So I’ve been meaning to do this Hot Topic thing and just haven’t gotten around to it, but since apparently my last post about abortion and the election stirred-up a few thoughts, I figured why not start-off with a bang! OK, so here’s the idea: I’ll give you my thoughts and we’ll discuss in the comments section. So many of my readers are friends I know in real life, many of whom don’t know each other, and I know that you all could really benefit in the ways I have from hearing each other’s thoughts. (And we want to hear from those of you I’ve gotten to know just through this blog as well!) So even if you’ve never commented before, if you have an opinion, we’d love to hear it.
OK, let me first start by saying one more time: I’M AN UNDECIDED VOTER. I DON’T KNOW WHO I WILL VOTE FOR. In the past month or so since I’ve written a handful of political posts, I’ve gotten several comments from people who make big assumptions on where I stand politically and then insult me for a position that I don’t even have. My faith has been called into question by those who think I’m an Obama supporter, and I’ve been called stupid for supposedly supporting Palin. (I think I deleted that comment because it was so vicious.) So let’s get this clear, people, I’m not trying to sway you to vote one way or another, I’m simply trying to write-out some of my thoughts and process what I’m learning through this election season. Consider this me thinking “outloud.” Just because I write an opinion or direct you toward someone else’s opinion doesn’t mean that it’s a hard and fast belief of mine, just something I’m processing through. I learn best by questioning, and I’m trying to ask myself (and you!) the hard questions that I previously avoided thinking about because it was much easier to go with the flow and let other people do the thinking for me. So please understand that I’m just throwing some ideas out there, I’m not writing a manifesto on “THE WAY YOU SHOULD VOTE AND WHY YOU’RE STUPID IF YOU THINK OTHERWISE.”
OK, so now that we have all that cleared-up.
Do Christians have a moral obligation to always for a pro-life candidate? Obviously this is a huge issue, one that’s very controversial and touchy for many people. In the past I would have said, “Yes, absolutely. Always and forever. In fact, can you really even be a Christian and vote for someone whose pro-choice?” So voting has always been easy for me, all I did was figure-out which candidate was pro-life and then get gung-ho about him. I never really had to learn all of the other positions or policies since they really didn’t matter much in the face of what I thought was one of the most black and white issues I could think of. (Please do not take this as an insult, you touchy people in cyber-world, I’m not saying that if you vote pro-life that you’re ignorant and don’t care about other issues, I’m just saying that’s what I did.) My opinion was definitely swayed by the fact that I was going along with the Christian herd mentality and everyone else I knew pretty much felt the same way. There were whispers about people who voted Democrat, and thus implicated themselves in the deaths of millions of unborn babies, but I just wrote them off as “liberal” (and not spiritual enough, probably not taking God or the Bible seriously), and that was that. The Republican party was good and righteous since we chose to be on God’s side by fighting for the unborn, and the Democrats were pretty much just a bunch of liberal wackos. It was a pretty black and white decision as long as abortion stood as the defining ground for how I would vote. Until recently.
I know there’s lots of press these days about how there’s a growing Christian contingent that’s concerned about more than just abortion in this election. I’ve come across people I really respect asking questions about what it means to really be pro-life and not just anti-abortion. How do we as Christians affirm life everywhere and in all stages, not just for the unborn? While I know some will write this off as a fad of Christians “turning liberal,” I think they’ve got a serious point. While I would agree that we should do all we can to protect the innocent, abortion isn’t the only case of injustice in this country. It comes naturally to me to say, “Yeah, well, but half of the poor people on the streets deserve it and what’s a little healthcare issue in the face of BABIES who are DYING?!” That’s my initial thought. But what biblical criteria are we using for saying that? Jesus spent a lot of time talking about our responsibility to care for the poor in our midst, he didn’t say anything about abortion and infanticide. (which did occur in His day) And forget the poor for a second, what about greed and idolatry and consumerism? There’s a lot in the Bible about that. I’m not trying to be simplistic about it, there’s a great biblical case for why abortion is wrong, but it’s not the only sin in there that God takes pretty seriously.
Now I’m NOT saying that voting for a Democrat pro-choice candidate offers a solution to these problems, but am I correct in my understanding that the Republican party is just as guilty of leading us in these sins as the Democrats? I am saying that I think it’s important that we lay-out the sins of our nation in addition to abortion and recognize that there’s much more that is way screwed-up with us than just legal abortion. Many of these are very clearly laid-out in Scripture, and while I’m not trying to make a case that such-and-such is worse than abortion, I am wondering if we’ve been correct in our assumption that abortion is the absolute worst thing that’s going-on in America right now. It’s a physical/outward sin and much easier to put into facts and statistics than something intangible like greed… but it’s those intangible things that were often condemned in the Bible. (And didn’t greed ultimately get us into this financial situation anyway?)
OK so my point is this: Maybe God sees all of our national sins as equal. I feel pretty confident that He abhors the sacrifice of millions of babies every year. But I’m not sure that He doesn’t feel just as strongly about our other corporate sins. We’re a lot more screwed-up than just a law for legal abortion. Even if Roe v. Wade gets overturned (and I have a hard time believing it will), that won’t solve America’s biggest moral problem. It would be a great stride in justice, but we won’t suddenly convert to a humble and godly nation just because a piece of legislature was overturned. And if the website I previously mentioned is correct, who knows if it will even reduce the number of abortions by a drastic number since it’s likely that many states will keep it legal and women will just drive over state lines. I tend to think that progress in reducing the number of abortions is going to be best accomplished in a grassroots effort as we start to actually care for the women who make this decision and begin to act like the Church who should be loving them and not just their unborn child.
So do we really do our faith justice by determining what we think is the most important issue to God and then discarding everything else? I’m just wondering if it’s remotely realistic to keep believing that there’s a real chance of Roe v. Wade being overturned after 8 years of a strong pro-life president who hasn’t made much progress with it. (not to mention the several decades before that) Weren’t we all saying these same things 8 years ago and believing that George Bush would bring godliness to the country and abortion would go out the window? I just don’t know if it’s responsible to virtually ignore every single other issue this country is facing and every single other policy the candidates hold (which, if you’re a one-issue voter, by default you are doing since no matter what you think, you have to vote McCain) just because one of them spouts the party-line of being pro-life. The President does not hold the controls for overturning a law like Roe v. Wade, but he can directly control many other things that are wrong and evil in this country. I’m wondering if it makes sense to vote for a President who has a slim-to-none chance of affecting abortion by outlawing it instead of voting for a President who can make significant strides in other areas of morality and justice rather decisively, in addition to making conditions more conducive to life for mothers who would otherwise abort.
I think the life of the unborn is important to God, but so are the lives of those of us who were born. Being pro-life is more than just being anti-abortion, but Christians have rarely been challenged to open to that reality. What would it look like for us to affirm life wherever we see it…in the unborn, in the Iraqi casualties of war, in the homeless person I saw yesterday sleeping on the wet ground, in the dying cancer patient who has no access to life-saving surgery because she can’t afford it…???
***Please comment, but PLEASE be very aware and sensitive to the fact that this is an in-house issue. We’re discussing something that is an important topic among believing brothers and sisters. There is no place for doubting the sincerity of each other’s faith in Christ because some of us hold different opinions than others or demonizing someone’s political standings. As black and white as this may look to you, it doesn’t appear that way to everyone. Both the Republican and the Democrat parties are human institutions that will never accomplish what American needs from Jesus. So when you comment, please be respectful of the fact that there are other Christians who love God just as much as you do and are voting according to their conscience in the best way they know how, whatever that may look like. Any rude or disrespectful comments will be deleted.