Sarah wrote this during her devotions today and shared it with me. I thought it was inspiring and thought provoking. With her permission, I share it with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
– Galatians 5:6
Today I attended my ethics seminar. The professor was a Catholic ethicist in a Catholic hospital system. She told a story involving a Hmong woman giving birth. The mother-in-law was the midwife and the baby’s vitals were not looking good. There was a language barrier and the only interpretation available was by phone. The physician pushed for a C-section but the woman and mother-in-law strongly objected. Due to several doubts regarding the consent process – language barrier and the ability of the mom to understand that one or both of them might die without surgical intervention, the potential for coercion by the mother-in-law, and the potential for impaired judgement due to being in labor for a very long time – the ethicist obtained a court order to intervene and save both lives through a C-section. Why did the women hesitate regarding the procedure? Because of their religious convictions, they believed the mother’s soul would be lost through the incision. When the baby was not very calm in the first twenty-four hours, the family also feared the baby lost her soul. To make a long story short, everything worked out in the end.
It is interesting to explore religious beliefs and logic.
I have been exposed to many variations of the Christian religion: Catholic, Wesleyan, Fundamentalist Baptist, Evangelical Baptist, Non-denominational Evangelical, Pentecostal, Methodist, a strange church that preached a strong prosperity gospel, and a way too comfortable suburban church that made me very uncomfortable. All of these I attended for at least a month, and some many years.
I was raised Catholic, but my adventure in Protestantism began in high school when I decided I did not want to be confirmed because I had too many issues with the Catholic church. This led me to begin attending a very large non-denominational church by myself. During my faith journey, I have discovered this: there is no perfect church or belief system.
I am reminded of Galatians 5:13-14:
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
We all experience life through a lens. The Hmong family’s beliefs were not absurd, they were simply based in their faith and what they grew up with. That’s how it is for Christianity. Paul’s message to the believers in the Galatian church was to overcome religious tension by recognizing there is not a single lens, but a plurality. The Jews wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised because, for them, Christianity was an extension of their Jewish faith. Yet the Gentiles had come to faith outside Judaism, to insist that the Jews had it all right was to miss the forest for the trees. Instead, Paul reminded them it is unity in Christ that overcomes the hostile divisions between “Jew, Gentile; Slave, Free; Male, Female” and unites them under Christ (3:28-29).
As I consider this, the words of my Catholic professor replay in my head, “I fully realize my beliefs are not rooted in logic. Most religions don’t get very far with logic.” I am left with the question,
Unless you have questioned every belief and dared to truly consider other viewpoints, how do you know what you believe is not similar to this C-section story?
I have come to realize, the overwhelming majority of religious beliefs do not hold up to basic logic. I find it sad that this is not often recognized within the Christian sects. I believe it would be better, instead of insisting that all details of the Christian religion make complete sense, to acknowledge there is an aspect of faith to all religious beliefs and systems, including our own. Isn’t that the point? What if we were more humble and loving in our responses to others instead of pretending to know it all?
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action…[for] God is love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
– 1 John 3:19, 4:16