the order of creation. You are not the Judge. You are the judged.

Every single one of us should be grateful that God loves us and accepts us. That is what I believe the Holy Father has been trying to tell us this past year. We need to remind people that there is a remedy for their anomie and misery, and that remedy is the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

We live in a devolving, falling-apart culture that has gotten so turned on its head that evil is preached as good and good is preached as evil from every venue. It is maddening, I know, to see and hear people demand that Christians validate sin by denying the sinfulness of what is in truth moral depravity. We can not and must not do that.

It is even more maddening to have people who do not believe in Jesus and who actively mock Him, mis-use Christ’s clear commandment that we should not judge to mean that we are called to ignore the equally clear teachings of morality and purity. I understand the anger this provokes. I’ve felt it. I feel it many times when I encounter this smug sophistry.

But, I know that Jesus calls you and me to more than righteous anger. I know that righteous anger, if it is nursed and allowed to go on, destroys our relationship with Jesus. When we become anger and rage — and at least a few of the people who comment on this blog seem to have fallen into this trap — then we are not and cannot be following God who is love.

Never equate the person with their sin. If Christ looked at you like that, where would you be? I know where I would be. I know what I deserve.

Is there one person reading this who would not go straight to hell, if God judged us as harshly as we judge one another?

Sin is wrong. But the person who sins is a child of God who can be loved from death to life. It is not our job to play God and condemn them to hell. Our job is to show them the Way. Part of that, certainly, is an insistence on the truth of God’s teachings about personal morality. But the hardest part of it is an honest and forthright attempt to live those truths in our lives.

We are all prey to the world. I certainly am. If I do not fall into the sins of active behavior — which is almost impossible not to do — then I will fall into the sins of thinking that my righteousness is sufficient and that I can judge and condemn those who I see failing in ways that I do not.

The thing that saves me is the grace of God that keeps reminding me that I am only saved from eternal hell by unmerited love.

Pray without ceasing for the poor, sad people who are trying to live without Christ. Never stop praying for them or give up on them. Make the best witness that you can by living out your Christian commitment without flinching back from it.

Do it because it is what Jesus asked you to do.

Look to the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments and the Catechism of the Church for your guides on how to live. Do not pay attention to various gurus who would add to or take away from those things.

If an honest attempt to follow the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments and the Catechism doesn’t teach you humility, then re-read them and compare yourself to the requirements found there with a bit more honesty.

Stop comparing your personal edited and flattering version of yourself to the sins you witness other people committing. That’s the wrong way to look at it. It can cost you your soul. Look instead to Jesus. If you compare your righteousness to Jesus, hanging on the cross, it will bring you down to your knees, and on your knees is where you — and me, and all of us — belong.

My sins were and are great. I owe a debt that I can never repay.

The fact that God let me be the person who passed a few pro life bills was and is a measure of forgiveness that I did not and do not deserve.

What do you owe?

What, honestly, do you owe your Creator?

If it’s not more than you can repay, then you are not truly human.

Do not engage in attacks against people. Focus instead on the issues at hand, filtered through the Truth of God. Remember that we are all of us dust, and that we will each stand before God much sooner than we imagine.

Do not throw away your soul on the sad satisfactions of judging and unforgiving. That is a preposterous waste of the free gift of eternal life.

  • Dave

    Yep, you’ve nailed it! This is what Pope Francis is trying to say, when he says that proclaiming Christ is prior to being “obsessed” with specific issues. I realize that all of my comments on various posts are more or less useless. I make them because we have a God of miracles, and there needs to be witnesses to the truth. But generally speaking, no one is going to be convinced.

    We need to pray for the lost, because that’s where we’d be without God’s grace. People need to be invited to follow Jesus Christ. If they know Him, then their whole life changes. They begin to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and His way begins to replace our ways. If anything is important for us to show, it’s our joy and our love. This is pretty hard to convey in a combox. So, evangelization needs to be, primarily, a person-to-person, face-to-face effort.

  • FW Ken

    If I’m reading the chart right, Texas is one rank lower than Oklahoma. Not to brag or anything…

    • hamiltonr

      Trying to think of a way to blow a razzberry in a combox.

      Don’t be too smug Texan. We’re right behind you. :-)

  • CathyLouise

    I am so glad I found your blog! You write beautifully and, always, charitably. I hope to continue reading you for a long time.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you CathyLouise.

  • Don Campbell

    I am proud to be from Texas where we also get an F. Unfortunately, the federal courts are going to force us all to get better grades. The Supreme Court refusing to hear Arizona’s appeal was a very, very bad sign for us reprobates.

  • David M Paggi

    Congratulations! I live in South Carolina, which also scored an F. It is a grim scorecard when the survivability of the unborn bears an inverse relation to the grade.

    More importantly, thank you for this thoughtful reflection, which has implications far beyond Pro-Life. In his “Reflection” video (EWTN) “Respectable Sins”, Fr. Leo Clifford offers very pithy illustrations of the siren song of this temptation.

    The battle is not only lives, it is souls as well, and those of the misguided are just as precious as our own. Therefore they are not the adversary, they are just as much the prize as the lives to be saved.

    If the contest were volleyball, the goal would be to get everyone on our side of the net, leaving Satan all alone and powerless.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Hard to believe New York wasn’t number 1, but I bet NY City as a city might be. It seems like the northeast and the west coast are the human butcher shops part of the country while there is hope for those in between. Anyone care for some baby meat? (I’m just being cynical.) Planned Parenthood is so revolting.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    You can’t convert somebody you aren’t willing to first talk to.

  • Ray Glennon

    Rebecca,

    Thank you for this personal and moving testimony. You provide a concrete example of what it means to live out the question posed by Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?”

    And I understand, from personal experience, what it means to stray far from the teaching of the Catholic Church and to behave in ways that are unloving (sinful) where people I love get hurt. And I also knew, even then, that God was watching me. 14th century Dominican Meister Eckhart wrote, “God is at home. It’s we who’ve gone out for a walk.” Like the prodigal son, when I was lost I knew I was far from home. Similar to the feedback you received from some pro-life groups, I really didn’t need someone hectoring me about my sins; I needed to be gently reminded that I could return home and live a life worthy of my calling. And, thanks be to God, people blessed me with their guidance and I was able to do just that.

    I think some of what Pope Francis is bringing to the Church is a change in tone–but not in substance–from what some might have considered the hectoring of the recent popes and the American hierarchy. Our “calling” to follow Jesus hasn’t changed and and his teaching hasn’t changed, however instead of being hectored while we are lost, Francis–like the father in the story of the prodigal son–is waiting to welcome us home and calling the Church to do the same.

    As Francis writes in the Joy of the Gospel (#38), “…in preaching the Gospel a fitting sense of proportion has to be maintained… if…a parish priest speaks about temperance 10 times but only mentions charity or justice 2-3 times, an imbalance results…. The same thing happens when we speak more about law than about grace, more about the Church than Christ, more about the Pope than God’s word.”

    As I see it, Pope Francis is emphasizing the BOTH-AND characteristics of our Catholic Faith to the tremendous benefit of the Church and the world.

    Twitter: @rayglennon:disqus

    • hamiltonr

      This is a beautiful testimony Ray. Thank you for your generosity in sharing it.

  • irena mangone

    Thank you for your beautiful article

  • Joe

    BOOMER!!!!!!!!

    • hamiltonr

      Sooner!!!!!!!!!

  • Linda Kreger

    Amazing grace, indeed.


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