– Jesus of Nazareth, The Parable of the Last Judgment, Matthew 25:31-46
Though New Testament scholar Geza Vermes calls this an “inauthentic” parable, dating from later in the first century of the Common Era, he points to its ancient origins in Jewish thought (Leviticus 19:2) and compares it to the metaphor of the shepherd dividing his “good” sheep from the “evil” goats.
The ancient Jewish thinking followed here is the idea that people should imitate God, Vermes says. Furthermore, the idea that “man’s behavior toward his fellow man” is a “moral yardstick by which good and evil actions are ultimately distinguished” is an “essential concept in the teachings of Jesus.”
So where does the amendment to H.B. 2510, espoused by Texas State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), “that would make it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks, even if a fetus “has a severe and irreversible abnormality,” effectively forcing families with wanted, but unsustainable pregnancies to carry to term at the behest of the state and against the advice of their doctors or their own wishes,” become something Jesus could get behind?
I ask this because Schaefer himself, in proposing the amendment, appealed to Scripture. As Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check puts it, “Schaefer said, during debate over his amendment, that suffering is ‘part of the human condition, since sin entered the world.'”
Schaefer told Breibart News,
This is an issue that is not going to go away for those who believe in it. I came to Austin to do the right thing, to do things that matter. This is important. If we are not going to get the chance to have our bills heard in committee or get to a hearing, then we will use the procedural mechanisms that are available for us, including amendments. We have to value what God values.
Of course, Schaefer does not tell us exactly where in the Bible God wants non-viable fetuses carried to term. He ordered plenty of them torn out of their mothers’ wombs in the Old Testament, after all.
Grimes relates that,
Even some Republican lawmakers opposed Schaefer’s proposal, casting it as a cruel and unnecessary intrusion into the lives of grieving Texans.
“Why should the heavy, blunt hand of the government come into that most heartrending decision?” said Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville), a medical doctor.
Remember this amendment the next time a Republican tells you they are for limited government.
The “least of these” is certainly a newborn baby forced to suffer before an inevitable death, painful to both the child and to the parents. Schaefer can believe suffering is a consequence of sin if he likes – the First Amendment allows this – but the First Amendment does not allow the legislation of his religious belief.
On a deeper level, where Christians are concerned, Jesus does not order suffering. In fact, he is a champion of those who suffer, as his Sermon on the Mount demonstrates. It is difficult to believe a divine shepherd (Jesus’ role here) would think Schaefer’s proposal a good one. After all, Jesus said,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14).
In other words, in dividing his flock, Jesus did not see sin in children. They were not to be punished, but like the poor, lifted up.
So why is Schaefer so eager to make children suffer? I get that he hates women – that’s a Republican condition – but children too? Little, newborn infants?
Yet the Republicans in state after state and across the nation, legislate again and again against women and children and against the poor and needy.
They are not the party of Jesus. They are not even remotely followers of the rabbi from Galilee, and it is an outrage that they use his name to justify their evil.
How mainline Protestants and Catholics tolerate this bastardization of their religion is beyond me.
Schaefer’s logic could ultimately be extended to all sorts of evil acts. The world is a fallen place anyway, he is saying. So why not legalize murder and rape (the GOP has shown it is already behind the latter, I think) and incest and other forms of violence?
After all, when someone brutalizes your family, or someone you love, Rep. Schaefer, just remember suffering is ‘part of the human condition, since sin entered the world.'”
Believe it or not, Grimes tells us, “Schaefer’s amendment passed, briefly” by a vote of 83-46. Which says pretty much all you need to know about Texas Republicans, who are certainly the lowest form of humanity.
Thankfully, that was “before state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) filed a legislative point of order that prompted the bill’s sponsor to pull down the entire piece of legislation for review.”
Of course, poor Schaefer is being persecuted for his beliefs because people had the audacity to disagree with him:
Melissa Conway of Texas Right to Life told Breitbart Texas, “We applaud Representative Matt Schaefer for taking a bold stand for all life. Yesterday, Rep. Schaefer clearly demonstrated that regardless of the political fallout from House leadership or the abortion crowd, he will fight to defend those who are voiceless and those who are the most vulnerable. Sadly, Representative Schaefer was persecuted—even by some of his colleagues who self-identify as Pro-Life.” Conway continued, “With majority passage, the most significant Pro-Life amendment championed by Rep. Schaefer would have corrected a tragic loophole in all the state’s Pro-Life laws that allow abortion when the unborn child is perceived as having a disability or an abnormality.” Conway concluded, “The ultimate outcome of the DSHS Sunset bill is yet to be determined. What we do know is that the majority of Texas legislators want to protect ALL unborn babies, even those who are ill and disabled, and simply perceived as less than perfect.”
Laughably, this interest in “protecting ALL unborn babies” doesn’t extend to them once they are born. Then the GOP loses all interest in them. Maybe it just wants to forward them all on to Jesus more expeditiously so he can pay for their care.
Let us hope next time around saner minds prevail, or that public outrage dooms the legislation to the nether regions of the nearest trash can.
Sources: Geza Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus, Penguin Books, 2003.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.