Thoughts and Prayers on Guns and Abortion

Thoughts and Prayers on Guns and Abortion August 12, 2019

Christian historian John Fea of Messiah College points out an interesting disconnect that has never occurred to me until now. What if Christians reacted to abortion the same way they react to the problem of guns and mass shootings, by just calling for thoughts and prayers rather than organizing to take political action and pass laws to deal with it?

In the wake of the shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, conservative evangelicals are offering many thoughts and prayers.

These mass shootings, they preach, reveal the moral degradation of our culture. Guns don’t kill people; sinners kill people. This is not a political problem; it is a problem of the soul…

Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas, reminded his followers that “laws … can never eliminate evil — only Christ can transform a person’s heart.”

Now contrast that with their reaction to abortion:

The idea that we are all created in the image of God — a belief that informs the antiabortion movement — has not gained much traction among conservative evangelicals when it comes to gun regulation. When babies are aborted, the Christian Right rarely talks about praying for the woman who had the abortion. They rarely offer “thoughts” to the families who suffer through such a decision. Instead, they attempt to solve the problem of abortion by passing legislation, organizing grass-roots campaigns, proposing new bills and electing political candidates who will appoint federal justices who share their interpretation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In other words, when it comes to abortion, conservative evangelicals act. But when it comes to gun control, they share thoughts and prayers and call for revival…

What if evangelicals took the same approach in addressing this large number of abortions as they do with mass shootings? If they took such a route they would cease thinking creatively (and perhaps even legislatively) about this moral problem and simply retire to their prayer closets. Why take the fight for the dignity of human life to the public square when you can just ask God to send another Great Awakening?

Offering thoughts and prayers is really just a way of avoiding debating and passing policies. They use it purely as a matter of convenience to keep from having to even talk about gun policy. It’s little more than a surrender to the status quo. But they don’t do it on any other issues.

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