Points to Ponder: Enlightened eyes on old issues

Points to Ponder
Enlightened eyes on old issues

In recent years there have been writings and documentaries on the lives of our Founding Fathers. You could put them all under the title of "Hey, These Guys Were Human Beings." We have held them up as larger-than-life heroes. But now some people seem to be delighted in knocking these guys down to our level - or perhaps lower.
On National Public Radio (NPR), I caught the last half of a program about Thomas Jefferson and his home, Monticello. It troubles many people to think that some of our greatest leaders owned slaves. How could these proponents of freedom, that "all men are created equal," own slaves?
"Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one fashion us in the womb?" (Job 31:15)
How could such intelligent and noble men like Jefferson not see that their slaves were human beings formed by the same God? But something more about the NPR report got me pondering.
Descendants of slaves noted that Jefferson kept meticulous records. As he rose from bed in the morning, he logged the temperature. He kept journals on planting and harvesting. What these children of former slaves observed was how Jefferson saw the work, but didn't notice the laborer. Monticello was and is well built and preserved; but the slaves' cabins are gone. Didn't these people, these persons, matter? The NPR commentators seemed shocked and appalled by the total disregard shown for these human beings. They walked through the garden area and spoke of the terrible immorality of it all.
NPR and so many other enlightened ones of our day, reflect on the happenings at Monticello and help us see the heinous sin of those days. What Jefferson and others saw as normal and legal in their time disgusts most of us today. How could such good and noble people think that slavery was acceptable; that a human being could be regarded as disposable property?
Fast forward to today. As I listened to the NPR commentator's disapproving assessment of Jefferson because he held slaves; I reflected on how our leaders today not only accept - but promote - the right to abortion. Wasn't slavery a 19th century argument between pro-life (abolitionists) and pro-choice (southern plantation owners)? In the 200 years since Jefferson, we cannot even imagine advocating for the right of one person to own another.
Do you suppose that one day, our descendants will walk down Washington Street in Hagerstown, passing by what "used to be" the abortion clinic? And in that day, some NPR reporter will stand outside that place, or a similar place in another city, and will report on what used to go on there. Historians will describe with amazement how politicians fought for the "right" of a woman to decide whether to keep her child or dispose of it at the clinic.
When a pregnancy is planned and the baby is wanted, there is celebration. Some parents name their children while in the first trimester. But others, who do not want the child, have a "choice."
Could Jefferson have imagined the disgust that later generations would feel when they learned of his slaves? It was even written into the Constitution that a slave was only 3/5 of a person. Makes one wonder how future generations will read "Rowe vs Wade." "Pro-choice" ... pro-life." So what? What are we really talking about? With all the genetic research, advances in microsurgery and ultrasound technology, it's just a matter of time before we have to face this accepted, legal practice with "enlightened eyes." Then, move over Thomas Jefferson.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days. www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com.