Ultimately, our opinions are our own

February 24, 2007|by DAVID BUSSARD

I have a bit of a tradition with a close friend of mine from high school. Like most traditions, we have no clue how this started, but whenever we meet for lunch it's always at the same Chinese buffet. One day during my last trip home to Maryland, I had reached downtown Hagerstown a little faster than I'd planned.

Knowing that she's always late, I thought I'd just drive around for a while, when I noticed two men in suits with rosary beads and a sign that read "Abortion Kills Women and Children." I couldn't help but stop.

The men were stationed outside of an abortion clinic, ambushing patients and nurses and doctors and anyone else who happened to be entering or exiting the building. I didn't understand their motivation or their purpose, so I asked them a few questions. Very simply I asked them why they felt abortion was wrong. One of the men immediately pulled a small plastic replica of a fetus from his jacket pocket and looked into my eyes saying, "Would you kill this?" I didn't respond directly to his question, but instead began to explain my stance on abortion. He in turn repeated his question: "Would you kill this?" He jutted the thing in my face.


"No. It's plastic," I responded.

It was at that moment that I realized I wasn't going to get any information from these men. But perhaps I could delve deeper into the rhetoric that exists surrounding the pro-choice religious right. I noticed that the man who had produced the tiny plastic thing from his pocket had a button on his jacket that read "U Can't B Christian and Pro-choice." Apparently you can't be Christian and a good speller either.

"Why?" I asked. "I'm a Christian and I'm pro-choice."

"You're not a true Christian then," the other man responded.

I was learning a lot about myself. The man went on to tell me I was a Christian in name only, and that I did not truly believe the Gospels and their message. But I didn't remember God mentioning abortion. Silly me, apparently he did!

"Jesus," the man said, "spoke often of marriage and family. Can't have families without babies."

"One man one woman!" the other man interjected jubilantly. "That's Jesus' teachings."

No. It's not. It's really not. I respect the differences in everyone's personal religious beliefs, but you can't tell me that Jesus' focus was marriage and family. As a sort of born again college student - that is, I started my college career as a journalism major and shifted my focus to religious studies - I can safely say that nowhere in the Gospels or even in the Apocrypha did Jesus mention marriage being between one man and one woman.

As we continued to discuss social issues, I realized I was running late for my lunch date and that I had to go. I decided that I wasn't going to change any minds, especially when we started going around in circles. But that exchange did get me thinking. What if a significant portion of the area believed what these men believed? That Jesus was some sort of suited Republican and that women coming out of an abortion clinic deserve to be harassed. You have to remember, one of his closest friends was a prostitute.

Nobody likes abortion, however it's going to always exist. Sure, this argument is a double-edged sword, but it is true. There are gray areas in this debate, and that's something that people hate. Gray. Gray requires thought and discussion and personal ideas. We like being told what to think and do. These men were from a church; they even gave me a pamphlet and a card. For everyone reading this that goes to church, do you really believe that everyone seated in that church staring forward believes the same things that you do? Exactly as the preacher thinks? Who knows, the person sitting next to you could be pro-choice.

Abortion isn't black and white, and neither are most issues. It's a complicated issue that requires a lot of thought and contemplation. A stance can't be decided on simple rhetoric like that delivered by the men outside of the abortion clinic with whom I spoke. When approaching issues like abortion, it's important not to be weighed down by those around you. Make the decision for yourself, not because someone tells you that it's wrong or that you can't be a Christian if you believe this or that.

It takes a lot of courage to think for yourself, especially now. And I can safely say that two men with a plastic fetus taught me to appreciate the importance of personal opinions.

David Bussard is a Clear Spring resident attending school in New York.

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