How Strong Is Your Belief?

In between cheers celebrating the defeat of Colorado Senate Bill 175 last night, I was observing the curious demeanor of the bill’s proponents during the aftermath of the bill’s striking. The Democratic senators who had so fervently pushed the potentially landmark abortion legislation until April 15 had withered, dropping like flies and avoiding constituents’ questions in the face of a sudden mountain of opposition.

The bill didn’t even reach the stage of floor debate before its main sponsor, Sen. Andy Kerr, decided to pull the plug. Kerr shifted into reverse when he saw hundreds of pro-life demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Capitol building, led by Denver archbishop Samuel Aquila, peacefully but ardently fighting against his bill.

Denver Capitol Photo

It was surprising, to say the least, that those on the side of so-called public opinion would back down without so much as a discussion on the Senate floor. After all, the bill they proposed would protect a woman’s abortion rights from being rescinded, in any way, in the future. One might think that solid backing from left-leaning Coloradans should have provided enough cushion for Kerr to keep up his fight, at least through the debate stage.

But that wasn’t the case. Kerr backed down while pointing a finger across the aisle. He cowered in the face of opposition.

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Yesterday, I happened across another story, this one about a woman who lived in the early 300s in modern-day Spain. Engratia, as she’s known today, was fighting in a battle over the right to life, as well (in a manner of speaking).

Devoutly Christian herself in a time where identifying as such was illegal, Engratia was outraged at the merciless killing of her brothers and sisters going on in the region of Saragossa under Governor Dacian. She left her home and traveled to Saragossa in an attempt to change the governor’s dispositions, resolving to succeed or die trying.

After somehow receiving an audience with the governor, Engratia reproached him for snuffing out those people who had done nothing but adored God and despised vanity. She, not shying away from her own status as a Christian, was thrown in prison along with 18 companions. Though her companions were killed quickly, Engratia had her sides ripped open with iron hooks, one of her breasts cut off, and part of her liver pulled out. In such dire condition, she was thrown back into prison and eventually died of her wounds.

Through it all, she never once renounced her belief in what she was fighting for.

So, am I saying that Sen. Kerr should be willing to be drawn and quartered for his bill? Not necessarily, but I am pointing out a lack of virtue on the part of him and his fellow proponents. Nowhere to be found was even a hint of fortitude, a hint of courage, a hint of defense of what he supposedly “believed in”.

How many of us carry out beliefs only because they’re seen as favorable to our 10 closest friends, to the people whose opinions we value, to a group we want to be a part of? And how often do those opinions change as soon as it stops being the fashion?

I know that’s still the case in a lot of aspects of my own life. So many times have I reflected on my day and realized the little places where I sold out to what was right, having merely responded to avoid a conflict or to appease another person.

Believing in something and witnessing to it no matter what those around you are saying, right or wrong, is virtuous. Now, wrong is still wrong, but Jesus Himself was nevertheless more in favor of choosing a side. He said in Revelation, “I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Believe in something, even to the point of being willing to die for it. And if you aren’t willing to die for it, figure out why not.

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