I typically try to avoid political issues because I am far more passionate about uniting the Church under the Headship of Christ. I try to draw only necessary lines in the sand. Political viewpoints can be argued forever, but submission to Christ is indisputable. I haven’t quite perfected it, but it’s still my aim.
Nevertheless, there’s an issue that comes up a lot on the political scene that I believe goes far deeper. That issue is abortion.
Let me say up front that if you have ever had an abortion, God’s forgiveness is readily available. Just because I think abortion is wrong doesn’t mean I don’t love you or that you can’t be forgiven. God’s love and grace extends beyond your wildest imagination, and He is waiting with open arms for you to turn to Him.
With that said, can I be incredibly candid for a moment? I tend to be a one-issue voter. No matter how much I might agree or disagree with numerous issues on both sides, I adamantly oppose abortion.
Why I’m a One-Issue Voter
Abortion is a big deal in my book. The doctors told my mother, based on ultrasounds, that I would likely be born with Spinal Bifida (because my head was large). I also had a heart murmur. Additionally, my mom and my older brother almost both died when she gave birth to him. To make matters worse, it was now 15 years later, and my mother was in her 40’s. In today’s world, I would have been a prime candidate for abortion. But knowing my mom, even in today’s world, it would not have been an option.
It’s a good thing too: I wasn’t born with Spinal Bifida. The delivery was successful, and my mom is still healthy. Shortly after birth, my parents had our church pray for me, and my heart murmur was completely healed (It’s still on my medical record, but my heart is totally healthy!).
What if she had requested an abortion? What if I had been aborted? What would have happened to all the people I have led to salvation and discipled? What would have happened to the people God has used me to heal and deliver from evil spirits? What would have happened to everyone my life has touched thus far? There’s value in a human life. I belong to God, not my mother. Thankfully, my mom agreed.
I am only as “pro-choice” as God is–I agree with Him that free will is necessary for love to be genuine; but there were still consequences for Cain when he killed Abel. Just because we have the right to choose to sin doesn’t mean sin is right or that it should be legal. If I murdered my child and tried to justify it by saying that he or she was an inconvenience to me, or I couldn’t afford to care for them, or I couldn’t bear the emotional burden, what would happen in a court of law? I’d be locked up. But for some reason it’s okay under the current laws to commit the exact same crime for the exact same reasons if the child is still inside the womb.
A friend of mine once asked me how I could be a one-issue voter when there is so much else to be concerned with. My response was this: “What if you agreed with absolutely everything a candidate had to offer–and what if their plan promised to end poverty and bring world peace? But there’s one problem… Suppose this candidate’s ideas only work if all Asians are taken as slaves. Would you vote for him?”
Well, would you?
Of course not. This would be a human rights issue. Everything else–no matter how beautiful and heartwarming–is irrelevant if human life is going to be disregarded. I feel the same way about abortion. Even though I don’t fully side with either Republicans or Democrats, when one party says it’s okay to murder and the other party says it’s not okay, I have to vote with my convictions.
A lot of confusion arises because some see abortion as a religious issue, and others see it as a political issue. These two sides of the debate conflict, and so there is no common ground for healthy dialogue. But what I have seen is that abortion is “neither” and “both.” Abortion needs to be dealt with both politically and religiously, but more than that, it is a human rights issue. The battle can’t be won (by either side) with political speech, and it can’t be won with religious talk. Yet when it comes down to human rights, I can see the potential for unity and true change.
When the slave trade was taking place in America, there were two opposing sides on the matter. When they tried to argue with religious words, neither side could win. One would say that these slaves are human beings for whom Christ died to set free, and others would say that they were less than human–the descendants of Ham, cursed. When the battle was taken to the political arena, one side would say that all men are endowed with certain unalienable rights (from their Creator), among them: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The other side simply argued back that the African slaves were purchased legally, had a “good life,” and that these “rights” didn’t apply to them because of their foreign descent and the color of their skin.
But then there were those who recognized that slavery is a human rights issue. Both the religious opponents and the political opponents could agree that these were human beings who did not deserve to be seen as property. A movement started. The Underground Railroad was formed. Escaped slaves were hidden by people of conscience. Unfortunately, it all had to come down to several States (who wanted to keep and expand slavery) moving to secede from the Union, which ultimately birthed the Civil War. One side was adamant that what they were doing was perfectly acceptable while the other side saw human lives being abused. Before it was political or religious, it was a human rights issue.
The abortion debate has a lot of similarities. In the religious arena, the battle rages on about when a person is truly considered alive. One side boasts compassion for the mother while the other side argues compassion for the infant. The battle will never be won by either side on this turf because both sides are motivated by compassion, and both sides think the other is blind. In the political arena, the debate is even more difficult. One side says that until a child is born, he or she is nothing more than a fetus (less than human), and therefore the laws against murder don’t apply. The other side argues with scientific evidence that babies can think, dream, have emotions, feel pain, and react to the outside world while still in the womb. The battle won’t be won here either because science can’t prove when life begins. Both sides think the other side is blind.
But I wonder what will happen when people start uniting on the fact that this is a human rights issue. While one side is adamant that what they are doing is perfectly acceptable, the other side sees human lives being murdered and discarded.
When it came to the Civil War, people risked their lives to spare others. They saw the reality that “all men are created equal.” They knew they might die fighting for their cause. They knew their families would be at risk. They knew there would be many casualties. But there was a human rights issue at stake.
One-issue voting is not without its cost. Many argue that because Pro-Lifers tend to vote for Republicans (who don’t spend a lot on social programs), that they therefore don’t care about infants, children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. When I hear that argument, something doesn’t sit right with me. I start to wonder what would happen if someone today started applying that same logic to the Civil War. Imagine someone stepping up to the microphone at a press conference and saying, “The Civil War should have never been fought. The people in the North were wrong for valuing the lives of slaves over the lives of their own families. They should have allowed the southern states to be their own country and minded their own business for the sake of peace. So many innocent lives could have been spared!”
What would happen to that person? They would be all over the headlines as a racist and a bigot! Millions would protest. Why? Because we recognize that this is a human rights issue, and slavery is just plain wrong! Who cares what the cost is to ourselves and to our families? Someone needs to stand up for what is right!
How is this any different from the issue of abortion? Well, there is a difference: The slaves could be looked in the eye. The slaves had voices with which to tell their stories. The slaves had the scars to prove their mistreatment. And the slaves–once freed–got to continue living and sharing their story. On the other hand, unborn infants are called “tissue.” Unborn infants have no voice. Unborn infants are ripped from the womb like the slaves were ripped from Africa, but they don’t get to live to tell their own story. Who will stand up for them? Who will be their voice? Who will tell their story?
Please know that I’m not drawing this contrast because I believe we need another Civil War. I hope this debate never comes to that. But I do see that this is a human rights issue, and it must be dealt with. I will gladly subject myself and my family to a failed health care system if it means emancipating the unborn from the current infanticide of over 100,000 babies each day (worldwide). I claim the same logic as those who risked their own lives and families to free the slaves of the south. It’s not a religious issue or a political issue. It’s a human rights issue.
We must see, however, that while it is not religious, it is still spiritual. Life is a spiritual matter about which God cares deeply. He treasures every human life. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says that He knew Jeremiah before he was even formed in the womb. In Psalm 51:5, David alludes to the fact that life begins at conception. Therefore, to end the life of an unborn baby is to kill a human being. The Bible forbids murder (Genesis 9:5). What else is murder but the human decision that another person’s life is not valuable? If John was correct when he said that hatred is equal to murder (1 John 3:15), how much more is actually taking a human life “like” murder? It is murder!
Several years ago, I read a news story about a woman who gave birth in her home and put the baby in a trash can to die. She was convicted of murder. But if she had instead received an abortion just one day earlier, the law would have ruled in her favor. What’s the difference between a baby one day before birth and the same baby one day after birth? Essentially nothing but an umbilical cord and some fluid. So why can’t I kill my one-day-old if he or she has become an inconvenience to me? Or how about my one-year-old? Or my neighbor?
The story of the Good Samaritan is sometimes used to argue against one-issue voting by reminding us that we are all called to show mercy and compassion to those less fortunate. Some say that by voting against abortion (typically Republican), one is also voting against social programs that help the poor (typically Democrat). But this assumes that by voting against social programs, one is also refusing to care for the poor. That’s not sensible.
All the two parties disagree about is how to care for the poor. One believes it should be a free will gift, given generously and without compulsion. The other believes it should be taken from someone who makes more money than them. The hard statistics are that Conservatives make less money on average than Liberals, but they give about 30% more! (Source: ABC News – “Who Gives and Who Doesn’t?” by John Stossel and Kristina Kendall).
Now set the statistics aside. Suppose this actually is an issue of showing compassion to our fellow man vs. showing compassion to infants. I would ask this: Who should rightly receive that mercy and compassion? The mother who should have the right to choose murder, or the baby who should have the right to live? I will show mercy and compassion to the infant every time. Giving someone the right to rid themselves of an “inconvenience” through murder is neither mercy nor compassion. It is apathy.
Let’s put an unborn baby into the story of the Good Samaritan. The unborn baby has been stripped of her humanity by a political system that says she is nothing but tissue. She has been left naked and alone by the legal system, and her life hangs in the balance. A pastor sees the unborn child and looks the other way, hoping someone else will take up the cause. A churchgoer sees the little girl and looks the other way–hoping to avoid the inner conflict of valuing the baby’s life over his own agenda. But then another figure steps onto the scene–one who is not really accepted by the pastor or the churchgoer because of his controversial views. This man stops, recognizes the baby’s humanity, and spends his own resources to fight for the baby’s life–even though less will be available for his own family’s comfort.
Which of these was a neighbor to the unborn baby?
Could it be that there are some in the Church who are not ignoring the needs of their brothers and sisters by opposing abortion so adamantly? Could it be that they are taking full account for the cost but acting to the contrary out of compassion for the unborn? Could it be that these people are also statistically more generous with their money than those who claim to have the market cornered on compassion?
Could it be that some of us are more like the Union soldiers of the Civil War–counting the cost and fighting to free human beings from injustice? Could it be that this stance is less selfish than the Liberal view because it actually costs us something? Could it be that the one-issue voters are the “Good Samaritans”–defending the cause of the unborn while those who ignore the unborn and vote for their own comfort are the ones walking by on the other side of the street?
Where do you stand?
God bless, –Art