Just for fun, how about I start off the week by pissing everyone off? And what better way to piss everyone off than by talking politics? Specifically abortion and politics. And even more specifically abortion, politics and the faithless Christian response to both. Now there’s a recipe for upsetting everyone! See – we’re having fun already!
Almost since Roe v Wade was handed down 40 years ago, high profile (and many not so high profile) Christian preachers have been warning that America’s embrace of abortion, among other things, would bring down God’s wrath and destroy our country. Yesterday, looking at the mess our country’s in at the moment, it occurred to me that these preachers were correct. Only it’s not working quite the way they thought it was going to work. Because primary blame doesn’t go to the abortionists or pro-choice politicians or women who get abortions for the destruction. It’s those of us who oppose abortion while claiming the name of Christ who bear the lion’s share of the blame.
Now, if you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I’m pro-life. Because I’m really mean and cruel and enjoy seeing women suffer. No, not really. I am pro-life because I believe that life is a gift and that God demands that we protect and serve the helpless, the defenseless, the needy, the least, those who can’t speak for themselves – and no one fits that description more than an unborn child.
And I think that abortion distorts relationships between men and women in unhealthy ways. And I think that abortion is a bandaid covering up more fundamental problems with our way of life which are inimicable to women, children and human flourishing. (For my more liberal readers who are now disappointed in me, you can take some comfort in knowing that I’m pro-life in the Roman Catholic sense. I also oppose the death penalty, violence for reasons other than defending against immediate harm and anything which creates deprivation, devaluation and degregation in the lives of the already born. See- I’m not really so mean and cruel!)
And yet, I believe that if there is judgment coming (or being made manifest) from God due to abortion, it rests heaviest on the shoulders of those of us who are pro-life. We are the ones who have failed. We have been disobedient and our whole country is reaping the consequences.
The problem is the same one I have harped on many times; we reject the actual instructions of Jesus because they are naive, unrealistic and we don’t think they will work. Instead, we fall back on the ways of men – a will to power, anger, argument, control, guilt and condemnation. As is so often the case, we chose being right over being faithful. In doing so, we have both lost the fight and are bringing down judgment.
Jesus gave us specific instructions for dealing with our opponents. He said to love them. He said not to resist the evil man. He said that if someone won’t repent of their sin, we ought to let them go their own way. He ran off those who would condemn a sinner and then said, “neither do I condemn you. Go freely. Sin no more.” When faced with aggressive evil, he advocated for those doing it in the spiritual realm saying, “forgive them Father. They do not know what they are doing.”
Paul instructs us not to be argumentative. Like Jesus, he tells us to serve our enemies. Make sure they are cared for. He tells us that we are to do as Jesus did – give up our rights as an act of humillity. Read the book of Philemon; Paul says that he would be in his rights to demand that Philemon set his slave Onesimus free, but that he is choosing not to do that. Instead he offers no judgment or condemnation. Even when the life of a man he loves hangs in the balance, Paul follows Jesus’ example and gives up his rights in humility and makes an invitation to love.
I ask you in all seriousness, when have we Christian pro-lifers done any of these things? We haven’t. Instead, we responded to the evil of abortion exactly the same way men have always responded to not getting their way. We organized to gain political power. We sought control and influence. We stood outside clinics and threw stones – sometimes literally. We called people baby killers and put pictures of mutilated pre-born children in the trick or treat bags of small children. We offered condemnation and tried to guilt people into changing their minds about abortion. We tried to physically stop people from gaining entrance to clinics. Our tone has consistently been combative, angry and condemning.
In response to abortion, pro-life Christians have been an ugly portrait of disobedience to the one we claim to follow. And we’ve done it in the name of God. We Christians ought to know that God will not be mocked like that. He does and will judge.
When faced with evil, the obedient, faithful thing to have done would have been to follow Jesus’ instructions. To love more. To serve more. To visit the sick and imprisoned. To feed the hungry. Take in the homeless. Give away all we have. Offer forgiveness.
We would have been kind to our opponents. We would have been patient with the process. We would have been extremely sparing with our anger and when angry, been angry over the sort of suffering which leads a woman seek an abortion. We would have given up our right to power, control and influence in favor of love and forgiveness. We would have put our faith in the ways of God and not in the ways of man.
Of course, there are those who have responded to abortion by serving those in need. Who have poured love out on men and women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Who have ministered love and forgiveness to those who have had abortions. In fact, if every dollar which has gone to support pro-life causes and especially “pro-life” politicians had gone to those sorts of Christ-honoring efforts, this country would be in a very different place right now. But the reality is that such efforts at offering a Godly response to abortion struggle for money and attention while politicians blowing the pro-life whistle rake in combined billions.
Overwhelmingly, pro-life Christians who have actively sought to end abortion have done so by trying to move the levers of power. Abortion was made legal through the levers of power, it was reasoned, so to undo the harm, we must take control of those levers and move them ourselves. It was a lazy, disobedient tact to take. It required very little of us personally other than showing up to vote and sending in a few bucks. Maybe spend a few hours at a rally feeling like part of a righteous tribe headed towards victory. The only suffering involved was the pain of losing from time to time. But now, it is through these very levers of power we grasped at that judgment is coming down.
Allow me to explain what is happening. For a good number of Christians, opposition to abortion became the most important political issue. For these people, voting for a pro-choice politician was unthinkable. It was tantamount to rejecting the Christian faith, in fact.
Politicians quickly learned that claiming a pro-life mantle guarenteed them a solid block of votes. It didn’t matter that even when pro-life politicians gained power, very little was done to end abortion. In fact, abortion rates tend to go up when putatively pro-life politicians have power. As long as voting for a pro-choice candidate isn’t an option, there can be no accountability for politicians who claim to be pro-life. They can literally say and do whatever they want without worrying that they will lose the support of their base.
But the problem created by supporting and electing politicians who are completely unaccountable to their base for anything other than being pro-life is much more insidious than we realize. There is a well documented tendency among humans to resist evidence which makes us look bad. Repeated studies have discovered a strange thing which happens when we’re presented with documented, factual proof that something we believe to be true is actually false. We respond by holding our false belief even tighter. We are so resistant to accepting that we are wrong – perhaps terribly wrong – that we will deny reality rather than change our minds.
So let’s go back to our unaccountable pro-life politicians. Let’s say that you are one of those one-issue voters who cannot even consider voting for a pro-choice candidate. And let’s say that the pro-life politician you support starts saying things like, “this new heath care law will create death panels to decide who gets treatment and who is allowed to die for lack of medical care. It is meant to bring euthenasia of those deemed worthless to our country.”
Or “climate change is a lie made up by liberal scientists. It’s just a cover meant to allow the government to seize control of all aspects of our lives.”
Or “cutting food stamps during a time of high under and un-employment is the most Christian thing we can do for poor people. But raising the minimum wage so people can afford to feed themselves would harm poor people.”
Or “this president is a Kenyan-born, Muslim socialist who is bent on destroying our country.”
Or “we have evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, is close to obtaining yellow cake uranium and gave support to the 9-11 highjackers.”
For the person who supports “pro-life” politicians come-what-may, this creates a problem. All of these statements are false – they have no basis in reality and there’s plenty of evidence to disprove them. Withdrawing support from people who say such things isn’t an option when the alternative is supporting a pro-choice politician (or even just a less stridently ‘pro-life” candidate). But no one wants to believe that they are supporting someone or something which is evil, false or even deranged. So, without even realizing it’s happening, many Christians who vote pro-life do what human beings do – they reject reality in order to protect their sense of themselves as being on the side of right. Because they cannot face the possibility that the pro-life candidate doesn’t deserve their support, many people unconciously chose to believe the blatent lies these people spew instead.
This dynamic is so strong that research has found that the more evidence a person is presented showing that their beliefs are false, the more tightly they cling to them. So, the more opposition these “pro-life” politicians face and the more facts that are thrown on the table, the more these sort of pro-life Christian voters will support them. In fact, with this dynamic in play it actually benefits these politicians to say more and more outrageous, false things. The more false things they say, the more their opponents howl outrage and the more support the “pro-life” politician gets from his or her base.
The end result being that there are a lot of pro-life Christians believing a lot of lies. They are supporting politicians who are working to pass laws which are in direct and blatent opposition to the teachings of Christ. These Christians themselves end up adopting and advocating for these radically anti-Christian policies and the attitudes behind them. And not only is abortion still legal and common, but the witness of the church to the rest of the world has been pretty well destroyed.
The bible tells us that this is exactly what God does with those who will not live in accordance to his instructions and instead cling to the ways of man:
Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind. ~ Romans 1:28
We Christians were given the knowledge of God in the form of some pretty specific instructions for how to deal with evil and those who oppose us and God. We are supposed to love them, not resist, offer forgiveness, refrain from condemnation, meet their needs. Abortion has been with us since time immemorial, of course. We just didn’t have to face its reality until it was legalized. And when that time came, most Christians decided that this knowledge we had been handed in Christ wasn’t worthwhile. It wasn’t going to work and wasn’t going to fix the problem. So we let it go. And now much of the church is a living, breathing demonstration of what a depraved mind looks like.
Its harsh and many who read this may not want to believe it, but it’s true. And to prove it we have elected officials – all “pro-life” politicians – advocating against the needs of the poor in favor of the weathy, against good stewardship of the planet in favor of the exploitation of the planet and against the will of the American people in favor of their own preferences. And abortion is still legal and common. And the church is increasingly marginalized and rejected. That’s the fruit we grew.
Now, given our tendency to reject evidence which says we are wrong, I’m sure some Christians who read this will be looking for a reason to reject what I say. I’m just a liberal twisting things to make a clever argument, perhaps. I could tell you that’s not true, but instead, allow me to issue an challenge. Or maybe an invitation.
How about even if you are 100% sure that I’m wrong and probably defaming both God and the church, you do one little thing. You decide to be obedient to Jesus’ teachings. Even though they are naive and foolish and can’t possibly work or be meant to be taken literally. What if you decide that just as an experiment you will start taking them as actual instructions for a while.
Next time you get angry, repent and pray that God would put love and compassion in your heart for the person who made you angry. The next time someone says something wrong or even evil, don’t argue or come against them. Instead look for your next chance to do or say something kind to them. The next time you see someone doing something outrageously sinful, advocate for them in the heavenlies: “Father, please forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Next time you have the urge to speak out against someone, simply say, “I don’t condemn you. But I do love you.”
When doing these things seems impossible and your righteous anger burns within you, turn to God and ask him to give you peace, joy, patience, lovingkindness in its place. When the darkness you see in the world threatens to overwhelm you, discipline yourself to follow the words of Paul: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things.” (In other words, turn off the news!) When you are certain that doing these things means capitulating to evil, remember that the end of the story is God wins – and he doesn’t actually need your help to do it. But he has given some pretty specific instructions.
“If you love me, you will keep my commands.” ~ John 14:15
Why I Don’t Consider Abortion When Voting
Let’s Stop With The Glue Already!
The Christian’s Role In Society
What I Think God Would Say About Abortion