I spent time with a group of readers the past couple of weeks, talking mostly about faith.
It was led by one of our most prolific letters-to-the-editor writers, Myrtle Beach resident Jack Brandmahl.
He presented what he said was indisputable proof that the Christian Bible should be read literally and through a conservative lens.
He and I don’t see eye-to-eye on that and many other issues, but the back and forth was passionate and good-natured.
Another member of the group, a Catholic who is just as conservative as Brandmahl, asked me to tackle a related topic in one of my columns.
We don’t agree on much either, but I told him I would.
He presented me with this scenario: What would Jesus say to a 16-year-old girl seeking an abortion?
We had just finished arguing about what it meant to be pro-life or pro-choice.
He thinks the Bible calls for a person to believe that life begins at conception and anything done to stop a pregnancy after that is murder. His question wasn’t so much a question as it was a declaration that, if asked, Jesus would say he sees things the way he does.
But I’ll answer any way.
What would Jesus tell that 16-year-old girl?
I don’t know, which is the same answer I give when people ask me what Martin Luther King Jr. would say about a 21st century issue involving race.
The easy way out is to declare that Jesus would do for her what he did for the woman about to be stoned to death, first protect her from the angry, judgmental mob then tell her go and sin no more.
But that says next to nothing about the modern-day issue of American abortion.
It’s easy to see why Jesus would have wanted her not to have participated in sex at such a young age, as well as Jesus telling her that abortion is the wrong course of action to resolve that particular issue.
I agree on both counts.
But that still doesn’t answer what’s at the heart of the abortion debate: Should the government force a woman to go through with a pregnancy in all situations. If you believe life begins at conception and abortion is murder, you can’t also believe there should be exceptions for the health of the woman or for rape or incest.
What would Jesus say about governmental control over a woman’s body?
Would he say render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s?
How does that translate into an abortion debate in 2013 in the United States of America?
That as long as the law says abortion is legal, give the girl her choice even as you tell her it’s not the right thing to do?
Given that Jesus didn’t want an angry mob controlling a woman’s decision-making, why would he be OK with the government doing so?
Jesus didn’t force that woman to stop “sinning”; he just told her to stop – obviously leaving the choice up to her. Or maybe he would say that we should fight with all our might to change the abortion laws to make them match the view that life begins at conception and abortion is murder?
The law does try to stop people from committing murder and punishes them when they do it any way, I was told.
I didn’t get a chance to ask if he believed in life sentences for women who aborted a fetus or decades-long sentences for those who attempted to do so?
And I didn’t get to ask how he believed Jesus would answer that.