Monday, November 2, 2009

BEATITUDES, BABIES AND BASEBALL: The Center Fielder Who Bucked Systemic Persecution

"Blessed are those who are persecuted
for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:11

This essay, like the previous seven in this nine part series, examines a beatitude in three relationships: our relationship with God, with His laws and with others, particularly the least favored of humanity. It begins with mention of a famous baseball player who demonstrated some characteristics of the beatitude. Can you recognize the ball player before reading his name?

The center fielder who bucked systemic persecution. When his team traded him, he wrote to the commissioner of baseball: "After 12 years in the major leagues I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system that produces that result violates my basic right as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States." White or black, ballplayers could only bargain with one team. Seven months before the Roe v. Wade decision, Supreme Court Justice Blackmun wrote the majority opinion in this ballplayer’s appeal, ruling against him. Only 3 years later, however, free agency began, but too late for this seven time Gold Glove Award winning center fielder, Curt Flood.

In the real world, persecution for the sake of righteousness can be a far greater sacrifice than giving up a baseball career. Likewise, frequently more is at stake than the principle of contract freedom. In any event, to accept persecution voluntarily, people must have faith in God who is in control over even the persecutors. Accepting persecution also requires total commitment to God’s law, even to the point of sacrifice to follow it. The hardest part about persecution, however, is the powerlessness one feels when persecuted. This powerlessness transforms a person into one less favored, and perhaps even one of the least favored of humanity.
The prochoice position, by contrast, follows from unrighteous conduct and leads to the avoidance of persecution. When they become pregnant, unmarried women are five times more likely to abort their unborn children than married women are. Unmarried women have four out of five abortions. Those who have rejected God’s law by their sexual conduct have more difficulty turning in faith toward God, trusting Him, recommitting to His law, and taking up the cross of personal sacrifice necessary to accept the relative powerlessness of the persecuted.

Clearly, unless we can stem the tide of sexual activity among the unmarried, the pressures they have to abort their unborn children will remain overwhelmingly high. To reduce substantially the pressures to abort, we must work to reduce the pressures unmarried persons have toward sexual activity. Those pressures are in a real sense persecutions against those who resist them. Rather than avoiding persecution by running from it, Christ teaches us to accept it. To accept this persecution requires unmarried persons to have faith that God is in control of their lives. That faith gives them the fortitude to withstand pressure. They must be totally committed to God’s law so that they can sacrifice to follow it, even when that means accepting a position of less power. Whatever we can do to aid the unmarried in accepting persecution for righteousness will help drive down abortion.