Pro-Trump, anti-abortion Christians, this is for you.
(If you’re pro-Trump and anti-abortion, but not a Christian, you’re welcome to read, but you’ll probably think I’m basing the second half of the essay on fiction (aka the Bible), so you can decide if it’s worth your time or not. I’m not here to argue religion vs. non-religion, and won’t engage on the subject.)
In the last 2 years since the sensationalized Planned Parenthood video came out*, I’ve seen more than my fair share of anti-abortion outrage. Gruesome images of human fetuses (half of them not actually aborted, by the way—many are stolen photos of stillbirths), along with misinformation about tax dollars and Planned Parenthood’s services, and vows to do everything in one’s power to eradicate the disease of abortion from the planet once and for all. Go Trump! He’ll do it!
Before you call me a baby killer, let me state my position, which isn’t likely to be popular with either the pro-life or pro-choice camps:
I believe that life begins at conception, and that aborting fetuses should not be a decision based on matters of convenience.
I believe that when it’s a matter of non-consensual sex, a pregnant woman living in an unsafe environment, maternal health, or a handful of other scenarios, it’s a different story. Along with that, I believe that no woman should have to go through the torment of an evaluation and getting “permission” from a doctor to terminate an unhealthy, harmful, or unsafe pregnancy.
I believe that legislating to make abortion outright illegal is not the solution. If your goal is to eliminate abortion altogether, that won’t do it. In fact, it’s likely to result in maternal deaths. If your response is a haughty, “Well, that’s her risk to take,” then you and I will never see eye to eye on this (you and Jesus won’t, either). You can probably just stop reading here.
I use the term anti-abortion rather than pro-life on purpose. If your commitment to protecting innocent lives ends with railing against abortion, you are not pro-life. You are anti-abortion. If life begins at conception and ends with death, then a pro-life individual advocates for the protection of and support for all kinds and all stages of life.
If you are truly pro-life, I expect you’re absolutely outraged by the refugee ban, the wall, and Donald Trump’s obsession with starting wars with everyone. What’s weird is that your posts on social media don’t reflect that.
Let’s just address the refugee issue, though.
Hear about the 11 month old breastfeeding US citizen who was detained at DFW on Sunday and separated from her visa-holding parents? The plan was to deport her along with her folks. They were kept apart for hours, which, if you’ve ever been a parent of an 11 month old, should be absolutely mortifying to you. Can you imagine your child being forcibly taken from you? Being unable to comfort or feed her for hours? Are you outraged?
What about the Syrian family that spent 14 years going through all the right channels to be granted legal entry to the US, only to be denied access to an interpreter or even a phone call to their US citizen family members and put on a plane back to Syria? Their family in Allentown, PA, worked all that time to bring them over, only for it to be too little too late. A ticket back to Syria is as good as Russian roulette. Are you outraged?
There’s a 4 month old Iranian baby named Fatemah who has a congenital heart defect and was scheduled for surgery at OHSU next week. She and her mother traveled to Dubai for a connecting flight, where they found out that their visas had been cancelled and they’d have to reapply in 90 days. She probably doesn’t have 90 days without the lifesaving surgery she was set to have in the US. She will likely die without a waiver. Her grandparents and uncle are US citizens, for crying out loud! Are you outraged?
Host families all over the country have empty cribs and beds where there should be refugees, safe and finally getting a good night’s sleep for the first time in maybe their whole lives.
These are the real life faces from those old Christian Children’s Fund commercials, except it’s not enough to pay for some school supplies and wells right now. School supplies and wells are useless when you’re hiding or dead because there’s civil war raging around you. This is not hyperbole.
I am outraged.** And for the record, I’m putting my money where my mouth is: Into donations to the ACLU.
Last Sunday morning, I listened to a podcast by Rob Bell, titled Two Things I Ask of You, which was recorded back in November, way before any Trump EOs were signed. In the podcast, Rob discusses a prayer from Proverbs 30, which reads:
“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me. Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I might have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.”
Rob dissects the prayer for about 30 minutes. His application of it is to our tendency to rely on having more than we need, and then allowing uncertainty to take over when we only have enough. We’re accustomed to excess, so we forget that we’ve made it through lean times in the past.
I see another very clear application, though: safety and security.
Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
“But national security!” you say. “I have to do what’s best for my family and my country! We need to be safe and secure!”
Well, we want to be safe and secure, sure. Everyone does. But we’re not entitled to it. The God of the Bible doesn’t promise that following his commands will result in domestic comforts. If he did, we’d be in trouble anyway, considering how conveniently we ignore mandates to love our neighbors as ourselves, and stuff like that.
The thing the writer of the Proverb was afraid of has happened. We have too much. Not just too much stuff—too much protection.
We’ve forgotten our own liberation, as Rob put it.
Remember Moses? An Israelite, taken in by the princess of Egypt. Surrounded by riches and safety and security, which he left in order to procure the freedom of the slaves of those who’d cared for him his whole life.
Then there was Jesus, putting himself in harm’s way all the freaking time to protect and care for others, regardless of their gender, vocation, race, or disability. If you’re a Christian, you actually believe that he died an excruciating death in order to protect little old you. And your baby. And your neighbor, and their baby, who may or may not be transgender or enjoy smoking weed. Gasp.
Inspired by writings of Theodore Parker, a Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist in the 1800s, Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Parker’s larger passage reads,
“Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.
Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble.”
Rob references this and asks, “Is the universe ok with some people oppressing and enslaving others? Or is it not, and does it bend towards those who are oppressed and need help getting whatever liberation, rescue, food, and freedom they need?”
If the universe is even a little bit influenced by the God that Christian anti-abortionists proclaim, the I’d say the latter is accurate. And if that’s the case, God help us, because we’ve long been the oppressors. If you’ve read Exodus, you know how that turned out for the Egyptians. If you haven’t, maybe go do that, and then make a donation to the ACLU and call your Republican representatives.
Literally, guys. WWJD? Hashtag throwback
*Do not comment on the Planned Parenthood issue unless you’ve read that entire fact-check article, or I will delete it.
**Before you reply with, “Why the sudden interest?! Where were you the last 12 years?!” let me just tell you: I, along with many of my peers, was growing up and not politically engaged. I am now, and I won’t let my previous lack of awareness shame me into silence now.