Pro-Life Strategy

One of my key arguments, as a Christian who voted for Obama, is that the pro-life crowd needs to focus on things other than winning elections… things like support for pregnant teen mothers, free ultrasounds in abortion clinics, etc. Well, it looks like those ideas may be coming to pass! I’m definitely curious about what Christians who think you “cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate” think of this development.

About Ben Bartlett

Ben Bartlett lives in Louisville, Ky., with his wife and two terrific kids. His degree is in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy from Michigan State University, and he has a bunch of education from a bunch of other places with nothing official to show for it. He has taught high school speech and debate, worked for a congressman in Washington DC, and worked in the health and energy industries. He is interested in how pop culture, history, politics, and theology interact with the inner and community lives of individuals... which is weird because he now works as a business analyst. Few things make him happier than reading, discussing, and recommending books.

  • http://lawngospel.wordpress.com Brother Hank

    Ben-

    As one of “those” pro-life Christians who think you cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate, I’m not moved, or convinced by such stories. As of right now, it’s still all smoke and mirrors. Nothing at all has changed on the ground level abortion front, especially from people in this “reduction” crowd. Take a walk down to our abortion clinic here in downtown louisville and ask around to see what the pro-choice crowd is doing to reduce abortions or help women. Then, take a look across the street at the Crisis Pregnancy clinic at a building full of people who “cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate” and you know what you’ll find? Support for pregnant teen mothers, free ultra sounds, and adoption counseling. How’s that for political irony?

    Brother Hanks last blog post..Lawn Gospel Goes to Africa (Hopefully!)

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Hank,

    I definitely am not arguing with you about who is doing better work to reduce abortion. The majority of the pro-choice side is doing almost nothing to reduce abortion, and many of them are actively promoting it. I absolutely do not trust Barack Obama to be of any value in the abortion debate.

    The point of my post and of previous statements that I’ve made is NOT that Christians should stop working for a pro-life culture… it’s that we shouldn’t put ALL OUR HOPE in politicians. I don’t think mere political power will change the severity of the moral problem in a country that thinks killing babies is ok. I’m simply saying that we have to assault a MORAL issue with MORAL arguments, not merely getting more votes.

    So I’d say there’s no irony at all… Crisis Pregnancy clinics do fantastic work and I highly recommend supporting what they do. They are at the TRUE battlefront… hearts and minds rather than votes and legal distinctions. Abortion clinics, as far as I’ve seen, want to PROMOTE abortions so they can keep the money flowing. If they had real integrity, they would offer free ultrasounds. In fact, I think requiring free ultrasounds in an abortion clinic is a law Christians should push for in every state in the Union.

    So don’t misunderstand me. I would never ask Christians to BE pro-choice. I’m merely saying that we should work for moral change rather than thinking that political change will fix the problem.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://lawngospel.wordpress.com Brother Hank

    Ben -

    That’s just it though. You say you want all those things that the pro-life movement wants, and yet you vote for a man who has basically vowed to turn back the abortion clock to 1978 — before state regulations, before ultrasound laws, and before conscious clauses. You are the one, not the hard-headed pro-lifers, who have put your political philosophy above your moral reasoning. Pure “reduction language” is nothing less than moral acceptance of murder. President-elect Obama’s hollow nod to abortion reduction lends no dignity to those children who do not make the ‘cut’. What do you say to those children who you are willing to accept as expected casualties in your reduction philosophy? Was their death worth the mere possibility of saving others? And how do you support the government’s right to make that decision?

    The fact is, Christians can not accept murder as such. For us to make a sovereign decree that the possibility of abortion reduction is worth those lives who will die in the mean time is a pitiful excuse for both morality and Christian political philosophy.

    Brother Hanks last blog post..Lawn Gospel Goes to Africa (Hopefully!)

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Hank,

    There are two simple issues here.

    First, I voted for Obama. I’ve explained before why I think, as a citizen, that this is an acceptable thing. If you would like we can converse about that. However, nothing about our interactions has suggested that you want to understand where I’m coming from theologically… you simply berate me for making what you believe to be a morally indefensible choice.

    Second, I think Christians devote too many resources to the political sphere and not enough to excellent programs like Crisis Pregnancy Centers, adoption, support of young inner city mothers, and other ways of loving people and pointing to the gospel. As far as I can tell, you either do not understand or are unwilling to engage this argument, but it is central to my thinking.

    There has NEVER been a time when Christians have been able to bring the state around to some sort of Christian Utopia. That was never our first calling. Our primary calling is to bring the good news of the gospel to the world, making them disciples. All I am saying is that Christians have not been doing enough of this, and I am hopeful that losing the election will refocus them on our true primary calling.

    Even if all abortion everywhere were outlawed, the moral problem would still exist. Hard hearts would still be pointed away from the cross. THAT is our true battlefield, not an election between two people who don’t understand the gospel.

    Our hope is not in politics, it is in the gospel. All I want to do is call Christians away from political hope and to gospel hope.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://lawngospel.wordpress.com Brother Hank

    Ben-

    Engage I shall (especially now that we have a break before finals! lol).

    I recognize that I’m not going to say anthing about Barak Obama that you haven’t heard a million times before. But I think it would helpful for this discussion to admit two things:

    1) Barak Obama has a principled stance on abortion. Whether or not you agree with that principle, you know it’s there, and you know what it is. In voting for him, you’ve said that there are political principles that are more (or equally) important as protecting the unborn. While Obama and his supporters attempt to link those principles to “Life” issues, practically they have accepted the existence of abortion as an unescapeable truth of a free society. As far as I can tell, you agree.

    2) The mere existence of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, adoption agencies, etc is proof that pro-life Christians do not put all their hope in politicians. The very people who you are calling on to “compromise for change”, are the very ones who have labored in the practical pro-life trenches since 1978. We are in agreement that a great many Christians believe that their sole pro-life duty is to vote Republican, and we agree that is both politically ignorant and morally repugnant.

    The issue here is that people like me are not seeking a Christian Utopia (as you argue we are), rather we’re seeking ground-level, general revelation attainable understandings of justice in society. To be unwilling to compromise in matters of state sanctioned murder is not unenlightened political philosophy — its the heart of civilization. People don’t have the “right” to kill people, be it in a “Christian” nation, or in Soviet Russia.

    But what really strikes me about your arguments is the distinctions that you make between our “primary calling” and morality. You write as if those who are followers of Christ have been relieved of their responsibility to seek justice for the “least of these” among us; as if the Gospel of love is to be preached to the soul, and not the body. At the heart of this, in my opinion, is a dualistic understanding of the call of the Church. You argue rightly that our true battlefield is the “heart”, but you pretend as if that heart is not present in the babies to be aborted under Obama’s “Freedom of Choice Act”. You tell us that our hope is not in politics, and yet you base your own vote on the man you believe will give the greatest hope to the prolife movement. You call us to make disciples, and yet your political philosophy leaves room for us to murder those who would be disciples in the womb.You tell the pro-life community to “be warmed, and be filled” and yet you tell us that the body is really not important anyways (James 2).

    But brother, realize this: You don’t call Christians away from political hope by changing political parties. You don’t call Christians away from political hope by diversifying your political platform. Gospel hope is rooted and grounded in the Cross, no doubt —- but a Gospel hope that neglects justice for the smallest and most helpless of our neighbors is no hope, and it is not good news.If you want to call Christians to gospel hope, then do it. But don’t think you can do that by ignoring the political implications of your vote, or throwing out theological truisms. The reason the Gospel is coherent is that it makes sense of injustice in the world, not because it compromises with it.

    I understand you have no issue with the pro-life movement as such. I understand you are a calling upon nominal pro-lifers to wake up and get with the game. And for that I applaud you. But you must understand that your position is helpful for no one but yourself. You can sleep at night by not being a single-issue voter, but the rest of us cannot. We understand that our call is to preach the Gospel as we “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; [and] hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter (Pro. 24:11),” not instead of it.

    Brother Hanks last blog post..Lawn Gospel Goes to Africa (Hopefully!)

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Hank,

    Again, I think you are giving far too much weight to voting and the political sphere. As I have articulated elsewhere, I have a lot of experience in politics and I simply don’t think that there is much reason to believe political figures can make massive changes in a moral issue if the country does not agree about its morality. After all, has 8 years of President Bush managed to end abortion? No, and I think the reason is because the PEOPLE of the nation aren’t on board morally.

    I’m not saying to abandon politics… I’m merely saying Christians haven’t yet made the case strongly enough that abortion is immoral from a NON-Christian as well as a Christian perspective. I think that needs to be our focus before we try to change things from the top down. Keep in mind that even if “we” had control of the Supreme Court, all they could do is push the issue back to the states… and trust me, plenty of states would continue to offer abortion as a “right.”

    I am not asking anyone to compromise for change… I’m simply asking them to be wise about what change means. If change means working to highlight abortion as the slavery/segregation issue of our time, great. But if all change means is voting for crap candidates who call themselves pro-life, then three things happen.

    First, we lose the ability to speak truth on OTHER issues (because we are pigeon-holed as a voting block).

    Second, we have poor administrators.

    Third, non-Christians are less likely to hear our message if they think all we care about is forcing our moral stance on them.

    And that’s all if we win! If we lose, nothing changes anyways.

    When you call a plumber, do you first ask if he is pro-life? No. Similarly, I don’t think a President can enact the moral change we need to have BEFORE political change will take.

    So I vote for the better candidate, and work for moral change in people’s hearts so we can later make political change.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://www.johnmichaelhammer.blogspot.com John

    Please, not sink to the level of equating our president to calling a plumber.

    My conviction that changed hearts, change lives. I agree with you there Ben, but I feel that you either don’t agree or can’t fully see what Brother Hank is talking about. “Forcing our morality” on soceity will not change people’s hearts, agreed. But the forcing of the pro-choice morality on our nation is hardening people’s hearts. To say that we need to change hearts is our great calling as the church and our main mission. But to allow policies that will cause great pain and suffering of babies and mothers and harden people’s hearts to the message that we’re trying to preach is a crisis. There is no “amoral” position that is taken.

    Our children and youth are being brainwashed by this supposedly neutral and “amoral” system of death. As long as legislation continues to be passed in favor of abortion, our children will be the targets of this idealogy and public schools will still allow plan parenthood to share their marketing strategy and money making scandal. Our job is to change hearts from the grassroots by the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But to run a civlized soceity, you also have to establish righteous laws from the top that protect the most innocent and vulnerable members of our soceity.

    Does God still judge nations for righteousness? I’m not happy with the republican movement and a lot of the brandging of the pro-life movement either. We need new speech and a new strategy. We need new keep word branding. But I still believe that righteousness exalts a nation and more than giving to reduce poverty (which is a whole other topic about changing hearts and forcing policy), improve education, and improve our economy, God cares most about the value of life. The Bible is clear that He hates the shedding of innocent blood.

    Our political parties will not change the hearts of our nation and I totally agree that we need solutions outside of politics and we need our greatest efforts to go into these outside solutions. But I cannot see how that truth justifies voting for politicians that will not only keep things as they are going, but may make murder of babies easier to do with less restrictions or no restrictions (which is promised, but I pray doesn’t happen).

    Anyways, there’s my rant.

    John Hammer


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