But here's what Augustine does, in this and every other matter: He gives us a yardstick for measuring our faith and our works, and, strange to say, it isn't orthodoxy.
As I've been repeatedly saying here in the column, as well as throughout my book Faithful Citizenship, Augustine tells us that what we believe is less important than loving God and our neighbor, just as Jesus tells us in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew that what we believe is less important than that we forgive.
Still, so many Christians in politics today are interested solely in questions of morality and purity: If you don't oppose abortion, all abortions, you can't be truly Christian.
That attitude has sloshed over into this whole attempt to impose my values on your ovaries, ladies, including the matter of whether or not you wish to be pregnant, or even healthy.
This latest ruling about women's healthcare in Texas came about because of our governor's abhorrence for Planned Parenthood, which conservatives rightly connect to abortion. As NPR notes, "While 95 percent of Planned Parenthood's money goes to provide health care services to tens of thousands of low-income women, the organization is also the state's largest provider of abortions." Not their major service, certainly, but it's in the package.
I have no problem with people opposing abortion. In some cases, I think I oppose it too. But as the stats suggest, these defunded Texas clinics were almost exclusively providers of health care to low-income women. What will those women do now for birth control, prenatal care, wellness?
If you imagine that other clinics will simply pick up the slack using federal funds, let me disabuse you of that notion. In order to win his battle against Planned Parenthood and demonstrate the purity of his belief, Governor Perry elected not to accept federal funds for women's health care, although NPR reported that 90 percent of the cost of the Texas Women's Health Program has been paid for by the federal government.
Will those funds be made up elsewhere in the Texas budget?
Oh, honey. If you imagine so for a millisecond, you do not know Texas.
First, Texas legislators never met a tax, a fee, or a levy that they liked, despite the fact that our state is at or near the bottom in every measurable American statistic on life and quality of life. We won't consider an income tax, although, according to the IRS, 41 states seem to have them and most of them outrank us in infant mortality, lifespan, and so on.
If it requires tax money, it's not going to fly here.
Second, as Miss Molly Ivins, of sainted memory, used to remind us, we have an old saying here: "Texas is Paradise for men and dogs, but it is Hell on women and horses."
And that's just the plain and simple truth. Despite the many strong and wonderful Texas women, their needs—and the needs of our children, aged, and poor—are simply not regarded as important by our politicians.
Ladies, once again it appears that some people would rather be right—or appear to be right—than to exercise love and compassion for those in need or distress.
And once again it appears that maybe—despite stirring protestations to the contrary—some people don't actually love women.