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Pro-Choice and Pro-Jesus: Abortion in Faith Perspective

June 19, 2012

Good day Ari Speaks readers!

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!!!

–Ari Speaks

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2012 5:51 PM

    So well said Ari. Thank you!

  2. David A. Gilmore permalink
    June 19, 2012 6:31 PM

    All I can say and think is “WOW”! A power-filled Word from a Word-filled preacher!

  3. Marcus permalink
    October 12, 2012 3:58 PM

    Interesting post. I would agree with you in that what you believe about pro choice/pro life does not determine if you are a Christian or not. Only judge of all will know exactly.

    One question would be, is pro-choice or pro-life more loving to you neighbor? How do you love people that would need those services. I know as a child my parents didn’t let me do things that I really wanted to because they. knew it was for my good. Christ calls us to live a certain way because it is for our good. Is it not appropriate to do that for our family friends and neighbors? Abortions seem to be a very cosmetic solution. When will we start having conversations about the things that will bring about restorative transformation….we need Jesus.

    Ari speak, what do you think?

    • October 16, 2012 11:10 PM

      Hey there! So sorry for my delay dear friend. You raise some very important questions here. So let’s chat.

      I feel that love of neighbor does not require me to control my neighbor’s choices. Love does not seek its own way. Moreover, I think it is somewhat of an arrogant posture for me to decide that I know what is best for someone else. Sure, I may have my opinions (and my advice might actually be right), but I should not impose my own views and force my neighbor to do what I say, determining for my neighbor what his or her choice should be. That is not love. Even Jesus does not force us to do anything. We have free will. He’s a gentleman. He let’s us choose. In fact, that kind of attitude (I know what’s best for you) can create barriers in doing ministry. Listening first is better.

      I think you are right that Christ calls the church to do two things: love God and love neighbor. However, the church is not the same entity as the federal government. That distinction is important because this entire discussion on pro-choice and pro-life is a political one. It is a political discussion about the legality of abortion, and whether or not we allow abortion to be a criminal act. I don’t think it should be.

      As a Christian, I am called to be in loving relationship with others and be present with them in the tough moments of life. I am called to be Christ’s loving presence in the lives of those around me. That’s where the work of the church is relevant in this discussion of abortion–at the level of relationship. How is the church responding to people with whom it does ministry struggling with a decision on abortion? Does it show up? Does it provide love and support? Does it judge? The church has a responsiblity to minister to that person whether abortion is legal or not? So the church’s responsibility to love neighbor does not change regardless of the law itself. Moreover, just because we protest against abortion or vote for candidates who call themselves “pro-life” does not mean that we have fulfilled our call to love neighbor. Our role extends far beyond the way we cast our vote. And even abortions become illegal, the Church still has a responsibility to minister either way.

      I have never advocated for someone I know to have an abortion, and probably never will. As I stated in the post, no one is pro-abortion. No one is an enthusiast for abortions. However, I do think it should be a legal option available to women.

      Finally, let’s be real about this: the truth of the matter is that if abortions are no longer legal then this will all come down to a matter of money. Women of means will have access to quality doctors who would still perform safe abortions, and women who are poor will have to go to some back alley/shady/unskilled jack of all trades for abortion services, placing their own lives at risk.
      Abortions are not new and will not stop regardless of whether they are legal or not. So really the pro-choice and pro-life debate is not about whether or you agree with abortion, but it is about women having the access to quality healthcare under the law. Therefore, I am pro-choice! Ain’t changing my mind on that. Besides, to repeal Roe vs Wade feels like a HUGE step backwards for women’s rights, mainly because it is. That’s my 25 cents. Blessings!

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