Politics or Faith? The Christian Tradition of Life
Luther, for example, declared, "How great, therefore, the wickedness of human nature is! How many girls there are who prevent conception and kill and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God."
Reformed Church leader John Calvin argued that "it is almost a monstrous crime to rob [the preborn child] of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light."
It was not until the late 1960s and early '70s that many poorly catechized Christians gradually capitulated to the dominant culture's siren song, which lulled them into believing that many core theological and moral issues (including family matters, human sexuality, and our consistent honoring of human life) subsist in the political rather than the broader ecclesial sphere.
Once Protestant and Anglican citizens in many Western countries succumbed to the pressures of secularized authority, a growing number circumvented open discourse on life issues ranging from euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide to abortion and infanticide (late-term and partial-birth abortion) on the grounds that they were deemed too "political.
This misappropriation of what is first and foremost a theological matter only solidified as political parties in North America and Europe polarized and some Christians did, in fact, conflate their faith with partisanship. And while we are called to speak the truth we have received to the state, politics cannot feed our faith. Faith, however, can and should help inform our politics.
The process of restoring life issues to an appropriate place in our congregations as primarily faith issues-issues our priests are duty-bound redemptively to address -- will not be easy. Nor will the restoration happen overnight. Yet because so many seminaries have followed cultural rather than biblical norms, it is critical that we begin the process of educating our clergy and their laity on the ancient Christian theology of life and their role as Christian apologists to stand for what we know to be holy in God's sight.
Briane Turley is Rector of Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican in Tulsa, Oklahoma and recently joined the Board of Directors for Anglicans for Life, http://www.anglicansforlife.org/. Turley also serves as an adjunct Professor of cultural geography at West Virginia University and has served for four years as a Senior Coordinator for the West Virginia State Birth to Three (Early Intervention) Program. Turley received his PhD in Modern European and American Religious History from the University of Virginia. He has been married for thirty years to his best friend, a pro-life activist, Ann. They have been blessed with a son, Christopher, a high school junior.