Had a conversation with an angry Fundamentalist atheist the other day. He was a former Fundy who went to Liberty College and made the sensible choice to reject the ugly god of Fundamentalism–a god I don’t believe in either. Unfortunately, he then did what many ex-Fundamentalists do and rejected the real God as well. But he kept his Fundamentalism intact, merely reversing all the blacks and whites.
In the course of our conversation, he offered the view that it is ridiculous for Christians to think that God would care about human sexuality one way or the other. He said, “I don’t see why a god [it’s always an essential act of piety to lowercase the word – MS] who creates the whole universe would care about the triviality of what people do with their bodies in private.” We then got treated to some Saganesque variation on the size of the universe, “billions and billions” and something about human insignificance, etc.
But here’s the thing. The atheists who say this also say, “If Christians really believed in a God of love, they would certainly want to make sure that people have health care.” Now, I in fact agree that there is something deeply grotesque about Christians battling with might and main to make sure that the poorest and weakest cannot get the medical treatment they need and that the monstrousness of this is only increased when they trumpet in the public square that they are “prolife” as they labor to fight the Church on universal health care. All granted.
But here’s the thing: the atheist saying this never seems to grasp that means that a personal God cares about our bodies since we are embodied persons. If God is not supposed to care about what happens to our reproductive organs, why should he care about our endocrine system, our lungs, our heart, our brain, or our digestive tract. If bodies matter, they matter. If not, then drop this silly inconsistent critique. Me, I think our bodies matter. So does the Second Person of the Trinity, who assumed a human body and who raised it glorified from death.
Now, as should be obvious, exactly the same critique can applied in reverse and to exactly the same blind spot of the Right Wing “anti-abortion-but-not-prolife” Christian who cares about sex but does not grasp that health care is just the prolife ethos extended beyond birth. If we really believe the body matters and that life is precious from conception to natural death, then we support preserving it from conception to natural death too.
The weirdness of the libertarian “prolife” Christian (which is the overwhelming bulk of them) is that they have embraced the theory that a state social safety net somehow “robs” them of the chance to do personal acts of “charity”. What they forget is that health care is not “charity”. It is something due us in justice. It is not “charity” to not let a newborn baby die from lack of food, water, and clothing. It is justice. Because that baby is *due* his life and those who deny it to him are murderers. In the same way, the sick person is *due* medical care and for the same reason: because he is made in the image of the God who loves him. If you deny him medical care, you are not denying him “charity” (for charity is not owed). You deny him justice. And it is precisely the business of the state to assure justice. Therefore it is the business of the state to assure that people all receive health care. When you labor to prevent that, you labor to prevent justice. That Christians are in the forefront of fighting for injustice is an obscenity.
Lent is a good time for repenting fighting God and the sin of trying to deny the poor and sick what is justly theirs.
Be more prolife, not less. Defend human life, not merely from conception to birth, but from conception to natural death.