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Conservative pundit David French has written an article asking the question, “Do pro-lifers who reject Trump have blood on their hands?” His piece is available online and you can find a good many responses to it in cyberspace.

His article is worth reading and considering, but I tell you about it in case you would like to see what I read that led me to pull together some thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind for the past few years and put them on paper.

I have also been accused of having blood on my hands in the “attack-and-retreat” environment of social media, where folks do not tend to linger long enough to share a respectful conversation. I, at least partly, understand their passion.

Jesus, the apostles and the early church operated under a government that looked the other way when citizens exposed their infant children to the elements and left them to die when their viability was in doubt. Under Jesus and the apostles, Christians were not taught to seize control of the levers of government to outlaw the practice and to compel their fellow citizens, by force of law, to comply with Christian principles. Instead, they were urged to teach those around them to willingly yield to the mercy offered by Jesus, to repent of their past failures, to be just and merciful and to go and sin no more.

Apart from John the Baptist calling out Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, for his personal immorality, there are few examples of those within Jesus’ orbit who addressed civil rulers. Jesus, the apostles and early Christians were laser focused on the hearts and minds of the people. They called on folks to respond to something much higher, more noble and more appealing than threats of imprisonment or worse. Jesus said that, if He were to be lifted up, He would draw people to Him. Hearts and minds can be drawn, but they cannot be pushed or coerced to Christ.

We operate in an environment in which we elect our representative government, but that does not change the truth that the willful decision to follow Jesus cannot be compelled, coerced or enforced by law. It’s a beautiful circumstance that we live in a country where we are free to express our thoughts, to urge people to do what we understand to be right and good, and to try to persuade them to refrain from doing what we see as evil. It also is fortunate that we are not forced to agree with or conform to all of the opinions — or even the objective truths — expressed by others.

None of us wants to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a system of forced compliance with every religious, social, political or moral conclusion of some dominating majority. Majority opinions, positions and demands change and, if you advocate for forced compliance today for others, you will be forced to comply tomorrow by others.

I’m pleased to read that abortion in America has been in steady decline in the past few decades. The appointment of Supreme Court justices is not likely to change that one way or the other. In the meantime, I intend to try to appeal to the hearts and minds of my friends and neighbors, and even, from time to time, to call out the personal immorality of political leaders.

Tim Nichols lives in Scott Depot.