I do not know if there is a more hot button topic along the American political landscape than the issue of abortion. There are groups and organizations that fund-raise tens of millions of dollars a year to make sure their particular view on the subject is heard. There are protests, sign holders, marches, prayers, petitions, rallies and often times this is a issue that can be the sole reason why a person may vote for a particular candidate.
As a Christian I have struggled with this issue.
As a Christian leader I have struggled with this issue.
As a human being I have struggled with this issue.
For near sixteen years I have been looking for ways I might be able to give verbiage for how I believe and feel. I have never felt totally comfortable with the answers that those on the religious right have given about the topic, though over the years I have mostly identified with their views.
Recently I picked up the book “The Myth Of A Christian Nation: How The Quest For Political Power Is Destroying The Church” by Greg Boyd and within its pages he expressed his views on the issue of abortion in the way that I have been trying to do for over a decade.
This is from Chapter 7
“A Kingdom Approach To Abortion”
“To illustrate, consider the highly charged and divisive issue of abortion. Whether one should vote pro-life or pro-choice is clearly an important question for all citizens to consider. Because all kingdom-of-the-world issues come in complex political packages, numerous complex considerations will affect how one votes on this issue. There are, of course, many difficult metaphysical and ethical questions to consider. When does the fetus become a full person? When does it acquire a soul and take on the image of God?
Your answer to these questions will affect, and be affected by, your views on a host of other ethical questions. For example, do you believe that the morning-after pill is as bad as partial-birth abortions? Would your ideal society punish women who use the morning-after pill as severely as people who murder infants or adults? How should we weigh the rights of the unborn at various stages of development against the rights of the woman whose body it now inhabits? And to what extent do you believe government should legislate the answer to these questions as opposed to leaving the answer up to the woman and others involved in the pregnancy?
Related to these questions are a host of other complex considerations that will affect how you vote. For example, how does the party or candidate that most closely reflects your view on abortion fare on other issues you deem important: concern for the poor, economics, foreign affairs, war, the environment, and so on? How much weight do you put on each of these convictions? Also, what do you deem attainable at the present time in our culture? Is it more efficient to work to outlaw abortion outright, or is it better to minimize abortion by, say, voting for the candidate and party you think will best help the poor, since there is a demonstrable link between the rate of poverty and the rate of abortion in the U.S.? Even more fundamentally, do you think it more efficient to hold an uncompromising stance on this issue, or is it better for the unborn, and for society as a whole, for you to work with people who have different beliefs than yours to overcome our present polarization and find a middle ground? What do you believe is the best way to create a culture in which abortions are as unnecessary and rare as possible? How one answers all these difficult and important questions affects how they vote.
But kingdom people need to understand that none of these questions are distinctly kingdom questions.
The polarized way the issue is framed in contemporary politics is largely a function of various groups trying to gain power over each other for what they believe to be the good of the whole, and while we as Americans have to consider these questions before we can give an informed opinion (a vote) when asked, there’s no reason we—as kingdom-of-God participants—should allow this political way of framing the issue to define our approach.
Jesus never allowed himself to be defined by the political conflicts of his day, and neither should we. The distinctly kingdom question is not, How should we vote? The distinctly kingdom question is, How should we live?
How can we individually and collectively come under women struggling with unwanted pregnancies and come under the unborn babies who are unwanted? How can we who are worse sinners than any woman with an unwanted pregnancy—and thus have no right to stand over them in judgment—sacrifice our time, energy, and resources to ascribe unsurpassable worth to them and their unborn children? How can we act in such a way that we communicate our agreement with Jesus that these women and their unborn children are worth dying for? How can we individually and collectively sacrifice for and serve women and their unwanted children so that it becomes feasible for the mother to go to full term? How can we individually and collectively bleed for pregnant women and for unborn babies in a way that maximizes life and minimizes violence? We answer these distinctly kingdom questions not with our votes but with our lives. And, note, we don’t need to answer any of the world’s difficult political and metaphysical questions to do it. The unique kingdom approach to abortion isn’t dependent on convincing ourselves and others that we have “God’s knowledge” about highly ambiguous questions. It’s based on our call to love as Jesus loved. There’s a scared woman; there’s a growing life inside her, which, however it got there and whatever speculations one holds about its metaphysical status, is a miraculous creation of God. And the only relevant question kingdom people need to answer is, Are we willing to bleed for both? Voting and picketing costs us little. The kingdom approach costs us much. But it is precisely the costliness of the kingdom approach—which looks like Jesus dying on Calvary for those who crucified him—that makes it a unique kingdom approach. And because it manifests the beauty of Jesus, it glorifies God and has a power to change the world in a way that kingdom-of-the-world strategies never could.”
To me Greg Boyd nails it on the head.
The ultimate question isn’t how we vote, but how we live.
Are we willing to lay down our lives and love unconditionally the mother, the life that is growing inside her and those who might express a different belief or thought than we do when it comes to abortion?
Are we willing to put political rightness to the side so that beauty of Jesus can be manifest?
Please buy Greg Boyd’s book, it is well worth the $10 on Amazon.com.
Peace & Grace