Roe v. Wade at 38: How Pro-Life Are We?
- Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Oftentimes, when Christians speak about political or social issues, some in our society respond by telling us we should keep our beliefs private, within the walls of the church. Many people believe that faith is private and personal and should not impinge upon decisions being made in the political arena.
But we believe that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, and his resurrection is a very public event. Furthermore, our declaration that Jesus Christ is King of Kings has political implications. That is why throughout history, Christians have spoken truth to power:
- The saints who went before us were courageous enough to denounce infanticide in ancient Rome and rescue discarded babies from trash heaps.
- In England, men like William Wilberforce and John Wesley, exposed the horrors of the slave trade and organized Christians into groups that would fight for the rights of people considered to be "inferior".
- Many Christians in Germany opposed Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime. Some of them, including the pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid for his outspoken opposition by being condemned to death.
- More recently, pastors like Martin Luther King, Jr. have reminded us that every human being bears the image of God regardless of their race.
- And today, you can find countless Christians working to put an end to human trafficking and sexual slavery, and to rid Africa of the deadly scourge of AIDS.
We stand in a long line of courageous men and women who were not afraid to speak out against the injustices of their day. And that is why we speak up in defense of the vulnerable lives of unborn human beings.
We believe that every human life has value. Every human being has intrinsic dignity. All human beings - from those in the womb, to those in elderly nursing environments - have worth. Every life deserves to be protected by law. We believe in human rights for all.
Since our last celebration of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we have seen public sentiment continue to move in a pro-life direction. A majority of Americans now consider themselves to be "pro-life." A sizeable majority opposes abortion funding by the government. Most Americans endorse restrictions on abortion that would make this practice rare.
Even pro-choice leaders have begun speaking of abortion as a "tragic choice." President Obama admits that there is a moral component to this question that cannot be easily dismissed.
The recognition of a moral dimension to this question is both encouraging and discouraging. It is encouraging that people are finally accepting what science and biology have been telling us: Life begins at conception! Ultrasounds have given us a glimpse into life inside the womb.
But the admission of abortion as a "tragic necessity" is also discouraging. It means that some people believe that abortion terminates a human life, and yet they still believe that there are circumstances under which this kind of killing should be sanctioned. I don't know who scares me more - the abortion crusader who believes, against all the evidence, that the fetus is no more human than a blob of tissue, or the abortion advocate who believes fetuses may indeed be human persons and yet would still sanction an atrocious act of violence toward these helpless victims.
The question of abortion goes beyond partisan politics. One can find Republicans who promote the legal sanction of abortion, just as one can find courageous Democrats who stand against it. As Christians this morning, we call on all officials in our country to protect and serve every member of our society, including those who are the smallest and most vulnerable.
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