Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On the Inconsistent Application of a Pro-Life Ethics

About six months ago, I wrote a guest piece at on the Wendy Davis/Texas abortion saga as a personal favor for a good friend whom I have written for on and off for five years now.  It received a fair amount of buzz considering my limited stature as a writer because (I think) it touched a nerve for a lot of people.  It spoke to a reality that often gets unspoken: that progressive Christians--myself included--by and large really do abhor abortion.

But we get treated as though we don't, even sometimes by fellow progressive Christians. (and full disclosure: I unabashedly LOVE Rachel's work, but seriously, the title "Why Progressive Christians Should Care About Abortion" basically implies that we currently don't.  Which in my experience is simply not true.)

I meant every word I wrote in the PoliticalContext piece: I'm someone who honestly probably *should* be pro-life, because of my understanding of Psalm 139, because of my extremely narrow view of what constitutes a "just war," and because of my opposition to capital punishment.   But I remain alienated by the pro-life movement, for the reasons I described in that piece.

And I also definitely meant this:

If you take Scripture—and its commandment for truth-telling—so seriously, then why do you condone your political leaders claiming that they want to shut down womens’ health clinics for the sake of womens’ health, as opposed to the sake of limiting access to abortion?

This was--is--a BFD: states like Texas, Wisconsin, and my home state of Kansas were seeking to shut down women's health clinics because they did not meet an extensive list of criteria, such as physicians holding admitting rights at a hospital and the clinics being licensed by the state as surgical centers.

This was done, we were told, only to protect the health of the woman.

Meanwhile, today, states run by ostensibly Christian governors are rushing to haphazardly execute its prisoners with untested protocols and with improperly manufactured and stored drugs.  The state of Ohio, which had just executed a man with experimental drugs that caused him to continuously convulse and gasp as he died, just this week ordered a clinic to shut down after failing to agree to admitting protocol with a local hospital.

So, if you're keeping score at home--experimenting with drugs to very painfully kill a person: perfectly acceptable.  Having a tried-and-tested protocol for your patients' health when they visit your clinic: not good enough.

This is honestly why the Roman Catholic-originated Consistent Life Ethic makes far, far more sense to me than the politics of most American Christians, because at least it lives up to its billing as consistent: it's anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, and anti-euthanasia.

So here's the deal, fellow Christians: if you abhor abortion for the way it ends the life of a human embryo or fetus, but you either don't care or encourage capital punishment for the way it ends the life of a fully-grown human in a similarly medically-induced manner, I genuinely wonder if your actions earn the right to be termed as "pro-life."

I really do.

Because if all life is sacred, the born and the unborn, then so too must we say that all life is sacred, the condemned and the innocent.

Because "all" is one of those words that can't really come with a qualifier.

According to Genesis, *all* of humanity is created in God's image.  Even the murderers.  God even showed mercy to Cain.

Will God show mercy to us now, that we can barely disguise our eagerness to kill our prisoners?

I pray that God will.  But I also pray that God will give us the strength to avoid the temptation of trying to determine whose life is sacred enough to be worth keeping or not.

Because ultimately, that is God's job as our judge.

Let it remain God's job.

Yours in Christ,

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