JULY 4, 2020 BY KARL J. FOREHAND
One reality of our political climate in the United States is that it divides us up into identifiable camps. While it doesn’t make for productive discussions, it does allow me to generalize without being too far off base. So, please understand that this is only my opinion and it is also a generalization, but I don’t value my opinion so highly that I would search high and low for prooftexts or Bible verses—I simply share with you what I have observed.
Starting in the 1980s, Evangelical Christians were swept up into the Moral Majority by rallying around a single issue that they did not previously support. Jerry Falwell at first dismissed the issue as a Catholic issue along with the Southern Baptist Convention who did not support government intervention as late as 1976
Today’s reality is that one side of the political spectrum will rally around the prolife issue and politicians will solicit votes almost exclusively on that one stance. Prolife or Pro Choice will be the line in the sand in most elections. Accepting the baggage that comes with one side is what I want to discuss briefly. Like I said, I know it is a generalization, but often I find generalizations to generally be true.
Just so that this does not become a mass indictment of one political party, let me just state these observations in a more passive way, so the reader can decide where they stand and hopefully not feel condemned by me or others. Is your prolife stance really pro-life?
We live in a country of immigrants. Unless we are Native American, we are all part of a lineage of people that traveled here from somewhere else. Some of those were seeking better lives – some were fleeing persecution – but, one thing is sure, the United States has always been one that has at least promised to be a melting pot for all peoples. We can’t say that we are prolife and build walls that keep desperate people out and imprison their children in cages. It is necessary to remember our ancestors who were once in the same boat. We can’t have compassion for a fetus and ignore children and adults literally fighting for their lives.
Recently the Black Lives Matter movement has risen to the forefront. It challenges us to simply make this claim, realizing that black lives have not mattered for about 400 years as much as their white brothers and sisters. Systemic racism, once we understand it, is an epidemic that we have never recovered from. When some respond with all lives matter, to the black lives matter mantra, they minimize and deflect from the compassion of the original statement. If we can’t have compassion on the injustice of systemic racism, it is hard to also claim that we are pro-life. To ignore someone’s suffering is not Christ-like and it is also not pro-life.
This week, the Corona virus continued an upward trend as mass amounts of people began to travel and return to work, assuming the worst was over. Churches began to meet, some with social distancing and some without much of a concern at all. There is a general understanding that masks will help deter the spread of the virus. Nurses, doctors and surgeons have practiced this standard precaution for some time. But somehow basic PPE got all tangled up in perceived rights and our need to be comfortable. Refusing to take general precautions to protect the vulnerable is not pro-life. It is indeed a disregard for all other life except our own wants, desires and comfort.
Recently, I had occasion to feel some compassion for my LGBTQ friends. As pride month draws to a close and many pride rallies were cancelled because of the Corona virus, I hope they don’t feel dismissed or ignored because of the many impending issue we face. My experience in the church didn’t teach me to hate gay people, but it did teach me to ignore them and occasionally just denounce their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of church membership. Passive aggressive witch hunts of gay people seems common among people that also profess to be prolife. But condemning and, in a sense, persecuting people for their sexual orientation is not Christ-like or prolife in any way.
I’ve been told by several people this week that are involved in organized religion that their temple is a place. They say this as they long to go back to attending church in a building. Even though Paul understood the temple to be within us somehow and Jesus said that we wouldn’t worship in a place in the future. He seemed to think it was more about spirit and truth. We can’t minimize the ideas that that Kingdom of Heaven is within us without devaluing people. We can’t say that we are prolife and then treat people more like cattle that just fill a seat in a man-made temple instead of valuing the invincible preciousness of the human soul. We can’t put their lives in danger just to rescue an organization. We should also realize that much trauma comes with religion, and shaming people back into attending, (without dealing with the wounds) is even less prolife.
I don’t have time to talk about how naming people as libtards, or classifying their home country as a shithole is indeed not prolife and only drives wedges between people as they classify people as other.
In our attempt to be right and certain about what we stand for, we should take care to consider whether our views are truly pro-life. Does standing in the camp of defending a fetus often lead to defending other views that are exactly the opposite of what promotes life.
Could it be that we need to step outside the confines of political parties and religious denominations and begin thinking for ourselves? What is important about life to me is probably important to others. And compassion for someone unlike me might be the “Love you neighbor” secret Jesus talked about.
For me, It doesn’t take long to find my way when I get lost. If compassion is my rudder, my ship never gets too far off course. When love is my practice, it’s not that hard to determine what brings life to all.
Like I said, this is just my opinion and my greatest hope is that you will think for yourself!
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and the soon-to-be released Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary and Too Many Podcasters podcasts. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!