10 Things You Can’t Do and Still Call Yourself “Pro-Life”

pro-life

Being “pro-life” had always been something that was central to my identity. I learned early on, that in order to be a good Christian, one was expected to be “pro” or “in favor of” life- which made complete sense, and still does.

As Jesus followers, we follow the one who can lead us to eternal life and life abundant, and therefore should hold a worldview that is intensely in favor of life. Great. I’m all on board.

What I grew to find increasingly problematic however, was the dishonesty of the term; a term which at face value should indicate an ethos which is always radically in favor of life, really was simply a term to indicate I was against abortion. It didn’t legitimately represent a holistic life ethos which always sided in favor of life.

It still doesn’t. When someone says “pro-life” our thoughts immediately go to the age-old abortion debate (something I’m not interested in hashing out on this blog), when instead it should cause us to think of an all-encompassing value system which shows a primacy for the value and dignity of life in all respects, and at all stages.

A beautiful term, which I would be proud to wear if understood accurately, has been reduced to a single issue. As the cultural definition of the term has taken root, it has become a less-than-honest term that further separates society in an us-vs-them mentality.

Those who oppose abortion are deemed “pro-life”, and those who may not oppose abortion in all circumstances are not pro-life.

How dishonest.

Those who oppose abortion and advocate to see it become illegal in all forms are not necessary pro-life; as is often the case, they are simply pro-birth. Likewise, those who do not oppose abortion in all circumstances are not necessary any less pro-life than the former.

Instead of the tiresome polarization this term often brings, I would love to see a new understanding of the term give birth. One that no longer gives false impressions about holistic life value systems… one that is far more accurate in how it is used. I have decided to begin using the term in a legitimate way- a way that represents a total and complete value, not just for the unborn, but for the post-born as well.

Recently, Mark Sandlin wrote two fantastic posts which you’ve probably read- “10 Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus” and “10 Political Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus.” (If you haven’t, go read them- they’re good.) With his blessing, I’m going to borrow the format in a quest to illustrate what the term “pro-life” should legitimately express. So, if you’ve always considered yourself pro-life, allow me to show you the 10 things you can’t do while legitimately professing to be on the side of life.

10 Things You Can’t Do and Still Call Yourself Pro-Life

10. You cannot support unrestricted, elective abortions, after the age of viability.

While I don’t want this to be a post about abortion, I would fail in my argument that the term pro-life need be holistic and represent all life, if I didn’t list abortion. While I don’t favor the complete abolition of abortion in all circumstances, I think it’s an easy call to oppose elective abortions which occur after the age of viability.

In my other life as a photographer I volunteered for a fantastic organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. My role as a volunteer photographer, was to travel to the local medical centers and to take portraits for families who had lost a child. Usually, the children I took portraits of were pre-born, and died in the womb. It was one of the most difficult jobs I have ever done, as I attempted in some small way to help grieving families by giving them a tangible memory of their child. During those portrait sessions, I had some rare opportunities to see life up close. While we have all seen artistic renderings of what an unborn child looks like, I have had the rare opportunity to be someone who has actually held them in my own two hands. From 18 weeks gestation (twin boys), to babies who were due to be born any day, I have seen life close up. And, all I can say for me, is that I know this is life, that it is precious, and that this must be an element of a pro-life ethos.

While there will always be debate on this issue, and I’m not fishing for any here, for children who are able to survive outside of the womb independently, it should be an easy call to be opposed to elective abortions in these cases, and to side on the side of life.

9. You cannot oppose a livable, minimum wage.

 After adjustments for inflation, the minimum wage today is $2 less an hour than it was in 1968. [1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/10-minimum-wage_n_3474024.html] However, a study by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United revealed that by simply raising the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.00 an hour, it would lift 58% of the working poor out of poverty. [2. ibid] There are millions of Americans stuck in an inescapable life of poverty- not because of laziness, but because their hard work at lagging minimum wages are insufficient for basic needs, such as housing. According to the Low Income Housing Coalition, the best case scenario for minimum wage workers can be found in Arkansas and West Virginia where one would only need to work 63 hours a week at minimum wage in order to rent a two bedroom apartment at fair market value. Live in New York? You’re looking at working 136 hours a week in order to pay just for housing. My home state of Maine? That’s 81 hours a week. [3. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/05/30/opinion/5302012wage/5302012wage-jumbo.jpg]

It’s impossible to say that we are legitimately in favor of “life” when millions among us are unable to afford basic housing regardless of how hard they work.

8.  You cannot advocate, support, or passively tolerate economic policies which oppress the poor, minorities, or any other marginalized group.

 I’m not going to get into which policies I personally feel do or do not oppress the poor because I don’t want my overall message to get sidetracked by political assumptions; the fact remains that we cannot claim to be in favor of life while simultaneously oppressing the poor. All throughout scripture, we are warned about this and in fact, in Amos 5, Isaiah 1, and other prophets, God makes it quite clear that our religious activity is offensive to him if we are failing to defend the poor and needy. Job wanted it on the record that he had never oppressed a poor person. Jesus warned that the judgement of the nations would be a judgement based upon how they treated the poor and vulnerable. And when the disciples sent Paul out? Their last words were “remember the poor” (Gal  2:9-10)

Being in favor of life, must mean being in favor of the poor and oppressed.

 7. You cannot oppose gender equality

Being in favor of life, means we equally value the life of both genders. In 2013, we should seriously be ashamed that women still earn approximately 73% of what men earn for the same work, and that places like Texas just declined to become the 43rd state to pass a law against gender based wage discrimination. But, it gets more tough than that: as scripture teaches, there is no longer “male or female, slave nor free”, and as a result, we need to demand an end to gender based discrimination in our churches as well.

Sometimes when I need to get my blood pressure up, I listen to Youtube videos of “Pastor” Steven Anderson- he’s the same pastor who threw an Obama supporter out of the church mid-service, yelling “murderer” but yet also has sermons on why women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, why women should only wear dresses, and why he carries his wife around the house each day (to show her that he’s in charge).

If we really value life, we need to actively oppose gender based discrimination everywhere we find it, even if that’s a little too close to home for our comfort.

6. You cannot hold anti-immigrant sentiments or support oppressive immigration policies

As people of the way, we must remember that the immigrant population is one that is mentioned over and over again in scripture. We are commanded to be hospitable to them, be generous with them, and to treat them no differently than those who are native born.

To live in one of the richest countries in the world, and to live in a nation which consumes copious amounts of the worlds resources, it doesn’t show a value to life when one wants to continue consuming but simultaneously build fences to keep our poorer neighbors out. The worldview of “this is mine, leave it alone” is incompatible with a pro-life ethos. It reminds me of a story Jesus told one time about a rich man who lived in a gated community but ignored a poor man on the other side of the gate… lets just say, things didn’t work out so great for the rich man.

5. You cannot oppose healthcare for all

I’m not necessarily an apologist for Obamacare, but one cannot say they are legitimately pro-life while opposing equal access to healthcare– especially by the poor. To say “you are required to carry your baby to term” in one breath and then say “but want vaccines so that your baby doesn’t get sick and die? Sorry, you’re out of luck there” is the opposite of being pro-life. Arguments like this reduce the movement to simply being pro-birth, and nothing more.

I recall an occasion during one of the many, many, many republican debates during the last primary season. Ron Paul was asked if someone who was ill, but didn’t purchase healthcare, should simply be allowed to die. Members of the crowd quickly shouted out “yeah!”, and Paul’s response, left me unconvinced that he fundamentally disagreed with the statement.

Ensuring people have the medical care they need to live, is part of being in favor of life.

4. You cannot use dehumanizing language

Throughout history, the use of dehumanizing language was a precursor to oppression. Once we begin referring to other human beings with language that underemphasis or obscures their humanity, we have committed the sin of blasphemy by ignoring the imago dei in that person. If we use dehumanizing language for long enough, we’ll start seeing those individuals as less than ourselves- which make it much easier to begin oppressing them, even in subtle ways.

Racial epithets, the “R” word, and even the term “illegal” (which in addition to being derogatory, is a totally dishonest term), dehumanize an individual and make them less than ourselves. This is inconsistent with a pro-life worldview, and inconsistent with the God of scripture.

In Philippians 2:3, Paul tells us that with humility, we need to “consider others more important than ourselves.”

3. You cannot support unrestricted gun rights

 This one should be the most obvious, but it’s not. Individuals with a pro-life worldview need to take a more reasonable approach to this issue than those who typically control the narrative. If one holds a foundational belief that we need to radically side on the side of life, then we ought be willing to sacrifice some of our rights in order to be true to that guiding principle. The Christian life bids us to set aside our own personal rights and interest in the name of others, and we can start here on the issue of gun control.

It’s an impossible argument to call oneself pro-life, but to also argue that any citizen ought have access to military grade assault weapons, which are objects designed to take life away. There is no other purpose for guns, beyond killing things. To resist reasonable, middle-ground measures such as background checks, registrations, and mandatory safety training does not indicate that one is holistically on the side of life. In society, we recognize that cars are great tools, but can also harm people. As such, we require a license to operate one, registration of all cars, insurance on cars in case someone is injured, and accountability measures for people who don’t play by the rules. To completely abandon that logic with guns, is beyond fathomable- especially if one claims to be in favor of life.

People who are legitimately in favor of life, need to be far more reasonable with compromise on the whole gun discussion.

2. You cannot support the death penalty

Being pro, or in favor of life, means that we are in favor of all life. That includes those who are on death row. If we are Jesus centered in our approach and development of this worldview, we see that Jesus himself in John chapter 8, stood in the way of an imminent execution. And, while perhaps the law had the right to demand death for certain criminals, as far as Jesus was concerned there isn’t anyone alive who is worthy of acting as the hangman.

Culturally, we know that capital punishment is expensive, ineffective, and inconsistently practiced across racial lines– which alone make it an unjust practice even without solid theological reasons for opposing it. Worldwide, 93% of all executions are carried out by China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United States. Hardly the international pro-life community, no?

Our culture in the US has become so captivated by retributive justice, we have completely lost sight of the task of restorative justice, which God has called us to as ministers of reconciliation. If we value life, we must strive to see lives restored instead of lives destroyed.

1. You cannot support, advocate for, or participate in war

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I served in the Armed Forces for almost 10 years, and they were some of the best years of my life because of the people I served alongside of. However, today as a Jesus follower and an Anabaptist, I now realize how inconsistent advocating, supporting, or participating in war is for someone claiming to have a pro-life worldview.

I remember one time in particular, during Operation Allied Force. We had the opportunity to write messages (image of me, above) on bombs before they were dropped– and we did. I’m ashamed to admit, we had a lot of fun doing it. To this day, I have no idea who those bombs killed or how I could have been so lighthearted about participating in death. I’m so very sorry for participating in that, especially with an easy spirit.

War is incompatible with a way of life that radically sides with life, and stands in the way of death. Those of us who truly wish to live out a pro-life ethos, must be busy pounding our swords into plowshares, and must refuse to make or train for war as we await the restoration of all things.

 

If you see yourself as pro-life, great- because I see myself that way too.

However, if you’ve worn that label simply because you want to abolish abortion- please, let me challenge you to expand what it means to truly be pro-life, instead of simply being pro-birth.

Let’s redefine the term pro-life to honestly encompass a holistic worldview which sides on the side of life.

______________

 

  • http://www.whatsthemotivation.wordpress.com Don Coldwell

    Good list. While I do not agree with the specifics of every item, I very much appreciate you bringing to light the idea that unfortunately pro-life = anti-abortion instead of actually meaning – in favor of life.

    It is something I was thinking about the other day however, didn’t put quite this much thought into.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Thanks Don. My goal isn’t to get everyone to agree on a giant list of what it means to be pro-life. Personally, I really just want folks to start thinking holistically about what it means to care for all life- everywhere, instead of reducing the term to one, single issue among many issues which need attention.

  • Kelly

    Thanks, Matt. Another great list. I’d like to add to the healthcare item #5 that you can’t be pro-life if you deny women access to pre-natal care. As well as the checkups and vaccinations babies need after they are born, mother’s and baby’s health are dependent on these. It’s why the US has an embarrassingly high number of baby’s lost during their first year.

  • http://www.kogcc.net Father R. Joseph Owles

    I can support this list — this is where many of us have been for a very long time. The idea that Pro-Choice means pro-abortion has always offended me. I can personally anti-abortion, and work toward making abortions unnecessary without imposing my values, my religion, or my judgments on anyone else. The simple truth is that outlawing abortion does no more to stop abortion than outlawing drugs has stopped drug use. If we are really serious about reducing abortion, then we will be serious about reducing poverty, increasing education, and funding real sex-ed (not just programs that say “don’t have sex”).

    I have been Pro-Life in the fullest sense of the term for a long time, which means I am anti-violence, anti-war, anti-poverty, pro-education, pro-health care, anti-death penalty, and pro-justice (economic, social, and any other kind).

    Glad to have you in the fold. Hope we can work together in the future.

  • http://www.barbwryter.kodtweb.com Barbara Blackburn

    I love this. However, having been a soldier during the Cold War, I do have a hard time with the last one. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite. I am against the use of drones, but I do think there are times where protecting others – like in WWII, where people were being oppressed, requires heroic sacrifice and sometimes killing, regrettably. If a drone could’ve taken out Hitler, I might have been for them then. Sorry, but that’s just how I feel.

    I am for protecting innocent life, and that’s what abortion stands for to me, helpless infants with no choice having their fates decided by others. My daughter was born two months early, and her 23 years of life, difficult as they were, were times I treasure, even now that she is gone.

    However, I really support what you wrote. I am thankful there are Christians who have begun to think outside of the “party line” and have integrity.

    I am so in support of gun control, btw and have been greatly disturbed by so many of my Christian friends’ blind fanaticism in standing with the NRA and claiming the 2nd Amendment is somehow God-given.

    I could go on. Thank you for your post.

  • Grimmie

    Good article. Unfortunately it will fall on dead ears in some cases. As a former fundie myself I must say the hypocrisy reigns free in the pro fetus groups. I get so sick of people trying to interfere with a medical decision when they have no medical degree. Shared the article, hope people will read it.

  • http://www.bluelizardmusic.com Michael Cash

    Great job! To few folks look holistically at this issue. Thanks.

  • Charmagne LaPrise

    Excellent and thoughtful. We must also consider the needs of elders who can be warehoused and abused by an ageistic society.

  • http://Igg.me/at/wild-acre-trish Trish

    Very thought provoking. Personally, I can say that I stand in agreement with you on all points. However, what I treasure about what’s here is the willingness of all who have entered the discussion (at least as if this writing) to be transparent and in heart-felt dialog, even in the light of disagreement. More than anything, that tells me that this is a forum that holds life (as defined in its widest of spectrums) as precious and worthy for all beings. This kind of respect is so rare in conversations this weighty. Thank you to all.

  • Michelle

    Very well said.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Thanks, Trish. My hope is that this blog will become a place where people can wrestle with what it means to be a Jesus follower in this time, and in this place, in such a way where we can have dialogue and even disagreement, while being civil. I appreciate your comment, and appreciate all my readers!

  • Dawn

    I really appreciate this thoughtful list. I only disagree with the last — war — because sometimes force is the only way to protect innocent people. (See “The Heart and the Fist” by Eric Greitens)

    Wouldn’t it be amazing to live in a world where we all agreed on these principles. We could get so much done.

  • Teresa

    Great article. Just to clarify though – even though you may have held 18 week fetuses in your hands, 18 weekers are not viable. Fetuses are not viable until 23 weeks (extremely rare cases, 22 weeks) gestation, and then only with high levels of horrendous intensive care for months. I would make exception for fetuses who have extremely horrendous disorders – anacephaly for example. . parents should have a choice on whether or not they can deal with the extremely high level of care these children will require for their lifetimes.

  • ~Sil in Corea

    You have done a great job clarifying and defining what we really need to work toward, a world of peace and inclusiveness. Thank you! I’m an expat Mainer and support you 100%. It’s our deeds that prove our faith in Jesus and our love for all God’s children.

  • Jennifer Loewenstein

    What a refreshing column to read after listening to so many lame, hypocritical, & often apologetic excuses for supporting policies, attitudes, & practices that devalue our common humanity.

  • Pastor Pete

    I think this is great but needs to be taken a step further. God clearly calls us to life so one clearly can not call themselves pro life and use birth control of any kind. This also should include elective surgery to prevent birth before conception. I do not see how one can draw the line between preventing birth before or after conception.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    I can’t join you on that one, Pete. I don’t see a theological argument in favor of that position, anywhere in scripture, and think birth control is a very pro-life thing to do. It wouldn’t be pro-life to go into a poor and overpopulated country and tell them to cease birth control. In addition, the birth control pill can actually reduce spontanious abortions.

    Looking holistically, I would argue that a pro-life ethic must have more birth control available to more people, not less.

  • Randy

    I find these ten things to be more political statements than Biblicly based comments.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Randy,

    The point of this specific post was not to deliver comprehensive theological arguments for each item, although I could, as each one is a biblical principle if you search the scriptures. The point of this post, was to illustrate a holistic pro-life ethic, which does not require a theological argument with it.

    I will however, address each of these items theologically in later series.

  • Lisa

    I’m interested in learning more about this statement, “While I don’t favor the complete abolition of abortion in all circumstances . . . ” What circumstances would those be?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Hi Lisa,

    I’m not sure I totally understand your question- in the article I argue that purely elective abortions after the age of viability should be an easy call.

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com brambonius

    I like this, but I kinda miss the that pro-life also includes other life-forms that are not human… Destruction of nature and certain forms of industrial farming in which animals are treated as ‘less than animals’ are completely non-pro-life also for example. Maybe even some forms of genetic ingeneering, which can also be an abuse of life!

  • Andrew

    …and what about eating/wearing animals?!?!?!? shouldn’t those that claim to be “pro-life” also abstain from a system that murders 58 billion animals a year? Shouldn’t this one be the most obvious? Why is this omitted in any degree? It should be #1.

  • Gina

    I do not agree with the last two. Number 1 for the expected reasons #2 for other reasons, I agree Christians often throw around “eye for an eye” and I do not believe that to be 100% true. However, you must realize than man is God’s highest creation, we were made in His image. Because of this, murder is the ultimate sin against Gods creation, the ultimate betrayal against ones brother and the God who’s image that person was made in. There are a multitude of examples of God’s and Jesus’ forgiveness in the Bible, however, Gods forgiveness and Gods punishment are not one in the same. A woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus prompting him to state “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (john 8:7) God does not offer this grace toward the shedding of bloodIn Genesis 9:6 and Exodus21:12 God makes it very clear that the punishment for shedding the blood of his creation is that their blood be shed. Not in a vigilanti fashion but as seen fit by proper governing authorities(Roman 13:1-7). It is very easy for our mercy to overwhelm us, and everyone deserves mercy but even God gave the governing authority the power to shed blood when it saw fit to fulfill the debt caused by the sin

  • Chanae

    Very thought provoking. While I do not necessarily hold all of these beliefs, this is a refreshing and interesting view. One that, I believe, is a long time coming. Honestly I think there is a shift in Christianity. People are beginning to wake up and see that you don’t have to believe everything you heard in church. I think you have done a wonderful thing here. I really hope there aren’t too many negative or hurtful comments directed at you for this. I think this is one of the many steps we are taking as (and need to take) as followers of Christ not followers of man.

  • Gregory H Strong

    Your post has me honestly thinking about where I stand on abortion, war, etc. Thank you for that.

  • Chris

    Good post, addresses a lot of hypocrisy out there, but I serve in the military as an explosive ordnance disposal technician (eod) or bomb squad, so that I can save life. do you believe that makes me anti-life because i wear the uniform?

  • twinkie1cat

    You also have to support programs that support children who are already here: public schools with real teachers with education degrees run by local boards, state funding for non-profits that help children and families, subsidized housing, public transportation, universal health care and all the other things that so called pro-lifers generally oppose. I also think that if a person is seriously pro-life, of the variety that protests abortion, that person should make every effort to adopt unwanted children, especially minorities, sibling groups, older kids, and children with disabilities.

  • Steve Rogers

    Nice article. I wrote something similar some time back, published it here:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oCLoQ-s3Ae5n6wdef6Xg5a-_6-9kQuh8sB4JVe67iMg/edit?usp=sharing

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Chris,

    What a fantastic comment, thank you for weighing in.

    First, do I see you as anti-life? No, not at all. That’s part of the problem I try to subtly address in this article- why do we need to have such polarization? Why does one side get to say they are “pro-life”, which seems to gently argue the other side must be not…

    If I were to say that you were “anti-life” I would become a fundamentalist of a different sort.

    Serving as a noncombatant, or in a role such as EOD in order to save lives, is something for me that invites tension as I wrestle with it. But, I’m okay with living in the tension on some things.

    Thanks for a great comment,

    Ben

  • Pingback: Being Pro-Life: What it really means | Living Adventurously

  • http://theoddduckout-natalie.blogspot.com/ Natalie ._c-

    I am Jewish, and will never believe in Jesus the way you do, but I found this essay very thoughtful and consistent with my own beliefs about life. I also disdain the pro-birthers, because there is no purpose to giving birth if you have no access to the means to care for the child.

    The most problematic stance, though is the stance on war, mostly because the reasons for war can be quite complex. I know that the US did not enter WWII in order to save my family and relatives, and nearly all those who remained in Europe were, indeed, killed. But at least they prevented the Nazis from taking over the world — it was, in my opinion, a necessary war, and I honor those who gave their lives for that cause. I’m glad the US entered the war, because it’s the only way the Third Reich could have been stopped. And then I think about the horrendous discrimination that the Taliban and Islamic extremists impose on their women, for example, stoning them for getting raped. And I feel that we have at least some obligation to help those women.

    So I’m very conflicted on this topic — I would LOVE to see a world without war, but it’s not possible to just pray it away. When you are being attacked, you have the obligation to defend yourself, because YOUR life is just as valuable as anyone else’s. I’d love it if you gave thought to a column on this topic.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Thanks, Natalie! I absolutely will do an article on the issue of war (probably several). It is, as you say, a conflicting issue. There are so many issues that create ethical tension, and war is one of them. Be sure to subscribe to updates, because I’ll certainly explore this issue in further columns.

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • http://flickr.com/clearwood Tom Donald

    I think that being truly pro-life rules out being a Christian, which depends on ghosts and martyrs and so on.

    In Europe, Christianity really lost its reputation for being pro-life when it became the official religion of the first world war, after a thousand years of preaching hellfire, it was a natural fit.

    If you accept that there is no evidence of any sort for any life except our familiar individually time-limited fragile biological life, then you become really pro-life, I can assure you! And a green, and kind to animals, if you’re a decent person that is!

    For me, Christianity is extremely pro-death, for example, it’s followers happily kill and eat animals, even though it’s completely unnecessary for the great majority!

    As a science minded existentialist strong atheist vegetarian pacifist, I love life more that anyone who thinks they’re going to “live forever”!

    kind regards

    tom

  • http://flickr.com/clearwood Tom Donald

    I’d like to comment on Natalie._c- ‘s point about pacifism and the second world war.

    The second world war was very much a continuation of the first world war, at least in europe. And that was a result of the economic, social, industrial, and political structures of the previous hundred years. Fortunately, all of the economic, social, industrial, and political structures of today are completely different from the first half of the twentieth century.

    No one is going to invade western europe, or north america, or russia, or china, or anywhere else, except poor countries, which are always at risk of being invaded by the USA/UK. It NEVER does those poor countries any good.

    My view is, in the world as it is, be a pacifist, but also work against fascism and racism, and war.

    Killing people is wrong.

  • Lisa

    In #10 you’re okay with elective abortions BEFORE viability? That’s not on any true pro-life agenda.

    Also, you’re okay with abortion in the case of rape. Think that through a little more carefully.

    Besides terminating a life, no matter how that life was conceived, consider the legal procedure for bringing a rapist to trial and convicting him, which would be necessary to prove the rape in the first place. If abortion is okay in cases of rape, every teenage girl that turns up pregnant by her boyfriend will stroll into the police station, claim some unknown assailant raped her and demand an immediate abortion.

    Now consider a true pregnancy by rape. The victim goes to the police, claims an unknown or even known assailant, investigation ensues (which may take weeks to complete). If they arrest a suspect, the legal process begins with an arraignment, bail hearing (if allowed), weeks for attorneys to prepare arguments, trial date set . . . I think you see where I’m headed with this.

    By the time anyone is convicted of rape, the baby will already be born. So abortion in cases of rape is unrealistic at best.

  • Daniel Hayes

    Besides the first and the last couple points, this amounts to little more than a hysterical denunciation of ideologically conservative positions, ones which are not necessarily inconsistent with a pro-life ethos.

  • http://Verizon Kenneth

    In #13, Theresa’s comment about 23 weeks being the point of viable survival brought back memories of our grand-daughter’s premature birth 23 years ago. My Son called to tell me that she had been born at 23 weeks but wan’t going to make it. My wife and I rushed to get there, but it was over 50 miles away and she was gone before we got there. We looked down on a perfectly formed baby on the outside but with lungs incapable of giving her a chance at survival. At the time, even though, I held her; I was incapable of considering her more than a doll. Perhaps shock deadened the pain. However; about a year later, I suddenly I felt such a tremendous loss and it took me several days to realize why. God gave me time to adjust so I could bear the pain and sorrow. I grieved then and it helped ease my loss. I think my wife felt the same way, because every so often now, she will mention that if she had lived, Adrienne would have been such and so age. In writing this, the pain reappears. Adrienne was born in a Dayton Ohio hospital in early April and Cincinatti pitcher Ron Oster’s wife gave birth within a day or so at the same hospital. His daughter was about a week further along. We saw in the newspaper in October of that year that she was just being released from the hospital. Such tremendous cost for one life. Was it worth it? Ask Ron and his wife!

  • http://flickr.com/clearwood Tom Donald

    all that stuff about dying babies is a bit irrelevant isn’t it? Everyone loves babies! That isn’t in doubt!

  • Matt Plummer

    Someone who is pro-life in the sense you are using the term, Ben, should also, in my book, be involved in the animal rights/ welfare movement. After all life is not the sole possession of humanity, but shared with nonhuman animals as well. Furthermore an account of nonhuman animal flourishing is central to that of human flourishing as we read in the Bible in Genesis and Isaiah. I challenge you to see the ways in which a true pro-life stance would advocate for the flourishing of all life, from unborn babies to enemy combatants to cows, chickens and pigs tortured in factory farms.

    Otherwise a great post!

  • R.L.

    I like this, and it’s exactly the reasons I tell me I can’t support a politician simply based on their pro-life status when they support other things that are IMO “anti-humanity.”

    Just wanted to add something to #7. When people talk about gender equality, what automatically comes to mind is women being denied the same rights as men. Let’s think about rights and protections females have that males do not….

    Yes, I’m talking about the very uncomfortable topic of our country’s practice of routine infant circumcision. I find it sad that many people who label themselves “pro-life” find it ok to cut a baby’s genitals once they are outside the womb.

    No health organization in the world recommends circumcision, and neither does Christianity. The ancient Hebrew covenant practice did not even do nearly as much damage to the penis as what is done in modern circumcision. The prepuce, in both males and females, serves many important health, immunological, and sexual functions. To do away with it entirely damages the way the penis was naturally meant to function, and can actually increase the rate of infections and problems with sexual performance.

    There are people in this world who feel it is their religious freedom to cut a tiny sliver of skin from their daughter’s clitoris, or to poke a hole in it to let a few drops of blood flow. In the U.S., our daughters are protected by law from such atrocities, while it is completely acceptable for a doctor or a mohel to sexually assault a days-old infant simply because of miseducation about the natural anatomy and/or to fit the parents’ cosmetic ideals.

    So yes, if you are pro-life, you should believe in equal legal rights and protection for both genders.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    That is very true, Matt. I am actually writing a follow-up piece right now to address that omission. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Pingback: Why caring for the environment should have made my 10 "pro-life" ethics | Formerly Fundie: A Former Fundamentalist's Insights, Hopes and Laments on American Christianity and Culture

  • Matt Plummer

    I look forward to reading it!

  • T. Menzie

    After reading your blog, It seems that I must be pro choice. I would fight a war for your right to be pro life, but, unless I misunderstood, it seems that you would not. I believe in choices because human beings have free will. When we make a choice, we also choose to accept the consequences, although today’s choosers seem to want others to bear that burden when the results are not absolutely rosy. I have always believed that I would personally choose abortion, and unregulated abortion on demand seems just as morally offensive as illegal abortion in a back alley coathanger clinic. In a republic, we have to try to be civil about moral responsibility and moral about civil responsibility. If we are called upon to defend the system that gives us the rights to make personal choices, I hope you will be standing there beside me, whether the enemy be foreign or domestic.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Appreciate your thoughts, T. You did not misunderstand; I am a Jesus follower and am called to love my enemies, which means I am forbidden from killing them. So, I won’t be able to join you when the enemy comes.

  • http://mangodurian.blogspot.com mango

    It seems like an obvious, but surely you have forgotten “you cannot eat meat and animal products”?

  • http://theoddduckout-natalie.blogspot.com/ Natalie ._c-

    A reply to Tom Donald: It doesn’t matter that the second world war was a continuation of the first. What matters is that innocent people, men, women and children, were being systematically murdered. And if you don’t think that can happen over and over again, look at the horrible massacres in Cambodia and Rwanda and Darfur much more recently. Look at the rise of the Jobbik Party in Hungary, and the Golden Dawn Party in Greece. Look at the massacre of Jews in Toulouse, France a couple of years ago and the flight of Jews from Malmo, Sweden because of anti-Semitic incidents there. Racism and genocide are clearly still on the agenda of a lot of groups, and where does our responsibility to prevent them start? Does the concept of saving innocent lives matter, even if it means risking your own? That’s why I say war is problematic, because most people are NOT willing to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya.

  • Shannon

    While I appreciate the sentiment behind this list (oh, how many stares I’ve gotten for saying I’m pro-life meaning against abortion as well as against the death penalty, people hold fast to their lethal injections, I’m telling ya!) I do not agree with every Biblical emphasis and feel that some uses of scripture was taken out of context.

    For example, with the pro-gender equality point, I agree that it is a shame women make 72% less than men and that should be remedied. However, when it comes to positions in the church there are several passages that make it very clear that women should not be pastors, etc such as 1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 11:3. While I have struggled with these passages myself, it is not for me to question God’s very clearly written Word and we must remember that this is not about equality but about roles, God-designated roles. And while the Galatians 3:28 verse says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” we can see from the context that this is talking about salvation. Of course, in the eyes of God we are all equally beloved, no matter our gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc. But applying this to gender equality arguments and ignoring the other teachings of the Bible would make contradictions in the Bible and I don’t believe the Bible contradicts itself because it is the inerrant Word of God.

    I also do not agree with the guns argument. Guns are different from cars so I find that moot point, if only lawfully in the Constitution protecting the right to bear arms does not apply to cars as it does to guns. Upon further investigation, it was meant to protect citizens from their government. This is why people get upset about government restrictions on guns, because it gives government more power and citizens less power. Besides, guns do not kill people and in fact save lives every day through police use, through men and women who were able to protect themselves when otherwise they could not without the use of a firearm or threat of one. Also, one must think logically that by applying more gun laws that only the law-abiding citizens will follow, not the people who we need to be defending ourselves against, such as the mass-murders, etc. Of course, this is not a spiritual argument but rather a political one.

    I also do not agree with being anti-war. It is clear in the Bible that, as Ecclesiastes 3:8 says, “there is a time for war and a time for peace.” The old testament is filled with stories of God delivering the nation of Israel through war. Even in Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Revelations also describes a huge battle. I believe it is a matter of the heart. God does not call us to defenselessness. We are to stand up and fight for God, for our family, for our neighbors, and to support the troops who so bravely do this. Of course, the commandment “You shall not kill,” applied to hating someone in your heart enough to kill them, as Jesus clarified, or to carry the act out. Like I said, it comes down to a heart issue.

    I also don’t agree with the “age of vitality.” Obviously I would be against abortion at that point, but I would also be against abortion before that point. I believe life begins at conception and after working with and seeing pre-mature babies I don’t believe it would be any less wrong to abort babies before they can live outside the womb than after. I absolutely agree with being against elective abortions.

    Some of the others I agree with, such as access to healthcare, but I do not believe this should be done through the Affordable Care Act, which is inconsistent and devastating for the people working to provide their health insurance. I also would love to see minimum wage raise but we must think about the economic effects of this and whether that would be best for people, it doesn’t always work out as cleanly as it does on paper (more people will be laid off, is it better for less people to get higher wages?)

    These examples show me that you seem to trust the government a whole lot more than I do. But that comes down to a matter of politics than just Biblical principles. And I would certainly consider myself pro-life, and in general agree with the sentiments of this article, just giving the issues to God and his people rather than the government to (try and most likely fail to) fix.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Thanks for writing out your thoughts, Shannon. I’m going to be dealing with a lot of these issues in depth with future posts on various issues I mentioned, so be sure to subscribe for e-mail updates below.

    In short, however, I just wanted to bring up the issue of war you mentioned: I would counter argue that the scripture you cite is also used out of context. We are no under the old covenant, so simply because the OT says there is a “time for war” doesn’t mean there’s ever a time for a Jesus follower to participate in it. Participating in war is at odds with historic, orthodox Christianity and participation in violence or killing was prohibited until Christianity became a state religion around AD 400. For the early Christians, it would be unheard of to participate in violence.

    In addition, we know that Jesus was 100% nonviolent, taught nonviolence, and gave us a nonviolent example. Simply because violence is described in the bible does not mean that it condones our participation in it.

    So, I strongly disagree that this is a political argument rather than spiritual– it is spiritual. If we believe Jesus, and believe that we must follow his example we must LOVE our enemies and we must “not resist” an evildoer. That would exclude the option to kill them.

    I’d encourage you to think about these things spiritually– our loyalty is supposed to be to the way of Jesus, not culture, government, or anything else. Often when the message of Jesus conflicts with pop culture, we push back and try to explain it away. I’d encourage you to view passages such as “love your enemies” literally, not conditionally.

    Thanks for your thoughts, I hope you’ll continue to participate in future discussions.

  • Paul

    I agree with most of this. However, would like to know what happens to a human fetus at the exact moment it becomes viable that gives it full protection under the law when it didn’t have any of those rights to second before? It must be something pretty substantial otherwise viability is simply an arbitrary line drawn in the sand that has absolutely no bearing on reality.

  • fta

    I await your “10 things you can’t be and be pro-choice” post. It will help me to judge the integrity of this post.

  • Amanda

    Very thought provoking list. What are your views on WW2 in light of all the Jews, handicapped, elderly, gay & Romani people that were slaughtered by Hitler? The United States at the time was isolationist and had many anti-Semitic policies, to the point of driving off a ship load of Jewish refugees; many people were lost due to our late entry into the war.

  • Teresa

    #51 response. Paul – viability is the point in which a fetus is capable of living outside the womb. Usually this is around 23 weeks – 22 weeks in extremely rare cases. A few things have to happen – there has to be enough surfactant in the lungs so when a fetus takes it’s first breath, the lungs can inflate and not collapse and stick together. There has to be air exchange in the lungs – these fetal-infants are those that are around the one pound range – extremely fragile, and even with the most sophisticated neonatal care and a ventilator (respirator) breathing for them, they often do not survive. If the do survive, most do not live independently, as their brains are susceptible to damage that results in cerebral palsy, mental retardation, blindness, seizures, autisms, etc etc. It is truly a rarity for a 23 weeker to survive and to survive with no residual problems later. These infants will spend at least 4 months in intensive care – most of them quite a bit longer. The cost of care for these infants at this stage is around $5,000 PER DAY! And that is things go well. If things are complicated, it can go much much higher. Then, as they are discharged home, they may need nursing care in the home, as they are prone to on-going lung issues, etc. The first year is very very precarious. After that, who knows? A few do well. Most do not. We are seeing an explosion in the poplulation of the severely disabled, and most of it is due to advancements in neonatal care that keeps these kids alive, but cannot restore them to full health. I am an RN who had twins at 24 weeks, and professionally, I do pediatric home health care for this population. In many cases, it is a blessing for these infants to pass away quickly at birth rather than face the medical torture of being an extreme preemie.

  • http://psychosiswar.com Nate

    This is AWESOME! THANK YOU!!!

  • Henry Stevens

    Absolute judgements about human behavior often do not work: ie, killing another can (sometimes) or (never) be justified.

    In case you missed the comment by T.Menzie above, he said it perfectly. “It seems that I must be pro choice. I would fight a war for your right to be pro life, but, unless I misunderstood, it seems that you would not. I believe in choices because human beings have free will. When we make a choice, we also choose to accept the consequences, although today’s choosers seem to want others to bear that burden when the results are not absolutely rosy. I have always believed that I would personally choose abortion, and unregulated abortion on demand seems just as morally offensive as illegal abortion in a back alley coathanger clinic. In a republic, we have to try to be civil about moral responsibility and moral about civil responsibility. If we are called upon to defend the system that gives us the rights to make personal choices, I hope you will be standing there beside me, whether the enemy be foreign or domestic…”

  • Grace

    As a politically progressive, religiously conservative person, the terms pro-choice and pro-life are figures of speech coined for the media. They are rife with difficulty if dissected. I think they represent a loosely-affiliated group of people, if push comes to shove, would disagree on a number of issues.

    Why don’t you do a list of the phrase “pro-choice?” That would be interesting. You could have an equally definitive list of “you can nots” for that stance.

  • http://hopita.livejournal.com hopita

    I’m sorry, but I think you didn’t go nearly far enough with #3. “It’s an impossible argument to call oneself pro-life, but to also argue that any citizen ought have access to military grade assault weapons, which are objects designed to take life away.” OK, no disagreement there, but aren’t handguns and rifles and other non-military grade guns also designed to take life away? And, if so, then why aren’t you in opposition to those too? You advocate background checks and registrations and plenty of common sense things, but I would still argue that to be pro-life and pro-gun on any level is incompatible.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    @ Hopita- I agree with you. However, for the purpose of starting a national dialogue on these issues, I tried to show a middle ground where we could meet, and begin the discussion.

  • Deb

    Great list. I’d add that one can’t be “pro-life” (particularly anti-abortion) and refuse to adopt, foster, or in some other tangible, meaningful way, care for children who are unwanted. People who just want to get babies INTO the world but don’t care about the quality of their lives are part of that pro-birth group you mention.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    YES!

  • http://www.generationcedar.com Kelly

    I’ve been stating that Christians aren’t really pro-life, just anti-abortion for a long time. But my reason is one you don’t even have on this list. It is, in fact, what I believe began the fall into devaluing life.

    With the widespread and popular use of birth control came a tidal wave of reasons to prevent life. And since preventing life is so easy, it made accepting life weird and unusual. I should know. I just gave birth to my tenth child. You would think I just grew two heads to hear responses of people, even Christians, about how “crazy” I am. I didn’t even *do* anything; I simply didn’t prevent the children God gave me. It’s a very upside down paradigm. But we can’t be pro-life and treat children like hemorrhoids.

  • Phil

    Let’s not sugar-coat points 9 and 5. If this post was intended to call Christians to individual action to give money/healthcare to those who need it, I don’t think you’ll find much disagreement anywhere on the political spectrum.

    But the implication here is not that we as individuals need to do more, it is that we should make our government do more. What does it mean to say that you support government policies that give “healthcare to all” or force others to pay a “living wage”? It means that you are asking the government, though threat of force or imprisonment, to take other people’s money and give it to the poor. This seems to me to be the antithesis of what Jesus preached regarding money. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give to the poor. When he ruler was unwilling to part with his wealth, did Jesus instruct the disciples to forcibly take the man’s wealth from him?

    What are we doing to help the poor? I have a feeling that God would not be too pleased if our response is “forcing other people to give more”

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Phil,

    This actually is not the antithesis of what Jesus preached. He preached that we should pay our taxes- give to Caesar that which is his. So, paying taxes is right in line with Jesus teaching. The early Christians as we see in Acts, had little concept of individual ownership and shared everything they had with each other. And, in Matt 25 we see that doing justice for the poor part of the final judgement.

    No one wants the government to do everything, but unfortunately, as Americans we give so little to charity, the government is left holding the bag. If the Christian community would give more than 3 or 4% to charity (that’s all they give), perhaps we’d have a different situation.

    My answer is what it has been for years: if you don’t like the government doing it, put them out of business by doing it first. But, until I see Churches paving roads and paying for healthcare, we’ll have a need for taxes– and Jesus says to pay them.

  • Phil

    Benjamin,

    I think you are missing my point. I would not disagree with anything in your first paragraph above. We are certainly called to pay the taxes we owe, and living with no concept of ownership may very well be what God is calling his followers to do.

    The problem is in saying that we should make the government carry out our Christian duties for us. Once the government enforces it, it is no longer just Christians doing what we ought, but forcing others (again, via threat of violence) to do it too. There is no virtue in paying what you owe, especially under force. And there is certainly no virtue in taking from others because you think they don’t spend their money correctly.

  • http://www.generationcedar.com Kelly

    Phil,

    I heartily agree. Socialism, even if Christians aren’t doing their job, is not the answer. A Christian cannot rightly support theft, justifying it by some other virtue. He may as well be in favor of the man who robs his house at gunpoint because Christian charity has failed. The mooring of truth must remain in place…always.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    @ Kelly I don’t think anyone is advocating for socialism, but at the same time, I don’t see paying taxes as theft- and don’t believe that Jesus saw it that way either. I dislike paying my taxes as much as the next guy, but I pay them.

    @Phil- I agree, I don’t want the government doing it either. But if the Christians aren’t, and the government isn’t, do we just let people go hungry? Die? That just doesn’t feel like a viable alternative to me. I’m open to other alternatives, I just think the Christian community would be in a better position to complain if they were actually tithing 10%. When they’re only giving 3 or 4%, I find the complaining to be premature at best.

  • Joshua

    Hey Ben!

    Good post…thought provoking…

    What about bad environmental policies that affect the poor? I think this should be added…for example, the U.N. and the U.S. forcing other nations (specifically in Africa) to halt the use of DDT to fight malaria when the U.S. virtually eradicated malaria in the 50′s through the use of DDT. Millions are dying around the world because of malaria, but they can’t have access to DDT because the U.S. (cured) says it may cause cancer and damage the environment. Those in Africa don’t have the lux of having such high and lofty debates about climate change and environmental impact…

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Great point, Josh! Love that the discussion on what it means to value life is ever expanding. That’s exactly what I had hoped for.

  • Joy

    Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for writing this article! My husband and I have had this conversation many times about the hypocrisies of being pro-life, and I’m so glad others see it too and maybe it can get talked about more. The only thing… is you left out “you can’t not care about the environment”. If we don’t care about Mother Earth, than what really happens to our quality of “life”? (Just read some of the other comments and saw it mentioned) Really great article though. Thanks for starting and having the conversation!

  • Sara

    Very thought-provoking. I read this several days ago and came back to post a reponse as I couldn’t get it out of my head.

    In the whole abortion debate, I’m on the pro-choice side and it’s always bothered me that there is a duality between pro-life and anti pro-life. I’ve always reasoned to myself that I’m not anti-life. I just don’t consider a fetus that isn’t viable to be “life” yet.

    But now you have me thinking that I’m truly not “pro-life” if it means “radically in favor of life.” Nothing on your list is objectionable to me, and in fact, I actively support most of those positions, but I thought of some other examples that demonstrate I am not *radically* in favor of life.

    -I do not want unlimited life support.

    -I support euthanasia.

    -I participate in the killing of animals, directly and indirectly.

    -I consider myself a decent steward of the environment, but certainaly not radical.

    More important to me than sustaining life for the sake of sustaining it, is increasing the quality of life for all, as highlighted in most of the positions above.

    So you’ve helped me realize I’m not radically in support of life, but I’m ok with that.

    Thanks for prompting me to think about this.

  • Jared Sulliland

    This is the single most bizarre list of non-sequitors I’ve ever seen.

  • Brad

    The problem with this list is it turns the term “pro-life” into “what I believe will promote a higher standard of living,” which isn’t all that nuanced of an idea. Don’t most of us hold the political beliefs that we do because we believe that they will promote a higher standard of living?

    For instance, number nine in your list states, “You cannot oppose a livable minimum wage” and still be “pro-life.” Yet, nearly every reputable economist will tell you that raising the minimum wage will only increase unemployment for low-skill, uneducated and young workers — workers who are the most vulnerable and most in need of on-the-job training. (A 2001 report by economist Manfred Keil, titled “Minimum Wages and Unemployment,” illustrates this point well.) Sure, increasing the minimum wage helps some, but only at the expense of others who will lose their jobs as a result. Put bluntly, if one is not worth $8.50/hr in terms of productivity, then they will not be hired or retained by an employer. The minimum wage is not what the government decrees it to be, but $0.00/hr, also known as unemployment. Thus, when looking at the empirical evidence, many will come to the conclusion that raising the minimum wage is not “pro-life” in your sense of the term, but actually very “anti-life.”

    The same can be said about many points on your list — particularly number one, which states “You cannot support, advocate, or participate in war” while being “pro-life.” This point essentially boils down to “Thou shalt not kill,” which seems pretty “pro-life” on the onset. Yet, if one finds himself in a situation in which killing one person is necessary to save another — or a group of people — are they not justified in killing that person? Furthermore, is there no concept of justice in a “pro-life” stance? Are the innocent not worth saving at the expense of the guilty? Indeed, characterizing “pro-life” as “never killing, ever” seems rather simplistic.

    In the end, this list simply boils down to modern-day liberalism with a side of anti-abortionism. Everyone is “pro-life” by your definition of the term. Finding out what constitutes “pro-life” is the challenge.

  • Don Coldwell

    “In the end, this list simply boils down to modern-day liberalism with a side of anti-abortionism. Everyone is “pro-life” by your definition of the term. Finding out what constitutes “pro-life” is the challenge.”

    Brad – I like the cut of your jib.

  • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com Ryan Blanchard

    I am not a believer, but this article is so encouraging! There are so many issues that we could make progress on if we could find a way to work together on them. If our conclusions are the same, but our motives are different, I suggest the motives don’t matter. Let’s improve the world we live in. All 10 of these are worth pursuing.

  • Thameron

    As someone who prefers clarity to obfuscation I have always cringed at the words ‘pro life’ for many reasons which you covered admirably. ‘Pro life’ means ‘pro human birth’ and even that may be further winnowed down to birth only among in groups. How many ‘pro lifers’ are in favor of babies being born in Muslim countries I wonder? Also how many ‘pro lifers’ don’t even bat an eye at the massive human caused extinction of species happening currently? Are those species not part of the ‘Life’ of which they are ‘pro’? It is likewise peculiar that the caring of ‘pro lifers’ seems to end at birth. I guess that they feel their work is done at that point and that the quality of that life is not any of their concern as long as metabolism is happening they are content. I think the Jainists come closest to the actual pro-life position, but even they don’t engage in sexual activity and thus create no life of their own. The lack of popularity of that religion in the United states is not a surprise.

  • Jack

    The mandate given to christians specifically, and the church, collectively, is to “go into the world and make deciples”. There are other instructions like

    “take care of the poor and widows” as well. But the central idea is to preach Christ. An evangelistic apprach is to meet a material need in order to show the love of Christ

    in a practical and tangable way. This builds a relationship and creates the pathway to share the good news of Christ, thereby sharing an eternal thruth.

    Too many Christians have willingly delegated this special mandate from the church to the government (an entity devoid of the gospel) under the guise of social justice.

    If a material need is met, but the life changing truth of Christ is not shared, then the mandate has not been effectively carried out. If we only feed the hungry and clothe the poor,

    but withhold the life saving eternal message of Christ crucified, then we have only ensured a population in hell that is well-fed.

    As far as life is concerned, I see no conflict between being pro-life and in support of the death penalty. If the penalty for murder, was a $10,000 fine, then as a society, we

    would be effectively saying that a life is worth $10,000. The fact is that life is precious and sacred. A policy that says the only thing that can satisfy taking a life is

    life, then there is a parity and as a society we have preserved the special status and postion of life. No amount of money, or time served can equal a life.

    I also take issue with the gun thing. The author says guns are created with the singular purpose to kill. I would offer that 80 million law abiding gun owners, did not

    purchase the firearm to take a life. They purchased it to possible preserve life. Theirs and their family. The right to life is not only enshrined in our constitution, but

    also recognized as being uninalienable and endowed by the creator. Not to mention that Peter carried a sword and used it to defend Jesus against his accusers.

    I guess in short, the reason I disagree so strongly with the post is that it advocates and equivilates government programs, which ignore the gospel, with the mandate Christ

    gave to beleivers.

  • Thameron

    Actually I have never figured out why believers would ever adhere to a pro life position considering that the god that they pray to has absolutely no regard for life whatsoever. If you believe the biblical stories then he/she/it drowned an entire planet full of living creatures in a fit of pique. Where exactly was their ‘right’ to life? Even if you don’t believe that particular tale it is inarguable that the way of the world we live in is for most carnivorous creatures to consume their prey alive. What creator with a regard for life would create such a system?

  • abel

    You cannot be pro-Jesus and not embrace all that God says in the bible. And some of your “pro-life” stances conflict with the God of the bible — capital punishment, for one. In any case where it appears that Jesus and God do not agree, it stands to reason that our interpretation of one or both is in error. God is not two-faced nor a liar. His word does not contradict itself.

    Man can never successfully play God or replace God. Attempting to do so simply creates a dependency on human institutions that, lacking God’s wisdom and power, will always disappoint and enslave, resulting in tyranny. (healthcare for all, education for all, etc — all roles biblical authority or government was never meant to play)

    And lastly, why should I agree with your definition of pro-life? By what authority do you claim to be better? If God’s standard is not recognized as the supreme basis for law and order, then who gets to insist that their system is the one to follow? The answer is clear – history tells how it always turns out — he who has the greatest power to subjugate wins – tyranny triumphs, for a season. Which is a great place to start a conversation on why the American experiment has lasted this far, and why the seeds of the destruction of the nation were not sown in the last 10 years or even the last 50 years, but back in the mid 1800′s.

  • James

    So in other words, you can’t be pro-life and have conservative viewpoints on anything else. Got it.

    You’ve bought into this caricature that conservatives/Republicans don’t care about the poor, don’t care about gun safety, or gender equality, or about immigrants, or are bloodthirsty warmongers who want to hang murderers without a trial.

    I encourage you to see the debates surrounding these issues as two sides who are trying to achieve the same goal. For example, I believe both liberals and conservatives care about the poor and want to do what will most help them. The issue is how do we do that? Liberals believe that higher tax rates on the wealthy and more programs will help. Conservatives see these solutions as more damaging to the poor; rather, the conservative will say that a better alternative is to increase opportunity by encouraging business growth. Perhaps this means a lower tax rate for businesses so that they have more money with which to hire. Perhaps not. But when the liberal re-interprets this as “tax cuts for the rich,” it poisons the well and stifles debate (what if we phrase it “tax cuts for the job-creators?). It appears you’ve bought into that same poisoning. “Pro-lifers” truly want healthcare for all (and healthcare is available – the issue is who pays for it, not is it available). But we disagree as to what will be most beneficial to the healthcare system and those taking advantage of it as a whole. “Pro-lifers” do want less gun violence. But we disagree as to what best reduces that violence. “Pro-lifers” do care for immigrants. But we disagree as to whether amnesty/open borders is better for the economy, which impacts the poor directly. “Pro-lifers” do care about the poor. But we disagree that raising the minimum wage helps them, when evidence suggests the opposite. You may disagree with that evidence, and that’s fine. Let’s debate it. But don’t conclude/assume that “pro-lifers” are simply against poor people because they don’t favor a minimum wage increase; maybe their position is meant to help the poor, albeit by different means than you may agree with. “Pro-lifers” do hate war – at least the consistent ones. I agree with you that a warmongering “kill ‘em all” attitude is inappropriate and not Christ-like. But in a fallen world, some of us see war as a necessary evil to protect life; it would have been the opposite of pro-life not to have gotten involved in WWII, and to have let Hitler continue in his ways. So it’s utterly simplistic and almost irresponsible to suggest that “You cannot support, advocate for, or participate in war.”

    I firmly believe that liberals truly want to help the poor. If only liberals believed the same thing about conservatives, maybe we’d be able to work together to get more done. I think your essay grossly oversimplifies the debates around these issues, and falsely assumes things about the conservative viewpoint that aren’t true. That sort of attitude is part of the problem, in that it keeps us from working together by demonizing one side.

    (On a side note, I don’t buy the stat that Christians only give 3-4% to charity. For one thing, even if it’s true it still doesn’t warrant government intervention; perhaps it warrants greater need for preaching, or some other solution. But just because someone refuses to be charitable with their money doesn’t make it right or charitable to take it from them by force. Second, I doubt that stat could accurately reflect the time and resources Christians devote to ministries such as food banks and clothing drives operated by churches. Third, Christians will not give more if the economy is bad/if they don’t have as much to give; a bigger government will not make Christians wealthier to the point that they could afford to give 10%. It will do the opposite. If you don’t think that’s the case, fine. Let’s debate it. But don’t naively assume that government is the solution to the church’s supposed shortcomings.)

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0xVojIYA-o R Kittinger

    Please watch John Stossel’s explination (or any other numerous sourced explinations) on why raising minimum wage doesn’t work. It sounds great, but there is no magic trick to helping 58% of the population. Raising minimum wage sounds great but leads to unemployment for more people!

  • J Osborn

    1) The scriptures encourage Christians to take care of the poor, oppressed, and aliens (or immigrants), and we should! We are the hands and feet of Jesus! However, they do not tell us to demand our government to do so. Our government is not a Christian one! It is extremely susceptible to corruption, as we have seen in scandal after scandal. 2) Poverty and healthcare are “quality of life” issues. The death penalty, war, and abortion are actually “life” issues. In a “life” issue, someone has purposefully and intentionally stopped the beating heart of another human being.

  • PJ

    I have been teetering on the brink of atheism after living long in agnosticism, preceded by years of “practicing Christianity”. I have been disillusioned, disgusted and horrified by my experiences with and observations of “Christians”. I improbably stumbled upon this blog, and for the moment, I am hopeful. Thank you.

  • James H

    J Osborn, poverty and health care are most certainly life issues. Tens of thousands of people in the US die each year because they don’t have health insurance. The problem is much worse in the third world. James, healthcare is most certainly NOT available to all. Try getting an appointment with your GP if you don’t have insurance especially if you aren’t loaded. People can go to the ER but that is a huge, expensive problem because ERs are clogged with uninsured who should be in the doctor’s office, AN OPTION NOT AVAILABLE TO THE UNINSURED.

    Maybe if the wealthy, who control business and the government, would pay their help a bit more instead of laying them off if the minimum wage is increased there would be more economic equality. Wealthy incomes have soared over the last 30 years, and their taxes have gone way down at the same time. Instead the rich have money to build second, third and fourth multimillion homes, while the people at the bottom, including the working poor not just the deadbeats, have trouble affording a shack. They hide inside gated communities and fenced mansions so they don’t have to associate with scum like the rest of us. They manipulate zoning regulations and housing policies to exclude low income people. Then they say “If yo work hard you can be wealthy just like us” while they stack the deck against those of us who weren’t born into extreme wealth, as they double interest rates for college loans to usurious levels.

    Pastor Pete, your comment that “one clearly can not call themselves pro life and use birth control of any kind” is beyond absurd. Overpopulation clearly dictates that we must limit population growth to prevent mass starvation and reduce the number of wars in competition for scarce resources. It obviously hasn’t occurred to you that both of the above involve….DEATH! There is a huge difference between “preventing birth before or after conception”. Take a biology class. Eggs and sperm are not complete genetically, and thus are not human and have no chance of living until they are united. Only after fertilization does the combination have the full number of chromosomes needed to make a human being.

  • Sam L

    While I think this post had good intentions, it’s simply arguing semantics. We all know that pro-life and pro-choice refer to sides on the abortion debate. I could make a comparable list detailing all the things you have to do to TRULY be “pro-choice.” This won’t change anyone’s opinion. It’s just preaching to the choir.

  • kenneth

    Honestly the whole list avoids the real Pro Life question. If you are a Christian than the only real life is that with Christ. Health Care, War, Guns, and even Abortion are meaningless compared to the dead people you walk by each day.

    You look at the life of Christ and the biggest disappointment the religious leaders had with him was that he was not politically active. The Christ they expected was to over throw the government yet he said nothing about the politics of the day. What he did say was that the Religious leaders had subverted and corrupted God’s word.

    Bottom line is that the world of the dead will remain that way till Christians reach out and offer True Life.

    #1 You cannot be Pro-Life if you are ashamed to speak to someone about Jesus Christ.

    Period end of story. Everything else is wasted air until #1 is done. Once you have done #1 then start serving. Do not expect anyone else to do the job that you are supposed to do. Go out and feed the poor, give a job to someone needing money. .

    DO NOT depend on a secular government to provide what Christians should in the first place. Expect the secular government to do the exact opposite of what is needed to help others. Remember to reach out to that person that God has brought you in contact with to share the message of true Life.

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  • Christopher

    In broad terms, I agree. There are a few points I would contend though: as a follower of Christ, I am supposed to stand up to injustice. As such, I am a Warrior, Christian is my name. The only one with the right to take human life is God Himself; with that being said, if somebody is going to die, if it is in my power it will be the one who created that situation. If nobody has to die, or I am unsure, I will do my best to prevent violence. While I will be peaceful as long as possible, I will apologetically use violence if I have to in defense of myself or (more importantly) others. God is my judge, and that is a terrifying place to stand, knowing that every time I take aim with my M4, I willfully usurp His right.

    In private defense, the same applies, but what happens when the only ones armed are the government…? What happens when a tyrant takes control of an armed and complacent government? As much as I hate war and the instruments of war, I have to recognize that a good war is better than a bad peace, and I think that’s biblical. What happens when the money changers have overrun the court of the gentiles? The Prince of Peace took up arms against them. What happens when the Philistines are picking on Israel? God raises a champion to drive off the oppressors. What is God’s promise for Antichrist? Destruction.

    The second point I contend is that the idea of universal healthcare is great, and if I thought we could actually make it work, I would advocate for it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, what actually happens is that when demand is artificially increased, price goes up. That means that for everybody, costs go up and we are all left worse off. I agree that there is a problem. I just don’t want to do a knee-jerk “solution” which leaves those I’m trying to help worse off. If my goal is to make the world better, normally that means a lot more thought, wisdom and effort than leaving it as is, or making it worse.

    My final point is that it it is quite easy to give things up for other people. It’s quite a different story to give them up for yourself. I have no objections to background checks, mandatory safety training, and the like, but you will never save even a single life by taking firearms from law-abiding citizens who HOPE to never use them against another human being. I concede that if we could eliminate all firearms, the world would be better in some ways; I don’t even own any private weapons, or have a real desire to, but I will not make that sacrifice on behalf of people who have never used them to cause harm, nor have any intention to. What, which you would rather keep, are you willing to give up for the sake of others? That is the ultimate question in all Christianity. Jesus gave up everything he held dear. Dare we offer less?

  • http://raisinggodzillas.blogspot.com/ Jenna

    Very well said. I believe in a consistent ethic of life, and I agree 100% with this.

  • casey

    “Jesus was 100% non-violent”…. remember the whip he used on the moneychangers?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com Benjamin L. Corey

    Chapter and verse that says he used the whips to violently harm other humans? It isn’t there. It simply describes a radical protest where he drove them out. No direct violence is described. If he did, he would have contradicted his own nonviolent teachings in Matt 5 and elsewhere.

  • Ephirius

    Because minimum wage, universal health care, and all the other utopian dreams of liberal politics are definitely required to oppose the killing of babies.

    Right.

    I’ll continue being a conservative who thinks, based on historical and philosophical principles, that most of those ideas are terrible and produce net effects that are opposite of their intended goals, and still oppose abortion in all circumstances. And you can keep telling conservatives how terrible they are for not being liberals on all issues except abortion, and we’ll see which one works out in the end.

  • Ephirius

    “You cannot support the death penalty”

    Do you see a category difference between killing someone who has committed extremely severe crimes and been convicted by a jury of their peers and killing someone who has never had the opportunity to be born?

    If you don’t see the category difference, I fear for the people you interact with. This is the standard problem with this sort of thought process: You don’t recognize obvious categories, yet have great confusion over categories that don’t exist (like “gender inequality” in wages, which has been determined time and time again to be virtually non-existent when factors like profession are taken into account).

  • Ephirius

    One final comment, because I think the answer to this question will enlighten everyone:

    Suppose you encounter a man holding two loaded handguns, each pointed at a hostage. The man says he will pull the triggers for both guns in five minutes, regardless of what anyone does. You, being a police officer, are carrying a gun of your own.

    Is it more “pro-life”, by your use of the term, to shoot the man with the two guns, or to let him kill his two victims?

    If you answer that it is more pro-life to shoot the man, then I submit to you that most of your arguments are non sequiters.

    If not, I await a way to justify such a decision.

  • casey

    No verse lays out the detail of whether or not contact was made, probably BC it isn’t necessary to get the point of the story in the Bible. So, you suggest Jesus brandishing a whip was only a scare tactic which persuaded the moneychangers to leave? And if they had resisted, he would have dropped the whip and walked away? No, zeal for His fathers house and glory was of utmost importance to Jesus, and this time violence was just. Your argument would suggest the bankrobber who flashes a gun but thankfully doesnt use it isn’t violent. Few would agree with that.

  • Bruce

    Oh dear, the usual confusion of pacifism / ignorance or failure to take the old testament seriously and defective political philosophy.

    1) The death penalty arises from the delegated authority of the state from God to punish the evil doer. The idea that being ‘pro-life’, which is everything to do with protecting the rights of one group, should impact on the range of punishments that the state should impose on the guilty reflects an unwillingness to accept this delegation of power. Whilst this is classic Anabaptist theology, it is ultimately defective because it provides no answer to the question ‘So what would a state that was 95% Anabaptist do about its criminals. This also covers the issue about war

    2) The suggestion that pro-life requires the imposition of taxes to provide health care is flawed in political philosophy; being pro-life means giving equal rights to the unborn, it does not create additional rights for all

    3) Being an employed illegal immigrant is not a victimless crime; it has the effect of undermining the wages of the resident poor and ultimately causes some people to lose their homes because they are no longer able to afford the mortgage because their wage rates have been undermined by the illegally employed, even if they are earning minimum wage. Of course if you deny the right of the state to protect its citizens from such criminality, then failing to enforce immigration rules makes sense. Otherwise it’s merely an excuse for protecting a visible, criminal, group at the expense of a less visible group.

    Of course the real victims of illegal immigration are the ‘dream children’ whose parents bring them across the border illegally and condemn to a life of hiding who they really are.

    4) Whilst it is logical to condemn the opponents of gun control, it is a waste of time for liberals to spend time on the issue as the difference they will make given the vast numbers of guns already on the streets is negligible. That Obama has not told people not to be so stupid is a shame.

    5) The issue of a minimum wage is complex; the reality that we in the UK experienced after its introduction was a steady rise in youth unemployment as employers decided that the young people that they used to take on for a pittance and so socialise to the point of being useful employees weren’t now worth the effort.

    Similarly the ‘liveable minimum wage’ concept needs to be tested out in seriously poor countries where such a wage would exceed the country’s GDP per capita, rendering the entire population unemployable. This demonstrates that the demand is not an absolute. It may be desirable, but it’s not inevitable from a pro-life position.

  • http://flickr.com/clearwood Tom Donald

    oh dear! another demonstration that cruelty and greed can be justified by so-called christianity… and more evidence that it really doesn’t matter what people believe, what matters is what they do. Love one another folks!

  • Jarod

    I respect this list though I disagree with many of your points. I have long wondered how someone could support the death penalty and be pro-life. I understand the argument of “Babies are innocent and those on death row are definitely not innocent.” I’ve heard that one word-for-word. While many, many, and I’d say all but a few on death row are guilty as can be, it is naive to believe that no innocent person has ever been put to death by the system.

  • James

    “While many, many, and I’d say all but a few on death row are guilty as can be, it is naive to believe that no innocent person has ever been put to death by the system.”

    But it’s a basic fact that ALL who have been put to death by abortion have been innocent. So it’s more reasonable to support capital punishment (which may unjustly kill sometimes) than it is to support abortion “rights” (which unjustly kills every time). It may be unreasonable to support both – that’s not my point; my point is that one is more reasonable than the other, even if both are unreasonable. The two issues are not rationally equivalent.

    “I have long wondered how someone could support the death penalty and be pro-life.”

    Isn’t it even stranger how someone could be against the death penalty and be pro-choice?

  • logprof

    I fail to see how capital punishment and “pro-life” are contradictory. The fact of a death penalty is sad, but its mere existence does not degrade life. In fact a society which wields the death penalty –even if very infrequently– as the ultimate punishment for taking a life does in fact uphold the value of life in a non-perverse way. John Muhammad hunted human beings like animals –would sparing his life to rot in prison really have transmitted some profound lesson on the value of human life?

  • Christy

    Great article! As a fellow anabaptist, i enjoyed this. It has always baffled me that people care so much about voluntary abortions but it is next to impossible to get people to care about the fact that every minute a woman in the global south dies in childbirth. I can’t think of a greater prolife or pro choice cause for that matter. But the political will to make any change on global maternal mortality is virtually non-existent. For myself, becoming a midwife seemed like the most prolife thing I could do.

  • http://brianjgorman.wordpress.com Brian

    Thanks for this thoughtful article, though I find it unfortunate that it seems “new” to some folk, or a different approach to being pro-life. For nearly 30 years now, there have been coalitions of Christians and others adopting what has been called a “seamless garment” approach to ethics–being “consistently pro-life,” in other words. Ron Sider was among those pioneering this thoughtfulness through his book “Completely Pro-Life.” Consistent Life is a network of such people with thousands of signers on, including Wendell Berry, Shane Claiborne, Thomas Merton, and others.

    Just recently, Rob Arner published a book through Wipf and Stock called “Consistently Pro-Life.” Most of what you say here is articulated in those sources as well–I just wish people were more aware of them! So, thanks for helping spread the word.

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  • Dave

    Judging by #9 and #5, I guess being pro-life requires a lack of understanding of economics.

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  • Bill Whitehorn

    then you can’t call yourself a republican. why? because they do exactly what you have stated

  • Stephen D

    Where is the link to reference #2 about Arkansas and West Virginia?

  • Katrina

    Definition of PRO-LIFE

    : opposed to abortion

    And abortion only refers to the death of a human fetus.

    This list has nothing to do with someone being pro-life.

  • Tashina Keller

    This article is great. However, I really missed the inclusion of acceptance of LGBT Christians an d their right to life. Let us not forget that many Christians would like to deny this right to the LGBT community. You can’t be against abortion and state and the same time that LGBT people are an abomination.

  • Cynthia Mahan

    Thanks uberMoses, for the new 10 commandments.

    You can come back down the mountain now. But for some reason, your face is not glowing.

    That’s because God did not inspire you to write these. Your political liberal slant inspired you.

    If you want to write an article about each of these 10 things, fine. But telling people they are hypocritical for being pro-life if they don’t agree with everyone of these is BS.

  • Jonathon

    You raise some good points, but I feel that your definition of “pro-life” is less than accurate. The pro-life view in it’s truest form is simply this: we oppose the unjust taking of a human life. That does not by necessity mean that a pro-life individual cannot support the death penalty or fight in a war. It just means that they should be against unjust wars and unjust death penalties.


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