The issue of abortion is today perhaps the most divisive issue within all of society.
The two sides on this question have polarized so strongly that there is, in most cases, no longer even the possibility of civil, meaningful and respectful dialogue—let alone any hope of a practical political resolution to the problem.
What is especially unfortunate in all this divisiveness, beyond the paramount fact that abortions continue, is the deep split this issue has caused among those who work for social justice.
Abortion pits two social justice issues against each other: the rights of the unborn versus the rights of women. Both sides are absolutely convinced that the final moral truth lies on its side and each attacks the issue with a fervor that, not infrequently, erupts in violence.
What is the Christian response to all of this?
The temptation for many of us is either a quiet or a highly-rationalized withdrawal: “There is nothing that can be done right now, so I won’t do anything! Nothing is to be gained by demonstrations, vigils, getting arrested, signing petitions, or protesting.
“The only real solution is to, long-range, create a society within which abortion is not so much illegal as unthinkable . . . and all we can profitably do at this stage is to pray and have patience!”
Most people, in fact, respond this way. But is it enough?
Those of us who believe that abortion is wrong—that, in the end, a human heartbeat is stilled and thus the unborn fetus is the ultimate victim, irrespective of whoever else was also victimized—can we, despite sharing many sympathies with those who advocate abortion, in good conscience remain so inactive and uninvolved at the practical level?
Our answer to this question is again, I suspect, a reflective protest: “I’m against abortion, though I believe in the goodness and sincerity of many of those who advocate it.
“Politically, however, the issue is insoluble at this time, given how radical feminism and most contemporary social philosophy have helped constellate the issue so that any restriction of abortion is seen as a violation of the privacy and civil rights of a woman.”
“When that is the dominant mindset, and it appears that it is, at least among governments, law-makers, academics and the media, the political struggle to prohibit abortion is, for now, hopeless.
“All the trump cards, the capacity for moral, intellectual and political bullying and intimidation, lie in the hands of those who advocate abortion. No practical action against this will be productive at this time.”
As true as that is phenomenologically, it is inadequate as a Christian response. Prophecy must challenge phenomenology! In this time of division we are asked, I believe to . . .
- Work off of the premise that this is not a simple struggle between different kinds of personalities or philosophies or even between good and evil. It’s the struggle for human community—which requires, as is now becoming obvious, a deeper truth than either side, those advocating abortion and those opposing it, have been able to see or live to this time.
This issue indicates that all of us, on both sides, must go deeper into faith and resolve than we have ever gone before.
- Stand where God stands, that is, with all the victims of brokenness, violence and oppression, the unborn and women alike. Our morality and fervor may not be selective and may not pit some rights against others.
- Never, despite the life and death that is at stake in this issue, let go of issues of personal conscience and charity. We may never rationalize disrespect, name-calling, refusal to dialogue and the simple lack of love and charity.
The issues of personal conscience, personal faith and personal charity are just as much at stake here as is the issue of political effectiveness.
- Within these parameters, do something! Non-involvement in something concrete, at a point, is rationalizing and an escape from responsibility. Pray at a clinic, write your government, organize a vigil, get involved with agencies and individuals who help pregnant women, and perhaps even discern if you are called to more radical prophetic actions—protests, confrontation, pickets, getting arrested.
Give prayer some incarnational flesh!