Question of the day for me: is it possible for conservative and liberal Christians to still consider themselves part of the same church? It seems to me like the fundamental worldviews, both presumably based on a faith in Jesus, are incompatible.
I currently attend a church that contains some people that are reasonably politically and theologically conservative along with a majority that are more liberal. But I feel constrained from advocating what I feel is the passionate heart of God because I just don’t want to have the argument.
Maybe I just need to finally give up on threading the needle and find a full throated, progressive activist church.
“You Can’t Be a Christian If You’re Pro-Choice”
I’ve heard that a lot both online and formerly in the evangelical circles I used to run around in. And the short answer is this: who says I claim to be a Christian? I mean, I do claim to affirm the historic creeds of the church. And I do like to think of myself as a follower of the way of Jesus. And I have had direct experience with Divine Love which I ascribe to Christ. I even pray (and meditate) multiple days per week! But Christian? That label carries far too much baggage to claim.
So then lets answer this one: how can I, as a mystic, creedal, follower of the way of Jesus, be pro-choice? This one is a lot easier to answer, even using the evangelicals’ weapon on choice, the Bible:
- Jesus says exactly nothing about abortion or even when life begins. One would think that, like with homosexuality and gender identity, if it were really that important he would have said something. But he did talk a lot about oppression and injustice.
- Given that silence (and, in fact, the silence of the entirety of the New Testament), I have to rely on the Hebrew Bible. And the most definitive statement of when life begins is in Genesis 2:7, which asserts it begins at first breath. Now, this is a pre-scientific understanding written in a poetic form with the purpose of primarily introducing God as Creator, not as a proof text for when babies get their souls. So that pretty much leaves us at “who knows?”
- “I knit you together in your mother’s womb” is a song of praise to God. Also not a proof text for when babies get their souls. And even if it were a proof text, there is a time when something you are knitting is just a bunch of string and a time when it becomes a quilt. This text doesn’t answer the quiltiness question.
- I understand that the church was anti-abortion from an early era. I also understand that the church believed the sun revolved around the earth, that witches should be burned at the stake, that Native Americans didn’t have souls and therefore could be conquered and killed, that the Inquisition and the Crusades were good ways to spread the gospel, and that slavery was a-ok by them. In other words, maybe the church hasn’t always nailed everything perfectly?
- Why the hell should one specific religious view have any say over whether abortion is legal?
- Science isn’t in the business of answering the “when does a baby get its soul” question. It can only give us some scientific markers. To me, the most compelling of those is brain development, which really doesn’t kick in until the end of the second trimester.
So, given all of the above, this is a moral question best left to individual conscience. It’s none of the state’s damn business, and none of the church’s damn business.