This month the Synchroblog which I often participate in is all about what it means to be pro-life. At the end of this post you will be able to click on some links to see how other bloggers tackled the same topic.
I want to start this off with a quote from Joan Chittister that was part of the prompt that I received for this topic :-
“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
While I have no idea who Joan Chittister is, I have to say that I completely agree with her perspective on what it means to be pro-life. While in the popular sense all the term means is that one who is pro-life is opposed to abortion. Yet the word itself suggests a far deeper commitment to something beyond just a person’s right to be born. Consider for a moment some other areas which may reveal just how pro-life we really are.
Pro-life means ALL life.
Many Christians are strongly opposed to abortion yet at the same time they are in favor of capital punishment. I have always felt an uneasiness toward the death penalty even when pastors tried to prove that it was 'biblical'. But when Jesus told us to love our enemies, I am pretty sure that that included not killing them. The one that we claim to follow is the same one who stopped the execution of a woman caught in the act of adultery even though the law demanded her death. To be pro-life means to err on the side of mercy and always hope for the possibility of redemption and restoration for all. I remember several years ago reading Tex Watson’s (a former member of the Manson family) book, “Will you die for me?”. It is the story about how he got caught up with Charles Manson, his participation in all sorts of evil deeds and and how his life turned around in prison. During his trial he was sentenced to death for his participation in several murders (although the state laws were changed before his execution). While in prison he later came to know Christ and make some sort of a life for himself from within the walls again. But it makes you wonder just how many people never had the opportunity he did because justice (execution) was dealt out more swiftly?
If true life is found in Christ then as far as I am concerned to seek the death of one’s enemies, whether it is by the electric chair or on the battle field in some war is to commit an act of spiritual abortion. To end a life prematurely is to rob someone of the possibility of redemption.
Pro-life includes the middle and end bits of life.
The bible has much to say about the poor, the downcast, widows and orphans. It is clear that God cares about the quality of life that we have and this was reflected in Christ’s ministry which included healing people of their afflictions and helping them out of the pits that they found themselves in. So it should be natural to us as Christ followers to be concerned with people’s needs beyond the maternity ward. Food, clean drinking water, healthcare and education for all are just some of the more obvious areas that should all fall under the pro-life umbrella. Each person should be allowed to live with dignity and have their basic needs met.
Pro-lifers should not oppress others.
In my part of the world issues like racism and xenophobia are still major problems that we are trying to deal with. The bible has much to say about how we treat foreigners, the Israelite's were foreigners in the land of Egypt as was Jesus Himself and so when the shoe landed on the other foot they were commanded not to oppress the strangers in their land (Exodus 22:21). Many people over the world are denied certain rights simply because of their sex, race or nationality. Rather than protecting our positions of privilege we should, wherever possible, be advocating for others and giving a voice to those who have none.
This is only a start but it is probably further than most of us have considered going already. While the abortion topic is certainly an important one, I believe it is necessary that we expand the conversation to consider the plight of those who have already been born as well so that we might wear the label of pro-life in a more holistic sense.