By: Kristen Walker Hatten
I wasn’t a Christian when I became pro-life. I was kind of anti-Christian. I was converted on the basis of science, reason, ethics, and human rights.
A year later, I was confirmed in the Catholic Church. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. But I also don’t think one has to be a Christian to be pro-life.
I do, however, believe that one has to be pro-life to be a Christian.
Why? Well, because, duh.
I mean, is it really necessary to go into deep biblical study over this issue? Is it necessary to quote Exodus 21:22-23, or Psalm 139:13-15, or Matthew 18:10, or Jeremiah 1:5? Is there even really anything to argue about? I think the big “argument” about whether you can be a Christian and be pro-choice is B.S. I think that deep down, every Christian who knows the truth of abortion knows the answer to this.
Is it possible to have even a rudimentary understanding of Christianity and think abortion is okay? Can any of us really imagine Jesus Christ holding a woman’s hand and encouraging her to have an abortion?
I was astounded when, a few years after becoming pro-life, I discovered that there were denominations of Christianity that were not explicitly pro-life. I was shocked when I learned there were Christian denominations that were explicitly pro-choice.
I did a little research, and of the major branches of Christianity, the only ones I found with a strong pro-life platform were the Catholics, the Southern Baptists, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Evangelicals. There are thousands of Protestant denominations, so I’m sure I missed some, but of the major ones, these are the only ones I have found. Please correct me if there are more. I’d love to hear that there are more.
That there are so few Christian denominations who have an official pro-life platform is troublesome. What is even more troublesome is that there are many Christians who, despite having submitted to the authority of a church that tells them abortion is a grave and mortal sin comparable to almost nothing else, believe in abortion “rights” – and vote for them, against clear instruction from their church. Southern Baptists and Evangelicals who are pro-abortion are less common, and, ironically, they do not have the same belief that their church can separate them from full communion with Christ through excommunication, as Catholics do.
According to large denominations of Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Quakers, Church of Christ, and more, abortion is not incompatible with Christianity, which is the same as saying abortion is not incompatible with Christ.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that pro-choice Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, et al. actually believe that?
I don’t. I don’t buy it for a second. I don’t for one second think, if Jesus Christ appeared before a congregation of “pro-choice Christians” and asked them their opinion on abortion, they would look Jesus in the eye and say abortion is okay. I don’t believe for one second that a “pro-choice Christian” would stand in a clinic with Jesus Christ and watch a woman have an abortion.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they have really convinced themselves that abortion is kindness to women, and somehow not cruelty to and the killing of an innocent, dependent human being.
And hey, maybe my understanding of Christianity is completely bass-ackwards. Maybe Christianity is not really about loving and helping those in need, protecting the innocent, telling the truth, and bravely defending justice and righteousness. Maybe Christianity is about intentionally and specifically ending an innocent human life if it is inconvenient or difficult, and encouraging women to “solve” their problems with violence against their children. Maybe “suffer the little children to come unto Me” is just pretty words, or just a poetic way of telling people to make sure the children they allow to live outside the womb go to Sunday school.
Jesus wanted Christians to be kind. No one argues with that. But kind to whom, exactly? And what does “kind” mean? Just going around being “nice” to everyone is lovely if you’re a saffron-robed Tibetan monk, or a spaced-out hippie. But if you’re the slightest bit aware, and if you have any concept of justice, you must admit that, like David Mamet said, “[k]indness to the wicked is cruelty to the righteous.” We have to get over this idea that encouraging terrible behavior is ever kind.
So, if we apply this truth – “Kindness to the wicked is cruelty to the righteous” – to abortion, who is the wicked, the mother or the child? The mother, obviously. We don’t mean that she utterly sinful and repulsive, but it is she who created this situation in almost every case, and it is never the innocent child. Also, if we choose to do “kindness” to her instead of the child, someone will die. If we choose to do kindness to the child, no one will die.
Then there is this: choosing to do “kindness” to the mother by encouraging or allowing her to abort her child is not kindness. It is telling her that doing something despicable and wrong is okay and will help her. That is a lie. Lying is wrong, kids.
It’s fun to pretend Jesus was a misty-eyed hippie. Except he wasn’t. The culture we live in tells us Jesus was okay with, for example, adultery, because he saved a woman from being stoned to death for committing it. They leave out the part where told her to “sin no more,” because nowadays the only sin is believing in sin. Our culture too often confuses mercy with leniency. They are not the same thing.
I have no doubt that Jesus was kind, but I don’t think he was nice – not in the way we mean it today. He told us to love everyone. Loving everyone does not mean smiling and shrugging at everyone’s sin. I don’t expect mine to be smiled and shrugged at. If I wanted that, I would be a Unitarian Universalist. Telling people killing their babies is okay is not loving. It’s not true. It’s not righteous. It’s not Christian.
Saying publicly that abortion is not Christian is judgmental and mean, or so I have been told repeatedly. Well, I’m judgmental and mean, I guess.
Look, I know I am a sinner. I sin all the time. I’m horrible and lowly. I fail constantly. But I am a Christian, and I rely on the mercy of Christ to save me.
What I don’t do is pretend my sins are not sins. I have done it before – we all have, probably - and I had to repent. You can’t go around indignantly declaring that grave, life-destroying sins are fine with Jesus because it makes you more modern and hip and “with it,” or because it sounds “nice,” or because hell yeah women’s rights.
I could be really super-wrong about this, I guess. I could stand before God on Judgment Day and He could be all, “You were gravely mistaken, my child. I love abortion.” But somehow I doubt it.
If I were a pro-choice Christian, I would pray a lot: to know if I was wrong; to be led to the truth, no matter how inconvenient; and to sin no more.