Read: Galatians 2: 11-13
When does life begin? Is it when a person is born or can we assume that life begins in the womb?. These are questions that are being raised by Jeremy Stodghill to both the Catholic Church and also to Supreme Court of the State of Colorado. A very strange case where a Catholic Health Care Company has argued in the court that an embryo is not a person until it is born alive, is being reported by the CNN news agency today. This tragic story is about a couple Jeremy Stodghill and Lori Stodghill of Canon City, Colorado. On new year eve of 2006, Lori Stodghill was rushed to the emergency room of the St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City. She was 28 weeks pregnant and as she was rushed to the emergency, she collapsed in the lobby itself due to cardiac arrest. Along with her death, her two unborn twins also died. Jeremy sued the hospital and the Catholic Health Initiatives for the wrongful death of his wife and his two unborn children. The litigation went on for two years and that is when the defense attorneys for the hospital and doctors entered into an argument about conception and inception of life. When does life starts?. Jeremy Stodghill got a shock when he was told that according to state law, an embryo is not a person until it is born alive and thus the twins of Jeremy Stodghill was dead when they were removed from the mother's dead body. The court also agreed on this line of defense and argument and thus Jeremy Stodghill lost the case along with other cases that he had filed for his wife. That is when more trouble arose for him. The hospital and doctors now sued him for more than $118,000 in terms of legal fees. However, later they decided to compromise with Jeremy with the claim that if he dropped his appeal against the hospital, the defendants will offer to forget the fees. But Jeremy refused to buckle and he filed for bankruptcy so as to avoid having to pay the claim, since he has a nine year old daughter to be raised up. It is at this stage of the case that he has decided to petition the Colorado Supreme Court to hear his case. He also wanted the Catholic Church to respond whether the stand taken by the Catholic Hospital on the inception of life is what the official stand of the Church. The representative of the Church has declined to comment on the legal proceedings but Jeremy Stodghill is hopeful that the both church and State will give him justice not only in his legal case that he is fighting but also in his perception about when life begins. When looking at this strange incident we do not know the intricate details of this case nor the back door happening but it is pertinent to note that at times to win certain legal cases, the church and other institutions are sometimes forced to compromise the very tenets of faith that need to uphold. This could be true not only in regards to huge institution like Christian Hospitals or may be the Institutionalized Church, but this could be the true in our cases also, because sometimes in our desperate need for survival or for some monetary benefits we tend to throw into the winds all the beliefs and commitment and our convictions that we have held on for long. Faith often seen to be used as and when an opportune need arises and when things are not conducive to the exercise and the expression of ones faith, then the best way is to abandon our convictions and our faith.
In the early church, this sort of hypocrisy had happened. This is recorded the Paul's epistle to Galatians 2. The context of this passage is the message of freedom given by the Jesus Christ. The Church had taken a decision that when Gentiles join the church, they need not go through the rite of circumcision before getting baptized as was the case of Jewish believers or Jewish Christians. This statement of faith can be found in Acts 15. It was Peter though a Jew who espoused the case for the gentiles through the revelation that he had got through a vision. [ Acts 10]. Thus the church preached about the message of Jesus Christ and the freedom that Jesus Christ gives to each one of us to live our Christian life without being bound by rules that inhibit us to exercise our faith and our Christian life style. But in Galatians 2: 11-13, Paul is very upset with Peter because he tend to be hypocrite. Paul rebukes Peter because of his certain behavioral traits that was not in agreement with the line of thought that he preached. What Peter did was though he argued for the gentiles he would not stand for his beliefs in public especially among the company of his Jewish believers. What Peter used to do was that he would mingle and eat with Gentiles but the moment he saw his fellow Jewish believers he would withdraw himself from the company of Gentile believers, trying to show and please the Jewish believers, that he does not associate very closely with the gentiles as he associates with them. Paul is upset at this hypocrisy of Peter, because some of the Jews felt that this was the right thing to do and they also showed the same behavior leading even Barnabas to a hypocritical way of living. Here is Paul condemning Peter and asking him to stand up for what he preached and be ready to pay a price for the convictions and faith that he dearly stands for. Paul later speaks boldly about his convictions and he tells the believers that everyone is justified by faith in Jesus Christ and not by observing certain laws. I think Paul teaches us a lesson on Christian living. Faith and our convictions are not moulded or changed according to ones circumstances or according to the type of group that we are in. I remember one of my friend in theological college, who belonged to an independent church. He would be very daring when giving sermon. He would very liberal while preaching in the chapel of the theological college, often criticizing some of the faith practices and faith convictions espoused by his church while on a Sunday, while preaching from the pulpit of his church he would go back to so called lopsided understanding of the gospel message. When confronted about this stark contradiction my friend smilingly replied, I have to please both my professors during week days and my congregation on Sunday's. I think we are also guilty along these lines. Let us therefore consciously evaluate whether our convictions and our faith changes according to circumstances or whether we are ready to affirm our faith no matter who our audience is and or what circumstances we are in.