Can we have a real conversation, genuinely listening and seeking to understand each other, one in which we don’t both necessarily see eye to eye yet can manage to stay civil? Because that is possible, you know. Please comment below or reach out to me personally so I can hear your side.
I would like to talk about voting, as a Christian, and abortion.
I was discussing a conversation a friend of mine had recently, in which the person said, “We [Christians] have one platform: defend innocent life – so end abortion…Biblically, abortion is the only thing a Christian should be concerned with.”
May I gently, kindly, disagree? As a fellow, life-long Christian, I believe that there are many platforms which we should care about, politically, and that abortion doesn’t fit the #1 spot. There are a number of reasons, and I would like to clarify that I am all for ending abortions. I don’t want to see them be a part of our reality, and am not at all encouraging casual abortions by any means. I would also never vilify anyone who made or is making that choice, because there many reasons why we all do what we do, and I believe in grace for all.
My #1, which I derive from Jesus’ own self-proclaimed #1 command, is to love God, and to love my neighbor. Now, that is a broad command. It doesn’t boil down to one action or stance. It means a lot of things. And certainly, protecting the unborn is an act of love. And yet, that is one small piece of the “love your neighbor” puzzle.
Jesus also made it quite clear that our neighbor is every person. We are all neighbors. So the refugee is my neighbor, the immigrant is my neighbor, my political opponents are my neighbor, guns rights activists are my neighbor, pacifists are my neighbor, criminals are my neighbor, gay people are my neighbor, every color of person is my neighbor, and babies are my neighbor. I need to be loving them all, and one way I can do that is to protect their rights and stop discrimination and harassment against them as much as I am (feebly, it feels) able to from the voting booth.
So I would certainly push back against this idea that a Christian’s #1 concern in voting is to be abortion. The Bible’s official stance, if you want to go there, is that life begins at the breath. That’s all they understood of science at the time. The conservative church’s official stance (look it up ) prior to the 1970s, was that life began at breath (birth). Even after Roe v Wade, the official evangelical position was to support the option of abortion for cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity, and threats to the mother’s emotional, mental or physical health.
If you take even a brief glance back in evangelical (my background) church history, you will see that the church didn’t care much about abortion until the formation of the Religious Right. While fighting to stop integration at schools (you read that right, while fighting to keep private, Christian schools racially segregated), they realized they had some political clout when working together as an evangelical voting bloc. Abortion became the new rallying cry to get evangelicals to vote together as a pack, and “pro-life” became the token you needed to get elected by that group.
So, I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t care about abortion. Of course not. But know your history, and realize that you may be getting played. No one you vote for has any power to change laws about abortion. Congress can’t do that, Senators can’t do that, the President can’t do that. Yes, the President appoints judges, who do control the laws, and the President can pick pro-life judges, but ultimately it is the judge’s call (who you aren’t voting for). And if you truly care about ending abortion, there are better ways to do that besides voting for someone who doesn’t actually hold that within their power.
Again, the thought of abortion saddens me deeply, and I would love to see a world in which they aren’t happening. Teaching actual sex-ed (not abstinence only) helps lower abortions. Having financial support for families, single mothers, and daycare decreases the desperation that drives someone to get an abortion. There are many, complex, nuanced reasons that people get abortions, so the solutions are many, complex, and nuanced. Let’s tackle more of those.
It’s harder work.
It’s not as easy as casting a vote and never thinking about it again until the next election.
How much do you really care?
Voting is complicated. There are lot of factors to weigh. It should be that way. Boiling it down to one issue is doing your civic duty a great disservice. Unless I myself run for office and vote for myself, I will likely never vote for a candidate that I agree 100% with. I go through a list of issues that I hold dear and weigh the candidates’ stances on each of those to make my choice. It’s a balancing act.
Again, please reach out and share your thoughts if they are different than mine. I can handle a tough conversation. I think we need to be having more of those. I’m open to new ideas. But please, please, vote and take it seriously this fall. Do your research, on candidates and on issues themselves. One resource I love is Pantsuit Politics (a podcast). They periodically do “primers” on different issues and go through the history and nuanced details. Or find a resource you like. Make your vote an educated one that you can truly stand behind.