Abortion has been in the news again lately, first Tim Keller made waves on Twitter with a thread about how Christians treat abortion differently from any other ethical stance (here), and then a leaked report appears to indicate the Supreme Court is going to rule to overturn Roe v Wade (here). I have been, yet again, disappointed in the “Christian” reactions to these two events; many Christians were up in arms about Keller and have cheered the leaked document as “revival”. The responses I have seen have filled me with some level of dread, because it seems like for many Christians “the work is over”. There seems to be an opinion that Roe v Wade is the source of much of the immorality in this country and with its pending undoing we will return to our moral nature and God’s grace. I have said this different times but today it rings more true to me, Christians need to understand that ending Roe v Wade is not the end of the fight against immorality it is the beginning.
Why are so many Christians, who say they care about life, blind to the facts that make women choose to go through with abortions? Reflecting on the messages I was taught in my teens and early twenties about this issue, it amazes me that the women considering abortions were thrown into one of these categories:
- Lazy- unwilling to be burdened by a child
- Ignorant- duped into believing that she was not killing a person
- Immoral- unbothered by the fact that she was ending a life
These convenient categories allowed the pro-life individual to say, “These are all abortions of convenience” and then sweep under the rug the few remaining medical emergencies which we would deal with later. When I reflect on what I was taught, I do not ever remember hearing a characterization of a woman considering an abortion who was smart, well adjusted, moral, and hard working. But As I have talked to individuals who have counseled women before and after such a procedure I am struck by the fact that these individuals tell stories of women who are smart, well adjusted, moral, and hard working. Why is this characterization important, because if women are lazy, under educated, unintelligent, or immoral taking away the abortion option will force them to improve themselves for the sake of the baby they will be forced to bring into the world. But if women are smart, educated, moral people who feel trapped in a terrible situation then taking away the abortion option does not mean they have to improve– it means society does.
The history behind the founding of the Moral Majority and the political pro-life movement is dark and disturbing (read the short version here). Lobby groups and politicians have made money selling Christians the story they would end abortion, without truly caring about the issues that lead women to choose abortions. Hence we have the narrative that most abortions “are a matter of convenience”, because if these abortions are about convenience then abortion is a legal issue. However, if women feel lost and abandoned, without hope for the future, then the issue is not about justice and law, the issue then becomes one of policy and society. Politicians are ready to see American society change, sadly it seems many American Christians fall into this camp, and so we will not admit that there are a number of women who feel trapped by the system and so terminate pregnancies. For 40+ years we have been told ending abortion will remove the stain of guilt from America and we are potentially on the edge of finding out Roe v Wade was not the true evil plaguing this country. Even if I agree that abortion is a murdering of innocents that rivals Herod’s search for Jesus or Ancient Israel’s sacrifices to Molech (which does involve questionable Bible reading strategies), abortion is not the real problem. The real problems that lead thousands, if not millions, of women to choose abortions will remain. Suddenly we are going to see where the hearts of all of these Pro-Life organizations, politicians, and people are. I think there will be a rise in the demand on the social welfare [programs of this country as American Christian find out that many women who are currently undergoing abortions do not have the resources to take care of their children.
What the Christians (and politicians) who are celebrating this “win” in the courts fail to realize is that the result of removing Roe v Wade is that America will become an even more “socialist state”. It is inevitable that there will be an increase in the need for social welfare programs, either the ones that currently exist or new programs that help alleviate the burden on families. As I have written before there are Democrats who have plans in mind that will lower the number of abortions in this country, with the reversal of Roe v Wade the choice will be implement these policies, expand current welfare policies, or turn a blind eye to hurting and neglected children.
Well those are the three options I see in the future, Christians who have been pushing so hard for Roe v Wade to be overturned might now discover this country is woefully under-equipped to to actually handle the situation thrust upon us and the truth will be that the reason is because Christians have been so myopic and have over simplified the abortion issue to the point we were not prepared for the consequences we said we wanted. We have failed to learn lessons from the history of the Christian movement, we have failed to think in depth about our theology, and we have failed to hold our would be leaders and representatives accountable to our purposes. The good news is like Mr. Watson has tweeted, we are now at a point where we are going to have to put up or be labeled hypocrites and liars. Either we are going to look for ways to care for an increase in our population or we are going to fail in our mission to be Pro-Life. What do I see happening, I see a decrease in giving to organizations that work with pregnancies because “the fight is over”, I see churches downplaying the importance of being “Pro-Life” as congregations move on to fighting other “culture wars”. I see Republican strategists meeting to discuss what combination of issues will keep the evangelical voting block together or whether they can abandon it for another coalition. I sincerely hope I am wrong, I hope there is a groundswell of awareness which results from this information, that Christians will finally recognize how inept our political theology has been and show growth. But judging from the reaction I receive each time I write one of these posts on abortion, I am not optimistic. Judging by the criticism I have seen over Tim Keller’s honest and fair review, I am not confident. Many Christians have so bought into the political agenda they cannot disentangle their theology to have a proper and nuanced discussion on what being Pro-Life means and simply parrot the dumbed-down oversimplified political talking points which have been a mainstay for my lifetime. When will the Church begin to reclaim out true theological heritage? For more on that see below and especially Gorman’s book which forms the basis for my article.