In an interview with The Boston Globe, Jim Wallis says that evangelicals must not “allow politics to trump our prophetic voice.” Yet when asked about abortion, Wallis’s “evangelical” voice is anything but prophetic. He writes,
“This new evangelical agenda is not one issue, it’s broader and deeper. . . What ties it all together is the defense of the vulnerable. Let’s not pit unborn children against poor children — they’re both in the category of the vulnerable, and Jesus calls us to defend the vulnerable. I think we’ve got to embrace a full range of concerns. For example, I’m going to press really hard the Democratic nominee, whoever that is, to make abortion reduction a Democratic Party plank in this election year. The extremes on both sides don’t like that, but most Americans are in that middle place: they don’t like abortion — the abortion rate’s too high; but they don’t want to criminalize a difficult and often desperate choice.”
No matter how you slice it, Wallis is dodging the fundamental moral issue at the bottom of the abortion debateâ€”that a person can kill an innocent human being with the protection of the law at any point during gestation. Wallis’s rhetoric indicates that he thinks he has staked out some “middle place” between the Democrats and the Republicans. In reality, he hasn’t. His position in this interview is no different from the hackneyed line made famous by former President Clintonâ€”that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”
Calling on the Democrats to press for a “reduction” in abortions is just plain silly in light of what’s at stake. If abortion really is the taking of innocent human life, does it make any moral sense simply to call for a “reduction” in abortions while keeping it protected in law? It makes about as much sense as calling for a reduction in pedophilia while keeping pedophilia protected in law. The point is that if abortion is an affront to human dignity, then the laws (or Supreme Court decisions) that protect it are immoral and should be overturned. The only moral position is the one that seeks to protect the unborn in law, but apparently Wallis thinks this to be an “extreme” position.
What is perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that Wallis speaks of what “most Americans” want as if it provided some kind of norm. It may be true that most Americans don’t want to outlaw abortion, but it also may be true that most Americans are wrong. It is precisely for this reason that most Americans need to hear a clear word about the moral status of abortion. In other words, they need a prophetic word from Christians about what God thinks about abortion. Does Wallis seriously believe that God occupies the “middle place” on this question?
One thing is certain. God is not indifferent about the slaughter of the innocents. If that is not clear to people now, it will be on the Great Day. Shouldn’t faithful evangelicals be about making this truth plain in advance of that day? If Wallis wants to have a “prophetic voice,” he’ll have to do much better than this. This kind of talk is shamefully anything but prophetic.