Four Desires for the Future of Evangelicalism: The Fight for Life and Broadening the Fight

evangelicalismThe issue of abortion is rightly a major issue in contemporary Christian ethics. The preservation of the unborn, and the concern for the long-term moral implications of disregarding them are significant. Evangelicalism has long opposed the issue of abortion and over the last few years we have seen some major victories that ought to be celebrated. The nation was rocked earlier last year by the Planned Parenthood videos, and many were awoken to the horrors of that industry. Polling data also rather consistently shows that more and more young people are willing to identify as Pro-Life, statistics which predated even the videos! And yet, we must not settle for what we have achieved. There is still along way to go. We need to continue that cause and hold up the importance and value of human dignity, all human dignity.

We need to continue to keep the pressure on the abortion industry. We need to continue to stand up for the rights of the unborn and be proactive in our fight against this wickedness. We must do so with grace and kindness, no doubt – violence will only beget more violence, as the saying goes. In whatever way we chose to engage in this fight we must engage. We must do so at the personal, political, and community levels. To become complacent now would be to lose any traction we have gained. To sit back now would be to win a skirmish only to lose the battle. This is an important issue and we must all, as Evangelicals, continue to press forward. Yet there is more to this issue than just standing with the unborn.

To be “pro-life” in more unofficial terms is to consider the broader implications of what this position means. Our nation, has been going through a massive racial divide in the last several years. It continues to get more and more tense, and often Evangelicals are either silent or we are aggravating the division. So, for example, on the Black Lives Matter slogan: often Evangelicals were dismissive, saying things like “All Lives Matters.” That is true, and we of all people know this, but to say that in light of the plight of our neighbors is sort of like telling people who suffer from depression that everyone gets sad.  Of course everyone gets sad, but such news does not make the depressed person feel better and the uniqueness of the depressed person’s current experience means that we should listen to them, sympathize with them, and grieve with them. Likewise, it is true that “All lives matter,” but our African American neighbors weren’t implying anything different. Instead, what they were saying was that it doesn’t feel like the lives of young black men matter to this nation as a whole! They want to feel like their nation understands their pain, cares about their sorrows, and is willing to discuss racial injustices. Now, you may disagree with your neighbor’s assessment of things, and there’s room for healthy discussion, but the church should not simply be dismissive of another’s pain and grief. We need to listen. The cause of life calls us to at least listen.

The same thing has happened when we discuss immigration issues in America. Some people talk about immigrants, and particularly refugees like they are things and not like they are people. The way some people talked about even child refugees over this last year was atrocious, and this was from within the church! Whatever your convictions are on immigration, and there’s room for healthy discussion about policies and practices in this country, the church, of all places, ought to recognize the dignity and worth of all people. The cause of life ought to challenge the way we think and speak about other human beings, about refugees.
And one last example is worth considering. Our convictions on religious liberty need to be carefully re-examined too. Over the last year the church has often characterized religious
liberty as something only Christians are entitled to. When we speak of our Muslim neighbors in this country we speak with hatred, fear, and antagonism. We do not believe that the same liberties we want are allowed others. In fact many Christians supported Donald Trump when he asserted that we ought to forbid Muslims from living in our country. Such statements do not reflect true religious liberty. They do not respect life. Does this mean we need to allow all kinds of radical Islam practices to be tolerated? No. Because we are for life we know that certain radical Islamic practices will never be acceptable. Yet, many of our Muslim neighbors feel the same way. They do not condone those radical extremes. We need to be gracious in our speech and interaction with our Muslim neighbors. Because we are pro-life, we are for all life. Even when we disagree with their religious beliefs. After all, how can we expect to win our neighbors to the gospel when we hate them?
We believe that life matters, but we need to demonstrate that we believe “all life” matters. Our convictions on the issue of abortion are important. Our broadening that fight to recognize more readily the value of our neighbors is import too. I hope to see these changes taking root in the hearts and lives of Evangelicals as we move forward. I confess, in many ways I am not optimistic about that right now, but I have hope in the power of the gospel.

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