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February 26, 2006

Comments

Clint Walker

Yes! After the book by the same name I have labeled myself completely pro-life (book is by Ron Sider). Pro life on death penalty, war, abortion etc. The challenge is the issue of the prolonging of life unaturally. For some reason I have a hard time getting strongly pro-life in Nancy Shiavo types of cases.

Zach

In terms of the Shiavo case, I don't see that as a conflict with a pro-life perspective because she wouldn't have stayed alive without machines allowing her to live. In that case, you'd only be "pro-breathing machine".

great post mike. Pro-life across the board is a great idea.

Derek Frenzel

This bumper sticker is lame...what does Pro-life or Pro-sanctity of life really mean, anyway?

I think ultimately we're all Pro-Life, right? If you ask most "do you like it when people die," most would say "no." But life's just not that simple. First of all trying to narrow down broad and complicated beliefs to a consumer friendly catch phrase like "Pro-Life" is a joke. It just causes division. I am strongly against abortion (dare I say, Pro-Life), but if it was a matter of Sarah dying if she didn't get one, then I'm sorry, we can get pregnant again. So am I truly Pro-Life? Perhaps I'm just backslidden. :) I think to say that being Pro-Life ought to be across the board (war, the death penalty, assisted suicide, etc.) would be oversimplifying several complex issues.

Does being pro-death penalty mean that one supports the state's right to carry out justice as it sees fit, or does it mean that one believes that the state ought to put criminals to death? Probably the latter. So then, does thinking that the state ought to put to death violent criminals, violate the "turn the other cheek" ethos? I guess that depends on if Jesus was teaching on how the state ought to conduct itself (i.e. the laws) or if he was teaching on individual conduct. It's easy to see Jesus as being more about Grace, but he also was about God's Justice, and if he came to fulfill the law, then what?

And what about war? What does it mean to be "Pro-Life" about war? Is it Pro-Life to enter into combat to save future lives from being taken and end tyranny, even if it costs innocent life in the process? Do we then become "Pro-the most life possible"? And are we really being Pro-life by not entering combat, but instead watching innocent people die?

The term Pro-Life has become co-opted by the world's sound-byte, platform driven, us vs. them mentality. By applying the term across the board we do an injustice to our minds by under-analyzing several complex issues. I'm going to have to go with a third option on this one.

Tom

Mike and Derek,
Thank you for the effective questions--helping me probe deeper into the fabric of my thinking---or actually the fabric of my "naming/systematizing."

Mike DeVries

Derek... I hear what you're saying. A follow up question I've been thinking is this. Does being anti-war automatically make one pro-tyranny? In questioning the "pro-life" connection to war, I think we need to admit that no one supports tyranny. The more pertinent question is whether launching a war is the right way to bring tyranny to an end? In other words, is rushing into war, under the banner of ending tyranny, the best way of promoting the sanctity of life?

I think the same thinking goes for the death penalty. Does the death penalty bring about justice? I think it depends on how you see justice. If it's purely paying as penalty, then perhaps. But I would argue that a Biblical sense of justice is about making things right, or returning to what was originally intended. So it begs the question, does the death penalty in fact make things right again? Perhaps not. It's a tough yet real question we need to wrestle with.

Thanks everyone for throwing in on this one. Anybody else have some insight on this one?

wes

So strange that you'd post this now. Coincidentally I was having a conversation with a fried just the other day about this subject. We agreed that abortion is a good topic for Christians to concern themselves with but it may be out of proportion. We care so much more about abortion then we do poverty or hunger. Abortion is a lot more humane than dying of hunger isn't it? There's a lot more we should be worrying about in the world that we seem to disregard or see a secondary. Maybe it's political. Maybe it's just that we feel like we can fight abortion and we can't fight hunger an other such problems.

Thanks Mike,
Wes

Stephen Baker

I have been pondering this same thing. And here is what I think. I don't think that you can really compare all of these things equally. While they are related in the death or life perspective, I think there are other things surrounding them that make the difference. Death Penalty: While I've gone back and forth on this one I don't think you can totally do away with it. I do think changes need to be made to the whole justice system in reference to the death penalty but that is a whole other topic. So how can you relate the death of someone who has comitted a crime with the severity worthy of death to an unborn child that hasn't even been given the choice yet? That's what I've been tossing around on that one. As far as war: That's a hard one. I don't like war however I do think it becomes necessary at times. Even a quick look at the Bible will show that. It will even show God's hand allowing, supporting and even helping victory. Maybe that's a different topic too. All of that said I am coming to the conclusion that "Pro-Life" is the wrong term. And maybe that's the whole point here. I don't see anyway that I could be completely pro all life. What about this as a parting question: If we are going to go as far as all human life to be considered what about all life? The beloved steak I so often cook? Chicken? I think you get the point..........

Mike DeVries

Perhaps what is needed is to see the term "pro-life" redeemed - being more than just an issue of abortion and death. Whatever it is needs to be big enough to contain the issues of justice and the dignity that God has placed in all of humanity - from the unborn to those in the Middle East, perhaps even from terrorist to those on death row.

Scott

I agree with Derek that we need to move beyond the logic of labels. And, like Mike, I don't think the pro-life platform should be reduced to a single issue. However, as far as I can tell, the original biblical rationale offered in favor of the death penalty was to actually preserve the sanctity of human life (Gen. 9:6). Could it be the case that for one to consistently be "pro-life" that person would need to consider the death penalty warranted in certain instances?

Colleen

These are all great comments and thoughts. I think I agree that we need to rethink the actual phrasing. I also don't think we need to require people to make a decision across the board on these things. Some things maybe aren't our decisions to make. Really, for the most part, I am anti-abortion, I am pro-death penalty, I am neutral on war. I am a non-vegetarian (steak please!), I am anti death by disease. However, I am not so stuck on my views that I can not see other perspectives and reasons why in some cases, it may be ok, acceptible, or even better to swing the other way. I think each circumstance is worth taking an individual look at before a decision is made. And really, I have strong views about our screwed up justice system. I think we really need to take a good hard look about our penalties or sentences for each crime. I think a lot of tax money would be better spent putting some of these people through therapy and rehab rather than locking them up.

Derek Frenzel

Mike, one thing in your original post really stood out to me. It was when you said, "what about dealing with world hunger." I think this issue and abortion are probably the closest related issues in the "Pro-Life" spectrum. Our conscious tells us that abortion is wrong because a defenseless and innocent child is taken out of fear or selfishness, the majority of the time. Doesn't that same conscious lead us to have compassion on the hungry and needy? One source I found said that every year 15 million children die of starvation. Now, this is a horrible choice, and I'm sure it's not an either/or, but imagine if all the resources the Pro-Life groups spent in one year were directly diverted to keep alive the 15 million children who die each year. Could they do it? Probably. What would happen to the abortion fight in America? If their goal is to get the most amount of children to stay alive, then I think it's obvious where the stats are. With that being said, I wonder if it's time for us believers to start lobbying particularly the Pro-Life groups to kick down some money to help starving children? I mean, what would Bono do?

Mike DeVries

WWBD? Hhmmm...

Scott

World hunger largely isn't caused by lack of money or lack of food, but by political corruption (e.g. Somalia, Zimbabwe). It's not as simple as just giving more money.

We can say we're anti-war and anti-hunger but what does this really mean in a world in which feeding the starving usually requires a military escort to ensure that the hungry are actually fed?

Derek Frenzel

Good point. Sending money and sending food are two different things. Corrupt governments will steal money. What are corrupt governments going to do with 50 tons of baked beans though? Since we're a little spread thin right now, perhaps the UN could provide the support needed to make sure that the food gets to the right place. We can't be the only country concerned with hunger.

glen smallman

mike,

i was listening to npr this morning and they had an interesting piece on. it was on "religion and public policy", and there was a catholic priest who was on who said that since it was their conviction to be pro-life also meant that they had to deal with the concequences of people not being able to end their pregnancies. namely, that they were creating adoption, counseling, motherhood and services along those lines for people, especially teens who were getting pregnant and might consider getting abortions. it was their conviction that it was their responsiblity to provide alternatives if they were going to say one wasnt an option. that being "pro-life" was being about the entirety of life, not just the conception of it. it was really facinating. the topic overall was a little less exhillerating than one might expect, but i thought that guy was really good.

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