Pro-Choice and Pro-Jesus: Abortion in Faith Perspective
I write today to release this little rant that I’ve been holding for several days now…
The other morning I was driving to work and I saw a bumper sticker on the car just ahead of me that said, “You can’t be Christian and pro-choice.” I rolled my eyes as best I could while continuing to drive safely, sighed deeply, and began incessantly SMH.
I’m not sure what irritated me the most–the fact that this person has such a limited and ill-informed understanding of the tenets of the Christian faith, or the fact that he or she found it necessary to force their poorly thought-out views on me during what would have otherwise been a tranquil drive into work. The real issue is that I am always offended by anyone who wants to co-opt the Christian faith (or any other faith) to fit their own criteria, giving themselves some pseudo-authority to decide who’s in and who’s out. Huuuuh!!!
I’m sorry, but I was wondering: Was this person, or the people who conceptualized, produced, marketed, or sold this silly bumper sticker present on Calvary’s hill some 2,000 years ago hanging on a cross? Did God promote them to deputy-chief Jesus after his death? Or were they placed in charge of admissions to hell? Oh, I know! They probably own the land on which heaven is situated, and lease the space out to the heavenly council as a lucrative side-hustle… Man! I wish I had thought of that. I need to pay down some credit cards…
My point is that whoever is responsible for the words on that bumper sticker has no right to decide who is a Christian and who is not. Moreover, the words pasted to the back bumper of that car are simply not true. How do I know this? Well, I am Christian and pro-choice. And yes, you may absolutely quote me on this. Now, I will define for you what I mean.
The primary tenet of the Christian faith is that God chose to restore humanity’s relationship with God’s self through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My belief, acceptance and participation in this restored relationship are what make me a Christian, period. That’s it. That’s all.
Now…where did abortion come up in the conversation? Oh, that’s right; it didn’t because one’s stance on abortion is totally unrelated to the identifying characteristics of a Christian. Rather Jesus said that people would recognize his followers by the love that they show for one another (John 13:35)… (But that’s another post for another day.)
The truth is that Christians disagree with each other on a plethora of issues. We disagree about baptism, sexuality, parenting, worship styles, marriage, when to worship, and even when to celebrate Easter! Some don’t think we should call it Easter, but prefer “Resurrection Sunday.” The point is we disagree about many things, but we do not hang our faith on these things. Why?…because these matters are not at the core of our faith. Yes, we do build theologies, doctrines, and beliefs around all kinds of social issues. And we have varying faith-inspired opinions about how people should live in light of their relationship with God, but what makes us Christian is our particular belief about how we came to be in relationship with God and how that reality shapes our lives. Abortion is simply not relevant here.
Now about my views on abortion…
The term “pro-choice” is not synonymous with pro-abortion. In fact, I don’t think anyone is pro-abortion. No one cheers and gets excited about abortions—even women who have had them, and even the most liberal of people. (And “no,” I have never had one, not that my medical history is anyone’s business.) Just because I think women should have the legal choice to have an abortion, and all the legal protections and regulations prescribed in abortion law and policy, does not mean I like abortions or even think they are the best option. However, they should be a legal option.
Furthermore, just because one supports legalized abortion does not mean that one actually agrees with abortion. A person can strongly disagree with the practice of abortion without removing others’ legal right to have one. If you don’t believe in abortion, then don’t have one and you will have taken your rightful stance and stayed true to your own convictions.
The truth is that whether it is legal or not, abortion will always be an option. People have done abortions for years, long before they were “legal”; terminating pregnancies is no novel concept. My view is that abortions should remain legal to ensure that women have the best possible medical care when they have one. When abortion is illegal, the quality of women’s healthcare is placed at-risk.
Furthermore, a woman’s body is sacred space. This is often the point of departure for a theological argument in support of a pro-life agenda. Interestingly, I leave from the same place and arrive at a different destination. I believe that God has created and sanctified our bodies and that God does dwell in us (male and female) through the Holy Spirit. All of this makes our very bodies a sacred space where the divine and human dwell together. And if a woman’s body is sacred space where God dwells with her then everybody else needs to butt out!
Moreover, I don’t think that sanctity is the real concern of the pro-life agenda; rather its primary motivation is domination and control. This tendency to dominate and control is the same tendency that wants to tell me I’m not Christian because I am pro-choice. Well, my response is, “No. You will not define me for me. I know exactly who I am and what I believe.”
Ultimately, no one owns the Christian faith. We share it. It is a communal and varied one. So we are going to disagree on a lot of things, but we cannot kick each other out of the group because we disagree about something. God has called us into relationship with one another. In fact, Jesus instructed us to do two things, saying that we could hang the entire faith on this: love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). And if that’s how I spend my days on this Earth, whether I support legal abortions or not, then I have lived as a Christian.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Holla at me. SPEAK!!!