Thursday, August 25, 2005

THE "PRO-LIFE" DISCONNECT

EVANGELICAL (מטיף בקנאות לעיקרון מסוים): of or pertaining to or in keeping with the Christian gospel especially as in the first 4 books of the New Testament.

I consider myself an evangelical, in the best sense of the word. I am very passionate about my relationship with Jesus Christ and strive to practice my faith in the most authentic way that I can. I also really want to see people become whole and fulfilled in their lives. I do believe that the most truthful expression of being made whole is through realizing God's grace in one's life, seeing that grace manifested through Jesus and participating in the lifestyle of the Christ community (THE CHURCH).

I have to make a confession- I am a church geek. I love worship, and spiritual practices, church history, liturgy, conservative christians and liberal christians, the Bible, and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Geez I even like to read the Rule of Saint Benedict, stories about the saints, Jewish folklore, and stories about the circuit riders.

But as much as I love the church I can't keep my big mouth shut when something is on my mind. I just finished reading a post over at Shane's site about abortion. And it made me think again how many of our churches are disconnected.

Take for instance the socio-political stance of being "PRO-LIFE". In Shane's post he quotes fellow blogger, LaShawn Barber, who says,
"If the mere possibility that innocent babies are tortured in the womb doesn’t make these women want to hang their heads in shame for advocating murder… but they’ll realize one day soon how depraved they are. It’s too tragic for words."

I think this is a wonderful quote and I stand behind it completely. But what it has brought to mind is that we don't seem to stand behind the same reasoning when it comes to...

The Death Penalty, or War...

If LaShawn's statement were completely prolife it might go something like this:
"If the mere possibility that innocent people sitting on death row might be killed via the death penalty doesn't make the state hang it's head in shame for advocating state sanctioned murder... but they'll realize one day soon how depraved they are. It's too tragic for words."

or

"If the mere possibility that Christians killing innocent children, women and bystanders in Iraq doesn't make the Church hang it's head in shame for advocating war... but they'll realize one day soon how depraved they are. It's too tragic for words."

1. I understand that most will disagree with me on this. That's ok. I'm used to it. But I do invite discussion and dialog- BUT ONLY IF YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF TAKING A "PRO-LIFE" STANCE FIRST.

2. When I speak of war and the killing of innocents- I am strictly speaking of Christians killing other people. I realize that war is a reality in our world- that nations war against one another. But if we take seriously that Christians "practice" an alternative lifestyle that is founded upon following the way of Jesus- then it seems to me that this should dictate the kinds of activities we do and don't do. I'm not sure that participation in war is something a Christian ought to do.

shalom
jn

10 comments:

Chris said...

I'm with you 2/3s of the way; perhaps even 3/4s. Abortion, death penalty. But I do not consider the State a Christian, and I think it is appropriate for the State to act in ways the individual woman or man ought not. Depending on the conflict, I might qualify as a CO (hence the 1/12 I might be willing to give you).

St.Phransus said...

oh yeah, i see what youre saying chris. i don't consider the state a christian either.

thats why my pacifism lies with believing that christians ought not practice violence. i dont expect that the state would have a practice such as that. although im anti-war, my stance on it is simply that christians who live out the gospel and teachings of jesus ought to have a real problem with serving in the military.

although recently i have been really impressed with the idea of a military chaplain as a peace maker. i never knew until recently that they dont bear arms (or aren't supposed to). i talked with a chaplain recently who shared stories of helping soldiers deal with evil, with the emotional strain of participating in killing others. it was powerful.

shalom bro,
jn

Kevin Rector said...

I'm right there with you a la death penalty. I can not fathom why any Christian would support the death penalty.

Of course you know my position on military service. I wish I could hold to your position but I don't think I have the imagination to see how that works in practical reality. Perhaps it's simply a lack of faith or understanding on my part.

Also, I can tell you from having been in the military that the chaplaincy is an amazing ministry that requires a special kind of person to do it.

St.Phransus said...

i hear ya bro. lets all keep imagining what things might look like and maybe we'll move to a different place one day. that's my hope. probably not in my lifetime though.

shalom,
jn

John Wilks said...

You nailed it.

Really, it is kind of a sqare-recatngle thing. All who are truly "pro-life" in the full sense of the term are anti-abortion. But noat all who oppose abortion are pro-life.

St.Phransus said...

GREAT POINT!!!! Well said.

shalom,
jn

gmw said...

Thanks for posting on this. Also, where did the days with Hauerwas come from? Was he in Nashville?

I'm firming parked in the robust pro-life camp that includes opposition to the death penalty. I do have a problem with drawing a straight line logically between defending the unborn and the convict as if they always have the exact same relationship with the respective enemies (abortion & death penalty) of a full pro-life commitment. While an innocent person who has been sentenced to death by the state may have, for moral purposes, the same basic relationship to the death penalty as the unborn child has to abortion, the guilty convict does not. The robust pro-life position is not dependent on the innocence of the person at risk, but upon the inherent worth of people as part of God's good creation. Thus, the guilty person is worth sparing of the death penalty for that reason (not to mention the many other theological, economic, and sociological reasons we could list to abandon the death penalty).

I imagine that you would agree with what I've said here, but my point is that I'd like to see the link between abortion and death penalty that is usually put forward to point out the inconsistency laid aside. You didn't do this here explicited, but often our crowd will simply assert that we are opposed to abortion because it is the taking of innocent human life and in the next breath that it simply doesn't make sense to be anti-abortion and pro-death penalty. We need to reject this leap since not everyone convicted and sentenced to death row is innocent (although the fact that we have executed any innocent person ought to bother a lot more people!) and the argument that has been made for protecting the unborn no longer applies to the guilty convict. Could it be that we've had the argument's foundation skewed somewhat all along? While the "innocence argument" is not bad as one part of the whole in some instances, it still relies on the person and what they've done or not done. Perhaps if we were consistently working from the argument that relies on God and the inherent value of his creation of human life, we would be more able to attach the lives of the unborn child and the guilty convict as consistent pro-lifers.

St.Phransus said...

hey guy, thanks for the awesome and thought provoking comments.

i think one area where we can firm up a pro-life argument in relation to the death penalty is the notion of "the other" as a child of God.

Yes, one who is sentenced to death who is guilty is not innocent but then we must ask ourselves- who is innocent in this world?

We are all estranged from our creator and thus in some way we all represent "a stranger" in God's presence in need of grace. Thus even "the stranger" who has done the most dispicable act is not exempt from God's grace and God's proclamation: "You are my beloved child."

thanks for visiting and shalom,
jonathon

gmw said...

Yeah, I like that link to the concept of "other" as being critical to the consistent pro-life position. Hospitality is a key theological/ethical category for producing a robust foundation upon which the embrace (Miraslov Volf, anyone?) of life may rest.

St.Phransus said...

funny, volf is going to be my next- "a week with..."

hauerwas was not in nashville, i simply spent a week "with" his words and invited readers to join me. i've enjoyed it so much that i think i'll continue the concept in the future.

shalom,
jn