An Open Letter to the Pro-Life Community
The media is doing all it can to persuade Americans that an Obama victory is inevitable. Personally, I think McCain will pull it out. The biggest reason I have for supporting McCain is his pledge to appoint originalist judges to the courts, and in particular (of course) the Supreme Court. What happens if Obama wins? Then we have judges who feel they can make up law as sentimentality dictates.
However, I would like to suggest that for those of us firmly anti-abortion and especially those of us who are Christian, who wins the presidency does not ultimately affect our duty. As has been often noted, even if the question of abortion is returned to the states, there will still be the hard work of persuading the state to outlaw abortion and also the hard work of reaching out and caring for the pregnant women who would otherwise be considering an abortion.
It is this latter point that I want to dwell on for a moment. The fact is that the hard work of persuading people and caring for women in difficult circumstances is something that we ought to be doing right now. It is something we need to do if McCain wins. It is something we’d still be able to do if Obama wins (we hope). By ‘persuading’ people I do not mean hitting people over the head with the righteousness of our position. I mean exhibiting the radical love, inspired by the fact of the resurrection and the radical love exhibited in it, which brought the Christian church from nothing to tens and hundreds of thousands within decades of the event.
Don’t get me wrong. The position is righteous. Murder is wrong and abortion is murder on a scale almost without comparison in human history. Yet I think it is safe to say that we got into the position we’re in by taking for granted the place and primacy of the Christian faith over the last 150-200 years, in particular in America. Remember the ‘blue laws’ of even just a few decades ago? Remember Prohibition? As if outlawing gambling and alcohol and immorality actually creates moral people. If liberals are at fault for entrusting to the government the acts of compassion that ought to be done by the Church, conservatives are at fault for expecting legislation to establish righteousness.
In both cases, the fault rests with Christians who relied on the government at all to do the work that is rightly only theirs to do. Let the secularists use government programs to be compassionate or to generated ‘good’ behavior. We Christians were not told that we could delegate to the government the commands given to us.
So what does ‘radical love’ look like? It might be easier to say what it does not look like. It does not look like a committee meeting to decide what color carpet to choose for the sanctuary. It does not mean being stingy in the name of ‘good stewardship.’ It does not mean making our compassion contingent on the good behavior of the needful. It does not mean quibbling over ‘worship’ styles to the point where churches divide.
The dreadful reality is that we are always only a moment away from the collapse of civilization. We act as though we have a right to peace and security, prosperity and plenty. We do not. It is true that we had peace and prosperity in large part because of our Christian heritage. This is a blessing, not a right. It was a gift, not an inevitability. And it never was the case that it could substitute the church acting out in a Love so fierce and noble that none could mistake it for something other than supernatural.
Whatever happens this November, the one command still rests upon us: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command… This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:12-17