Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sharia Anyone?

Many people in my town worry about living under Sharia, Muslim law. Personally, I don’t want to live under Sharia or any other religious system be it Muslim, Jewish, or Christian. When I make this point, most people claim there is no such thing as Christian law. Not so.

The on–going battle over embryonic stem cell research, for example, is a religious battle over the imposition of Christian law. Those who oppose embryonic stem cell research do so on the grounds that embryos are human beings, but this is religious doctrine not scientific fact. From the Christian perspective human life begins at conception, but from the Jewish perspective it doesn’t start until 40 days after conception. The embryo has no moral claim. On the contrary, the moral claim falls to those humans who may benefit from the research. Hence prohibition on embryonic stem cell research is the imposition of Christian law over Jewish law.

A similar argument can be made regarding abortion to save the life of a mother. Those most vocal in their willingness to let mothers die are those who have a religious stake in the unborn baby. The mother had a chance to accept Jesus as the Christ; the baby has not. Without that baptism the baby is damned. This is the unstated theology behind much of the abortion debate both when it comes to the saving the life of the mother, and when it comes to outlawing abortions for women who have been the victims of rape and incest. If your religion doesn’t posit ensoulment at the moment of conception, however, there is no moral imperative to the government forcing a woman to bear a child.

The Jewish position is that the mother’s life trumps that of the unborn. The baby cannot take care of itself, whereas the mother may have other children to care for, as well as a spouse, partner, siblings, or parents who will all suffer without her continued life and support. The mother’s moral claim to life is greater than that of the unborn, and if we must choose between them the mother’s life takes precedence.

I would not argue that Muslims cannot live under Sharia, just as I do not argue that Jews cannot live under Halachah (Jewish law). And just as there are Jewish courts to which Jews can turn if they choose not to engage the secular legal system on certain matters, so I would support Sharia courts operating under the same limitations. And of course I would urge those Christians who wish to do likewise to do so. One should be free to live according to one’s religious code assuming that code does no harm to those who do not choose it. But one is not free to impose that code on others.

I like freedom and wish that everyone did. But more and more what I see in the United States are people who love freedom only for themselves, and have no problem imposing their mores on others via courts and legislatures. Freedom is something America stands for, but fewer and fewer Americans are willing to defend.

11 comments:

alif_layla said...

Nonsense. There is no such thing as Christian law. In fact, I have just been discussing it with my life partner on the way to pick up a bottle of wine this fine sunday morning.

Karen said...

Another great blog. I honestly had no idea of those particular theologic impacts on the abortion discussion. I had no idea why Christians & Catholics (my own family) argue so vehemently for the life of the baby over the mother. Never made any sense to me that one had more value than the other. I wonder how many people arguing for that position are even aware of that underlying theology?

Barry said...

I hate to be a broken record (remember records?- I have thousands), but the Prop 8 battle is a good example of the imposition of religious laws-Christian in particular. Prop 8 banned same-gender marriages in California. Most of the money behind it came from the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and the Roman Catholic Church. My same-gender marriage is still valid,because it came before the voter-approved ban. But we were married under the auspices of our religion, Reform Judaism. The Catholics and Mormons do not respect our religion, but expect everyone to live by their rules.

Old Lady said...

I looked up the Sharia Fear debacle and am only beginning to understand how the flames of ingnorance are ignited. I am so concerned about the 'chicken little the sky is falling' mind set that is forming.

Annie Solomon said...

Interesting rebuttal to the fear of sharia law. Well said.

AWJacks said...

Well said. I also do not want to be forced to live by someone else's religious laws. Freedom is embodied by the statement 'live and let live'. As long as we show respect for all life and don't hurt each other, our personal religious beliefs shouldn't matter.

I love the reference to genital mutilation, most people don't think of it as that when talking about the males of the species.

The Right to Write said...

Religious freedom, and a state that does not sponser a religion, guarantees, or at least aides, genuine expressions of religion. If all people must obey a religion, how will we know who believes and who goes along for other motives?

KaylaSosnow said...

Excellent. I also was not aware that the whole abortion debate was about the baby being "saved." Oy. But, if the U.S. allows stem cell research and abortion, for instance, would we be living under Jewish law? Also, I always thought Jewish tradition was that life begins at birth. I never heard that 40 day rule and am bothered by it, as most women don't even know they're pregnant by that time, and if they have an abortion, it is after that time.

Kevin said...

As a Christian, I can tell you that you are completely wrong in how Christians view the eternal destination of the soul of an unborn child that dies. We believe that the soul of any child that dies, unborn or born, before the age of accountability (which varies from child to child) goes to heaven. Also, we believe that if the mother's life is truly in danger and a choice is to be made, the mother is to be chosen.

sharon said...

My guess is, Kevin is not a Catholic

Kasha the Dog said...

I was under the impression that in Judaism a fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school.