In the last few weeks, three events have occurred that have really made me pause, especially in light of the importance of the coming days.
I was a guest on a podcast called Think Orphan, and I debated an Episcopal priest about whether or not a Christian should support abortion rights.
A few days later, I read this article, which talks about a few evangelical women excitedly pledging their support for those who support a pro-abortion agenda.
And this morning, my pastor forwarded me this article written by an Anabaptist therapist about why she doesn’t normally support pro-life politicians.
I wonder whether or not this is a pattern in America – do many Christians believe that supporting pro-abortion platforms is consistent with Scripture and our faith? Does that even factor into their thinking?
I don’t think the Episcopal priest, the evangelical women, and the Anabaptist therapist are radical, violent, aggressive abortion supporters. They aren’t showing up at women’s marches or writing mean comments on pro-life Facebook pages.
In fact, I find them all to be compassionate, thoughtful people who are expressing their sincere beliefs. I think they all have a deep concern for vulnerable people, for the family, and for our country. To me, they do not represent the talking pro-abortion heads in the media – they represent a cross-section of Americans who believe in God and are working out how Christian compassion manifests itself in government and in the community.
At the same time, I am deeply concerned about their conclusions. To determine that supporting abortion rights is consistent with Christ is to make a very serious moral and scriptural error. So, while I share their deep concern and compassion for people, their fatal conclusions require a response.
I hope you’ll find the podcast helpful, and I’ll comment on the two articles below. If you have friends or loved ones who claim Christ but are supporting pro-abortion platforms, I urge you to share this email and blog post with them. We should gently, carefully, diligently bring them back to truth.
Carolyn Yoder, the Anabaptist trauma specialist who wrote the first article, weaves a rather complicated argument about why she supports a pro-abortion platform. Underneath her argument is the assumption that preborn life has less value than born life. Because she gets that point wrong, the rest of her points are not sustainable.
She admits, “As followers of Jesus, we are to be as pro-life as possible in our complex world… This means no killing. By abortion. Or the death penalty. Or of enemies, even in war.”
She then argues that she can’t find any pro-life candidates, only “pro-birth” or “pro-baby” candidates. And that somehow gives her license to do exactly the opposite of what her faith demands – support those who promote the mass killing of human beings.
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Yoder then lists some reasons why she normally supports those who promote a pro-abortion agenda. Let’s look at three.
1. Yoder has worked in various places around the world, ministering to children and families. She appreciates the passion for the preborn but finds compassion lacking for those already born. She has also seen war and turmoil cause substantial damage to families, and that pain has led her to presumably conclude it may be better for some not to be born.
This type of argument is common in America today and is symptomatic of our increasing culture of death. The premise is that it may be better to be dead than alive, if being alive means suffering and pain. This perspective is fraught with extremely dangerous implications.
The Christian worldview is based on Scripture, and Scripture is clear that God is the Creator of life, and He also determines our death (Ecc 8:8). We don’t get to choose which innocent lives get to live and which don’t.
I think Yoder is subtly advocating for population control along the lines of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who had similar experiences as a nurse in poverty-stricken areas of New York City. The idea that we should stop certain populations from breeding through different means sounds compassionate on the surface. Who wouldn’t want to save humans from a terrible life of suffering?
But who makes that call? The government? The rich? The powerful? When people in power take control of who lives and who dies, it never ends well.
The Christian worldview does not promise a life without challenge, suffering, or difficulty. God promises joy and peace, but He also clearly and regularly talks about pain, illness, and poverty as facts of life. At no point does He suggest we should kill people to help them avoid suffering. In fact, He marvelously works His will through suffering.
This in no way means we dismiss suffering or do not make every attempt to alleviate the pain of others. In fact, Christians are called to rescue and redeem, particularly those who are being victimized. But when we use compassion as some twisted rationale for killing human beings, we are no longer talking about compassion. We are talking about playing God.
The Christian rightfully believes the zygote has the same value as the adult. That’s what Scripture teaches us; it’s also what ethics, morality, medicine, and science demand. Thus, suggesting we allow abortion in order to rescue a child from a presumed life of suffering is the very same idea as suggesting we kill a 5-year-old to help them avoid the same fate. A compassionate pro-abortion advocate finds the first merciful and the second reprehensible – for no valid reason.
2. Yoder makes the point that the pro-life politicians she knows are only pro-baby. She contends they tend to vote against “real” pro-life policies such as contraceptives, sex-ed, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care. She also points out that such politicians often support the death penalty and war; thus, according to her, they show an inconsistency in their worldview.
Candidly, even if those points were true, I don’t see why she flips to a pro-abortion position because of them. If a politician votes “pro-baby” but doesn’t vote for universal contraception, why should that mean we support and condone the mass killing of preborn humans? If a politician is anti-abortion but pro death penalty, why should that mean we reject his or her pro-life stance and instead condone preborn genocide?
I admit I get irritated by the “pro-birth” comment. It’s a popular pro-abortion tactic that suggests pro-life people care only about the child before they are born. On the whole, I’ve not found that to be true. I have interacted with dozens of politicians in various states and at the federal level – none of whom want to save babies without also helping those already born, regardless of party.
However, let’s remind ourselves what abortion is. In America, it’s the leading cause of death of human beings. One in three deaths every day is caused by an abortion. As Christians who value the zygote the same as the adult, it should be blatantly obvious why we are deeply concerned about the child. Again, if 1 million toddlers were being killed every year in America, no one would ever say it was wrong to focus on rescuing those children – even if we didn’t provide universal healthcare to them afterwards.
3. Yoder closes her piece by reminding us that Christ’s greatest commandment is to love each other. Well, He actually said the foremost commandment is to love God, and the second command is to love one another. Scripture tells us we love God by obeying His commands. And our God finds it unconscionable to express our love for Him or for one another by killing His divine image bearers.
True Christian love means we walk with, support, and provide for a woman in her crisis pregnancy; and we compassionately help a woman and her child move from dependence to independence. Killing the child is not love, nor is it a solution – it is sin.
Lastly, let’s focus our attention on the article about the evangelical women turning from a pro-life political worldview.
The women in the article morally disagree with current policy, “especially separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, banning many Muslim refugees, and disrespecting women.”
“I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb,” said Tess Clarke… confessing that she was ‘mortified’ at how she used to vote, because she had only considered abortion policy. ‘We’ve been asleep. Now, we’ve woke up.’”
If Ms. Clarke truly cares as much about babies at the border as she does babies in the womb, then she can’t rationally come to the conclusion she has.
We need to be careful to make right moral priority judgments. A large chorus of Christian voices arose to decry the separation of women and children at the border, and that was a just response. However, to my knowledge, none of the children at the border were murdered. Being separated (and properly cared for during the separation) and being slaughtered are two very, very different actions. They are not morally equal by any measure.
So, in moral gravity and in sheer numbers, abortion in America is a far greater, far more evil situation than the challenges at the border. The border situation is painful to be sure, but abortion in America is genocide.
To disagree with pro-life government leaders on other issues is completely understandable. But to radically shift support to an abortion agenda as a response is morally wrong. If babies at the border and babies in the womb truly have the same value, then basic morality requires we work toward solving both issues, understanding that babies in the womb are far, far more at risk. And we can’t justify solving one issue for one group while slaughtering millions of others.
So, what is really going on here? I don’t doubt these women love Christ, their families, and their country. And I think they have every right to be unhappy with our government officials and some of the decisions they make. But is it the right response to reject the plain teaching of Scripture and, I presume, their churches to support preborn genocide?
As with other Christians, my guess is they have bought a subtle lie that babies in the womb really aren’t as valuable as babies at the border. They have forgotten that God creates each child and has a plan for each divine image bearer. They have forgotten that God calls us to be rescuers, particularly of those most vulnerable. And there is no greater example of the vulnerable in America today than a child in the womb and her mother.
I prayerfully hope the Christians in the podcast and these two articles come to see that. We can certainly become a society that works to protect the child while caring for the mom. It’s what I spend my life doing. The faster we all come together to do that – the faster we can truly claim we love one another.