Position Papers


Power vs Principle


As a lawyer, I am intrigued by how much we dislike confrontation. Entertainers now deliver us non-confrontational heroes like Forrest Gump who quips, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You just don't know what you'll get." Persons of principle, the power elitists tell us, just do not confront anymore.

The power elitists especially do not like it when prolife persons are confrontational. I recall an editorial which Terry Bibo wrote this past summer in the Peoria Journal Star. Ms. Bibo wrote critically about a letter which John Stambaugh, a prolife activist, had written to Pioneer Square businesses urging them to relocate away from the facility where pre born babies are killed in Peoria and threatening to boycott their businesses. Ms. Bibo abhorred such confrontations which might even "kill businesses."

What is more, she charged that such efforts are hypocritically unprincipled as she quoted a Proverb saying that the Lord hates dissension among brothers. She urged Journal Star readers to "pray about" that.

It would be sweet if life was a box of chocolates and principle walked hand in hand with power. But what happens when power collides with principle? What should we do?

Christians are called to imitate the highest Man of Principle, Jesus Christ. Was He non-confrontational? Just perusing the strong words ("vipers", "blind fools", "whited tombs", etc.) that He had to say about certain powerful men of his time convinces us that Christ was confrontational.

As a Christian lawyer, moreover, I find most instructive our Savior's personal confrontation at His trial before Pilate, as told in St. John's Gospel. What happened when Principle confronted power then? Jesus first educated Pilate, saying, "I came into this world to bear witness to the truth." But power was scornful of the truth, sneering, "Truth! What is truth?" Pilate sought Christ's acknowledgment of his power, but Christ put Pilate's power in its proper perspective, stating, "You would have no power at all against Me unless it was given from above." Ultimately, Pilate had Christ crucified.

When principle confronts power, something has to yield. Principle cannot bend the truth, nor refuse to proclaim it. Persuasion is the means by which principle directs power toward the truth. Power therefore must either submit to the truth or attempt to crush it. If it does not submit, power attempts to crush principle by the force of persecution.

Accepting persecution is not a pleasant thought. That is why we dislike confrontation, even on behalf of principle. Christ's promise to us concerning this persecution makes it worth the price. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness` sake: for theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10. If we are faithful to principle, Christ promises us ultimately the peace of heaven. Persecution paves the road to that promised peace.

All of us have known persons of principle. As a lawyer, I appreciate most those who confront power on behalf of principle. My brother Jerry is for me the closest example of such a man. With attorney Harry Williams, I defended Jerry in his last confrontation with power before his death. The prosecutor charged Jerry with trespass for entering the Pioneer Square abortion center to persuade a professed Christian grandfather not to have his teenage daughter kill her pre born child, his grandchild. Jerry had previously spent a total of 21 days in jail after he refused to leave the same abortion center on one previous occasion. He knew that he would face persecution again for going back there. Still, principle cannot bend to the truth or refuse to proclaim it. Jerry had no opportunity to speak to the grandfather before he went into the abortion center, so Jerry followed him inside and spoke to him there.

I recently reread Jerry's final statement to the judge before he was sentenced. In eighteen double spaced pages, he eloquently explained why we must confront abortion around us. He closed with a reference to the 18th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. There, Christ warned us not to despise even the smallest among us because their angels behold the face of God in heaven. Further, Christ told us that it is not the Father's will that even one of the little ones should perish. Finally, He enjoined us to go and reprove our brother in private if he sins. "If he listens to you, you have won your brother."

In his statement to the court, Jerry told how he had previously received a late night call from a friend of a young mother who had scheduled an abortion the next morning. Jerry called the young mother's parents and informed them of their daughter's plan. The parents found their daughter that night and persuaded her to cancel the appointment with death. The mother gave birth to her child who now lives happily with her. "Words have that power, your Honor," Jerry told the judge. The judge sentenced him to twenty days in jail.

Mothers who have experienced remorse after aborting their pre born children's lives convince us that no matter how difficult a birth may be, such difficulties pale by comparison with the torment of knowing that one has willfully killed his or her own child. While mothers almost always overcome the pain of childbirth and parents find strength which they did not know they had to raise their children, few parents can face this torment. Mentally and spiritually, they are at war with themselves.

When we assist mothers and fathers to choose life for their children, we safeguard the Innocents from perishing, we win over their parents, our brothers and sisters, to God's peace, and we find that peace ourselves. To obtain these rewards, Christ calls us to confront the power of our age which despises the smallest among us. We know that persecution awaits those who confront power on behalf of principle. We endure that persecution for the sake of the children, our brother and sisters, and ourselves. May we all be together to share God's peace.

Dan Smith instantfamily@home.com

"America, Yugoslavia, and Kosovo" by Dennis Dillard

Bombing Yugoslavia To Pressure Milosevic To Stop The Killing in Kosovo

Here we go again. President Clinton, the United States of America, and NATO are using military might to force Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic to sign a peace treaty with the Ethnic Albanians of Kosovo. The United Nations terms the action regrettable, but necessary.

It is hoped that this peace plan will bring an end to civil war and stop what has been termed ethnic cleansing, in that country. According to ABC News, before the NATO attack started, this civil war had claimed approx 2000 lives in the last year. Americans rightly wish that all the people of the world, including those of Kosovo, could be safe from violence and death. We are glad that America is sometimes able to help the oppressed, as we have done recently in places like Haiti, Iraq, and Bosnia, and are trying to do in Kosovo.

Let us consider however, whether we in America really occupy the moral high ground on the issues of violence and genocide. For example:

This same President Clinton has repeatedly vetoed protection for living unborn human beings from the violence acts of death perpetuated by the abortion industry in America, including the especially horrific partial birth abortion procedure that would make death by a bullet seem merciful.

The judicial system of this same United States, sanctions the killing of 1,500,000 of her own unborn citizens each year; she has allowed the murder of 40,000,000 over the last 26 years.

The same United Nations promotes genocide against the unborn human being all over the globe and there are over 50,000,000 babies killed by abortion every year in our world, including forced abortions in countries like China, (have you heard much from the White House on this one?).

So, perhaps some other nation should be sending troops to the United States of America to dissuade us from our war of genocide against unborn children, our ethnic cleansing, our oppression of innocent human beings, our Kosovo.

Now, that s an idea! Maybe, the Serbs of Yugoslavia, when they get themselves together and start acting like the Orthodox Christians they claim to be, and get rid of the war criminals among them, and stop killing their own people, maybe then they will send some "peace keepers" over here to our country and stop us from killing ours.

Yea!! Perhaps, all the nations of the world could send all their soldiers to somebody else’s far off land, where they could keep the peace and protect the all the weak and oppressed people of the someone else's country. Then maybe all wars and violence and death would be a thing of the past ... Perhaps ...