Sunday, November 2, 2008

Towards a more complete pro-life position

Something of a disclaimer...
This is not going to be a political blog. I think I spend too much time thinking and talking about politics already. Politics are important but as I have to continually remind myself (especially as the candidates I voted for are all about to lose): my faith is not in politics.
But our faith should effect our politics and, unfortunately, our political positions often effect our religious views. The dominant evangelical political issue has been, for as long as I can remember, the abortion issue. Many Christians have been accused, probably fairly, of being 'one issue' voters. Because we are prolife we are automatic republican voters, or so it seems. For better and for worse those of my generation are bucking these stereotypes and are becoming concerned with a much larger breadth of issues. We aren't forsaking our pro-life stance but are bucking principles for pragmatics as we realize the long term futility of this battle.
I'm not going to talk about the candidates. I'm not going to talk about the election. I'm not even going to talk about all of these issues that younger evangelicals care about. I'm only going to talk about the prolife position. Should we continue to be prolife? What does it mean to be prolife? How should our faith affect our politics in this area?

Ok another disclaimer and then to talk about what I am here to talk about...
I just have to say I really really hate the fact that evangelicalism and republicanism have become so closely identified. I do not see the two parties as being in a titanic struggle between good and evil (as my parents do). They are two worldly unchristian organizations who have different opinions and philosophies about running the country. Neither has a Christian worldview (hereafter: CWV), they both are worldly and, in some sense evil.

That being said, just because neither party espouses or follows a CWV, does not mean that there is really no difference between the two, that we should just stay home, or that neither is more conducive to a CWV. I voted already and the candidates I voted for were overwhelmingly from the same party. But I will not identify myself with a political party I see as an unchristian organization pursuing a worldly agenda.

Okay, hopefully that will be the most I ever have to say about politics on this blog ever!

Finally the point...

The abortion issue

Being prolife, of course includes the abortion issue. How could it not? When our country kills millions of defenseless children, we, as Christians, should be ashamed of ourselves if we do and say nothing. I am afraid that younger evangelicals may be becoming numb and apathetic to this issue. I can understand why. This has been legal in the U.S. for over thirty years, I am twenty-four. It's normal. We don't have the shock of realizing that babies are legally murdered in this country everyday. It's just something that happens. Every day. All the time. There has also been increased sympathy for the women who seek abortions. Most of them are poor and without a man to help care for and raise the child. Many of them are teens. A few of them are victims of rape or incest. To tell these women they must go through with their pregnancy seems cruel, especially when abortion is so readily available and normal.

Evil should never become normal to us. God did not create the world to be this way. Sin, death, and the curse were not a part of God's original creation. They are foreigners and alien invaders who will someday be vanquished and gone forever. The world as it is now is messed up. We look to the day when normality will be restored with a new earth. We have no concept of what normal is. The new earth will never fade away. Some day in eternity future, our time on this earth will be nothing more than a blip on a screen. We live in the abnormal phase. Let's never accept evil, which will hold influence for only a very short time, as normal or acceptable. Let us never become callused, used to it or lose our horror of it.

But there are other prolife issues...


War is sometimes a necessary evil. But if there is one thing wrong with American evangelical politics, I think it is our quick acceptance of war as an acceptable way of dealing with our enemies. I was shocked at how strong and enthusiastic Christian support for the Iraq war was in 2003. I don't want to argue about the WMDs, Saddam Hussein, or terrorist connections (though I imagine some of you will want to argue with me). We went to war without any real provocation, without any real proof of threat, and without thoroughly pursuing other options first. The results? About twice as many Americans have died as died in 9/11 and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. I can't imagine any plausible scenario in which this turns out to save human lives. Whether we are directly responsible for their deaths or not, our decision to go to war had a horrific human toll.
*** btw... I feel I just have to make clear my own position here. I was against the Iraq war in 2003 and still think it was a mistake. But once we took away the country's structural support, the nation was flooded with terrorists, and was left without a functioning government, I felt we were obligated to stay and clean it up. Pulling out of a mess we created doesn't seem right to me.***

If we truly value life, war should not be something we are quick to support as a solution. In a fallen world, war is often a necessary evil. But let us not forget that war is evil and that we should support peace whenever and however we can. Human life is precious. Let's be slow to shed it. As Christians, we should be vocal in our opposition to unnecessary, unjust and hasty wars.

A very difficult and complicated aspect to war is so called 'nation building'. The specter of Mogadishu Somalia looms large. Even though I was little when it happened, I still remember the images of dead U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets. But even more sickening to me is the time we did absolutely nothing in Rwanda and 1,000,000 people died (one million for those who have difficulty with numbers). We should stop the slaughter of millions of civilians whenever possible. American lives are not more important or more precious than African lives. I'm afraid too many American Christians think that they are, although they would never say so in so many words. There is nothing Christian about being American. America is a wicked secular nation (and always has been- we have never been a Christian nation, study your history). We have more in common with our Christian brothers and sisters in Africa than we do have in common as fellow Americans. You being my fellow American means nothing to me. You being my brother or sister in Christ means everything, no matter where you are from.

Movies and Entertainment

Here is something that I have not applied perfectly in my life. I am afraid that we, as American Christians, too easily accept violence as entertainment. A kid in my youth group once protested when we were talking about evaluating movies we watch, "there's nothing wrong with violence." OH YES THERE IS! Violence is evil. Violence is part of a sinful world, but should not be a characteristic of a Christian. We should never 'enjoy' violence. When we watch a movie and get joy out of watching violence and bloodshed, when we play computer games and enjoy killing digital representations of human beings we are taking pleasure in evil. Just like pornography when we are not actually committing adultery physically, we are doing so with our mind.

This is not to say that watching violent movies is always wrong. In fact some movies which increase our horror of violence are probably good for us to watch (Hotel Rwanda for example). But we ought to evaluate ourselves as we watch them. Are we deriving pleasure out of evil. Do we love it when the protagonist takes out revenge on his enemies? Do we become giddy as we get a 'triple kill' when we play Halo? Just asking questions....

Towards something of a conclusion...

Hopefully I still have some friends. Not everything I said is politically correct in American evangelical circles. I want to admit straight up that I am still something of a hypocrite on the last point. But if we are going to emphasize life's preciousness and sanctity, as we should, and claim the prolife label, let's be wholly prolife. Let's defend the defenseless, oppose war except as a last resort, and live lives that reflect the belief that life is sacred. Being anti abortion is important because abortion is evil and destructive of human life. But let's strive for consistency regardless of what the positions are of worldly unchristian organizations; regardless of what they believe or tell us to believe. Do not let your faith become the republican or democratic party's whore. Think 'Christianly' not politically.

Peace out ;-)


Anonymous said...

very thought-provoking matt. i agree with many of your points. i have too become increasingly bothered by the aligning of christians to the republican party as if they were the "christian party". there are many things within republicanism and the american culture that bears some hard looking at. thanks for exposing some of that here.

Sabrina said...

you know, the way evangelicalism and republicanism are so closely intertwined has been bothering me for a while, and i've been complaining about it for the past couple weeks, out loud, to my parents (who are staunch republicans).

i'm sick of people assuming because you're a "christian" means you're republican (white, middle-class...). not that i don't agree with some of their values...

i resonate with much of what you have said here.

Keith said...

You wrote, "I'm not even going to talk about all of these issues that younger evangelicals care about."

I'm old... really, really old, I'm interested in what you young whipper-snappers care about.
I'm interested in if there is a big difference between what you care about and what we crusty old folks care about.

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Tacoma, Washington, United States
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." Fyodor Dostoevsky. I'm a Northwest Baptist Seminary graduate (MDiv) and current student (ThM). I plan on someday going to Africa and teach Bible and Theology at a Bible College or Seminary level. I hope to continue my studies and earn a PhD, either after I go to overseas for a few years or before. I'm a theological conservative, but I like to think outside of the box and challenge conventional thinking and consider myself a free thinker. I am currently serving in my fourth year as a Youth Pastor at Prairie Baptist Fellowship in Yelm Washington. My blogs will reflect my thoughts on both seminary and ministry life, though not (of course) exclusively. I enjoy literature and occasionally try my hand at writing stories and poems. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Paul