Progressive evangelical indifference about abortion

Andrew Walker and Dan Darling have put the screws on progressive evangelicals and their indifference about abortion-on-demand. Progressives say they care about “social justice” issues, yet they somehow cannot (or will not) muster social justice concern for the unborn. In an opinion piece for Christianity Today, they write:

Among progressive evangelicals, there’s a reflexive hesitancy to tout or raise the banner of human life as a preeminent justice issue. You’ll hear individuals in this camp dance around the sanctity of life—writing it off as “political” or “complicated.”… They’re against the circumstances of teenage poverty that lead to abortion. They’re against sexual abuse. They’re against a libertine sexual ethic (though many of them also ridicule sex education that upholds abstinence as the best model). But when questioned about whether the value of changing laws matters in reducing abortion, you’ll often hear a harrumph, brought on by the awkwardness of extending Christian ethics and justice to its proper conclusion.

We’re not asking Christians to be engaged solely on the legislative level, but we’re asking progressive evangelicals who desire justice to remove the log from their eye.

This is a prophetic word, and I encourage you to read the rest of it here.

38 Responses to Progressive evangelical indifference about abortion

  1. J O E B L A C K M O N January 16, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    All Christians are 100% anti-abortion all the time without exception. Also, for Christians, there is no social justice issue that is ever a higher priority than making abortion illegal.

    • buddyglass January 17, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Incorrect.

      • Daryl Little January 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

        Buddy’s right. It is incorrect. Sadly.

        But it should be correct and those who aren’t 100% anti-abortion need to be called to repentance.

        • Esther O'Reilly January 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

          I believe Joe would like to say that you can’t be pro-choice and truly Christian at the same time. Myself, I think about this topic quite a bit. The decision I’ve come to is that there are people who have a legitimate and sincere relationship with Christ, yet, to put it bluntly, aren’t too bright. They’re gullible and easily swayed by liberal rhetoricians, to the point where they can be convinced that voting Obama is pro-life (??) And they have absolutely no understanding of environmental alarmism or basic economic sense, which leaves them open to more liberal rhetoric and thereby erodes their sense of priority.

          Are these people Christians? I would say that at least in some cases, yes. They’re just very, very confused Christians.

    • Lauren Bertrand January 17, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

      “Flowers are red young man
      And green leaves are green
      There’s no need to see flowers any other way
      Than they way they always have been seen.”

      Read more: Harry Chapin – Flowers Are Red Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  2. Chris Ryan January 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture & I’m a literalist. So show me in the Bible when it says life begins. Its as simple as that.

  3. Esther O'Reilly January 17, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    The first couple paragraphs of the piece were silly, but they made up for it. Words well and aptly chosen.

  4. buddyglass January 17, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I’m not sure I’ve met a progressive evangelical who was on the fence about abortion. Seems like people are usually pro-choice or pro-life. That said, I’ve known people who are pro-life but don’t limit themselves to voting only for pro-life candidates.

  5. Ian Shaw January 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Chris, do you definitively know when life begins?

    • Daryl Little January 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      Every doctor in the world knows it, and so does every child. As we grow up we like to rationalize it away.

    • Chris Ryan January 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      Hey, Ian. No I do not know when life begins. As I see it its a Scriptural question & I’ve yet to see any Scripture that indicates that. I try to keep things simple. Sin is what the Bible says sin is. If the Bible is silent on a subject I don’t have a right to call it sinful…not unlike the discussion in the surrogacy thread.

      • Brian Watson January 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

        Chris,

        No, the Bible doesn’t say in precise terms when life starts. But Exodus 21:22-25 presupposes that the child in the womb has a life worthy of protection from the law, and whoever takes that life must be punished. Passages like that, and Psalm 139:13 and Luke 1:39-45 (unborn John the Baptist leaping in the presence of unborn Jesus), lead us to think that there is life in the womb. Scripture, combined with what we know of science, plus philosophy leads us to the conclusion that life starts at conception. Even if one had doubts about that, the prudent thing is to assume that even a zygote is a human life who has rights and should be protected. Why would anyone ever want to take the risk of taking a life?

        • Roy Fuller January 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

          I think the more helpful question is not “when does life begin?” but rather, “when does personhood begin?” Every living human cell is “life,” and certainly a fertilized egg is life, there really is no question about that. But is a fertilized egg a person? What are the necessary elements of personhood? Most people agree, as does medical science, that a minimal level of brain activity is essential to personhood. Thus the prevailing definition of death is brain death. I believe this explain why the recent “personhood” bills have failed to pass in several state. When voters were asked the question of whether a fertilized egg was a person, they have consistently said no.

          The reference to Exodus 21:22-25 cuts both ways, in that if a child in the womb is injured, a fine must be paid. However, as the passage also indicates, the penalty for taking a life, is a life. Thus, while the unborn child was killed, Jewish law treated this as less than murder, where the penalty would be “a life for a life.”

          And since we are quoting Scripture, what do we do with Numbers 5:11-29, where God sanctions abortion as a test for an women accused of being unfaithful to her husband?

          • David Powell January 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

            First of all, Numbers 5 has nothing to do with abortion as we speak of it now. Not being able to have children following this failed test is regarded as a CURSE, where abortion by pro-death advocates is regarded as a desirable result.

            Secondly, there are some severely loaded implications to questioning “personhood” among people. In the past, this was used to degrade black people and to justify removing reproductive capabilities from the mentally handicapped. There is obviously brain activity in the womb…this isn’t even questionable. And regardless, Christians do not submit to “medical authorities” or any secular legislative/judicial authority to tell us who is and who is not a person. We take our cue from God, the Author of Life, who as David describes “knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

            • Roy Fuller January 21, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

              Numbers 5 may indeed have something to do with induced abortion, in this case as part of the test of an unfaithful wife. Certainly some interpreters have believed this to be the case – whereby if the women was pregnant (by a man other than her husband) the ordeal would cause her to have a miscarriage (this is based on the phrase usually translated “cause her thigh to fall away” – with thigh sometimes being a euphemism for sexual organs (see Strong Concordance, 3409). I will concede that this passage has little to do with abortion as now practiced, but the passage also has a history of being interpreted as I suggest, and as such has relevance to discussion about what the bible has to say on the subject on the value of a fetus in utero.

              We can agree that there are many implications to “personhood.” I raise it to introduce questions from a biological/philosophical perspective in response to the question as to when life begins and in response to Brian above who suggest that the bible offers evidence of when “life” begins. Just because the concept has been used incorrectly by racists and those who practiced eugenics does not mean it has no validity in this debate. The fact that some have pushed for “personhood” amendments to limit the practice of abortion speaks to its relevance in this debate.

              I did not suggest there is no brain activity in the womb – there certainly is, at some point in the development of the fetus. My point was that there is no brain activity at the point when the egg is first fertilized – thus no brain activity, and IMO, not yet a person, even as a fertilized egg is “life.” Referencing David being knit together in the womb, does not answer the complex questions surrounding the beginning of life. I agree that the easiest point to designate a new life is at the moment the egg is fertilized. Easiest, but not the most accurate, IMO. Christians can develop their own understanding of when life begins, as you suggest, but the bible provides a less than precise guide.

  6. Ian Shaw January 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Buddy, I would have to agree. Most if not all people are usually one way or the other. Those that claim to be on the fence, in my experience, have decided which side to be on, but choose to not discuss it as their views may not be very PC or choose not to discuss volatile, inflammatory/emotional subjects.

  7. Daryl Little January 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Yes, those who are on the fence, in my experience (and logic dictates it I think, given human nature) are pro-choice.
    Being “personally pro-life” is like saying that I’ve repented and believed in Christ, but you don’t need to. It makes no sense.

  8. Daryl Little January 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    For us folk in Canada, the only country in the world, by the way, that has zero abortion laws. No restrictions of any kind regarding reasons for an abortion or when it happens. From conception until the baby is out, it’s fair game. Even if you just don’t want a girl or don’t like blonde hair.

    Seriously.

    And, to make matters worse, we have a Prime Minister who claims to be an evangelical Christian (I believe his home church is charismatic, but still…), who not only doesn’t want to address the issue but actively (not kidding) prohibits members of his own party from bringing forth legislation that would touch abortion. Bills to prevent partial birth murder or sex-selection abortion have been actively shut down, at his behest.

    Do we need to push for pro-life laws? Absolutely. And, I would argue, that even more we need to call pro-choice Christians to account and to repentance.

  9. Ian Shaw January 17, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    ^^^here, here.

  10. Randall Seale January 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    Chris, if you’re demanding a chapter and verse kind of thing then it won’t be found apart from Adam. If you’re willing to allow some exegetical-theological reading and reflection then Scripture is clear and consistent that life-personhood-image bearing begins pre-birth. From there one may ask when before birth and the only reasonable answer is at conception. I’m on board with simplicity and don’t see this as that complex.

  11. Ian Shaw January 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Chris, if you want to go down that road, does that mean that a life has effectively ended when the physcial body cannot perform simple functions like properly breaking down sugars without the need of insulin? Or the kidneys properly functioning to rid the body of waste without dialysis? Do you stop a breathing machine on a patient that was in a bad car accident on the first night in the hospital when they will in all likelyhood recover in a few days? You would have to make the same claim, if you stick to your original statement.

    I would hope you will; prayerfully reconsider and truly understand when it really begins.

    • Daryl Little January 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

      Good points Ian.

      I am on anti-rejection drugs…I am not a person. No one would say that, but once abortion is permitted, there is no logical reason for not saying it.

  12. Ian Shaw January 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    I didn’t really want to say it Daryl. The viability argument from pro-abortion advocates has always screamed for the legs to be kicked out from underneath it and I don’t understand why people even bring it up anymore.

    I would say you are still a person. Prayers for your body and the anti-rejection drugs.

  13. Daryl Little January 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Thanks Ian.

    When my sister gave me her kidney we got to see the church in action (guys from the church cutting a year and a half of firewood in 8 hours one day, plus food and prayer and a million other things), we got to talk about God’s sovereignty in death and His ability to care for our family even were I to die on the operating table.

    And now this past week in fact, we were able to use this very argument against abortion while our 15 year old son was writing an assignment for school.
    With me standing right there it’s not hard for the kids to see the strength of the argument.

    And you’re right, it’s about the dumbest argument going. But it’s still going…

  14. Ian Shaw January 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    From a biology/genetics point of view, isn’t new DNA (that of the child) created as soon as conception occurs?

    I think doctors do know that it’s certainly a human life because when a woman starts to see an OBGYN during preganancy, isn’t the doctor treating 2 patients at that point?

  15. Paul Reed January 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    The pro-abortion argument I hear most often is not that the unborn isn’t human, but rather than a woman doesn’t have any kind of obligation from the state to gestate a baby if she becomes pregnant. This is why we really need the gospel when we address abortion to a me-me-me culture.

  16. buddyglass January 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    It’s interesting to compare the U.S. and Canada given how (relatively) similar they are. Here are some stats I googled up:

    “It is estimated that 40% of all pregnancies in Canada are unplanned. Of these, about half are carried to term; the other half are terminated.”

    “More than half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.”

    So Americans become accidentally pregnant at a higher rate than Canadians, but we abort those unplanned pregnancies at a lower rate.

    What about the overall rate?

    “Abortion rates are usually calculated as the number of abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age (usually ages 15 – 44). Figures vary (and are difficult to estimate accurately), but our [Canada’s] overall abortion rate lies somewhere between 12 and 16 per 1000 women of child-bearing age per year.”

    The U.S. rate (in 2008) was 19.6 per 1000 women aged 15-44. So Canada, which (allegedly) has much more permissive abortion laws nevertheless has a lower overall abortion rate than the U.S. Why might that be?

    “Forty-two percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children).”

    “Twenty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes between 100–199% of the federal poverty level.”

    So 69% of the women who obtain abortions are poor or very-near-to-poor. This suggests (to me, at least) that ameliorating America’s hyper-dysfunctional poverty class would go a long way toward reducing the abortion rate irrespective of any changes to the laws.

    • Daryl Little January 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      Those are interesting stats Buddy, but for me, as a Canadian, our complete lack of any kind of abortion-related laws are a greater concern.

      How much lower could our numbers of dead babies be if there were laws, any laws, prohibiting abortion at some point?

      • buddyglass January 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

        That’s the question, though, isn’t it? How large an effect would stricture laws actually have? Pro-choice folks will tell you that even very strict laws won’t reduce the abortion rate, they’ll just force women to have illegal abortions. I don’t buy that. But I also don’t buy the idea that very strict laws would be as effective as the pro-life camp hopes they would be. Of course that doesn’t imply we shouldn’t push for more restrictive laws; I think we should. My point is rather that, in the absence of stricter laws, we might still reduce the incidence of abortion by mitigating the crazily dysfunctional state of the American under class.

  17. Ian Shaw January 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Buddy,

    I would submit to you that no one “accidentally” becomes pregnant. The act itself is executed to produce children. (at least in the context of the OP) The issue has become how culture/society, etc., has done a good job driving a wedge between intercourse and producing children and removing any connection between the two. People are ignorant (I guess I should use a less inflammatory term) “foolish” to fail to remember that intercourse’s function is to create children. Or at least foolish to forget that the execution of that act is how children are created.

    • buddyglass January 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      “The act itself is executed to produce children.”

      Its frequently executed for other reasons entirely.

      If I decide to drive 150 mph and end up wrapping my car around a telephone pole then my doing so is still an “accident” its not something I intended.

      “…fail to remember that intercourse’s function is to create children.”

      That is one function, yes. Not the only one.

  18. Ian Shaw January 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I can apreciate statistics buddy. I was always taught, whether college or at work, “what do the numbers tell us?”. Well, I guess it tells me that there needs to be an over emphasis on encouraging young non-married women to wait until they’re married to have sex. That could help eliminate the poverty cycle as well.

    But, asking someone to be mindful about their behavior will get me being read the riot act for someone. I know, I know, you can’t advise anyone to make a thoughtful decision about what could possibly result from engaging in a behavior that very well could result in the creation of a child.

  19. Ian Shaw January 22, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Buddy,

    To quote a movie by Edgar Wright, calling something an accident implies there is no one to blame. That’s why police now say “traffic collision.” So while you may not have foreseen the conclusion of your attempt to defy physics with your automobile and a tree, it’s no accident.

    • buddyglass January 22, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      I don’t think that’s a requirement that most people place on the word in common usage. If you go to dictionary.com you get the following:

      “an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: automobile accidents.”

      Though the second definition is in a legal context and more closely matches yours:

      “such a happening resulting in injury that is in no way the fault of the injured person for which compensation or indemnity is legally sought.”

      In any case, we can replace the word “accidentally” in “accidentally becomes pregnant” with “unintentionally” if you prefer.

  20. Ian Shaw January 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Though I will conceed that my language may have been more of a legal leaning. However, if one has an intentional act, how can one then dismiss/claim unintended/unintentional consequences.

    Intercourse is what produces pregnancies. I don’t know you personally, but there’s only one person I’ve ever been told in all history of mankind that became pregnant without physically having intercourse with another physical human being.

    If a person intentionally has intercourse, how then can they claim a pregnancy as an unintended result, if intercourse is the only means by which a woman becomes pregnant*? That would be like Einstein being in disbelief about the laws of gravity and yet studied Newton all throughout school and knew physics like the back of his hand. It doesn’t make any sense.

    *excluding IVF as it doesn’t pertain to the discussion

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