Most evangelicals are pro-life and while we may disagree at the exact moment when we believe life begins, most evangelicals would find themselves on the pro-life side of the spectrum. Most of us do not believe in abortion on demand, and we have a growing discomfort with terminating a pregnancy the longer the child is carried. Like I say, we’ll argue over who’s more conservative on this issue, but most of us would agree to a fairly strong pro-life position.
But what do we believe after that child is born? Are we still pro-life once that baby is born and becomes a toddler? A student? A young adult?
Those who disagree with our pro-life position point out our hypocritical stance toward life once the child is born. Evangelicals, we’re told, only care about the child until the child is born. Once born, children are on their own.
Because evangelicals tend to be politically conservative, we vote for small government, lower taxes and fewer government regulations. Within limits, we believe people should be free to live their own lives as they see fit.
Here’s the problem with that. People who believe that way generally have choices and good choices at that. When you have good choices, it’s easier to find a good life.
When I asked a prominent African-American pastor to define “white privilege”, he gave me the best answer I’ve ever heard. “White privilege,” he said, “is assuming everyone has the same opportunities you do.”
Here’s the reality. There are young men and young women in the greater Nashville area (type in your own metro area here) who, because of where they were born, the side of the street they live on, the schools they attend, do not have a chance. Sure, America is the land of opportunity and no matter where you start in life, you can work your way to a better life.
That’s the dream, but in reality, it just doesn’t happen that much. Do you ever wonder why we celebrate those individuals who do crawl out of some ghetto and find success? Because it happens so rarely.
Poverty is a difficult cycle to break and almost impossible to do it on your own. My father broke the poverty cycle in our family. Because of his hard work, I was able to attend the schools of my choice, receive a world class education, and never have to worry about student loans choking off my future.
If you talk to my dad, however, he’ll tell his story and mentions person after person who saw him struggling and helped him out. There was a doctor in Mississippi who hired dad to run his gas station. There was a sergeant in the Air Force who gave him one more chance to take an electronics test he’d already failed twice. There were bankers and business leaders in Huntsville who met my dad and liked him. Then, they helped him out.
If you’re a nine-year old African American child who loves science, who helps you? If you’re the child coming to an inner city or rural school in Tennessee and you’re hungry because there was no food in the house for breakfast, who helps you?
I know, this is the place where we preach about family values and what welfare has done to the American family. We can argue cause and effect at another time, but whatever the reason, it wasn’t that child’s fault. No child should have to pay for the bad decisions adults have made and keep making. It’s not the child’s fault, but the child will pay.
Then, we’ll all pay. The child won’t see a way out, and they will become part of the story that trapped them in the first place. Whether it’s crime or addiction, they’ll end up in the system and they’ll never get out. Sure, some will and we’ll celebrate them. We’ll give them book deals and interview them on television. We’ll say, “See, they did it. Anyone can do it.”
Again, the reason we celebrate is it happens so rarely.
If evangelicals are pro-life, we’re going to have to learn every verse of that hymn. While the birth of the child is verse one, the hymn has a moving prelude in the life of the mother. The first thing evangelicals have to do is to commit to providing safe, state of the art pre-natal care for moms and their babies.
Yes, this would include rehab. Yes, this would include education, job skills and helping mom find a life in which she sees some kind of hope. If mom has no hope, what hope does she see for her child? Does mom have a safe place to live? Skills to raise her child? A day care to support her while she works?
Evangelicals are going to have to engage in public schools. Volunteer, tutor, read, love on these children. This means providing resources. Yes, that means taxes. No one likes to pay taxes, but all of us know quality costs money. We don’t mind paying taxes. We mind having our taxes wasted on things that don’t matter.
So, run for public office. Run for the school board, city and county commissions. Yes, it takes time, but where do want to spend your time? Breaking the cycle so some child can be free or cleaning up the mess later?
No, I didn’t mention men. Why? Because the men aren’t there. Which is another place evangelicals need to engage – mentoring, training, encouraging boys into men.
I know, there’s a government program for all of this and more, but in the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”
How’s that working out for all of us? I believe God teaches us to be pro-life. I believe the church should be pro-life, but we need to sing the whole song.
Creation is a beautiful symphony of life, and we miss something when we live out even one verse.