Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why I am Pro Life – And How

In the early Christian church, in the city of Corinth, there appears to have been a scramble to claim the title of “most spiritual.” One of the important measures used by those claiming the honor was the ability to “speak in tongues”; to speak in an unlearned language under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul, writing to them in the epistle we now call 1Corintians, declared, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” But he went on to show that there were other marks of spirituality that were greater than the ability to speak in tongues and that those claiming great spirituality were deficient in most of them.

In our day, among some Evangelicals, one of the marks of spirituality (as well as the ultimate mark of political correctness) is to be pro-life.

Some insist that every pregnancy must be allowed to move to its natural conclusion and, if it seems that the “natural” conclusion could be less than a perfect live birth, then all measures available to modern medicine must be expended to accomplish that end. Every fertilized egg deserves to come to birth even if its birth results in the death of its mother or the birth of a severely deformed or disabled child.

Others make a few exceptions, usually not because of the ultimate health or condition of the new born, but because of the manner in which the egg was fertilized, or if the birth process endangers the life of the woman carrying the baby.  Thus some are pro-life except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Essentially, I am in that group of pro-lifers, but with some important caveats.

First, I am not God. Not omniscient, not omnipotent, not omnipresent. I cannot know all circumstances, control all events, nor be at the scene of every conception. Most theologians believe that God is all powerful, in all circumstances, at all times, in all places. And still horrible things occur that they (and we) are unwilling to attribute to the will of God. The fact that I am not God makes me hesitant to impose my understanding of what is right and wrong for every particular situation.

Second, I am neither a scientist nor a medical doctor. There are arguments offered by proponents of both sides in the abortion controversy that make sense to me but the fact that they make sense to me doesn’t mean much when I have limited means by which to judge them. I have sadly learned that, in highly emotional debates of this sort, both sides will lie to me, twist facts, demonize each other, present emotionally laden evidence to persuade me. Truth flies when emotions rise. The people who come closest to knowing the facts are those who are caught up in the situation that demands a decision for or against an abortion.

Third, I perceive that God is pro-life. In the person of His Son, we are told, he created all things and all things are sustained by him. He “breathed” into mankind (and all other living creatures) the breath of life. But to the first pair of humans He warned, “On the day that you eat [of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil] you will die. And later, when things had gone terribly wrong with mankind, He also declared, “my breath will not always abide in man; his lifespan will be 120 years.” Even later, “in the fullness of time,” God sent His Son to live, and die, and rise again bringing the promise of everlasting life to those who put their trust in Him. So God is intimately involved in this struggle of life and death that we experience on a daily basis, and He has declared Himself to be on the side of life. I can be on no other.

Fourth, though God is pro-life, he is also, pro-choice. He has given every human being a free will. It seems to have been a very bad choice on His part, if I may say so. Most humans use that free will as often as not, to do things harmful to themselves and to others. Because of that free will we have wars, crime, privation, oppression, sickness, and many other things that I have to presume God did not will to be. Even those who claim to be pro-life (even Evangelicals who claim to be pro-life) are too often, in my opinion, willing to endorse public policies that endanger or shorten the lives of others close to them and far away. It is almost impossible to separate ourselves from the machinery of death in our culture. It is tied to our government, to our economy, to our IRAs, to our employment, even to our diet. We celebrate it in our movies and on our TVs and in our video games. We embed it in our laws, and endorse it by our government.

So what does God do when He is forced to choose between those who would allow the abortion of a fetus, or those who would bring it into being but shorten its life by poisoning the environment in which it lives, by directing their armies to bombard it with drones, by consigning it to neighborhoods filled with crime and drugs, by leaving it in the care of those who may lock it in a basement and starve it to death or shake it violently to death if it cries for food, by calling it lazy and worthless if it happens to be born into poverty, and refusing the resources to help lift it to a better life?

What does God do? He grieves. But for reasons we cannot fully understand, He often does not intervene. God is pro-life, but He is also pro-choice. I will not argue that as individuals or as a society we should do nothing to reduce the number of abortions performed. We must, and if there are those who are truly pro-abortion, we must work as hard to defeat their agenda as we should to defeat all of mankind’s death-dealing enterprises. We must be pro-life to the core, even as our Father in Heaven is.

I hear these days, that Governor Mitt Romney is pro-life. I’m not sure where those who propound that theory get their evidence. On the issue of abortion he has been as hard to pin down as on any other part of his agenda. He currently claims to be pro-life. But his disparaging remarks about the lower 47% of the population for which he has no responsibility because, he says, they take none for themselves, shows that he is not for sustaining and improving the life of that portion of the population he deems worthless.

I also hear that President Obama is pro-abortion. Those who are a bit more charitable characterize him as pro-choice. But the implication is that he is in favor of abortions. I personally doubt that. In fact I have never encountered anyone who is pro-abortion. I do not doubt that some such people exist but they are few and usually engaged in profiting from the promotion of abortions.

It is my opinion that neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Obama is pro-abortion. It is further my opinion that both are pro-choice. We have had a succession of Republican Presidents who campaigned as pro-life candidates dedicated to eliminating abortion from our society. None of them have worked to institute a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion. And none of the Democratic Presidents we’ve had in my lifetime have tried to mandate abortion in any situation. By their actions (not their words) all have shown themselves to be pro-choice.

The Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade attempted to define the choices expectant mothers could have and those they could not. Roe v Wade is an imperfect rule because those who made it are not God and cannot be present in every situation. But short of playing God to every expectant mother in a difficult pregnancy it may be the best we can do.

Until we can know, with the certainty of God, all the details of every pregnancy, I am in favor of leaving the decision in the hands of those who are closest to the situation, knowing that any decision they make will be marked by the fallenness of mankind’s nature. We can only pray that in each situation we will also see the marks of the redemptive work of Christ as well.

I thank God that I am (at least) as pro-life as any of you. But as a believer in Christ I’ve concluded that my pro-life responsibilities do not end at birth. Therefore I support government policies that sustain and improve life from conception to death. And I support candidates who work to achieve such laws.



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