Big Talk, No (Real) Action.
How often has it happened? You are in a conversation with a conservative Christian about war, poverty, hungry children, the economy, or baseball and suddenly the topic-changing trump-card of abortion is played. It is a way, used masterfully over the years, to distract from any uncomfortable subject. I cannot tell you the number of times a conversation, discussion, or debate has been hijacked for a place on the moral high-ground that many Christians believe abortion to be. Serious or frivolous any conversation is instantly transformed and brought to grinding halt by the invocation of the word abortion. Abortion, you see, is a supposedly black and white issue that American evangelical and fundamentalist churches have tirelessly fought for ages. And by ages I mean since the mid 70’s. Before that it was viewed by many as a distasteful, complex, and murky area devoid of moral absolutes. I know, I was there.
The continual use of abortion as a ploy in discussions caused me to ask why they would trivialize a subject that they continually insist is the most important issue of our time. To them abortion is the moral equivalent of the holocaust. They are the defenders of the victims and everyone else is a callous Nazi. It is a stirring story of people taking a heroic stand against evil. But it is a heroic stand that really includes no heroics. And no sacrifice. It is life and death just without the urgency. Sure, there are a few who block abortion clinics. But very few. Maybe they feel comfortable trivializing the issue because the reality is that, for them, it is trivial.
The average conservative Christian says abortion is the greatest moral issue of our time and then goes about their lives investing little thought and far less time and effort in its solution.
Today it is rare to encounter a conservative American Christian who views abortion as anything other than a straight up black and white moral issue. Christians, ever unsure of their own faith, often seek moral absolutes in many areas as a reassurance that they are on the right track. It is equally rare to meet a Christian who knows that for most of Christian history this was not a simple black and white issue. It is still not a black and white issue. Not seeing it as more complex and addressing it appropriately has made the Christian campaign against abortion highly ineffective and inflexible in how they approach this problem. And it is this failure that I believe has actually cost the lives they seek to protect.
Abortion: Holocaust Or Hobby Horse?
I need to ask my conservative brothers and sisters: Are you really against abortion? Or is being anti-abortion simply part of your lifestyle choice as an American Conservative Christian? Please, take some time and examine yourself.
Let’s say you are truly convinced that abortion is the equivalent of the holocaust (a distasteful comparison for me). What are you doing about it? I hear you talking about it but what are you doing about it? I don’t know about you but most Christians I know who piously trot out this issue have done NOTHING (but talk) and are doing NOTHING. Nothing. Not a thing.
Think about that.
Imagine the government has opened a center in your town where you believed innocent people were being systematically killed on a daily basis. Your response would be what? To go about your normal life? To talk about how it is a bad thing? Are you seeing how your rhetoric, how your trivializing both abortion and the holocaust looks to the people you are trying to convince?
You believe it is the “most important moral issue of our time,” that it is an actual holocaust, and you have done and are doing nothing about it. Is it really that important? It can’t be. Or you would actually be doing something. You are asking me to doubt what I have clearly seen from the vast majority of Christians for over four decades: talk, talk, and more talk but nothing much more. Oh, the “issue” has gotten politicians elected and has made many people rich (odd, huh?). But not much else has happened.
How much time have you spent on this the “most important moral issue of our time?” How much money have you spent on this? More than your favorite hobby? More than your shirts proclaiming your love for your favorite sports team? More than your shirts proclaiming that this is the “most important moral issue of our time?” More than on meals in restaurants? More than on vacations? More than on cable? More than on your car? Your phone? Your clothes? Your guns? Your Super Bowl snacks? Your new church video equipment? The new paint in the church office? Signage for the latest church “event?” Anything?
But, but, but…. I hear it echoing through the internet now. Always a “but,” always an excuse.
Don’t have money? What have you done otherwise? We already covered that talking part. I am not advocating for it but have you protested at a clinic? Maybe you did, for what it accomplishes (other than make you feel good and give you a “Christian war story” to tell it does very little if anything). But few even do this. What else have you done? You think, I’ll wait.
See, if you are like most Christians you really have done nothing. And yet you somehow feel smugly superior to everyone and anyone when you trot out the abortion issue as if it is some hugely important thing and holding your view is somehow a moral virtue. It may be important, just not to you or most of your fellow believers. Seriously. You claim it is important but all you can bring yourself to do about it is, um, well, talk. How noble of you.
And the world, the people you are trying to convince that you are right about the issue and deeply concerned, sees conservative American Christianity and its smug and pious assertion that abortion is the great moral problem of our time and nothing much more. They see group that has spent 40+ years and hundreds of millions of dollars telling everyone and anyone about the evil of abortion (and Billions, Billions! on other political activity). Yet, save for total prohibition (which never worked and never will work), it is a group that has offered and pursued few solutions. Solutions that would decrease abortion abound. But they are not acceptable because… Why? This confounds the people you are trying to convince. Isn’t this the “most important moral issue of our time?” Isn’t it a holocaust? Why doesn’t a group as wealthy and large as American Christians are pursue social solutions to this problem even if it is in addition to a total ban? Is this an all or nothing at all thing? They hear the talk about the value of human life and yet they see little more than talk. Conservative Christians seem to want to save lives on their terms and and their terms alone. And that tells the world that the lives of the unborn are not that big of a deal for you. They assume you are lying about wanting to save babies. What else could it be? If it was that important wouldn’t you want to start by saving some?
Let’s Get To Work To Reduce Abortion!
I’m on your side on this. I want to have the least number of abortions possible. What if I told you we could greatly reduce abortions? I believe we can reduce the current number by 80%-90% within 5 years. What if I told you that studies have proven that some measures we can take have a positive effect on reducing abortion? Would you be in favor of that? Yes? Good! Let’s do this!
Let’s work on poverty. Poor women have more abortions. They have less access to health care, contraceptives, and, of course, the money needed to raise a child. Abortion rates across the country have been steadily falling. This decrease was present across all groups except for women living in extreme poverty, whose rate of abortions increased.
Helping to relieve the precarious position of poor women by raising them from poverty and providing social supports that welcome children into the world rather than punish them could, all by itself, be the biggest means to reducing abortion.
The next way we can combat the problem is with serious sex education. Sex education helps reduce pregnancies and abortions. Abstinence-only sex education has been shown to increase pregnancies and abortions. According to one study:
“These data show clearly that abstinence-only education as a state policy is ineffective in preventing teenage pregnancy and may actually be contributing to the high teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S.”
You may not like the idea of others, be they teens or adults, having sex outside of marriage but that does not change the reality that they have been and will continue regardless of your moral beliefs. The question here is do you want to stop abortions? Yes? Or: “Yes, but…” If it is anything but yes then we are back to your lack of seriousness about abortion being equivalent to the holocaust.
The final way to stop abortions is for Christians to extend themselves and open their home to children who have been born but who have no family. Annually there are over 100,000 children in foster care who need to be adopted. Only half will be adopted. Each year 23,000 children will “age out” of foster care having never found a family and been adopted. These numbers should be ZERO.
There are 270 million nominal Christians in America. Of these 78 million call themselves evangelicals. The sheer numbers should make adopting the children currently in foster-care as well as any newborn children an easy task. Some will complain about cost or laws. Conservative Christians have spent billions trying to change abortion laws in America. Why not use some of this money to change adoption laws and actually raise children? Imagine the testimony this would be to the world.
This is a good start. Are you with me? Will you work for legislation that aids the poor, welcomes children, teaches sex education, and makes adopting easy? Will you encourage your church to assist members who want to adopt? I am convinced that Christians can be a huge force for good in America and can show their faith by their works. What better way than by dramatically reducing the number of abortions?