What Many Evangelicals Get Wrong About Their “Pro-Life” Stance
We are just 63 days away from the next presidential election and while there are many policies and positions being debated, it is with clockwork precision that the issue of abortion has now come back into focus; that is if I use my Facebook feed of many of my evangelical friends as any indicator.
Just over the weekend, I have seen numerous posts and proclamations of voting one specific way, because of one issue . . . abortion; with many of these posts including #prolife. And this is where I find it gets interesting; equating an anti-abortion stance with being pro-life. In my experience those who oppose abortion are not pro-life; this is especially true for many evangelicals.
Sanctity of Life
I grew up in a staunchly conservative brand of evangelicalism and I can personally attest to the fact that nothing can work this voting block into a lather more than the topic of abortion, except for maybe the topic of gay rights and gay marriage as exhibited by the quote referenced later in this article. This is something many politicians are banking on.
It is because of my upbringing “in the church” and many of the friends I have who still hold to what I would define as a very conservative, right-leaning world-view, I have had the opportunity to engage in conversation and hear their perspective. As far as I have been able to discern, the premise for being against abortion is found in Genesis 1:27 where it states that “God created man in his own image”. This being the case, humanity is sacred and should be treated as such, and therefore as their argument would state, abortion is murder. This also requires that you hold fast to the belief that life begins at conception.
While some debate the idea of man be created in the image and attempt to define when life begins, I have found that to most, these are philosophical points to be reasoned and do not yield benefit. However, to be clear I hold to the belief that each man does possess a spark of the divine.
The Difference Between Being Anti-Abortion & Being Pro-Life
However, it has been the context of these discussions that has brought me to the belief that anti-abortion does not equate to being pro-life. When I have begun asking questions about the sanctity of life that have nothing to do with abortion, the conversation takes on a decidedly different tone. Key questions such as:
- Do you support and believe in the death penalty?
- What are your views on immigration and our treatment of immigrants in this country? (given we are supposed to be a nation founded on Christian values)?
- How do you feel about the innocent civilians who are killed each year by the US military?
- What actions have you taken to help address global poverty and the 844 million who do not have access to clean water?
- What about the disparity for people of color that is rampant in our prison system?
- What about the stats that show a steady decline in our care for the elderly?
- What about homelessness?
Not to mention those who claim religion and God, but often have a calloused response to the Covid19 death toll and routinely defy or decry government guidelines and orders, all in the name of a “return to normal” while shouting about “their rights”.
If you hold true to the concept that ALL life is sacred and ALL are created in the image of the creator God, then ALL of these issues have to be taken into the pro-life discussion and account. Furthermore, the dialogue cannot just include life & death being the litmus test for sanctity.
However, in my experience, these issues are not thought through collectively. Rather the response is pavlovian as they run back to the one ringing issue by which they view the landscape of life . . . abortion. And this is where the conversation usually comes to an abrupt end.
What Is Missing From The Discussion
In a recent interview, well known evangelical pastor and church leader John MacArthur recounted a conversation he had with the President. During the course of that discussion, he said the following — “. . . Because there’s no way that a Christian can affirm the slaughter of babies, homosexual activity, homosexual marriage, or any kind of gross immorality no way we could stand behind a candidate who was affirming transgender behavior, which of course is really the reprobate mind of Romans 1. I said these things aren’t even political for us, sir … these things are biblical. These things are laid down by the Word of God, and we love God. We desire to honor him, and upholding righteousness in a society is what a church is supposed to do. I said any real true believer is going to be on your side in this election, because it’s not just an individual. It’s an entire set of policies that Christians cannot in any way, affirm.”
What MacArthur so plainly misses in all of this, beyond admitting that behavior we have seen on the D.C. political stage classifies as “gross immorality” is that God is not for one party or the other. What MacArthur, and many evangelical followers, also do not seem to grasp is that the sanctity of life goes far beyond one or two pet issues. Additionally, the church has never been called to uphold righteousness or be the mortality police, but in the words of Jesus himself was told to “go and make disciples”.
The holistic protection of the sanctity of life is far more than a political issue or platform, but I do believe it is near and dear to the heart of God. To select one area of this vast and intricate discussion and use it to declare yourself pro-life while ignoring or supporting other positions that are clearly not is hypocritical at best.
If you want to be anti-abortion, that is certainly your prerogative, but do not go so far as to declare yourself pro-life as there is far more to that discussion and I pray for openness for many to consider it.