An Interesting Conversation
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with my daughter, Eliza. It started when she asked the question, “Would it be wrong for Congress to pass a mandate requiring all men to get a vasectomy?” I knew immediately that her question was a reaction to the anti-abortion laws recently passed by the Texas state legislature. She was quite upset by what “those men” were doing down there in Texas. She pointed out that if all men were required to get a vasectomy, then they wouldn’t be passing anti-abortion laws. It was quite a spirited conversation.
Since abortion was really the topic at hand, our conversation began with a discussion about the beginning of life. Does life begin at conception, the first heartbeat, or the first breath? In Leviticus 17:11, it says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement.” Blood forms in the fetus around weeks 5 or 6. Does that mark the beginning of life? I told my daughter that, for me, life begins at conception. After all, the writer of Psalm 139 says, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.” That speaks to me that God knew me from the moment of my conception. We didn’t come to an agreement as to the beginning of life, so we moved back to the question of requiring men to get a vasectomy. Eliza was in favor of that idea. Her current opinion is that men are the root of all problems in the world today. Some days I agree with her, but I still didn’t think it was right to require all men to get a vasectomy.
I pointed out to Eliza that if all men were required to get a vasectomy, then the human race would quickly come to an end because no new generation of children would be conceived and born. Then I reminded her of the story of the Israelites who were slaves in Egypt before God led them forth in the Exodus. The Egyptians didn’t require the men to get vasectomies, but they did require the killing of all male children, which would, theoretically, bring an end to the Israelite people within a generation. The point I was trying to make was that requiring all men to get vasectomies would be wrong, just as wrong as what the Egyptians did to the Israelites. She wasn’t entirely convinced, so I tried another angle.
I told Eliza that just as she felt it was wrong for the state to tell a woman what she could do with her body, so it would be wrong for the state to tell a man what he could do with his body. I made this argument to show the need for her to be consistent in her thinking. I was quite satisfied with my argument, and she reluctantly agreed with me. However, she was gracious enough not to point out the unintended consequence of my argument.
It was the next day when I realized that what I told Eliza goes both ways, which means, that if it would be wrong for the state to tell a man what he can do with his body, so it is also wrong for the state to tell a woman what she can do with her body. Eliza wasn’t the only one who needed to be consistent in her thinking, I needed consistency as well. When I shared this realization with Eliza she said, with a smile on her face, “I know.”
The most wonderful part of this conversation was that we were willing to listen to each other and respect each other even if our opinions differed. It was okay that we didn’t entirely agree on everything, because we were willing to think deeper about the issue based on what we heard from each other. Not much changed after this conversation, but it was still satisfying, because the way we treated each other meant the possibility of future conversations.