More Questions about Timelines

If you listen to a certain podcast, you might learn that pro-life is a recently concocted notion (can forty-five years be that recent?) that white evangelicals use monochromatically to vote in ballot boxes and hector in the public square. You might even come to think that pro-life advocacy is a kind of cover for racially tinged views that prevent white evangelicals from noticing the circumstances that affect black pregnant women who face both economic hardships in providing for children and poor health care during childbirth.

If you did, you might be surprised also to read this from only four years ago (but decisively thirteen months before the 2016 POTUS election):

Abortion horrifies us because the notion of life as a gift has been infused in us by our Creator. In the account of humankind’s creation in Genesis 2, it says, “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Gen. 2:7). God endowed all human beings with inherent dignity when he created them in his image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). We have an instinct for life because existence itself images the Creator.

Since God animates all humanity he has all rights over it. In Genesis 8, after the Flood he declares, “‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.’” God’s unrivaled command over the lives of all people as their Creator means he alone has the authority to declare the conditions under which life can be taken.

. . . God loves the little children, but black babies are dying by the score. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an African American woman is almost five times more likely to have an abortion than a white woman. In the state of Mississippi, white women had 665 abortions in 2006, or 22.6 percent of all abortions in that state. By comparison, black women had 2,250 abortions or 76.3 percent of the total.

Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, and the crusade to legalize abortion has also been linked to the eugenics movement, an effort to perfect the human race by promoting reproduction (i.e. selective breeding) among human beings with desirable traits and to discourage reproduction (i.e. sterilizing adults or aborting children) with undesirable traits. African Americans were generally not viewed as having the traits necessary for the progress of humanity, so they were frequent targets of racist eugenicist ideas like abortion.

The disproportionate number of abortions in the Black community should cause outrage among African Americans. Instead, organizations founded to uplift people of color support institutions that tear those same people from the womb. The NAACP has openly affirmed a woman’s legalized choice to abort and Planned Parenthood financially supports NAACP national events. Another important organization, the Congressional Black Caucus partners with Planned Parenthood. In 2012, a former CBC chairman, Emanuel Cleaver even received the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood for his support of “women’s reproductive rights.” The affiliation of the NAACP and the CBC, though, should not be taken to mean that all Black people support abortion. It is an inaccurate and pejorative stereotype to say African Americans do not care about life in the womb. Yet there are reasons some black people have aligned themselves with organizations like Planned Parenthood.

. . . While the contribution of certain individuals and organizations during the Civil Rights Movement should never be forgotten, this advocacy is no reason to ignore the contra-biblical practices of abortion providers. Fortunately, many African Americans have consistently opposed abortion. Alveda C. King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., has been a public advocate for life. The National Black Pro-Life Coalition spearheads many pro-life efforts among minorities.

Christians of all races must be concerned with life “from the womb to the tomb” (and beyond!). This is why Christians of any race cannot support Planned Parenthood as long as it conducts abortions. Believers must do this while continuing to creatively address other important issues. The struggle is for the right to life and the right to a quality life. Love for God and his word requires both.

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When to Feel Empathy

The Gospel Coalition continues in the mold of George H. W. Bush by trying to find a kinder, gentler, evangelicalism. This time it is remembering the anxiety of women with unwanted pregnancies:

Women facing an unplanned pregnancy often have very reasonable, here-and-now fears. They may fear the loss of financial stability—or the loss of the ability to ever reach it. They may fear the loss of an already teetering status quo in which every available ounce of food is already consumed at home—perhaps by other children they’re already parenting. Pregnant women may lose a job, or they may not get the job they were hoping for. They may fear a violent boyfriend or father.

They may even fear pregnancy itself, which is often full of terrifying sickness, physical pain, loss of emotional control, and embarrassing bodily problems. All of these fears are real and oft-cited at crisis-pregnancy centers the country over. A common theme weaves through most of them: the fear of other people.

Evil often begets more evil. While many who support so-called abortion rights believe they’re serving needy women, they’re overlooking one critical reality: Women are often brought—reluctantly—to the abortion doctor. These women are compelled toward abortion not by their own empowering, my-body-is-my-own sense of autonomy, but by another person seeking control. Angry boyfriends, angry husbands, angry mothers, angry employers—these are so often the wind at the back of an abortion-minded woman.

Women may fear something else, too: adoption. Though morally clear, the thought is often experientially vague: It seems, or feels, much less repugnant to have a hidden medical procedure in the first weeks of pregnancy than to consciously hand over a smiling, babbling baby to a woman whose body never knew him or her. It’s cognitive dissonance, sure, but it’s a real—and understandable—fear.

This logic is not wrong. But it is peculiar the way that progressive evangelicals decide on which issues to project toughness, and on which ones to strike the pose of nice.

Imagine if John Fea had written this way about the fears of evangelicals who voted for Trump.

Imagine if Jemar Tisby had written this way about the OPC shooter in Poway.

And imagine if Joe Carter had written this way about kinism.

Lots of talk in the last five years about confirmation bias. I don’t think we have had enough of a conversation about reading between the lines and noticing agendas.

Would Russell Moore Argue This Way about Cocaine Possession?

I understand why pro-life groups want to disassociate themselves from Donald Trump’s convoluted thoughts about women who seek abortions needing to be penalized. But doesn’t Russell Moore go too far when he says these women are victims of a culture and industry that is pro-choice?

One of the worst misconceptions about pro-life Americans is that we are pro-baby and anti-women. Unfortunately, the pro-life movement hasn’t always done a good job of defeating this notion. It’s true that some rhetoric on our side has lacked compassion and holistic concern for the well-being of mothers, especially unwed moms. But despite our imperfections, the pro-life movement has indeed been remarkably consistent about our desire not only to tear down abortion culture but to build a culture of life and human flourishing in its stead. This is the conviction that has built thousands of crisis pregnancy centers, funded hundreds of adoptions., and come alongside countless numbers of women, and men, with practical acts of mercy and love.

If abortion were illegal, if it were a form of murder, why does Moore assume the mother is innocent or not responsible for her involvement in the procedure? Does Moore think this is true for wealthy professional women as much as it may be for the poor mothers who can’t afford to have a child? And would he be so forgiving of any number of harmful activities that take place in poor urban neighborhoods?

I get it that the public relations of the pro-life movement needs to avoid looking punitive. But think about it. If a woman in a Southern Baptist Convention congregation had an abortion procedure, would her deacons come along side her and grant forgiveness and offer consolation apart from an admission of guilt and an expression of repentance?

This is not 2k. Two kingdoms theology recognizes that the church’s role is forgiveness (in response to faith and repentance) and that the state’s role is to punish the wicked and reward the good. But a blanket public policy that says mothers walk away scot-free from an activity that has drawn and quartered the United States for the last four decades seems a tad cynical. If something is illegal and someone engages in an activity that breaks the law, law enforcement doesn’t assume that law breakers are victims.

If the Gypsy Curse is “May You Receive What You Want”. . .

Is the evangelical curse, “May Your Vote Count”?

That seems to be the outcome from the Tea Party’s Revolution, according to number four in Christianity Today’s Top Ten Stories of 2010. Pro-life groups had targeted Democrats – even pro-life ones – who voted for President Obama’s health care package because of its apparent allowance of federal funding for abortion. The effect is to make the GOP the home of pro-life candidates, and to make abortion a more contested issue and therefore attract more publicity and debate.

This may be good for Republicans but if you want to restrict abortion, do you want it to be more partisan or might it be wiser for a consensus to emerge. As the CT story reported:

“To the extent that the pro-life movement tries to restrict the definition of being pro-life to the Republican Party, unless the stars realign and the Republican Party becomes two-thirds of the electorate, they’re cutting themselves off from the possibility of building the kinds of alliances that might be able to advance the pro-life agenda,” he said. “If you want to do something about stem-cell research, or make progress on the whole of the pro-life agenda, you’re going to need some Democrats to come along. Going after pro-life Democrats is not going to help the pro-life cause.”

And so after the elections, half of the approximately forty pro-life Democrats lost their seats. According to a story at Politics Daily:

. . . the same wave that swept GOP candidates to a takeover of the House on Tuesday also washed away half of the 40 or so pro-life Democrats who had given the movement unprecedented influence in their party and in Congress.

Moreover, many of those pro-life Democrats, including such stalwarts as Rep. Steve Dreihaus of Ohio’s 1st District and Kathleen Dahlkemper from Pennsylvania’s 3rd District, were in fact targeted for defeat by major pro-life organizations like the Susan B. Anthony List, which argued that those Democrats had betrayed their cause by backing health care reform and so deserved their fate.

Some of which is to say that politics is a very crude device for changing the world, two-party politics all the more so. So for those neo-Calvinists who think that having a vote is virtually the same has every Christian voter a Christian magistrate, they may want to re-think just how valuable democracy is for bringing Christian convictions to bear on public life. If my vote for a Republican pro-lifer only serves to ratchet up the divisiveness of abortion, am I actually making a difference?

Maybe a better strategy would be the old Southern one of gaining control of a state and seceding. California may not be the most desirable of places for pro-lifers to live, but given the state’s bleak economy, the United States may be willing to let the Golden State go.